Where Has All The Ammo Gone?

Ammunition exists in the way the Star of India, Lamborghinis and homesteads on the French Riviera

A nearby police supply house stopped supplying individual officers and LEOSA-qualified folks from the “one-box of duty ammo, one-box of practice ammo per month” policy – taking it to a “buy a gun, we’ll let you buy one box of ammo” mode. Almost immediately, I received a message in which I was told “But there’s ammo out there. I’ll send you links.” This was from a certified, note-on-the-wall Good Guy, well-respected and very knowledgeable.

Ammunition exists, got it. It actually does exist … in the way the “Star of India” exists, Lamborghinis and homesteads on the French Riviera – rare and pricey.

Consider the typical cost to retail customers. This isn’t the cost of the product from raw material, components, assembly, prep through point of sale; this is seemingly the cost a good many vendors know they can get due to a panic situation. This isn’t the typical, well-known grifters taking advantage, something we expect. It includes some reputable houses, making it appear that their other costs have vastly increased, which they have in this “back to ‘normal’” age.

For example, 9mm ammo – shipped — went for as much as $1.20 per round … from another source, similar product went for .70 per round (they were out) – but they had 45 ACP for .66 per round, so go figure. Still, demand vastly exceeds supply, and some vendors apparently have to price ammunition out of the range of several demographics. These include (1) new shooters, (2) old shooters, (3) anyone who can’t afford a Gulfstream. Consider the single parent in a low-paid job (if it still exists during pandemics and post-Executive 45 …) living in a high crime area. The gun is a component of personal safety. Buying the gun isn’t the huge investment when a case of 9mm ball is $1,100 out the door.

We know that there were large price increases industry-wide in 2020 for a range of reasons. Now with the “long dark winter” we have ahead of us, there’s a like increase in real costs in 2021. The orders already placed at manufacturers is probably about twice what manufacturers shipped in 2020 … supply is thin and there’s no reason to believe that will change.

When 5.56 / .223 ammo that went from 2015 era pricing at about 30 cents per round to $1 – $1.30 per round and formerly ca. $10 per box 9mm ammo now topping $70 a box, that prices “normal” folks right out of the market.

The Availability of Ammunition

Some are saddled by living in locations with prohibitions against internet/mail order ammo sales; you have to buy it brick & mortar, or that’s my understanding. Even in places that don’t prohibit it, the availability issue arises: the overwhelming majority of sites will tell you they have limited availability. Some advertise ammo anyway, leaving you to find out they’re out “with no backorder” until further notice … which never seems to come. Those who have some ammo out seem to charge whatever the market will bear.

The ammo price online is horrible but not catastrophic. Check the costs for shipping – which will doubtless be increasing during the first year of our current “long, dark winter.”

It’s not sound to point out problems without providing a solution – but we don’t have one. The ammo companies are rolling out product as fast as they can, hitting the limits of the supply chain of raw materials and components. At that, they still have safety limitations – both product and employee health. They have to pause to reset, maintain and repair loading equipment.

Yes, there is ammo. If you didn’t buy before the current climate settled in, that’s little comfort for you. For others, it’s likely what we should have been doing anyway: dry practice and making use of new technology in practice, from ‘airsoft’ to laser ‘munitions’ aided by mobile applications.

Meanwhile, the scuttlebutt is “this time next year, the industry will have excess capacity.” We’re no accurate predictor of future events, but we ARE doubting that unless something big happens

This article first appeared in The Shooting Wire

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