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G&A Perspective: How NRA Members Are Dealing with the Ammo Shortage

by Eric Conn   |  May 15th, 2013 57


No matter who you are or how well connected, there’s one unifying truth about the ammo shortage of 2013—it’s no respecter of persons.

That much was obvious at the recent NRA Show in Houston, where everyone from law enforcement officials to industry personnel—all the way down to your average man on the street—noted the incredible difficulty of procuring ammunition over the last few months. As Chad, an NRA member from Austin, Texas, said, you know times are rough when .22 ammo is missing from shelves.

“You can’t find .22 ammo anywhere,” Chad said. “I found a 525-round box at Academy [Sports & Outdoors] and thought I hit the lottery. That’s the first time I’ve seen it in probably six months.”

Like Chad, many NRA members have dealt with the ammo shortage by implementing a strategy of persistence—they simply keep checking back with their local sporting good outlet, gun shop or feed store, hoping to catch the latest shipment as it hits the shelves. For the people who claimed to have at least limited success finding ammo, this was undoubtedly the most common tactic.

Others, like Houston natives Ronald and Gale, said they’ve simply cut back on range time.

“It’s kept us off the range as much as we’d like to go,” Ronald said. “I’m afraid it’s going to put some of our good ranges—some mom and pop operations—out of business. Personally, this was coming for a long time. I’ve got enough to fend off a good attack, should I say. But like most good Boy Scouts, be prepared.”

As Ronald pointed out, there’s more than one way to deal with the shortage. You can either scavenge whatever is available when it’s available, you can stay away from the range or you can do both. The anecdotal evidence from NRA members at the show seems to point in this direction—gun owners are not only scraping together whatever ammo they can find, they’re also keeping more of it boxed up at home.

“Ammo is so hard to get, most of the people I know, when you do get it you don’t go to the range,” said Scott of Lufkin, Texas. “People that go to the range on a regular basis just aren’t going because you can’t afford to shoot the ammo and then not be able to replace it.”

Supply and Demand
The obvious question many people are asking is why the shortage happened in the first place. The answers aren’t always so obvious, but it starts with the political climate and the ongoing threat of anti-gun legislation. That threat—especially when it comes from the government—fuels an increase in demand for the buyer, who grabs and stashes as much ammo as he can.

Add an Associated Press report from Feb. 15 stating the Department of Homeland Security wants to buy up 1.6 billion rounds of ammo in the next few years—plus an ongoing discussion about it by the conspiracy theorists in the blogosphere—and you’ve got a veritable run on the market. Groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the NRA, meanwhile, have called a government attempt to stockpile ammunition a farce, attributing shortages to a simple increase in demand driven by anti-gun politics. Either way, demand skyrockets.

Manufacturers like Hornady, which gets questioned all the time about why it doesn’t just amp up production, said it’s just not that simple.

“We’ve been steadily growing our production for a long time, especially the last five years,” Hornady said on its website. “We’ve added presses, lathes, CNC equipment, people and space. Many popular items are produced 24 hours a day. Several hundred Hornady employees work overtime every week to produce as much as safely possible. If there is any question about that—please take a tour of the factory. You’ll be amazed at what you see.”

The Silver Lining
There is a silver lining in all of this, though. First, a good portion of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 was unceremoniously shot down on the Senate floor in the middle of April. With Feinstein’s incendiary measures out of the way, there’s at least some hope tensions will die down. With less for gun owners to fear, the expectation is for demand to settle down and production to play catch up. Many industry officials at the NRA show were at least optimistic about such a possibility, though nothing will likely change in the immediate future.

The ammo shortage has also caused a drastic increase in laser training sales, according to Aaron Moore, vice president and director of operations at LaserLyte.

“We’ve sold a whole lot more laser trainers,” Moore said. “We’ve been up about 700 percent in sales over last year.”

Adaptation may just be the key message for gun owners in America. It’s a different world than even a year ago, which means persistent shopping around and utilizing alternative methods of training are plausible options for many. It also means there’s never been a time to stand and defend your rights as an American and as a gun owner like the present. It’s a constant reminder of how quickly our precious freedoms can disappear if we don’t stand vigilant.

  • Haardcase

    The federal government isn’t purchasing .22 ammo. That shortage is driven by two things: panic buying and hoarding. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies.

    • dann

      .22 is one of the lowest profit rounds made, when there is demand for other calibers then those take precedence to ammo makers, due to higher profit margins.

      when the government places a large “on demand” order – that takes priority over all other orders, so even though the government is not ordering .22, the machines are purposed for the caliber on order. then add in the huge backlog of higher profit margins calibers and see why .22 is a low priority to produce.

      that is why there is no .22

      • Haardcase

        Rimfire ammo is not made on the same production lines as centerfire ammo. But here’s the problem: the estimates of non-military ammunition production in the US that I’ve read are around 6 billion rounds per year. That’s from a couple of years ago. And that was just slightly less than the amount of ammunition sales for the year. This year, I’m sure that production is up, but not nearly as much as demand. It takes time to bring additional capacity on line and as long as folks are willing to stand in line to stock up on more and more boxes of ammo that they’re not going to shoot, the longer the shortage will continue.

        The government has open orders for a lot of ammo, but they aren’t actually purchasing all of that ammo – they haven’t purchased any more this year than they have the past few years. And the manufacturers aren’t holding stock back for them.

        The root of the problem is that supply and demand have been pretty closely balanced in the past, but the demand has shot up way faster than the manufacturers can supply – and not because the government is buying (although the government’s posture on guns and gun control certainly is having an affect).

        • Rob Pobe

          Prove it through market tracking–this is fluff and speculation

          • Haardcase

            Google is your friend. As is Occam’s razor.

      • Larry C Mason

        I think you are wrong.. INQUIRE AND SEE WHO AND WHAT THEY TELL YOU.

    • Rob Pobe

      The feds are buying up every round of 22 rimfire

    • Larry C Mason

      Sorry your explanation is wrong.. The GOV’T IS BUYING AND STORING THE AMMO AT NATIONAL GUARD ARMORIES.

  • Bill Kauffman

    You might even check with a friend working with the USPS, they could probably get/sell you some extra ammo. How about the IRS, right now, they really need the money.

  • Bowserb

    If you look at the 1.6 billion rounds destinations, there might be some still available at the Social Security Administration and the National Weather Service.

    How do I deal with the ammo shortage? I do less shooting than I did a year ago. However, I’m practicing with my slingshot and harsh language. Also considering a crossbow. There was at least one crossbow mfr at the NRA convention, and he was pretty busy when I got there.

  • Dj

    How am I dealing with the ammo shortage? I started purchasing ammo about ten years ago a little at a time when it was on sale; and now I have… enough.

    • Syntheticlubeguy

      I am with George and Dj; I too saw the hand writin’ on the wall back in 2006 and bought ammo when I could and salted it away. I should be good until the year 2048 or so. Not only am I shooter, I am a reloader and I stockpiled supplies years ago also. Can we say phat on ammo? Yes I can!
      Most of the range participants now are reloaders or those who planned ahead in their requirements. I don’t stand in line to buy anything, well, maybe toilet paper…

    • Barryjohn7714

      I wonder how much is enough. Comment?

      • Gary

        I was told by a good friend of mine 20 years ago that 1,000 rounds per weapon was a good idea,and I tried to stick to that mantra. However I feel that “too much ammo” is an oxymoron, one cannot EVER have enough.

        • tagalog

          If you own firearms of 3 different calibers, and you go to the range twice a week (which admittedly strikes me as pretty frequently), and at the range you shoot 50 rounds each session (5 targets, 10 rounds per target, per session), and you shoot one caliber each month, you will go through about 1450 rounds per gun, or 4,500 rounds per year. A thousand rounds per weapon seems a minimum.

    • Larry C Mason


  • Daniel

    Can’t explain .22 shortage really. It’s not self defense, hunting, etc, its for Small varmints and cheap target practice.

    I have seen 9, 380, 45, 223 and the other hard to find rounds at gun shows and everywhere on the Internet, but the price is prohibitive. I see the buying slowing down, but the price gouging is still steady. Once in awhile when I see 380 on “sale” for 25 cents a round, they are sold out in minutes. I can go out and buy a few thousand rounds right now if I wanted to for 60-90 cents a round.

    It’s in the hands of manufactures, distributors and re-sellers now. Hoping once their sales go down, they will start dropping the prices. Of course like fuel, the price will never be the 10 cents a round it used to be.

    • PatriotSpirit76

      There’s a very simple reason why 22LR is gone. For years now the manufacturers of “Black Rifles” and some just getting into the field have advocated the use of 22LR for practice and the sale of adapters and the new AR copy 22LRs has been pretty steady.
      More fun equals more demand. I know that there are some people out there willing to take advantage of these situations, but I think a lot of the people are just trying to get ammo for themselves. In my area 22LR has all but dried up, and what can be found is pretty expensive.
      Now, try to find import ammo for the Russian and European Imports and depending on the ammunition there isn’t any, or the price is sky high. The rumor around here is that boat loads of ammo were seized by the current regime or sent back to Europe. (Try that as the next topic)
      So, has the Obama regime found a way to produce a form of gunpeople control without confiscating guns? Why not, and yes, manufacturers have to hold ammo for Government use first no matter whether it is purchased or just placed on a contract for future purchase.
      If this were a normal scare buying problem law enforcement wouldn’t have any problems getting ammo, but even the military has said they will have problems securing enough ammunition. Have you ever seen that much ammunition on the selves before?
      Let’s have the truth please, and if I were the ammunition manufacturers I think I’d come clean with the American gun owners. There have been plenty of companies that wanted to become a Federal or Hornady and they may just get their chance.

    • Rob Pobe

      22 ban is to stop new shooters from learning the sport.

  • Gunrunner26

    Gun Contorl through lack of ammo. No ammo, no shooting and there you have gun control without attacking the second amendment. Guns are worthless without ammo.. Thanks antigunners!

    • tim ross

      You hit it on the head. Buy all the ammo and you have gun control. Yes Fema and D.H.S. bought 22 ammo for that reason if you don’t believe me do your homework before you comment.

      • Larry C Mason

        Why 22 ammo.. I just bought two boxes of 30.06 and going to buy more.

    • Daniel

      Lack of ammo isn’t going to do anything about gun control, only gun proficiency. I never horded ammo so I’m on the short end of the stick now living box to box at the range. Although all my guns have a full magazine and a couple boxes in the drawer. Ammo shortages as gun control doesn’t really make sense. If it hits the fan, I only plan on using 2-3 bullets per instance, which gives me 30-35 encounters before I’m out. Of course, there is always a board with a nail in it that works quite well!

    • Rob Pobe

      Gun ban–not gun control.

  • George Liotta

    Like Dj …. I started buying ammo and reloading supplies years ago; a just in case the SHTF and it has. Now I can go to the range any time I want and shoot as much as I want and then reload my spent and range brass in my leisure so I can do it all over again. If you are a shooter then you should have thought about being a re-loader too.

    • Biggus_Footus

      Been handloading for more than 30 years. It’s always been worthwhile and is even more so now.

  • Johnny Nightrider

    I have .22lr,45 acp,and .357 magnum.Though I have alot of 9mm FMJ in military ammo cans that I bought when ammo was on sale.I bought it to go to a training facility in Nevada.I went June 2012 and was going to go back thats why I bought more.Now I’m going to hang on to it to see what will happen in the future.I pray and hope all this ammo shortage and gun control nonsense ends.

  • mzzond mzzond

    I think another problem we have is all the people that are
    buying the ammo and then reselling it on eBay and other places like back
    pages. You go to Wal-Mart or anyplace else and first thing they say is that
    the reason they say theyare ot f ammo are is they people wil have their mother and wives, their kids all buying ammo than selling it on eBay. Also let’s not forget, even the online
    stores that we all order from. All of a sudden now, their prices went up like $10-$20 a box of 50. I remember asking why is 10mm so expensive, and the first thing everyone would tell you is because nobody buys it. Well if that’s the case then with all the other ammo that’s been purchased Prices should be going down not up. But instead, everybody is price gouging, and nobody’s blaming them or speaking out against them. Don’t get me wrong what’s going on with ammo prices can be blamed in a lot of places but let’s not forget
    some of the ones I mentioned and start blaming them also.

    • Rob Pobe

      Uh if Walmart can’t order the ammo in the first place, how in hell does mommy’s buying it before it couldn’t be ordered adversely affect Walmart’s ability to order ammo?

    • GunTotingLib

      Can’t sell ammo on Ebay

  • Veteranasm

    Bought when obammy got elected , have enough for a long while , when TSHTF I will share with the like minded people around me …

  • Vaughan

    I see a great amount of 22 lr ammo for sale on the “auction” sites for extremely high prices. It seems that some people are buying it up and engaging in profiteering. Hopefully enough buyers will refuse these prices, and as supply increases the prices will drop.

    • Rob Pobe

      Compare ‘a great amount of hamburgers’ with the daily sales at a single McDonalds and then compare he ‘great amount of ammo’ online with preSandy Hook 22 cal ammo sales at US retailers– the great amount is a drop in the bucket of pre Sandy Hook/Dianne Feinstein (Sherman Act) issues.

  • Biggus_Footus

    I’ve never really understood why sportsmen screw each other over at the drop of a threatened ban. Buying enough ammo to see you through a dry spell is one thing. Hoarding is another, and buying low with the intention of selling high is yet another. My hope for those in the bottom bunch is that the bottom falls out of the gray market and they get stuck holding the bag.

  • Tim Sheahon

    I can almost hear the Anti-Gunners in congress right now.” If we can’t take the guns, we buy mountainous amounts, of ammo. They can keep their guns and use them as clubs.We get the ammo they need.” Then they will use that ammo on us, the gun owners, when they go house to house and force us to hand over our weapons.

    • Rob Pobe

      Hell of a lot cheaper just to buy up all the ammo at wholesale prices and then destroy it at US government facilities to do the Dianne Feinstein, ‘Dry up the supply’ pledge.

  • Tim Sheahon

    Another question for the forum; Where is the Prvi Partisan, S&B, silver and brown bear? Are they forbidden imports now?

    • Rob Pobe

      UN Small Arms Treaty specifically prohibits international sales of ammo, so maybe, ya think? Or if you believe these writers, it is because everyone shows up at Walmart and buys it out and that is why Priv Partisan, S&B and Brown Bear isn’t delivering imported ammo to wholesalers. Yup must be George, must be– As Obama says, ‘Americans have too much on their plates to think about what the government does, and they really shouldn’t.’

    • Barryjohn7714

      I’m finding Tula and Monarch around. Got some Tula yesterday at Walmart. Walmart and the big stores are rationing so no 1 person can get it all. I did hear from a gun show ammo dealer that the feds ARE messing with imports now.

  • Ray Brown

    Ammo is a far better investment than gold will ever be in
    our current political climate, wish I had some of each.

  • John Parker

    Until the prices become “reasonable” again. I am not going to support the ammo manufacturers by buying over-priced bullets. Also, I am going to remember the jerk politicians that voted for gun control in 2014 and 2016. You should too.

    • Barryjohn7714

      Thankfully neither the manufacturers nor the big sports outlets have raised prices that I can tell. You just have to be there at the right time. Internet, Gun show and small store sellers have raised prices and rightly so because they have to work hard to get ammo and if their volume is down, well, they have to make a living. I think the small sellers are making less money even with the higher prices.

  • Rob Pobe

    NRA members are dealing with the ammo nonexistence by no longer shooting and guess what Sen Dianne Feinstein wanted to do with the firearms sport, “Dry up the supply.”
    A person would have to be a complete imbecile to believe that the only cause for the dearth of an otherwise readily available commodity is consumer demand–that explanation probably worked for the Hunt bros until someone actually checked the course from production to purchase.

  • Barryjohn7714

    DHS ammo buys are not conspiracy nonsense! A highly respected US Senator and House Rep are both submitting bills to try to limit DHS ammo hording. Also you must remember Obama’s plan to tax ammo into un-affordability announced in 2009 causing the 2009 shortage. He backed off of that knowing he had to run again. Now, he doesn’t and if his party can regain control of the House in 2014 he will carry out his plan. If you have any doubt, search on Obama and the Joyce Foundation.

  • Keenan Eugene Lee

    Stop selling to the government and we’ll have plenty. DHS is wasting our tax dollars to buy ammo to use on us. The manufacturers need to stop this trade deficit and route the ammo to the people.

  • Don Grady

    Anyone looking for .223 brass try this site – Also has 7.62 in stock right now.

  • Don Grady

    Anyone looking for .223 brass try this site – Also have 7.62 in stock right now.

  • Richard B

    Haven’t been to the range in a while due to the fact that I had a fair amount of ammo on hand but didn’t want to shoot if I couldn’t replace it. My local supply store gets ammo shipments on Wednesdays and sells ammo from behind the counter, with limits, on Thursday mornings. We show up about 30-45 minutes before they open and stand in whatever line has formed. My wife and I have purchased the allowable limit of ammo for the past 3weeks.On the plus side, my store really isn’t gouging us either. Sure prices have gone up 1-2 dollars per box on the cheap stuff, but overall I am very satisfied with my store. Can’t wait until this whole “shortage” is done, but we’re getting through it, I have 2 full sized safes. One with my firearms and one with my ammo. Still have room for more firearms, but almost out of room for ammo. If the current administration is pushing for a revolution, they sure seem to be heading in the right direction. What part of “Shall Not Be Infringed!” don’t you understand.

  • golface12949

    I think that the gun magazines are NOT giving any coverage to the problem.There should be a column in every Mag every month . I don’t believe that it is just sportsman demand. Lapanatano & Obama are pissed that they didn’t get their way with gun control,so they are going around Congress and buying up BILLIONS of rounds of every cal. to create a shortage. Their thinking is that if you don’t have ammo you can’t shoot. They are wrong. I have been shooting for 73 years and have never seen anything like this. All the gun magazines should be making a issue out of this so that the Congress will act on the bill that is in Congress now (S843). Every one should be calling their Congressman & asking them to vote yes on Bill S843. We can win, but we must all get into the fight. if your not part of the solution, then you are the problem..

  • milburnschmidt

    Years ago primers were going to be considered a explosive device and they disappeared off the shelf. Panic buying and hoarding and the increase in gun sales and preppers looking for the end on civilization are to blame for our shortages. Over time it will ease up. assault weapons that doubled in price and were bought up are now sitting on shelves again. Yes its proper to worry about futire supplies but any increase in gin ownership is good for all of us.

  • Joel Stancil

    What is so amazing is that 7.62 is everywhere and it’s taken me 2 months to find a 50rnd box of cheap remington….also it’s the same price to buy 500 7.62 as it is 22lr

  • FlPatriot98

    This is exactly the reason there isn’t any .22 ammo. They know we want to use it for target practice and save our higher caliber ammo for self defense. So now we are forced to use our high caliber ammo to stay proficient!!! That way we end up using it up!!! Just what they wanted in the first place!!!!!

  • Copper Miner

    When the grandkids come and want to shoot, we shoot. I’m using up some of my 22 supply, but still have some on hand and will replenish it when the demand eases. We did quite a bit of clay shooting that last time they came and I am still able to buy shotgun shells. Times would have to get really bad for me to not shoot with the grandkids.

  • Larry C Mason

    In Louisiana National Guard Armories are buying and Storing 22 cal AMMO.. No one can explain WHY. WHY WHY.. It’s not supply and demand… ALL Stores in ONE AREA has told me the same… So WHY.?

  • Craig Hess

    I have over 40 long guns and out of them 10 are rimfire I may have to resort to them after the 7-8k rds are spent and the 500+ lbs of lead and 100lbs of powder is gone primers yeah I got plenty when wideners had a special I think I spent 3k just because they were cheap ! to hell with the politics I am covered

  • Craig Hess

    I have over 40 long guns and out of them 10 are rimfire I may have to resort to them after the 7-8k rds are spent and the 500+ lbs of lead and 100lbs of powder is gone primers yeah I got plenty when wideners had a special I think I spent 3k just because they were cheap ! to hell with the politics I am covered

  • Eric

    If you really want to be on a winning team, with plenty of ammo, join the army!

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