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John writes:

How about some Information on why there is NO ammunition available? Is it a Govt. conspiracy? Just a “Normal” shortage? How come Wall mart, Cabalas, On line dealers, etc has NONE? It sure would be nice if TRUTH, gave us some believable answers, you could ask Manufacturers, WHY , WHEN, & HOW MUCH WILL HIT THE SHELVES

No, this isn’t a normal shortage. We’ve seen something close to this before, but it’s never been this bad. Here’s what’s going on . . .

For the last few years, the number of gun owners has been on the rise. Increased gun ownership means more ammunition being fired, and the increased demand meant that the existing supply of ammunition was insufficient. Manufacturers were already producing for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (which was taking a ton of ammo) and as such, any slack there may have been in the system was taken up by those conflicts. We’ve been seeing the effect of the increased demand as the price of ammo has slowly been climbing, especially during the first Obama election stampede in 2008 when prices went through the roof.

That’s the last time we really saw a run on ammunition remotely as bad as the current state of affairs. With manufacturers busy producing for the war effort, there wasn’t enough slack in the supply chain to allow for the ammunition hoarding that took place. And, as a consequence, ammo became scarce and expensive.

When the wars started slowing down, the extra ammunition flooded the civilian market. Ammunition prices bottomed out, and especially 5.56 ammo was dirt cheap. As demand slackened, the manufacturers responded by slowing down manufacturing as well. Production lines that were running 24/7 went back to 9 to 5 shifts.

When Barack Obama was re-elected, there was a mini panic buying spree. But this time, the gun stores and distributors were ready. Remembering how crazy things were during the last Obama election, they ordered extra ammunition ahead of time and there was plenty available on the shelves. The demand by gun owners was sufficiently satiated by the available supply, and life returned to normal pretty quickly.

Thanks to the mini-panic, the ready reserve of ammunition was completely gone. Manufacturers had nothing in stock, and distributors were sold out. While the lack of ammunition available might be concerning to some, seeing nothing on the horizon, manufacturers continued their slacked production schedule. Since everyone who wanted ammunition had bought it already during the panic, demand was way down and they figured that they could gradually re-fill the reserves.

For a few weeks, life was good. Distributors were starting to build up their ready reserve of ammunition once again, and store shelves had ammunition in stock at normal prices. Then, Sandy Hook happened. Almost overnight, the demand for ammunition shot past the peak of the mini-panic from a month before, completely draining the ammunition reserves of manufacturers and distributors. The shelves were literally empty.

Right now, we’re dealing with the aftermath. Ammunition manufacturers quickly ramped back up to 100% production, running their lines day and night, but that’s proving to be too slow to replenish the supplies of the distributors and gun stores. Ammunition is being sold as fast as it can be manufactured. There is no slack in the distribution system whatsoever.

Normally, there’s a built-in relief valve for panic buying. Namely, people run out of money and then stop buying stuff. People would still want ammo, but they wouldn’t have the money to get it. Unfortunately, this has happened at the absolute worst time — tax refund season. The government is handing people tons of spare cash, which they are dumping immediately on more ammo. Which in turn leads to the ammunition scarcity.

Since ammunition manufacturers are producing at 100% capacity and distributors are selling what they get as soon as they get it, that means that distributors are continuously adding new orders to the queue. And the queue continues to grow, since orders aren’t being filled fast enough.

Let me put it this way. Right now, ATK (manufacturer of Federal ammunition) has an order queue that will take them three years to fill. That’s for orders through today. The line will inevitably grow tomorrow.

(That info about the orders brought to you by TTAG informant El Grande Queso.)

As the demand for ammunition slows down, we’ll see more availability and lower prices. There’s a massive cliff on ammunition prices coming as market saturation (or rather market bankruptcy) is reached, and life will once again be good. But for right now, it’s still insane. And showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via [email protected]. Click here to browse previous posts]

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  1. yes lgs in nj still no 556/223 no 9mm 45 acp is almost out but store has been running one box per customer per day for 2 or so months now

  2. The old paradigm of how much ammo one should stock in each caliber has multiplied in the last few months, in my mind. For example, I was fine with 2 – 3000 rounds of .22LR in the garage prior to Sandy Hook and Obama. Now, 10 – 20,000 rounds, minimum. BTW, my kids shoot 500 rounds every trip to the range.

    • Maybe… I think it’s more likely that most people weren’t stocking up at all, and the lack of supply in the channel completely drained them. Combine this with an over-reliance on the fab five calibers (.22lr, 9mm, 5.56×45, 7.62×51, and 12ga), and it’s not hard to see how things have gotten desperate really fast.

      • To your point about the big-5 caliber club: I’m very, very glad I bought 20ga shotguns this past fall instead of 12ga.

        Not only have I had no problems keeping my 20ga Weatherbys fed, the 1oz “heavy target” loads they like are significantly cheaper per-round than the 40SW I also use. Actually walked out of Cabela’s with a reasonably-priced case of 250 20ga rounds just a few weeks back, no calling around or showing up on “resupply day” required.

        • To be fair, 12ga isn’t that hard to find ammo for. It’s just that open choke birdshot rips up my cardboard targets so badly that I can’t make a habit of shooting it. Too bad, ’cause I LOVE my Saiga-12 SBS.

          I have _almost_ worked up the desperation in 9mm to start feeding Paki surplus to my Uzi and 9mm AR-15. I know that stuff is nasty and inaccurate, but they’re just blaster guns anyways.

        • 20 gauge is plentiful! so is 12 slug and buck.

          Shooting lots of shotgun, 30-30 and 38 special XD

        • CWM, did you REALLY just whine about shredding excessive amounts of cardboard on a thread about ammo shortages? Seriously? You’re killing me…

      • I’m not sure I can accept this explanation. I’m not alone, I’m sure, because I have about 800 rounds of 2.23/5.56.

        Then again, I’m of very limited income, and I don’t get out often to shoot. I think I’ve unconsciously anticipated this, too, and saved my ammo.

        Are 12G slugs in any kind of supply anywhere?

        • I am seeing plenty of 12 gauge slugs in my neck of the woods. Now 12 gauge buckshot has been a little iffy at times.

          The real problem is 20 gauge buckshot. I cannot find it anywhere locally or at a half-dozen online distributors. I can find 20 gauge slugs locally without any trouble.

    • “BTW, my kids shoot 500 rounds every trip to the range.”

      Tell them to start aiming.

    • My kids love to shoot .223. I quickly learned that handing a 13 year old a 30 round magazine meant I might as well throw a $10 bill out the door. Now they get 15 rounds for each turn and we work on shooting form and technique. I would also suggest the same with the .22. Pre or Post Sandy Hook it only makes sense to slow everything down and make those 22 rounds work harder at making everyone better. Not just blowing stuff up. My point is that there are ways to shoot smarter when 20,000 rounds are not an option.

      • Exactly the reason I’m thinking of adding a .22 Cricket to the gun cabinet. That way they can only shoot one shot at a time and make our trips out target shooting a little longer and make the ammo waste a little less.

        • There are no 22lr around here either, no buck shot in anything, and you can forget about 5.56 unless you want to pay over a buck a round and purchase a thousand of them.

          Your answer left out something. Why is the government buying millions of rounds?

      • Being a canuck I just don’t get it. My Father or Grandfather and as a matter of interest Great Grandfather could not have even imagined firing 20.000 rounds of ANY CALIBER even in combat. lets get real.
        Just because you CAN fire 1000 rounds down a the range. Should you? Maybe keep it to 50 and the shortage would relax.
        By the way I can find almost any calibre at my store. OK 16 gauge is hard to get.

  3. In the meantime, I have .22LR that is old enough to vote that I’ve received offers on. Crazy times.

      • No idea, but I fired some last year from both a revolver and a semi auto and had no FTF or FTE.

      • With proper storage and care ammo will last a long time- remember that during the most recent war in Iraq our troops used some ammo that was manufactured in the late 1960s.

        • I have used ammo that I knew was 60+ years old. I have no equipment to test if it’s performance was degraded any by age, but it went bang every time I pulled the trigger.

          The only ammo I’ve ever had any real problems with was some surplus 8mm mauser made in germany during the war. QC must have slipped a little due to slave labor and the pressures of losing a war. I got duds about every 10 rounds with that stuff.

  4. And then we have the profiteers, those less than honorable sorts that have taken entire shelves of ammunition and simply wiped it into a shopping cart. Armslist is full of such people that max out the credit card and turn around to sell $50 bricks of .22LR, and there must be suckers out there paying for it. I went to a pair of gun-shows last weekend and laughed in several vendors faces, (Remington HV .22 LR, $80/brick) for what would normally get them thrown out. Panic is always our worst enemy. Be it in an active defensive situation, water-borne emergency or fiscal reality. My simple stance is to avoid such people as if they want to give me herpes. With friends like that, who can afford enemies?

    • Simple Supply and demand economics. I dont see profiteering. Its not what they charge, its what folks will pay. $50/22 brick is silly, but i have found very reasonable deals on armslist. Hey, if I want 22lr now and no one (ctd, midway, target sports, etc) is out of stock w no back order option, i am going to buy what i can get).

      • And you are willing to pay for it? I can think of better ways to spend my money than by supporting professional shoppers.

        • I would NEVER pay $50/brick, but i found cases of steel x39 for .36 on Armslist. I use to pay .20. I went to recent codeofthewest show in vallejo, ca. NO ONE had x39.

        • “I can think of better ways to spend my money than by supporting professional shoppers.”

          Exactly. Supply & demand. That’s how it works.

    • How is seizing an opportunity to provide a product the market wants at a price the market will pay dishonorable?

      • The market was already providing the product. These guys who lucked into walking into a store on the day the delivery was made and bought out the supply of XX down at the LGS and then turn around to sell it at vastly inflated prices are scum. I say that as an anarch- capitalist. The chance to make a quick buck does not mean you should lose your morals.

        • There is nothing immoral about a voluntary exchange at an agreed upon price. Every individual is the market with both supplies and demands for goods. The market price is determined within each transaction of a particular product between two individuals.

          As an an-cap, you should recognize that every party within a transaction is trading something of lower subjective value for something of higher subjective value. If it were otherwise, they wouldn’t make the trade.

        • Exactly – the market had already provided the ammunition. Someone was just lucky getting it all and stopping others buying it. They then turn around and profit from that luck – hardly an honorable code for gun buyers to follow.

        • @mike. So the honorable gun buyer code dictates that a private seller should sell at cost or wait until market drops and sell at a loss? People are unloading ammo and arms because they need the cash for rent and groceries. This is not complicated. People are selling ammo at a price that other people are willing to pay. Buyers have many options. You might be confusing this with pharma selling meds at exhorbitant margins to people with no other options and who have been brainwashed into thinking that they NEED those meds to live.

        • Think of it like this. A little, isolated community in South Carolina gets hit by a bad storm. Everyone has a little hurricane stash, but power got knocked out and for some reason (flooding?) the only road into town got cut off. People have gone through their perishables and dug into the non-perishables but supplies are running thin.

          Around the same time, everyone converges onto the only grocery store in town. To their horror, the shelves are bare. Where there used to be racks of Campbells soup and bottled water, there is nothing.

          Except, out front, in the parking lot, sits an RV and a sun shade, underneath is one guy with a giant mountain of food and water next to him. He was waiting when the store opened, and simply bought everything in the store before anyone else got there. And he’s selling the food for 6x the normal price, far higher than some people could afford.

          There’s a big difference between manufacturer -> supplier -> consumer, and manufacturer -> supplier -> predatory middleman -> consumer. The middleman is providing absolutely no service whatsoever, he serves no purpose in the economic model, and if he’s you, fuck off and die.

        • People buying ammo from Walmart shelf wipers at an inflated price are not paying the price the market wants. The are buying at whoever has the product.
          I agree profiting from being there first is very sly and against the shooting code. “only buy what you need, not the quantity you have to have. Range shooter know what they need, the preppers and profiteers know what they want to have.

      • When it’s an individual, I think it’s a jerky move, and smacks of “i got mine, tough shit for you.” However, if some idiot wants to buy it at inflated prices from someone, fine.

        Where it becomes unacceptable is when an LGS is sending employees to Wal-Mart, Academy, Dicks, etc. buying up the stock and then marking it up for resale at their own store. If they can’t get it from their distributors then too bad.

        I went to a LGS, just before Wal-Mart did the 3 boxes/customer thing, that had an amazing pile of Wal-Mart marked ammo at insane prices. We’re talking $40 for a box of 20 UMC in .223 FMJ.

        Can you imagine the shit-storm if local pharmacies were going around to Wal-Mart, buying all the over the counter cold and flu meds then reselling them for double or triple price? In the middle of a flu epidemic. Unfortunately it’s just ammo.

        @DudeBro – anyone who is selling ammo to pay rent and get groceries better be a dealer. the people i see standing in line waiting for the big box stores to let them raid the ammo don’t appear to be scraping by. A lot of them look like bored retiree’s actually.

      • The difference lies in the necessity of the middleman.

        In the aftermath of natural disasters, at least so long as governments don’t act to hinder the process, you often see people traveling hundreds (even thousands) of miles to bring in needed supplies and expertise. Things like building supplies, food, water, and ice, along with skilled tradesmen to repair damaged homes and businesses.

        In such circumstances, there is an immediate demand, which supports the higher prices required for the necessary middlemen to import foreign materiel and labor.

        This increased demand leads to price increases, which in turn causes the supply to increase. The nature of human greed ensures that the increased prices will lead to an over-abundance of supply, which will quickly fill the demand and result in an over-supply, which will in turn result in prices quickly normalizing.

        On the other hand, the type of middleman that the Mike Taylor is talking about is entirely different; He doesn’t move goods thousands of miles in order to sell it to people who actually need it, he just purchases it from stores that are selling it at reasonably inflated prices and immediately walks to the parking lot to sell it at ridiculously inflated prices.

        He doesn’t provide a service. He doesn’t move goods from where they are plentiful to where they are not, he simply seeks to soak up as much of the supply he can in order to immediately sell it for inflated prices. Simply put, he is profiteering.

      • There is a fundamental difference between the guy who goes to Walmart and sweeps the content of the ammo cabinet into his cart in the middle of an ammo shortage, and the guy who goes down to his basement and decides to offer to sell some of the ammo he has been sitting on for 20 years.

        In the first case, someone is diverting supply from the market to force himself in as an unnecessary middleman; in the second case, someone is realizing that there is a market for something he has owned for years and his offering to sell it increases the amount of ammo in the market.

        I have absolutely no problem with the people who buy guns and ammo durring happier times choosing to sell it when the market is desperate for supply. On the other hand, I have a huge problem with the type of people who hang out at Walmart to buy ammo when the stock the shelves so that they can put it on Internet auction sites to double their money.

        In one case the middleman is completely unnecessary and provides absolutely no service to the market; in the other case the opposite is true. I don’t have a problem with middlemen who improve the market, but I have a huge problem with those who do not.

    • In 1994, when the last AWB was sailed through under the Clinton administration, I saw every kind of chicanery known to man as the LGS in Madison, Wisconsin was filled to capacity with Clinton/Gore bumper stickers and first time gun buyers loading up on soon to be banned “assault weapons” that were destined to be sold for a healthier than average mark up. I was a broke assed construction worker with a wife and child on the way and there was zero chance I would pay $2K for an AR or any price for an AK at the time. I see the very same thing happening right now. Profiteers. Screw the pricks. I have enough ammunition stored up to hold me until cooler heads prevail, and the way these crumb nibbling parasites treat the Second Amendment makes me cautious as to the nature of that groups loyalty. My point is clear and planted, do business with whom you wish, but know just exactly who you are supporting by way of your business. Feast away trolls.

      • I don’t LIKE the fact that people do that; but then again I don’t buy ammo at those prices. If you pay $50 for a brick of .22LR, you’re an idiot IMO, and you got what you paid for. Does it seem unethical? Sure – but everyone has a choice. No one HAS to buy the ammo from the gougers. If everyone quit doing so, the prices would drop.

  5. Good for business, sucks for getting some cheap ammo to plink with.
    It will settle. I do not think the prices will ever come back down all they way to pre-panic prices, but I think it will settle down in a few months. And a few of the panic buyers will want to get rid of the stuff they bought and realize they don’t need it or need to make some money back. I hope.

  6. I really dont see a cliff on ammo prices soon. I saw an article on gotslaves recently where a reader spoke with an ammo co cs rep who told reader that another customer, who sells brass, was recently asked by fed to quote on 50 *B*illion units of 223 brass. I can only imagine its to melt down. This price spike is different. Bad moon rising.

    • The “billions” was misinformation by that kook, Alex Jones. The unit of purchase was denoted by an “M” and that idiot told everyone it meant millions, when it really only meant a thousand.

      Don’t believe anything that is sourced from

      • Not infowars. They cited 1.6 bill rds from site with actual language in request for bids. Im referring to request for 223 brass. Not covered by infowars.

  7. If it was legal for us to import Chinese made ammo we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. However they’d end up putting some manufactures out of business.

    • Unfortunately, when it comes to the economics of weapons (or anything else of great importance), we can’t expect an actual free market, much less a free international market.

    • I’ve heard the quality control on Chinese ammo is dangerously low. As in, don’t shoot it. Ever.

      Of course, gun community rumors are like fifth grade play yard rumors sometimes.

      • BS. Stuff worked great back when it was imported in the 80’s/90’s. You can thank that GWB a-hole for not lifting the ban when he had a chance.

      • I’ve heard the quality control on Chinese ammo is dangerously low.

        The same stuff is killing people all over the world. It’s combat ammo not target ammo, but it works. Not as good as Russky ammo, but still . . .

        • The QC problems I was hearing about leaned more towards the “too much powder/bullets seated too deeply/kablooie” end of the spectrum. Again, rumors, never fired the stuff, never even seen it IRL, as far as I know.

      • I shoot PRC ammo whenever I am in Canada and it’s fine – maybe thevery occasionaly FTF due to a lousy primer, but fine for plinking. Good for shooting out of a CA$200 SKS clone or a CA$480 M14 clone, both of which are not “Restricted” in Canada, so ok to shoot on your farm, etc. (unlike an AR15 clone).

    • To each their own, but I wouldn’t trust any Chinese ammo. If they send us lead painted toys, radioactive waste in drywall, poison pet food, fake silver government bullion coins, I would not trust them with supplying us with safe, reliable ammunition. They are the lead country trying to hack out vital computer systems both civilian and military. Just sayin’ don’t mistake the Chinese government anything other than what they have been.

      • I’d venture to say the Chinese didn’t screw around with 7.62×39 back when the U.S. was still a huge market.

        During the glory days of cheap ChiCom ammo (late 80’s early 90’s) I fired whatever brand was the cheapest because I was a dirt-poor high school graduate with a $69 SKS. All I remember is all of it fired great and the copper washed steel-core was pure hell on engine blocks.

        I just picked up 800 rounds of various brands of 90’s ChiCom from my neighbor who’s shot plenty of it in his Maadi. I’m not worried.

        I’d dearly love to see ChiCom ammo flooding the market again.

    • I for one miss the Chinese 7.62×39 I use to shoot back in the early 90’s. They were some hot loads. and yes QC was weak. It wasn’t because of a FTF. It was more like one day the rounds we picked up were normal quality and the next week they +P+. One thing that stuck out to me was after fire off a bunch of rounds I would noticed that about 1 in 20 of the steel shells would be cracked down the side. But it was cheap at $2 a box.

  8. On the news yesterday I saw that for each of the last 4 months FBI background checks for gun purchases has exceeded 2 mm per month. That’s at least 8 mm new guns in circulation in just 4 months. I wonder how many tons of ammo are in private hands on any given day?

    What surprises me, and I know it shouldn’t, is the lack of even ammo such as 7.62x54r and 9×18 Makarov. The former com bloc nations are awash in the stuff. Are they having trouble shipping it? Or has even this well run dry?

    • There is PLENTY of 7.62x54R out there, and the prices haven’t gone up in years. I just bought 880rds for ~$160 _shipped_ from SportsmansGuide.

      I am unsure why we don’t see more surplus 9×18. Could be that the commies simply didn’t stack it that deep.

        • Eh, I’m not worried about 54r going away. Tons of it is still being imported, and there are very few semi-autos in this country that shoot it. As far as I can tell, your average MN 91/30 user shoots a couple mags and calls it a year.

      • That was true until a couple of weeks ago. CTD jacked the price up to $179/440rnd can after actually keeping a lid on the price at $95 even as they jacked up the prices on everything else. Gun show this weekend had prices ranging from $139 at the cheapest to $200 for the “You Gotta Be Kidding Me” award at the highest. So, at least around here, those days are over, even for 7.62x54r. What I have been doing is buying a bunch of Privi brass ammo for 54r and 8mm Mauser, which I’ve still been able to find. That along with my fortuitous discovery of primers/powder for sale at said gun show for reasonable prices.

    • Sea-shipment supply chain can take up to 3 months to adjust, even if supply is readily available at the origin. If we get into April/May and the supply of eastern-bloc milsurp ammo continues to be tight, THEN it will be time to get worried.

  9. To add to Foghorn’s explanation, we are also seeing something like the Run on the Banks that happened during the Great Depression. Because ammo is scarce, when it is available, people grab it. During normal times, when I am comfortable that my local gun stores have adequate stocks of ammo, I usually buy it only when needed and then only buy enough to meet my needs.

    Today, however, whenever a gun store gets some ammo in, I buy the maximum amount that they will let me buy even if I don’t really need it now. I do this because I have no confidence that the ammo will be there when I do need it. If I’m lucky, I have a friend with me who buys the max amount as well. As long as this situation continues to happen, people will buy more ammo then they need and this shortage will self-perpetuate.

    I agree with Foghorn that a cliff is coming, but as he said, Federal has three years of back orders in the queue to fill, so even if that cliff were to hit tomorrow, we are looking at a good deal of time before things get back to anything resembling normal. I’m fearful that it will take most of the rest of Obama’s term before that happens, and things will be slowing down just in time for the next Presidential election. Depending on who is running and who the expected winner is, we could see a new panic buying round emerge. Add to this, I think that as more ammo comes to market, more people, bruised by this most recent shortage will be into ammo hording, so high demand could exist much longer than expected.

    What may change things will be expected manufacturing queue length and projected investment cost. If an ammo manufacturer really has a three year backlog of orders, there is economic incentive for them them look at investing in new manufacturing equipment. If the anticipated cost of new machinery is more than covered by the existing order quantity, we may see manufacturers expand capacity to meet demand. This will bring the market into equilibrium faster, but we are probably looking at a time horizon of at least six months before any equipment investments will make much of a dent in the existing demand.

    So, the short answer is that 2013 is going to be a crappy year for ammo purchasing. Unfortunately.

    • While Federal does have 3 years worth of backorders, most of those orders will be cancelled once the distributors start receiving a steady stream of ammo. If the manufacturer doesn’t charge the customer until the order is shipped, why not submit dozens of stocking orders that can later be cancelled?

      • From what I’ve heard, that accounts for a lot of the long backlogs on AR15 rifles and their associated parts.

  10. There’s another dynamic at work here: gun owners in right denied states who are looking at ugly regulations on future ammo purchases. New York State was the first place to ban Internet and over the counter ammo sales without a BG check, but they’re not going to be the last. California and CT are two other states where buying ammo’s going to be a lot harder after 2013,so for gun guys and gals in those states its wise to stockpile whatever they can get before the legal axe falls and they have to ensure a NICS check and punitive per-bullet ammo tax.

  11. I absolutely agree. This “ammo shortage” is every bit as contrived, if not more, as the various “gas shortages”. Ask yourself if ammo manufacturers would willingly limit production the way petrobusiness would limit oil refinement.

    I can’t see any parallel. Something stinks to high heaven, because there’s NO AMMO to speak of, in the most popular calibers.

    In short, as I’ve said here before, a BIG FAT RAT. And my spidey-sense is very accurate.

    I’m REALLY disturbed by this. It gives me a bad feeling in my gut.

    • Not sure what you mean by contrived.

      Lots of people want to buy ammo. Manufacturers can’t make it fast enough to meet demand. What about this is hard to understand?

      Yes, there IS AMMO in the most popular calibers. It’s just flying off the shelves before you see it.

    • First, ammo manufacturers are NOT limiting production; they are going 3 shifts at most plants, and any limiting probably has to do with getting enough components and machine maintenance. They can sell every round they make right now; NOBODY limits production under those circumstances.

      Your “NO AMMO” claim is also incorrect, in my experience. Ammo is regularly moving to the retailers, but in much smaller amounts, which are snapped-up as soon as they hit the shelves. If you check in the afternoon/evening every day, you aren’t seeing the ammo that came in that morning and went out the door in less than an hour, and you assume that empty shelf has been empty all along. It hasn’t.

      I have seen and bought every caliber on the “short” list in the last month. Monday night, I stopped at the local Walmart and checked stock just before midnight. They were unpacking/shelving .223 and 9mm. I bought 3 boxes of .223, took them out to my car, came back into the store, and bought 2 boxes of 9mm just after midnight (3 per day is their limit, both these purchases will allow me to keep shooting for another month or two, tops). I guarantee those shelves will be empty again by this afternoon, just as they have appeared to be EVERY afternoon for the last month. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been selling ammo, or that NO AMMO is available.

      This is the new normal, at least for the next few months or perhaps years. More new shooters and more guns for the old shooters, pushing demand up at a time when supply is WAY behind the curve. Anyone who buys up to a year’s supply when they find it is NOT a hoarder, they are a prudent planner. If you KNOW you’re gonna need it, and you don’t know if/when you’re going to see it again, you buy it and make your ammo can/locker/safe stand-in for that shelf at the local gunshop/Walmart. It’ll always be stocked when you want and need it, vs. putting your hunting, target shooting, or defensive practice schedule in a stranger’s (or corporation’s) hands.

      EDIT: Dang, CentralIL beat me to it…

    • Interesting comments. A good friend is buying whatever he can. He’s convinced people laughing at prices will look back fondly on 2013 as “the good old days… that golden era when you could still buy 9mm for less than $1/rd.”

      I thought about it and realized those days are just about gone for 5.56 and 9mm HP.

  12. There hasn’t been any move on it yet, but the only long-term ammo concern I have is Com-Bloc stuff. I have a feeling that once most of this current crop of feel-good laws falls flat, the Obama Mob will set their sights on blocking imports as low hanging fruit. I don’t see our “conservative” stuffed shirts doing much to stop it, either, and it would give them a PR victory, you know, taking all these inexpensive assault bullets off the market.
    Like I said, nothing’s really indicated that’s where they’re headed, but I could see it happening. It was one of the deciding factors in opting for a .223 Arsenal over another 5.45 for me last year.

    • Yet, 5.45×39 is like 17c a round right now, and widely available. If I had a dime for every time I read about 5.45×39 disappearing because of bans or stocks evaporating, I’d have enough for a few more crates.

      • I’ve seen awesome deals in 7.62×39, 5.45×39 and 7.62x54r. Unfortunately they are all online and I live in MA so I can’t buy. It sucks because nobody around here stocks a lot of it. This might be a model for other states in the future to ban without banning. A gun is an expensive paperweight without ammo. If they make it so frustrating to buy that everyone stops buying and firearms ownership decreases, they win in the long fight.

        • That totally sucks, man. I’m in MD, so I’m quite familiar with fighting the good fight. Haven’t heard any mutterings about banning it here, though.

      • That’s why I decided to build my first AR in (heresy!) 5.45×39, and I was ecstatic to score a corrosion-proofed Spikes 5.45 upper from AIM for $650 last week.

        With shipping, my first 1080-round spam can came in at 21.3c/round. Compared to 60c-80c/round for .223, I’m going to call that a huge fscking win. I’ll be acquiring a crate (2*1080) of 5.45 spam cans every 2-3 months through the rest of the year.

        Looks like I’ll be able to do that Costa Ludus carbine class this fall after all — and maybe some 3-gun by late spring!

        • The local gun store just got a 7.62×39 AR last week. If I didn’t already have an AK I might have snagged it. I haven’t seen a 5.45×39 AR yet. It is probably the best deal in ammo currently.

  13. I was surprised not to see mention in the article about the massive ammo purchases being made by other federal agencies, as well. Conspiracy theories aside (and I have my concerns, too), is that not a factor?

    And just out of curiosity, how is this affecting the reloading hobbyists?

    • Powder and primers are “out of stock” and brass prices have increased significantly.

      • I’ve both on the shelf in multiple stores. Prices are high and selection isn’t vast, but they are still out there.

        • The same can be said about ammo itself. I can get you as much .223 as you want if you’re willing to pay $0.75+ per round. Does that mean it’s readily available?

    • It has become difficult to find powder and primers for most calibers I reload. The only primers still available at my local shop are small pistol primers. I go to the local supplier and buy the maximum of whatever they have on the shelf to get me by, but it’s not enough and the selection is so limited that I’m buying stuff that I can’t use just so that maybe I can trade.

    • Yep, I was surprised the article didn’t mention the large ammo orders recently placed by the government. (They’re well documented elsewhere, in case you’ve been out of the loop for a while). I understand that the ammo manufacturers supply the military first, then civilian government agencies (DHS, etc), and last but not least, the humble private citizen. So huge orders from guv’ment agencies are bound to reduce the amount of ammo available at Walmart or your local gun store.

      • The government is getting all the ammo. Thay are the root cause. If you look at the huge stockpiles they are building, it’s (fairly) obvious that they are “competing” with civilians for market share, intentionally. I hope manufacturers catch up to market demand before the gov outlaws purchases. 🙂

  14. It seems like I’m the only one who hoarded before the election. I haven’t bought a single round since October. I’m not willing to pay double what I paid 6 months ago because I don’t have to. I have at least a year’s worth of healthy shooting. If I don’t see a noticeable decrease in prices / increase in availability in the next 3-4 months, I will have to start to curtail some of my shooting.

    And I live in NY, so there’s that too.

    • Yep, I had a habit of picking up boxes of 9mm FMJ when Wally or Academy had ’em for the low $20s/100 so I’ve got a bunch of that, along with some sale-priced Gold Dot, Federal 5.56, and Tula 7.62×39 . I did get a .45ACP fairly recently and have only a few boxes of FMJ and defense rounds in that caliber tho, I wish I had more to practice with.

  15. This would be a good topic for TTAG. I always heard that gunpowder gets MORE powerful with age. Certainly seemed true when I lit some Black Cat fireworks that my dad still had from the ’60s compared to todays.

    • Older fireworks just had plain more stuff in them – whatever the device.

      Basically, since the late 60s the ATF and CPSC have been ratcheting down the amount of powder allowed in the legit stuff. Illegal stuff makes it in all the time, but that’s more about sloppy manufacturing in Asia than it is about deliberate attempts to sell us cool fireworks..

    • Black Cats from the 60’s WERE more powerful. What they call firecrackers now are only about 1/2 as strong as they used to be…

    • The amount of chemical energy that was loaded into the case is fixed – you can only get less out, not more. However, depending on what it is and how it’s been treated, it can get more temperamental and willing to give that energy up more easily. That can lead to a charge being consumed faster and higher case pressures than intended…or it can lead to degradation over time and less reaction at all.

  16. I agree with the cause, but not the market analysis. “Well-meaning” politicians continue to put every possible effort to increase taxes and regulation on ammo. As we have seen before with the SAFE Act, and Feinstein’s continued efforts, these laws actually can be passed. Rational and mature voters are outnumbered by emotional creatures. “Demand a plan” and “common sense” gun control are the orders of the day. The damage of this underdeveloped thinking continues, with little sign of slowing down.

    Meanwhile, some psychotic a-hole is scoping out the next Gun Free Zone and planning a new atrocity. While politicians are generally well-protected, they are using much of their influence to increase the vulnerability of John Q. Public. I hope the next mass shooter is stopped by a lawman or CCW carrier, but that may not be the case. And with the next shooting – regardless of which gun laws were violated – the calls will come for even more gun control and ammunition regulation.

    Sorry for the pessimism. I would be happy to be wrong, and sincerely hope that another mass shooting does not happen in the US (or anywhere in the world).

  17. The shortage is understandable when you look at the numbers. I read an NSSF statement that said the industry produces about a billion rounds per month. So, 12B rounds are produced domestically each year. Unfortunatly, I can’t find a good number for rounds imported, but for these purposes lets tack on another 5B. Total ammo per year is thus 17B rounds.

    The military has been using about 1.8B rounds per year. I can’t find a good number on law enforcement, but considering the US has 794,300 sworn law enforcement officers (according to Wikipedia), I think we can safely say the police and military combined use at least 2B rounds per year. That leaves 15B for the rest of us.

    Recent polling says that about 40% of households own a gun. According to the latest census, there are about 115M households in the us. This means there are about 46M gun-owning households.

    15B divided by 46M is only 326. That’s 326 rounds per household (not per gun) per year. So, when a couple of million people go out and buy an extra case of ammo, you can see how that quickly result in a shortage.

      • I believe you are allowed less than that (something like 200 annually) when buying from Mexico’s only official gun store.

    • Yes, thanks for working out these calculations – they add a lot of context to the discussion.

    • And the past few months/years have seen a lot of new gun owners, as well as record firearms sales in general. Granted, some people buy guns without shooting them much.

      Still, guns pretty much last forever. Therefore, I think it can be assumed that each new gun sold represents a permanent, however slight, increase in civilian ammunition demand.

      How many rounds go through the average 10/22 per year? Multiply that by the every new 10/22 sold and you can see why the demand keeps increasing.

  18. We have met the enemy and it is us. We are responsible for the shortage because we buy whether we need it or not. We buy out of fear. When you have 10K rounds in your basement you can stop panicking.

    On the DHS business: DHS has a large number of LE components like ICE and Secret Service. They also have the fifth armed service, the USCG, under their authority. The Coasties use ammo at the same rate ad the other services.

    • Do the Coasties actually do peacetime requisitions through the DoD or DBS, err, DHS? Or is it D of Health and Human Services now? Can never keep up where they got shuffled off to.

  19. It had started to get better here, then tax refunds started. When they run their course, the situation will begin to improve.

  20. I have a completely contrarian view of all this. Barring any more completely nutty mass shootings:

    Everything but .223 will be back in ready supply and slightly elevated prices by summer. .223 will follow by fall. AR-15s have already fallen significantly in pricing over the past couple weeks, and will be normal-ish by April, except for maybe a few high-end guns.

    I don’t believe there is “huge demand” for ammo, at least not now that the AWB and other such bills went DOA. I think there is normal demand, but a completely empty channel from the post-Newtown demand spike. As we all know from econ 101, “normal demand, low supply” can cause huge price spikes just as easily as “high demand, normal supply”.

    I also think that many sellers react slowly to new pricing information. Example: I’ve been watching Sig 556R auctions on GB, and the bulk of the auctions are guns don’t hit reserve and keep cycling back in. That’s because the sellers haven’t quite figured out that the days of $2000 556Rs are basically over with.

  21. A great time to turn to my list of never ending parts I want, most of which are in stock and have not gone up.

  22. But you have to know that many many many of that 40% of households will have ammo stockpile that exceeds hundreds of rounds and is more likely multiple thousands of rounds. 95 million gun owners in America, doesn’t take long gobble up millions of rounds of ammo.

  23. Suddenly I found myself glad in January that I had amassed about 3000 rounds over the last year. Buying a couple of boxes a week will get you there sooner or later!

    My LGS’s still have ammo but it is off brand stuff I have never heard of before or cheaper russian ammo prices wayyyy to high. I still have ammo to shoot, I will wait this all out.

  24. If you own a significant stock of 22LR target ammo and you’re still buying more, you’re being an asshole and you should stop.

    Last week I finally managed to get some 22LR ammo ordered from MidwayUSA so could take kids and newbies to the range. Had to place the order using my phone browser the minute I got the text message alert, because as you all know this stuff is still selling out less than 5 minutes after stock shows up.

    Scored a whopping 2 boxes of 500 rounds each (sounds like a lot, but doesn’t last as long as you’d think) and waited a week for them to pack and ship it. Turns out they oversold and I’m only getting one box of 500.

    This is getting ridiculous. If you have a decent supply in your safe, please stop buying so the rest of us can have some minimal access to product.

    • Unless you live in the same community as I do, and shop at the same retailers, my not buying something isn’t going to make it available to you instead, any more than eating all of my beets will help starving kids in China.

      ‘Sides, if you can get your hands on even a single brick of .22s, lately, good on ya- you’re doing better than me.

  25. Sooo, at least 3yrs before we get to normal just in orders alone? We have to go through the gun bill panic, then the mid-term election panic and then the 2016 panic before we get back to normal….wonderfull!

  26. Otherwise solution is for these panic idiot buyers to spend time fighting these bans not buying up!!!!!!!!!

    • You mean these (I mean, WE) prudent, intelligent buyers? What makes you think we aren’t also fighting the bans while stocking up? As previous posters have noted, it is perfectly rational to buy whatever you can when you have the chance, when you already know that if you ever actually run out, the odds of being able to buy more right then are essentially nil.

      It sounds as if you’re simply angry because I got to the store before you did. Try getting up earlier next time, and the next time, and the next time, like I already did time after time to slowly build up a little extra. Work more, whine less.

  27. The Fed Govt is most certainly playing some role in this ammo shortage. Its been more then 2 months already, supply and demand should have caught up with each other. It is completely unnatural that the distributors should be out of ammo. The ammo is either all going to one place (DHS) or manufacturers have been ordered to stop making it.

    • No, the shortage is completely natural.

      Demand is through the roof. Manufacturers are making it as fast as they can but they can’t keep up.

      If you can make X of a product per day and people want more than X per day there will be shortages until you can catch up.

      • No it’s not a natural shortage per say. Usually we don’t have multiple wars going on(maybe that’s not true) gun ban threats in congress, Homeland Security and other fed agencies buying up ammo in amazing volumes and this surge of more shooters who would of never gotten into this sport if it weren’t for all the media attention of gun bans, school shootings and a rush to buy guns.
        Nothing natural about this ban. There are some natural actions such as supply and demand going on of course, but regular supply and demand would not create what we have now.

  28. Google onenewsnow and dhs ammo or obama administration buying up all ammo to keep it from citizens. Listen to the interview with a guy in the gun/ammo manufacturing business. Does anyone know what IDIQ means? Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity. That is what the government has over the ammo manufactureres. Listen to the interview it will answer a huge part of this question.
    P.S. I posted the link in but not sure it will come through.

  29. I’ve been shooting my 7mm Mauser because at least I can get ammo for it. And wehave broke out the shottys as well, because 12 Gauge birdshot is cheaper than 9mm at the moment – and more available as well.

    • I’m amazed to find myself in roughly the same situation — it’s cheaper to feed my shotguns 20ga heavy target loads than it is to feed my HK 40SW of ANY variety. 20ga factory birdshot loads continue to be so cheap that it’s worth collecting the hulls for future use, but not worth reloading them with birdshot.

      I’ve definitely noticed that the extra time on the shotgun is improving my weapon-handling and reload skills, so there’s that silver lining.

  30. Well here in my area in Fl. their is nothing to buy, only a few shot guns and bolt action rifles ,,, nothing else , and what about import ammo i am seeing NONE… am starting to see magazines online at sky high prices,,, No reloading supplies,,, and TAKE NOTE : home land Security is buying 2700 TANKS !!!!!!! something rotten in Denmark !!

    • Let’s get real here folks! Everyone over-reacted and bought ammo after Sandy Hook and the Nov election in panic buying, this was and is exactly like the 1973 oil embargo and the huge gas lines! In time, months or perhaps 2 years, the hype will die down. BTW- the DHS does not have the manpower, expertise or inclination to employ MBT (Main Battle Tanks) in the CONUS. Tanks are very probe to normal mechanical breakdowns thus they are whenever possible transported via a massive wheeled tank transporter until they reach the battlefield and it takes a huge staff of mechanics to keep these beasts rolling. Another thing, the first time US forces turn on their own countrymen, it will mean the end of this country, so STOP being paranoid. Most democratic governments are not efficient in doing anything in total seclusion and efficiency, witness our forays into Iraq and Afghanistan- no total success stories.

  31. If I had the capital and know-how I would open an oil refinery and an ammunition factory. Actually, uncertainty as to the long-term plans of the government would probably keep me from making that huge investment.

    Hmm, I suppose that could also be the case for those who actually have the capital…

    • That’s the thing. It’s possible to become a low volume gun-maker with a relatively small investment. The same is true for bullets. Even brass doesn’t require a very large company to produce.

      Smokeless powder and primers? Forget about it. They are possible to improvise but not at anywhere near the reliability or safety of a major (expensive) operation.

      Powder and primers are the bottleneck.

  32. I’m so glad I only use the .223 AR platform for long range single loads of 80 and 90 grain, no way I could keep supply up with plinking 55 grains all day. AK ammo isn’t that plentiful either but that crap was dirt cheap not long ago and thankfully I stocked up. This will all end this year some time, maybe have to wait for mid 2014, with the Afghan war ending for the most part and more ammo manufacturing facilities popping up we will get to that light at the end of the tunnel eventually. It really all depends on when this gun ban nonsense ends, I believe the gungrabbers strategy is introduce the main bans soon, then when most or all of them fail continue to introduce bits and pieces over time, within other bills and other deceiving tricks used in congress. Hopefully we can get a clear idea on how this gun legislation attempt will go and when the threat is truly over. My guess is the Feinstein freaks and Bloomberg boobs will drag this out even though they demand action now, just to keep prices high and the fear fresh.

  33. Gotta love ‘murica, get your tax refund, spend it on ammunition. Doesn’t the average retiree now have something like 30k in their saving account when they retire?

    • My response to HotAir would be … ah, yes, the “move along, nothing to see here” “debunking”. Which isn’t a debunk, but challenging the reasons “why?” tossed about in the wild of the interwebtubes. Most likely reason? Look at Greece. Spain. Portugul. It’s where the math insists we’re heading eventually. And they want to be prepared just in case. But they can’t come out and say “well, we’re buying all of this ammo in case the economy turns into a smoking crater and youz guyz hit the streets by the millions and burn stuff down” – that would create a whole “‘nuther” problem and a whole “‘nuther” list of questions. To suppose they’re buying it all “jus ’cause it’s gettin’ more ‘spensive” also begs the question: are they also buying 2,700 MRAPs for domestic use for fear that there will soon be a run on them, jacking the price up for the gov’t? Are they worried folks will clear the shelves of paper targets of pregnant women in their home nursery, children in their backyard, old ladies in their bathrooms, or old men in their kitchens, and so have decided to “get while the gettin’s good”? DHS specifically requested that domestic Predator drones be capable of detecting whether or not a civilian is armed and be capable of intercepting cell phone signals. That and Holder releasing a memo that the administration’s position is that armed drone strikes on US civilians on US soil would be lawful. You know, should the situation be “serious enough” – whatever that means. ‘Cause you know, that tech could get real expensive soon as people buy cheap and stack deep on Hellfires. 😉

  34. Considering the lengths the soulless progressive fascists will go to in order to deprive people of rights, it’s plausible to think they’ll go after ammo next. Hoarding is perfectly logical.

    Hate to say it, but I don’t think this “shortage” will ever end. We’ve seen how far the enemy will go, and if this current push doesn’t work, they’ll manufacture another tragedy to try again and we’ll be back to panic buying and hoarding. The America we knew is gone. Brave new world.

  35. Wow.

    If I was glad before that what I primarily use are 7.62x54r, 7.62x38mm Nagant and 7.62x25mm Tokarev, I’m twice as glad now.

    Well, .380 ACP as well, but I’ll let that wee beastie hibernate ’til things regain some semblance of normalcy.

  36. So, I’ve got about 2000 rounds of 7.62×39 and probably a couple hundred 5.56 just sitting in a box. I have zero intention of using them in the next year, should I jsut sellt his stuff at a profit now and buy new when the time comes, or will it never really go down in price?

    • The inverse delimma people are facing who are bum-rushing to buy up all the inventory at OMG prices to jack them up to OMG+margin and resell it. *If* the situation settles and the bottom falls out of the prices, they’re sitting on a bunch of ammo they paid a panic premium for they can no longer flip for a quick profit. They’re going long (buy “cheap” today, sell for MOAR! tomorrow). You’re considering shorting the market (sell for MOAR! today, and buy it back cheap tomorrow). :0)

  37. What we’re witnessing is history folks. Ammo prices in the 1990’s were like $10 for 100 9mm rounds. Then 9/11 happened and ammo found new higher price levels. The previous generation 10+ years ago said the same things many of you are saying now. They waited, and waited, and waited…..and still waiting. Prices never came back to pre-9/11 levels.

    Learn from history, it’s that simple. Ammo prices will not come back to pre-Sandy Hook levels. Better get used to that idea real quick. New higher price levels will be found in 2013-14 and then finally stabilize at some point when supply starts to stabilize at the same time. For now, new price levels for a 50rd box seem to be $15+ for 9mm, $20 for 40S&W, and $25 for 45ACP. They will probably creep a little higher. 22LR prices are too volatile right now for any meaningful predictions.

    • Does anyone know what types of contracts WalMart has in place? They are still getting in and selling ammo (albeit limited) at pre or near pre- Sandy Hook pricing.

  38. I hate seeing these prices if I do find ammo its around $1 a round for 9mm and .223 I not paying for that. people should be buying 30 round mags not ammo that is what is on the chopping block.

  39. The run on ammunition comes amid Internet discussion about recent purchases of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration. see below

    Homeland Security solicited bids for up to 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition for over the next five years, but agency spokesman Marsha Catron says that most of it would go to required training for about 130,000 armed federal agents in various agencies. The DHS ammunition purchases have been steady since 2009.

  40. I’m not sure I’m buying the explanation here. DoD has their own contractor operated plants to produce ammo so I’m not buying that they are the source of the shortage. Non-military agencies however must buy commercial. Anyone else think that the fed is limiting our supply and driving up prices by buying billions of rounds that they don’t really need through DHS?

  41. After reading through Foghorns answer and all the other comments I’m still confused on why there is a shortage. Isn’t military ammunition produced by two dedicated plants in Georgia? Homeland security did buy a bunch of bullets but nowhere near the 14 billion produced annually. I’m unable to find adequate information on how may bullets a “production line” can produce in a given time period but its got to be millions. Wiki says there are 45-55 million gun owners in the US so each owner would need to be buying like 180,000 rounds of ammunition to stay ahead of production. I know that the CCI plant in Lewiston Id is not running round the clock and prices from all the retailers have doubled and tripled since the first of the year. Sorry but I’m going to go with the train of thought that this shortage is being created by the manufacturers who saw the opportunity before the rest of us. I have sent letters to the three major manufacturers investor relations departments since you usually get a better response. (I did buy stock) It will be interesting to see what happens later this month since its the end of a fiscal quarter. ATK who makes Federal ammunition stock was actually down today. Does that sound like someone who has 3 years worth of backorders already sold?

    • Homeland security did buy a bunch of bullets but nowhere near the 14 billion produced annually. I’m unable to find adequate information on how may bullets a “production line” can produce in a given time period but its got to be millions. Wiki says there are 45-55 million gun owners in the US so each owner would need to be buying like 180,000 rounds of ammunition to stay ahead of production.

      But 14 billion divided by ~50 million = 280 rounds per gun owner per year. The average number of rounds each gun owner would have to buy per month to keep up with production would be about 24. That’s not a lot. The reason the consumer ammunition supply is vulnerable to runs like this is because the ability of the gun-owning public to ramp up demand far outstrips the industry’s ability to ramp up supply.

    • I also sent a couple notes to ammo manufactures. The one you mentioned and Federal. They assured me they were running full tilt boggie and would catch up as soon as possible. That was back in March. It is now mid May and in Oklahoma, there is nothing in the stores and if you should find something at a gun shop, the price is tripple what it should be. One well known gun shop in Tulsa was asking $99.99 for a brick of 22lr. When you can find any 5.56 it is some brand I never heard of and is well over a buck a round. Go figure. By the way, the army does not use hollow point ammo. Just saying.

  42. The market is being controlled by greed and our crooked government. However , greed is the master inthis case. Has anyone noticed many of the second tier ammo catalogs no longer have prices. If this were happening to anything but gun stuff the feds would be all over it. Hence the governments part of this, not applying the law on price fixing. That dirt site is one of the worst culprits, so stay with the honest businesses like that mid___ site. Just my considered opine.

  43. This is BS and we know it just the gov wanting to play control
    and raise the Damn price on ammo for us law abiding citizens
    big joke on us money/power hungry is the way I see it ..
    Again taking gun rights away from us law abiding people
    will leave guns in the hands of the lowest of low lifes !!!!!!!!!

  44. It’s not any easier to reload either. It’s impossible to find brass, and the only local store/gun range that we can find primers at will only sell 100 at a time. DH says it’s not even worth it to get the reloader set up for less than 500. It’s ridiculous.

  45. After reading this and dozens of other threads on the subject, I’m firmly convinced that this shortage is caused by one thing – and that is panic buying. Time and time again, you see posts that say – I have xxK rounds already, but saw some and decided to buy all I could, or the guy who’s buying ammo in calibers he doesn’t need so he can maybe trade! People buying what they don’t really need! WTF. Yet you can read it in a forum on any given day.

    If we want it to stop, we need to get people to stop stockpiling and paying crazy prices. Once demand slacks (and it eventually will), supplies will improve and prices will drop. Oh and remember the dealers who are gouging you now. Taking your business elsewhere is the best message you can send. Help spread the word at your local gun ranges, clubs, …

  46. The author makes the comment that distributors are shipping as fast as they get it. I have not been able to get independent verification of this however. If the author has this, perhaps he could indicate how he got that information. Here is my take based on 35 years of supply chain management experience:
    1. manufacturers working 24/7 means no current raw materials shortages.
    2. Product is being shipped to distributors sometimes hourly, verified by the manufacturers
    3. Retailers are telling me they are not even getting the normal amounts they were getting before this shortage.
    4. Therefore the ammo must be going somewhere else
    I have dealt with supply shortages in virtually every major commodity over the years and in nearly every case, excess speculation in the supply chain contributed to the shortage and price increases.
    We have a “perfect storm” for unscrupulous distributors to keep ammo out of the supply chain: the cost of borrowed money is virtually zero, the real estate collapse has made warehouse space dirt cheap. Under those conditions, why not hold some product back to gin up prices even more? It’s not costing anything.
    I can get no comment from ammo manufacturers on this; they have neither denied nor confirmed. My experience tells me there is some percentage of distributors holding back. Yes it will backfire on them eventually in a year or so, but greed gets in the way of ethics and common sense sometimes. In the meantime, prices will rise more than they would have if the supply chain worked without interference.

  47. Keep in mind Obama and friends have been talking about going after ammunition, not guns, for quite some time. No ammo, or serialized ammo is just as effective as banning guns – but without the political impact to the 2nd amendment.

    So if you were Obama and wanted to get ammo out of the market what would you do? How about place an order so massive that it will take 90% of the domestic manufacturing just to meet that order. Just google up the stories on DHS’ order for more than a billion rounds, then look at the DOD orders for current conflicts and stockpiles.

    Using YOUR tax dollars to deprive you of ammunition. Gotta give props to the clever little devil.

  48. I say BULL SHIT! Yes there is a huge public demand for ammo. And yes there is ammo production for the Iraq / Middle East issue. Let’s talk about the Department of Homeland Defense. They are ordering ammo up. It’s part of the Obama plan. This department isn’t charged with any duties that require massive amounts of ammo! Eliminate this and we would only have citizens buying. Those citizens who are smart enough NOT to trust this current Executive Branch.

  49. I just bought a new house on several acres of land, and I was looking forward to shooting my Ruger Mark II with my kids. I haven’t shot that gun in about 10 years (mainly because I didn’t have any place to shoot it) — imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find any .22 ammo!

    I have been performing a lot of Google searching, and I come across websites like this one, with insane people talking about hoarding 20,000 rounds of ammunition. I have NONE — I just want to buy 100 rounds to have some fun with my kids on my new acreage, and you assholes are hoarding 20,000 rounds of ammunition!


    • there is no way in hell this shortage of .22lr ammo is due to private people hoarding ammo! If you actually believe that, you are naive.

      • No — you are quite literally insane if you truly believe in some conspiracy theory that the government is loading up on .22lr ammo.

        What would the government do with .22lr ammo? Use it in a war?! The military doesn’t use it, the police don’t use it.

        Do you have any proof that the government has bought up a billion rounds of .22lr ammo?

        No — private people are HOARDING ammo. That’s the TRUTH. Stop being crazy, and start thinking rationally for a change.

        • FLAME DELETED it is the raw material that is preventing the production of the .22 ammo . Ammo doesn’t all come off the same line. You think every person in the country is buying up .22 ammo? What for, a squirrel take over? Get a grip.

        • FLAME DELETED – If you were flamed please email link to [email protected]

          I’ve actually called the ammo manufacturers and spoken with them — have YOU?

          This is not a raw material problem — the line are running 24 hours per day, to try to keep up with demand — but the public is demanding more ammo than the manufacturers can supply.

    • Two things no one here is considering:
      1. 22LR is the “loss leader” for manufacturers. They don’t make much profit on these. When faced with increased demand for all of your products, what would you do, make the dollar a round stuff or the $1.95 box of 50 22LR?

      2. No one here is considering the very real possibility that wholesalers are sitting on a portion of their inventory for speculative purposes. It happens in every commodity shortage. Manufacturers are geared to making and shipping product; they sell to wholesalers in truck load lots who then ship them to big box stores and small gun dealers alike. If you want to know who’s hoarding, look at these guys. When I asked several ammo manufacturers if they could guarantee me that their distribution customers were shipping everything out as fast as they got it, NONE would answer me.

  50. It is the government that is doing the hoarding! I work for a major outdoor retailer. The company is NOT holding back ammo! We are not getting any ammo in quantity even 1/10th of what our normal shipments were. It is the government buying it up with your tax dollars and stock piling it PERIOD. Wake up America!

  51. Nonsense – the US government is not the cause of ammo shortage. What is occurring is simply a fad, or herd mentality if you prefer. The citizenry is buying the ammo, and they are buying it because they cannot help themselves. It is like a drug addiction or perhaps Black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving. The urge to buy more ammo persists, simply because it is hard to find, and when it is found, people think to themselves: “Ah ha! Victory! I scored a brick of .22lr and ten boxes of .223!” This sort of behavior then leads to competition amongst peers (e.g. you out-bought your buddy or found 5,000 rounds of 7.62 for an amazing price!) The fever fuels the thousands of thread comments on gun forums, telling stories of how people found ammo and bought it all.
    Hasn’t anyone noticed other people that are now spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on ammunition, when they hadn’t done that in the past? I have a friend that keeps ordering ammo, just because he “found it.” Indeed there is widespread, manic compulsion to obtain ammo, for no particular reason, other than to “just have it” or to compete with one’s peers. People aren’t even shooting the ammo they have acquired, they just go down to their little “warehouse” in the basement and take inventory, and fondle the little boxes of shiny brass cartridges, all the while – complementing themselves and inventing excuses as justification in why they need such a huge stockpile of rounds.

    It’s a bit of madness that has struck the gun owning populous. Hopefully, a drug will be invented to cure this silliness, and we can all go out to the range again and enjoy shooting at a reasonable cost.

    • Where’s the “like” button? MaxSeven has a good head on his shoulders, and what he describes is HOARDING (which is exactly what I was saying earlier).

      • You are wrong! SOOOO wrong!!! The amount of ammo received by stores is minimal. The large outdoor retailer for whom I work receives single boxes of ammo when we used to get pallet loads. There is nothing to sell.

    • There is nothing in the stores to sell. If the manufactures are making the ammo, where then is it going? If the stores only have small amounts, the ammo is going somewhere else. The ammo is being purchased by the government and stock piled to keep if from the public.

      • Are you guys really that dense?

        Manufacturers have to supply the entire USA with ammo — they can’t just send a huge pallet to a single store, and ignore everyone else. They’re spreading the shipments among as many different retailers as best they can. When ammo shows up, it’s purchased immediately (by “Bubba”, who already has 20,000 rounds, but thinks he needs it) — and the cycle continues.

        This is just common sense stuff folks — there is no government conspiracy. Start thinking rationally, and stop hoarding ammo!

      • Bob,
        I appreciate your logic, but clearly the ammo makers are producing as fast as they can, but our hoarders are buying it faster. There are 131,806 FFL / Ammo dealers in the USA. For each one of those dealers there are perhaps an average of 100 or more citizens buying everything they can. This, in combination with the government purchasing, is perpetuating the irrational demand. The reason your store is not getting shipments of the size it was before the whacko-ammo-shopping-spree started, is because the demand exceeds the rate at which manufacturers can produce – and they were not prepared for such a spike as noted in the above article, having minimal inventory reserves.

        Take some time to browse through the comments in any of the gun forums online about the topic of ammo – they are all buying everything they can. There are people paying off store clerks to call them in advance of a truck arriving. Others have family that work at the stores, tipping them off. There are services like gunbot and ammoseek, which people watch day and night for buying opportunities. Some are reselling it for profit, and others are simply taking immense pride, standing in admiration of their shelves and pallets of ammo sitting in the garage.

        There is no conspiracy or plot to disarm the citizens, the government is reacting in the same manner as the hoarding public – to buy as much as possible, “just in case.” The present demand is the result of self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as the behavior changes, the shortage will end.

        • I hope you are right….time will tell. I get 50 questions a day ….”where’s the ammo”.

        • Again, where’s the “like” button? MaxSeven has a good head on his shoulders.

          …and I thought I was “the only sane person here”! MaxSeven is sane too! 🙂

        • You do seem to the be the most sensible one here! I say remember the small company that is starting out and watch to see if they raise their prices…if they don’t, they are who you go with. It’s disgusting to look at sites like Cheaper Than Dirt and see 50 rounds of 115gr FMJ 9mm going for $90.00..anyone who buys that should be ashamed of themselves.. I am all for profit, but I KNOW the components aren’t costing near that price…it’s a sickening sight.

          • Concur. There will always be profiteers. The person willing to pay $90 for a box of 9mm, is who enables them. Remember who those merchants are. When this subsides (and it will) patronize those merchants that didn’t gouge you and don’t patronize those that did! That’s the best message you can send.

          • Max:

            While your logic makes some sense, our store, a retail chain Gander Mountain is not getting any quantities of ammo to speak of…….a few boxes of various calibers. I agree that people are snatching up what they can, however….people can’t hoard what they can’t buy.

        • Bob — you need to think of this on a much larger scale. On a small scale, you are correct — people can’t hoard what they can’t buy (because there is nothing to buy).

          Yet, on a much larger scale, all ammo is hoarded the instant it goes on sale at EVERY retail store in the nation.

          Think on a large (nation wide) scale, and it might make more sense! 🙂

  52. What also is happening amongst gun enthusiasts, whom do their shopping online for ammo, is that they are falling into the trap of: “I should buy this ammo, because it’s in stock and I might not have a chance to get it later.” John Doe is shopping for .223/5.56 and happens upon a site that has PMC 20 round boxes in stock for sixty-five cents a round. He already has a couple thousand rounds sitting in his storage locker in the basement. Thoughts start swimming around, and the little voice in his head says the following: “John, you better buy that, or someone else will – and you won’t be able to find it again at that price. Hurry up! There’s probably ten people already looking at the same item getting read to press the “Add to Cart” button. Get on it!” Mr. Doe falls victim to his urges and misplaced priorities, and quickly orders 10 boxes (because that’s the limit on the site – he would order more if he could,) and breaths a sigh of relief because he now has another 200 rounds of .223! Quod erat demonstrandum.

    When you have many thousands of people behaving like this en masse, it quickly results in sell-outs of the various popular rounds of ammo. It also enables the seller to up the price the next go-around, and test the new economic value model for bullets.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  53. Fortunately I was still prepared from the Clinton years. Anyone who went through that ban could see what was coming. A gun is only good if you have something to shoot out of it and I think people finally caught on that a couple boxes of 9mm is not going to cut it. I was recently able to secure some Israeli 9mm for 27.50 per box.. The reason 22LR is going up and in short supply is because that is what people use for target practice

  54. You missed the biggest reason why there is no ammo. DHS has ordered over 2 billion rounds. If you havn’t already heard, look it up. 2 billion rounds. All hollow point. hmmmmmm….

  55. What a ridiculous article based in rubber band theory, conjecture, and utter speculation. There are no supporting references, except some loose reference to some Queso dude who “just knows what is going on at the factory.”

    I was Googling for factual answers. I get to this site and I get the old “it’s supply and demand, trust me” hoo ha from the manufacturing industry.

  56. observation: here in central texas the people who are lining up at 4 am to buy ammo are not shooters or gun owners……they are bottom feeders.
    the kind of people who park in handicap parking and skip to the door of the ammo store. I asked one guy in line what type of ammo he was buying and he said he does not own a gun…….I have seen this guy 5 times in the last week at retailers looking for ammo. ammo retailers are the backbone of our second amendment rights…these parasite resellers are just south of the backbone. I think reselling ammo w/o a ffl should be an enforced felony. In the riots in south central LA getting to ammo was just as important as getting to water or food…… these resellers i agree are as bad as an asshole selling water at 10 dollars a gallon after katrina….they should be locked up.

    • Darrel Licht — I don’t think you will find a single person here who would disagree with you!

    • “I think reselling ammo w/o a ffl should be an enforced felony”

      Absurd. Yet another “There oughtta be a law…” person.

      If you need/want ammo, GET IT. It might not be for the price you want but it’s there in ready supply.

      • FFL dealer to sell ammo? That IS absurd. I happen to be one of the enthusiasts who enjoys loading / reloading ammo. It saves me money and I have better loads that are specifically tailored for my fire arms. FFL requirements would only screw me out of a hobby and lump me in with those struggling to find ammo.

    • You are correct sir. However, I must point out that, in my opinion, there are a great many people, probably including TTAG readers, that do not want the ammo shortage to end. They are making an awful lot of money via this arbitrage, wherein the two markets are the prices paid at retailers who do not gouge (Cabela’s, BassPro, Wal-Mart etc.) and the private selling market (Gun Auction Sites and other outlets etc.) I’m not a participant in this mercenary activity, and I remain indifferent to it – after all, we do live in a free-market economy, and we can choose “not to buy” if we want to. I only buy what I need for my shooting hobby. I do not stockpile, nor spend thousands of dollars willy-nilly on ammunition, just because it is available. I won’t buy ammunition if the price exceeds what I consider to be fair value.
      There is also the growing survivalist movement to consider, as its popularity has risen considerably over the last few years, where newly formed prepper mentalities are on the ammo-buying binge as well.
      Eventually, and hopefully, everyone will become bored with all this nonsense, and the frenzy will abruptly end, popping the ammo bubble.

  57. . . . .and don’t forget the 1.6 BILLION rounds snatched up by the Department of Homeland Security.

  58. As a guy who works at a small retail chain that sells firearms and ammo, I see this from a completely different light than the majority of my customers. Everyone comes in a whines and complains. They shoot off tons of conspiracy theories about how the guv’ment is doing this, and DHS this, Obama that, blah blah blah, but are the same guys who will literally buy 5 or 6 bricks of .22lr, 9, 40, and 380 by the case, and as much 5.556 ammo as I can carry to them.
    While I dont disagree that there may be some behind the scenes government actions that arent helping our current situation, I firmly believe this is simply panic driven. Everytime a moron politician gets on tv and even utters the word “gun,” and “law” in the same day, or any time a national tragedy takes place, everyone and their brother rush to the store and buy everything that isnt nailed to the floor.

    I have about 6 to 8 retirement age men who constantly sit and wait on me to take my place at the counter every morning at 640 A.M just so they can be first in line. Before the cart of ammo is even downloaded and put onto the shelves, they are busy with pads of paper or note books, taking stock of what I am getting in and are making phone calls, “hey man, I can get some 22lr or 7.62×39 right now, how much do you want,”.
    I finally got to the point where I wont sell .22 bricks. I open them and sell the individual 50 rnd boxes, and set a 6 box limit, per caliber, per customer. You should have seen the shit storm roll in the moment I told them I wont sell bricks. The 50 rnd boxes are not marked up at all, it would be the same price if you could buy 10, but they dont want to buy those, they want big amounts so they can turn around and either sell it or sit on it. Our store charges a whopping 25 dollars for a 50 rnd box of Tula 9mm! When a customers says they refuse to pay that much, I tell them, ” thank you, that is the attitude that we all need to cause this crap to stop,”.

  59. @ Maxseven
    You are correct. I have people bombarding my phone lines, or trying to catch me alone to ask what they can do to get “a little extra,” (ammo, you perverts), when does the truck come in? can i buy the limit, go to my car and come back? Can you set me extra boxes back? etc etc. I even had a guy try to say he was giving his underage daughter permission to buy handgun ammo so he could double his purchase. I flatly refuse all of them.

  60. I saw the threat to gun owners when Obama was elected in 2008. I begun buying ammo right after Obama took office. I’m not shooting any firearms right now. I’m conserving my ammo until it becomes available again.

    While I wait, I shoot my precision European airguns and vintage American pump guns. Pellets are widely available and I have just as much shooting my German air rifles as I do shooting my .22s and .17 rimfires.

    I will not vote for any anti-gun democrat.

  61. Apart from the supply and demand problems, marketers and retailers are taking advantage of the situation as well. A few month ago at a gun store in Granbury, TX (the one recently devasted by tornadoes), there was a box of 250 of UMC 9mm ball ammo. The owner wanted- $125 for it!! That’s equal to $25 for a box of 50.
    No way Jose.

    And to add insult to injury, advertising limits, such as “three boxes per customer” actually increases sales. If the sign said “no limit, we have plenty”, would you buy three boxes every time you went to the store? Nope.

  62. Back in 2004 or 5 ish that Academy Sports was selling blazer aluminum for 6.50 for a box of 9 luger x 50. I was always wanting to buy like 10 boxes for 60 dollars, but there was never an academy sports near here. However u cant reload these hence the cheap prices. I wonder how much the same costs now. I wonder ammo is being funneled somehow somewhere.

  63. Michael Moore (whom I know personally)’s opinion, is as repulsive and irresponsible as the individual himself! (refer to page top)

    My reason for posting here is to ask what size ammo is the most readily available, so I can buy a reasonable amount for a home/CC/personal defense weapon and range practice-maybe at “Williams”…

    Thanks all for the input!!!

    G Day

    Flint, Michigan

  64. Sure no shortage of stupid people in the US to pay $60 for a brick of 22’s. Are they going to quite making ammo….NO! Are they making it faster than you can shoot it up….yes! CCI alone makes 4 million rounds a day. Just don’t buy any unless you need it and the price will go down and supply up. This hoarding is driving price’s and supply.

  65. Have you heard the latest? DHS is now claiming they have no ammo and need to buy more. I wonder what happened to the 1.6 BILLION rounds they just bought. They must practice a lot.

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  67. Not sure about where you all live, but here in the NE it’s still difficult to find .22lr and most handgun ammo other than 9mm that isn’t marked up to a crazy price. Kept hearing all spring about how it’s only going to get better, still waiting.

  68. OK has obama taken you guns and ammo away Yet? To all you paranoid rumor gun freaks this will never happen. You can stop hoarding ammo and components so the rest of us can purchased a few rounds on
    occasion when we like to shoot a little. I know of people with more suppilies than they can shoot in a life
    time and there still standing in line waiting to buy more. WHY?? This is a much larger problem than anyone wants to admit! To all you carpetbagging gun show A Holes who cleaned off store shelves to make a huge
    profits may you die a lingering death. Common sense avoids a lot of gun owners and that is scary at best.
    The shortage of ammo & components may never end as fear & ignorance has gripped the gun world!

  69. Its now 2014 and ammo prices are still 30-40% higher than they were pre Newtown Dec. 2012. Even though supplies seem OK prices have not dramatically lowered except for Russian made calibers, you can get Wolf 7.62×39 for pre Newtown price again, and Wolf 9MM FMJ is currently 13.50 per 50 making it around 3 bucks cheaper than brass case at around 16.00 a box, which was around 9.50 per box of 50 before Dec. 2012. Hollowpoints of any caliber are still running around 1.00 per rd. Looks like 40 cent per rd 9mm and 40SW FMJ are here to stay for the time being, with no real reason for it other than gouging. Welcome to Obamaville, where you pay more for less.

    • Supplies seem OK? I lost you there. No 22LR anywhere. The stuff I used to find for $5 a brick when I was a teenager is now $80 if I can find it.

      • There is a limited supply of 22 shells out there but unless you know when your retailer gets
        there ammo shipments your out of luck. Just ask anyone who works where they sell ammo
        and they will tell you the same story. The hoarders are at the door when the store opens and
        don’t get in there way on the way to the shell section. These are the same pukes day in and day
        out buying up whatever does show up. What do they do that they can spend that much time
        and money hoarding ammo? Not much you can do about GREED and paranoia.
        Good luck finding some 22 ammo to shoot no end in sight on this one!

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  73. The first .22 rifle I ever had (and still have) was purchased by my dad when I was 14. He asked what I wanted and I immediately said “bolt action”. He asked why, and was a little surprised. The answer was simple! My two year older brother had a Marlin Glenfield semi-auto tube feed rifle (and I bought one two years ago from a pawn shop). I’d seen him “track” squirells in the trees that he’d have got if he’d just taken more time to aim first. Told my dad about that, and that the bolt action would force me to take better aim before firing. Surprised him more with the answer, and got a Marlin tube feed bolt action. It will mis-feed if bolted to quickly, but has been a very relaible squirrell/rabbit/target gun that I still enjoy.

    Hope this ammo shortage ends soon! I thought some of the less popular calibers would be more resistant, like 9×18, but they seem to be re-stocked last once they run out!

  74. You know why there’s an ammo shortage don’t y’all. It’s the government stalking up incase they half to shoot us all for one reason or another. What will it be ? Yellow stone ? Astroid ? Tally band? Nuclear war? You know dang well when one of these bombs drop all he’ll will break loose, go kick an ant pile to see the effect…

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