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Coronavirus Pandemic – Panic Buying Ammo in 2020

Ammunition manufacturers see an all-time peak in orders amidst election, virus fears.

Coronavirus Pandemic – Panic Buying Ammo in 2020
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A Presidential election that promises to be the most divisive ever is only months away. The stock market is in freefall, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 virus outbreak a pandemic.

A disease modeler reported on a conference call convened by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It was estimated that the United States could expect between 200,000 and 1.7 million deaths. If you think that the current news cycle sounds like the first chapters of a prepper novel, you’re not alone. As we’ve seen in the past, such concerns drive ammunition sales, and that is exactly what is happening. 

Whether it is the looming election, fear of a pandemic disaster or a combination of the two, ammunition manufacturers and distributors are seeing all-time sales records, even surpassing the Obama-era stockpiling and resulting shortage. Neil Davies, marketing director at Hornady Manufacturing, didn’t mince words on the subject: “We are seeing record numbers that resemble 2016,” he told Guns & Ammo. “It all started with the election-related anti-gun saber rattling. [Hornady] was already seeing strong numbers at the beginning of the year. With the virus situation and economic fear, the orders have really started to increase.”

To put things in historical perspective, Davies added, “We saw record sales year-over year during the Obama Administration. When President Trump was elected, those numbers leveled-off. We believe that customers began to deplete that supply over the past few years as sales had begun to climb again. 2020 Presidential candidates including Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg further drove up the demand. Now we are seeing all-time records in terms of our production needs.”


Though many manufacturers increased production capacity during the previous shortages, it remains unclear whether they will be able to keep-up with the current demand. If you weren’t paying attention then, factory ammunition, particularly rimfire ammo, became seemingly unobtainable as buyers stocked up. Likewise, reloading components, especially primers, disappeared from retailers and did not return to the shelves for years. Much of this was due to hoarding considering shooters then didn’t know how long the shortages would last. Even cartridges that weren’t in high demand were unavailable because the majority of cartridge production shifted to produce calibers such as .223 Remington and 9mm. If the Obama years were any indicator, Guns & Ammo’s editors expect the current demand to wipe-out existing stocks quickly.


Though most retailers still have ammunition available, demand is exceeding the supply. Investors are seeing the increased demand, as well. The price of Vista Outdoor (VSTO) stock, the parent company of Federal Premium and CCI, rose more than 10 percent in a single day. At the time of this writing, toilet paper shortages are being reported across the nation and grocery stores are seeing a run on certain food items. Ammunition may be next. Do you have enough?        

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