coronavirus gun sales ammunition
(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)
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I’m a gun dealer. I’ve seen some crazy stuff over the years and I have some interesting stories.

Ever since last Friday, our phones have been ringing off the hook with requests for ammo, guns and just about everything else we sell. There’s an incredible amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt floating around out there. People in California have even called me [my store is about 2000 miles away] asking for guns and ammo, not realizing that:

  • We have to ship guns to an FFL near them, not their home. That’s federal law.
  • Guns they buy there have to be approved for sale by the state, have 10-round magazines, etc.
  • There is a 10-day waiting period to pick up a newly purchased firearm there.
  • No one in California can buy ammunition without a background check.

Imagine their surprise when they were informed of all the hurdles placed in the way of legal firearms ownership in their state. More than one person called expecting that I’d take their credit card number and FedEx them a home defense tool in a box.

And I’m not the only gun dealer who’s been dealing with clueless Californians [NSFW].

These are not normal times. Even some of my staunchly left-voting gun-hating friends are getting in on it. I had the following conversation with one of them:

Me: Are you ready for this?

Diane: I picked a REALLY shitty time to decide I need a gun. I hated my boyfriend’s guns, they weren’t comfortable to shoot at all, the trigger is really heavy and I don’t like recoil.

Me: Wait, you…are buying a gun?

Diane: We live in strange times. I changed my mind. Do you have any idea on how to get ammo? The Cabelas and Bass Pro near us are sold out. My boyfriend does not have enough ammo to practice/teach me and defend the place.

Me: Uh, there’s no ammo for sale wholesale in the country right now. You are kinda out of luck.

Diane: What do you mean there’s no ammo? Someone’s got to have something.

Me: Well, I mean you COULD go to Cheaper Than Dirt and try ordering from them, but the prices are inflated and even then they are two to three weeks behind on shipping.

Diane: Do you have any friends with any 9mm or 12 gauge ammo?

Me: Plenty!

Diane: Would they be willing to take an order and sell?

Me: Any dealer that has an ammo order working for the past few weeks is either going to hold onto that stash like gold, sell it to their best customers, or it’s already spoken for because they need it for the shelf and are enforcing strict quantity limits like one box per person per day.

Diane: Well, I’m picking up a 9mm. How am I supposed to get ammo?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we in the business call a lightbulb moment. Some folks get it, some folks do not.

At the end of the week, I went around with my crew and we all traded “best of” stories we heard coming in the door and over the constantly ringing phone. In no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve heard in the last week.

  1. A lady called us up looking for some 9mm ammo. I asked how much she needed. She said seven. I asked, seven boxes or 700 rounds or…what? She said no, just 7. I asked: you mean one less than 8? She says yes. I ask why 7? She said that’s all her gun can hold. She has no ammo and just needs 7 rounds.
  2. A guy who wants ammo really badly NOW, but he’s willing to wait at most a week for me to get a truck in. When I explain that we’re not going to be getting a truckload of ammo in the next week, he asked why. I explained the long tail supply chain and how prices are going up. He got mad and said he’s going to go to a place that doesn’t rip off their customers. Apparently, he’s been buying 9mm at $20 for a 50-round box from the pawnshop down the street for the past 10 years and they’ve stated they aren’t raising their prices, so they earned a customer for life. He didn’t seem to realize that he’s been paying $400/thousand on 9mm for the last decade when shopping online got you quality ammo anywhere from $160-$190/thousand.
  3. Another guy called looking for 24 shotgun shells. Most shotgun shells come in a 5 count box for buckshot or slugs or a 25 count for birdshot. I asked him why 24? He said that’s all he needs to finish filling his bandolier. He’s prepared enough to own a bandolier, but not prepared enough to have the shells for it, apparently.
  4. One of my regular customers has a co-worker with three kids, a wife and a gun at home. And guess what? He has no spare ammo. He asked me to find a box of Hornady Critical Defense for him. I cracked open a spare case that I keep at home just in case of emergencies and found him a box.

These anecdotes aren’t intended to make fun of people — OK, maybe that first lady…a little bit — but most of my customers are pretty well educated with good jobs and a great head on their shoulders. But they were really caught with their pants down on this one.

I asked every single one of them who called why they were bone dry on ammo and they all said the same thing:

“I didn’t think I needed to restock. I was just going to do it later. I thought I had plenty of time.”

One of my old high school coaches had a favorite saying: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Being forearmed is not just for guns and magazines. It’s for ammunition, too. And toilet paper. And paper towels.



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    • Not really seeing the down side of big-city Demokkkommies getting the police state they always wanted, at least in the short term. Maybe a few weeks of police not responding to 90% of calls and troops in full battle rattle out in the street will wake up some of these morons? But hey, expecting a Demokkkommie to grow a brain cell is a faint hope at best.

      • Don’t count on it. These folks are reason and fact-deficient. They can’t fathom the consequences of their politics. If the elites say this is what the law does, they believe it hook, line & sinker.

      • “But hey, expecting a Demokkkommie to grow a brain cell is a faint hope at best.”

        But then they turn to the pols, media, and celebrities that they worship and trust so they can be told what to think. More of the same BS. It’s because of Trump and global warming.

        Yes, the NY Times said it’s because of global warming and it’s not a Chinese virus, it’s a people virus. You see, global warming has been forcing bats out of their habitat, which causes them stress, which makes them susceptible to viruses. See it’s our fault for not taking care of the planet. The Times recommended a complete rethink of the way we care for the planet. Oh yeah, then they begrudgingly had to mention that there is this weird, unsanitary market of animals you can buy for consumption. Like bats. Oops! Not a Chinese virus though!

      • My job is handing out “hall passes” for the checkpoints that are supposedly coming. (I work in a grocery store) The gestapo are going to start asking for papers, and it scares the shit out of me that NOBODY seems to be even rattled by it.

        • @Mike V

          When they “shut down” the city, apparently we’re going to be checked by mil/Police and basically getting our papers checked, so we can be allowed to travel to work. “Essential” grocery store workers such as myself will have a “get out of jail free” card, a letter from the company head saying that I need to be allowed to go to work.

        • ” “Essential” grocery store workers such as myself will have a “get out of jail free” card, a letter from the company head saying that I need to be allowed to go to work.”

          Any word on what type document people (uh…customers) will get so they can do “essential” grocery shopping at stores where the grocery workers are “essential”? Could it be the Dimwitocrat majority politicians (and Governor) would overlook the need for customers in “essential” businesses?

          Democrat, Bluer Than Blue, Bad Moon On The Rise, Oh Lord Stuck in LoDo Again, Colorado.

          I feel ya’, man.

        • You’ll probably have to get a hall pass to go shopping as well. I can see it now. You go online to some state website, fill out a form saying where you need to go, and why. Maybe even what hours of the day. Then 3 days later you get a hall pass to print out or display on your phone, giving you permission for such and such date and time. Scary shit.

    • Your comment about Jade Helm made me think about the battle of Helms Deep.

      Some of us have enough ammo for that fight. Gandalf won’t be riding in to save the day.

  1. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

    There’s a reason why my “oh shit” box has a full combat load of magazines pre-loaded with my preferred ammo. (9mm Critical Duty +P, 5.56×45 in a 50/50 split between 77gr OTM an 75gr JHP.) Then I keep a few cases of 9mm and 5.56 stashed away in case of a long-term emergency.

    The idea that all these hypocrites now get hosed because of the bullshit that they supported is schadenfreude of the highest order.

    • Ahh. Another Hornady CD fan 🙂 Been using it for years. Picked up a couple more boxes Sat at my LGS. He’s rationing 9mm and 5.56/223 now, but hasn’t raised prices. Still the same price as 5 years ago. 🙂

    • Over the weekend two hours on the loading bench equals 100 rounds of .223 match grade. I could save time by not trickling the powder charges but I’m more confident if everything is set up right.

  2. I bought an extra mag or two for every gun i have a year ago. Big box came in the mail and it was expensive. Been stocking up on ammo a different caliber every month for the past 4 months. Wasn’t a waste of money after all.

    • 1
      Guns are expensive, mags are cheap (with HK P7M13 mags the exception).
      EVERY firearm I own has a bare minimum of 6 mags to support it (a 1900 DWM Luger, and a “just purchased” SIG Sauer P220 are the exceptions).
      My SHTF guns have a few dozen mags, several drums too.
      This is simply planning for lean times people.

  3. As an older (ahem) shooter, I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in a time where there really wasn’t much, if any, stigma attached to owning and using firearms. As a youngster and later as a young man, the focus was always on hunting and target shooting – but, the little-discussed use of firearms for self defense and protection of the family home and property was an idea that was always there in the background. And the expectation was that a man would do what needed doing if and when that time came, and a firearm was the perfect tool for that time…

  4. As long as we can shoot criminals dead on site when we catch them. I have no problem with cops not arresting people. We are just getting the world the Libertarians Liberals and the Left always wanted us to have. Their dream is coming true.

    “Keep Coronavirus Out of Jails by Arresting Fewer People in the First Place”

    If we enforced our nation borders we would not be worrying some much about keeping COVID 19 out of the jails. But the three L’s support open borders.

    • How about a trade off. Release all the non violent offenders. Then lock the doors and everybody go home for a 14 day quarantine. Solves a couple of issues: prison/jail overcrowding and recidivism of violent offenders. As a bonus the tax dollars saved can be used to help law abiding citizens recover from the effects of the Covid-19. Both Physically and Financially.

      • Dumbass, there is no such thing as a nonviolent offender. There are only offenders who are locked up after plea bargaing down the charge; offenders caught for non violent crimes; and offender who have yet to need to act violently. Anybody will to commit a felony is person willing to use violence if they decide it’s necessary.

        • tdiinva,

          I disagree that all prison inmates are violent offenders or future violent offenders.

          Someone could be in prison for totally non-violent fraud or embezzlement. And someone could be in prison for the myriad victimless “crimes” — arguably the most egregious would be possessing an eagle feather that you found on the forest floor while hiking (which is a felony if you are not a Native American).

          And then you have the people who were railroaded and plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit — only taking the plea for a lesser crime to ensure that they would only spend one or two years in prison rather than risking 10 to 20 years in prison.

        • That makes zero sense and seeing as you will probably commit at least 3 felonies before this day is over does that make you a violent felon? You need to read the book Three Felonies a Day. For a free country we certainly have enough laws telling us how to run every small detail of our lives.

        • Some places will automatically lock you up if you have a warrant. They want to make sure you post bail first. An arrest warrant can be for something as simple as not paying a speeding ticket.

        • “Anybody will to commit a felony is person willing to use violence if they decide it’s necessary.”

          Cool. So anyone who willingly crosses into New Jersey with a box of JHP is a future criminal, and therefore fvck him, right? How did you develop such a love for the taste of boot leather?

  5. One of the very few good things to come out of this “crisis” is the people who’ve been laughing at us gun nuts, calling us conspiracy theorists, etc. are all discovering that there are indeed onerous rules and regulations, contrary to what their media types and dem grabbers have been ranting about forever. Can’t even find any of those “gunshow loopholes” they’ve been hearing about almost daily. Reality’s a bitch, ain’t it!?

    • Be warned, that once things start to settle down, most of those people will go back to labeling us crazy and unhinged.
      They’ll end up saying, “well, it turns out I didn’t need a gun, so that proves no one needs one”, or, “Well, it’s okay that I have a gun, but you bumpkins don’t need one”.

  6. At this point that I’m reading this I will say, good article, & good comments…& now my friends know why I DON’T waste ammo with frivolous things like bump stocks, not saying I approve of them making them illegal, just that they waste AMMO.

    • I was usually shooting it through a m&p 15-22 and that was tons of fun and pretty affordable at 4 or 5 cents a round, $1-$1.25 a mag dump.

      It was fun with .223 as well and not really that expensive shooting cheap Russian junk but not something to do if you’re not well stocked on quality ammo.

  7. Friends look at me funny when I advise them to factor in the cost of extra magazines and a bare minimum of 500rds of ammo when buying a new gun.

    I got royally burned in 2012, I had just bought my first pistol in the summer, and was down to 2 – 50rd boxes of range ammo and a single loaded magazine of defensive ammo + 5rds leftover of the one 20rd box I bought with the gun (back when I didnt know you could get anything other than those)… then Sandy Hook happened.

    I went into survival mode for a while and only went shooting if I could buy ammo and always tried to buy more than I shot. Once the panic cleared in early 2014 I stopped playing around and ordered healthy buffers for everything I shot (took a few months to spread the expense out over a few paychecks), and then I set re-order quantities that I would never go below for any reason.

    My hope is that this panic, just like the last one, teaches people the same lessons prior ones have taught me.

  8. Sorry but living in California has already trained me. Not one gun I need now, have multiples to replace. Bought all my ammo before the background check law.

  9. I BOUGHT 100 ROUNDS OF .223 SO, I’M FULLY PREPARED!!!! Oh, …and I have also had the progressive set up for 9mm for the last 2 weeks. Before that, the .45, the .38spl, the .223, the .308, had an old case of .22.. This week, I’ll set up for 300BLK and .380. I’m a little short on those. The 4 manual presses are set up for decapping, sizing, priming, trimming… Have enough materials for ….more.

    • Same here, I need to get out to the shed and crank up the a c ( getting hot and to decrease the humidity ) and do some more reloading. Enjoy it and it comes in handy in times like these.

      • Ed, We had no way of knowing COVID-19 was coming but, when D. Feinstein filed the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2019” in 1/2019 and, J. Morrison filed a similar bill in IL, I bought an AR …then, built 3 more. Didn’t really “need” them, been shooting for 60 yrs. I started stocking up on reloading supplies when COVID-19 was still in China. Seemed inevitable it would be here sooner or later and the panic would arrive with it. Bought a big freezer for the 2 does I shot in TX last December. Packed the freezer, fridge, pantry and TP supply when the first cases arrived in WA. No panic, we’re good for months!
        Can’t find JHPs in any caliber or small primers but, have thousands of LSWC’s and FMJ’s. To conserve SPP’s, I’ll just dig out the large primer .45 brass and use up a few thousand of those.

  10. I have a few guns I would be willing to sell with an ammo package but it’s not going to be a great deal for anyone.

    I need to get a markup about $100 over high retail before I’d consider it in the current environment and I wouldn’t sell to just anyone because I don’t need the $100.

    I am very concerned about the ammo situation as summer approaches. I’ve got at least as much ammo as most folks reading this, and maybe more. But I’m out shooting everyday during the quarantine. I’m starting to get nervous about running through anything but my shotgun which is all I reload and .22.

  11. When the 2012 ammo shortage happened, I decided to start loading my own. Since then, I’ve loaded much more than I shot so that I have a healthy stock for all the calibers I shoot.

    The real bummer is that my local range has closed because of the virus and now I have no place to go shoot….

  12. “I have a few guns I would be willing to sell with an ammo package but it’s not going to be a great deal for anyone.”

    Got a SW .500? That’s the only real man-stopper. Oh, and I would need about 2000rds of ammo.

    Oh, wait… the SW .500 will only blow big holes in people. Do you have a handgun in 6.5 Grendel? Those rounds blow holes in the atmosphere, and vaporize himan flesh. Might only need about ten rounds of ammo.

  13. for 10 years my personal minimums have been:
    2000 rounds .22lr
    500 for each handgun .380 9mm .40 .45 .38/.357
    2000 for each combat rifle 5.56 and 7.62×39
    100 each for hunting guns .308 .30-06 6.5cm 6.8 spc .300 blk
    500 for the shotgun
    if i need any more than that for shtf it probably means the world will end up in such a place that i wont want to be around anymore anyway
    that is to say im not prepping for “mad max”
    im prepping for “rodney king riots”

    • I think your numbers sounds pretty reasonable. I personally would want a little more .22lr (5,000-10,000), and maybe 200 or so for the hunting rifle (I only have one). The .223, 7.62×39, pistol, and shotgun numbers sound fine to me. I love plinking with 22s.

      Over the weekend, I was out ringing steel at 300+ yards with the scoped AR, and .270. It is nice to know that I can do that if necessary. The Primary Arms 1-8X scope with the ACSS reticle is really handy for the AR.

      I also have the red dot on the AK sited in, but was only shooting to 100 yards with it. Thankfully where I live, things are exceedingly peaceful. I’m glad I don’t live in NYC, LA, etc.

      Hopefully none of us will ever have to use our firearms, but it is good to be prepared.

  14. Leftards being tards will never learn, they just keep repeating the same traded thing over and over expecting a different result. No brain no pain !

  15. I ain’t parting with any ammo or guns…except a lonely box of 38special & 41 40 cal boo-lits. And no one asked. Cook county is emptying the jail. SHTF is here…

  16. Curiously Walmart abandoned most of their ammo sales six months ago. They dropped 20% of American ammo sales overnight. Walmart is no friend of the American consumer. Support your local gun shops LGS.

    • WalMart, hahaha.
      I grabbed up all their Federal Syntech Defense SJHP in 45acp and 9mm for $7 per 20rd box, got CASES of it from 2 different WM STORES in the D/FW area.
      Also grabbed a few cases of 124gr/1200fps SIG Elite Perf FMJ 9mm when Cabalas had it at $11 per 50rd box a few months ago.

    • It was in response to the shooting at the El Paso Walmart. Now they cater strictly to Fudds. Unfortunate the prices they had were always the best in town even better than Fleet Farm.

      • I had my eye on all that Wal-Mart 308 Win Federal Gold Medal Match ammo in 168 grain and above, for my AR-10 SPR.
        Unfortunately, they never discounted it.

  17. Gullible politically inept history illiterate people vote for gun control because they have been brainwashed into believing people who own firearms are racists and nazis. The fact is the roots of gun control are in racism and genocide and that fact makes all who vote for gun control racists and nazis whether they realize it or not.

    • Debbie W posts this up on a regular basis, and it’s spot on.
      I ‘member the TTAG Ohio church story (women shooting firearms in the basement, to be comfortable purchasing firearms for protection).
      The leftard troll farm attacked, and claimed the gun owning TTAG commenters were AGAINST these women owning firearm. It was the farthest from the truth, pro 2nd A citizens CELEBRATE when more owners join the ranks, regardless of race, creed, religion………..

  18. A couple purchased their first firearms (one for each of them) from me last weekend. While waiting for the NICS response on her husband I completed her transaction. She proceeded to lecture me on the need for stronger and more thorough background checks because, “Kids should not be permitted to buy guns and go shoot their schoolmates”.

    Then her husband got delayed…

    She couldn’t believe her husband wouldn’t take his gun home right away.

    I very politely told her that it was now her responsibility to protect him.

    It brought a smile to my face.

  19. Thanks for a good laugh. I took my Boy Scout training to heart at a young age. “BE PREPARED”. Not just as it relates to guns and ammo, but everything.
    I go to a lot of gun shows and always make it a point to buy some ammo. Usually there’s plenty there priced right. The vendors want to sell it, not carry it home. I’ve never kept exact count of my stockpile because I shoot, buy, shoot, buy. At a glance I can see that it’s deep. Especially for certain “go-to” guns for which supplies are extra deep.
    It’s mystifying to me how any gun owner would let themselves get low on ammo. A gun makes a poor showing as a hammer or club.

  20. Soooo, I been reading these stories of non-gun / anti—gun people buying or trying to buy a firearm and chuckling quietly.

    Then, I got a text from a friend (Vietnam vet) who has told me that after his time in the Navy, he never would have a gun. Well, this person said that he acquired a Taurus revolver and where can he get ammunition! I’m glad that I was sitting down when I read that.

    I suggested checking the shop that’s closest to us. I also suggested that he consider spending a bit of time with me at my range to get aquatinted.

    He replied in the affirmative and said that another friend of his (I also know him) is seeking ammunition for the shotgun that he just bought.

    I’m still in a bit of shock here. And, they’re Jews and member of my synagogue. I wonder if they’ll change their opinions on congregants carrying (when we can meet again, of course)?

  21. .40 S&W is looking good this week, my local Sportsman’s Warehouse looks like the title picture. No 9mm at all .38 Special stock was 2 boxes of Critical Defense and some Cowboy Action loads. On the other hand lots of .40 S&W on the shelf, .some .45ACP and decent rimfire and rifle ammo except .223 which was down to a few cases of Tulammo and some hunting stuff. Reloading was also picked over, only 1lb powder cans and 1000 packs of primers and common brass was short. The silver lining of not getting a lot of range time is my ammo stock is adequate until I can start reloading

  22. Just finished loading 100 rounds of .223 last week. Down to 600 finished rounds of 9mm for handguns and carbine. 60 rounds for the .308 and 75 for the 25-06 ( both active deer rifles).
    200 rounds of 9 are prepped and 500 of .223. Oh yeah, was able to order in 1000 once fired 9mm cases. Not sure how many bullets my stash of lead will cast–a bunch.
    Think I’m good 4 now.

    • I’ve got a TON on hand. I did get a new to me .45acp handgun over the weekend. Fortunately I was scrambling around online to find places that still had 45 same day I bought it (we have a 7 day wait, so I picked it up this past Saturday). I bought from 4 places, because I’ve never bought from DRT, but I heard the stories and even reliable suppliers I just can’t bring myself to trust. Surprisingly Cabela’s got me most of what I ordered in about 3 days. Classic Firearms in 3 days also (though I ordered from them 2 days later than everyone else). Target Sport is still MIA, but they were upfront they had a 10 day backlog. also ordered from Bass Pro a few days later than Target Sport and Cabela’s. But they’ve shipped part of it also.

      If it all shows up, I’ll have about 850 rounds on hand (considering I shot off 100 rounds on Sunday). If it doesn’t, then I only have 260 rounds on hand, but 40 more shows up today.

      Once I grab the bullets from my neighbor and the dies show up (those have shipped also) I’ll have supplies to reload 500 more. Downside is my range closed down, so I can’t really work up a load. I can guess at what should run fine and its plinking ammo, so I do not need to load close to max pressures. It would make me nervous to load up everything without having tested a load.

      Actually I have a LOT of reloading supplies for various calibers and finally setup my press now that I have tons of time. Zero loads worked up for anything. So I guess I get to load up a lot of 5 round lots at various powder charges, take a ton of notes, label all the things and put them in cartridge boxes for the next time my range is open (I’d imagine months from now).

      The calibers that I am light on are M2 ball for my Garand (only about 200 rounds), 9 MAK (about 700 rounds), 32acp (about 800 rounds), and .308/7.62 (about 1k rounds). All my other stuff I’ve got a respectable amount of more like 3-5k (except 22lr, I’ve got about 10k).

      Less worried about weathering COVID-19 and not having enough on hand. More like worried about once things lighten up that ammo is still going to be scarce and expensive then. But maybe after this initial rush demand will dry up and prices settle back to where they had been.


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