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I’m not an alarmist. If it’s conspiracy theories you want, talk to Oliver Stone. I’m NOT your guy. I prefer to dig for facts and work patiently and carefully towards an operational theory. Then run up the flagpole a few times and/or test it to destruction. You won’t catch me runnung around crying “the oceans are rising! The oceans are rising!” So I mention this bit of local news with mixed feelings. After all, this is raw data—no interviews, no in-depth reporting and no confirmed quotes from management. But TTAG’s on the job. We will get to the bottom of this as soon as humanly possible. So, lemme tell you what happened to me this evening . . .

I was heading over to my local gun range for some much-needed practice time with my faithful 1911 and my 870 Wingmaster. As a little lagniappe (that’s a Louisiana/Acadiana French term for “a little extra” for those of you not raised in the Bayou State), I brought along my dad’s S&W .38 Special. Unfortunately, he had some hollow-points, but no practice rounds.

So I stopped at the Walmart that was conveniently located on the way to the range, to avail myself of some .38 Special roundball.

Keep in mind, I’ve been told that the Great Ammunition Shortage is a Thing of the Past. So much to my surprise did I arrive at Les Mart du Wall only to find they were sold out of .38 Special ammo. and .45 ACP ammo. And 9mm Ammo. In fact, they were sold out of every kind of pistol and rifle ammo. Period. One big glass case stood as empty testament to fact that Walmart had no ammo. None. Nada. Nyet. Bupkis. Not one, single, solitary round.

But that wasn’t the Big Surprise. No, my Shocked Site O’ the Day was to find that this particular Walmart has, apparently, (and according to two employees) HAS STOPPED SELLING AMMO ALTOGETHER.

Let me repeat that for those of you that aren’t paying close attention: This particular Walmart is no longer selling ammunition.

I asked several employees. Most were unaware of anything but the Walmart policy that customers are prohibited from purchasing more than six boxes of ammo per day. One employee told me that he’d heard they’d planned to stop selling ammo altogether, and added “this Walmart has never sold any kind of guns at all.”

That was true, as far as what I could see. This Walmart (a big new one, by the way) was missing the usual gun display case filled with shotguns. Now to be fair, theyt did have an impressive stock of birdshot and buckshot. But nary a handgun or rifle round to be seen.

I left, sans-ammo, and fired up my iPhone. Walmart’s website is not helpful in this regard. “Firearms and ammunition are only available at Wal-Mart stores licensed to sell firearms.” Yes, well, clicking on “store items” yields Airsoft ammo, Nerf darts and a book on ammo: Ammo & Ballistics 4–For Hunters, Shooters, and Collectors: Ballistic Data Out to 1,000 Yards for Over 169 Calibers and Over 2,400 Different Loads. Of bullets and guns there are none.

I went on down the road to the range. The counter guy there told me that he’d heard that Walmart was getting out of the ammo biz because they couldn’t compete with Bass Pro Shops and Academy Sports & Outdoors, and they were concerned about legal liability issues.

Pause with me for a nanosecond.

When have you ever—and I mean EVER— heard of Walmart backing down from stiff competition or controversy? Walmart is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Yhey are the ones that drive the OTHER guys out of business. Not the other way around.

The idea that Walmart would worry about liability is laughable. What about tires? Ladders? Toxic chemicals? Cribs? Are they gonna stop selling everything that could potentially trigger a lawsuit? Give me a break.

Now I don’t doubt that the guy at the range heard that. He might have even heard it from a Walmart employee. But as to the accuracy of the reasons given, I have my doubts. In point of fact, Walmart corporate states in a PDF file that they carry a liability policy that covers them for up to $10,000,000 for guns, ammunition, bows and arrows.

We’ve also heard reports that Walmart is simply out of ammo. Everything they get sells out. Period.

Bloggo, the dog boy blog rang up on this subject Walmart eight days ago. The corporate shill told him “One, Walmart has its buyers out there buying all the ammo that they can get so they can stock their stores, and: Two, Walmart is NOT getting out of the ammo business, has no intention of that, isn’t doing anything fishy. They just can’t sell what they can’t get delivered to them.”

So what’s the straight story? I don’t know yet. It was too late to call Walmart HQ to get a comment from Walmart’s head honchos. But I’m on it. I’ll get you details, as accurate as possible, as soon as possible. And whatever the story, you’ll read it here on TTAG.

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  1. Brad, AFAIK every Wal Mart manager has the discretion to stock whatever products he/she thinks the public will buy at that store, or to stop stocking it if the demand isn't there.

    Some Wal marts have gotten out of the gun business, not so much for liability reasons as for reasons of cost: The cost to certify and train employees and the neccessary record keeping requirements were not being covered by gun/ammo sales.

    Around here at least (Colorado) the "great ammo crisis of '09" seems to be over. There's plenty of ammo to be had, although the prices have gone through the roof.

    As for the rumors that Wal Mart is getting out of the gun business, I wouldn't take anything I "heard from a guy who heard from a guy" as anything other than scuttlebutt, especially at a shooting range where rumors and tinfoil hat conspiracies thrive.

    Final point: Regarding .38 Spl availability, I've also noticed a dearth of it, but my guess is that it's nothing nefarious – it's just that .38 is not the all-around default pistol cartridge anymore. With ammo demand at an all-time high, manufacturers are going to concentrate on making those calibers in highest demand: .223, .40 S&W, .45ACP and 9mm. The result of this is that with less .38 Special around, those boxes that remain are being sold at higher prices (I actually saw a box of .38 Special hollow points – nothing unique or unusual – tagged at a whopping $49.95 at a local sporting goods store. That's right, a dollar a pop – for .38 Special!)

    Besides, who buys ammo at the store anymore? Internet is where it's at. Cheaper than Dirt, baby!

  2. I mainly buy target 9mm and .38 special at a small town Walmart. Their prices still outdo many of the outdoor places where I otherwise buy my guns and related gear.

  3. I have over 1000 rds of 9mm ammo, also hve 8 springfield armory magazine clips…but don't know where to sell them/

  4. Well, most seem to think it’s not true, but since the school shooting, we have been trying to buy bullets (any–9mm, .22LR), and still, as of today, we went to two different walmarts here in Georgia, and there glass cases were empty. Surely they could have refilled them in the last several weeks by now. So yes, I had also heard that Walmart was not going to be selling any more ammo to the general public. And in light of all the recent events, I feel this is gravely wrong.

  5. The Walmart I shop at says there are gun show table guys waiting every morning to buy up any ammo that comes off the truck.

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