By now anyone who shoots even the least bit knows there is an ammo shortage. When it first started a couple of years ago just the avid shooters were affected, but now even the casual “shoot-a-box-a-year” guys are feeling the sting. It seemed to start with .223’s, worked its way into pistol ammo, and now finding a single box of .22LR is like pulling hen’s teeth!
There are a lot of theories floating about as to why there is a shortage. The most prevalent is that the Government is buying up all the ammo to keep civilians from getting it, specifically the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security does buy a ton of ammo! This is a massive umbrella agency that includes some 70,000 law enforcement agencies, including 40,000 members of the Coast Guard; U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Secret Service, and many other federal agencies. Most of this ammo is being used up during training exercises by these agencies.
A little fact finding though doesn’t seem to support this “conspiracy”. Federal Premium Ammunition is one of the largest suppliers of ammo to the Government. They state that their Government contracts actually make up a small percentage of their total production, and have remained relatively at the same volume for the past 10 years. Their biggest increase in demand the past few years has been in the civilian market. Remington also states that most of their production is still geared towards the civilian market.
One can credit the Obama Administration though for the ammo shortage, not because of government hoarding, but because of the huge increase in gun sales. It doesn’t matter who is in office, as soon as the politicians start their anti-gun rhetoric sales of firearms go up. Obama is no stranger to anti-gun rhetoric, and gun sales have increased about 50% since he has taken office. Most of the increases in sales have been to first time buyers. This has created a greater demand for ammo in the civilian market.
Combined with the imbalance between supply and demand the shortage became worse because of hoarding. When the Obama Administration stepped up their “assault gun” rhetoric a few years ago users of AR style rifles started buying up all the .223 ammo, and firearms, they could before the stuff was banned. Shooters who would normally buy 100 rounds at a time were buying it by the case! Pistol ammunition followed, and now it has trickled down to .22 LR ammo.
All of the ammunition manufacturers have stepped up production to try to meet the growing demand. It will take a while for the supply to meet the demand again though. It has been about 2 or 3 years, but .223 ammo is back on the gun shop shelves. Most pistol ammo seems to be on the shelves again, but .380 auto are still hard to find. But .22 LR still seem to be extinct!
Manufactures are still sending out .22 LR ammo, but it seems only the big box stores like Wal-Mart are getting their orders filled. Racketeers are taking advantage of this. They are cruising the Wal-Mart’s of the world and buying up every piece they can find for resale. Look on the on-line auction sites, or at any gun show, rim fire ammo is there, but you will pay about 3 to 4 times what is should sell for. Meanwhile the small gun shops only have dust collecting on their shelves where the rim fire ammo is usually stacked.