A few days ago I was discussing with a friend the current state of our retail ammunition supply and the perceived “shortage” many of us are experiencing around the country. My friend, who happens to work in the retail gun industry, was quick to snap back “there is NO damn shortage! People are hoarding ammunition so badly that the normal ammunition supply just can’t keep up. There just happens to be an overabundance of stocked ammo now being held in private reserves.”
Indeed, my friend is correct in his observation. His response was quickly evident that a certain frustration also exists among retailers who are trying their damnedest to keep shelves full of all calibers of ammunition. Yet, the buying frenzy continues. Ammunition manufacturers, retailers and consumers, alike, have grown frustrated by this current situation. One day shelves will seem well stocked, a few days later everything is empty again with replacement product still weeks away on backorder.
I’ve heard stories of individuals driving several hours just to purchase a couple boxes of desired ammo in stock. I’ve also heard rumors that people are paying outrageous prices for ammo they know in their heart is not worth that much, but for some reason they must have it now. So, this craziness lingers on and perhaps seems to be building with the passage of time.
So what’s causing the shortage? Well, quite honestly there is no simple or definitive answer. Surely it’s a combination of factors. No doubt the election of Obama, a perceived gun-control advocate, has a lot to do with this. Prior to last fall ammunition supplies were rather stable, albeit the prices were creeping higher thanks to the volatile metals market, but out-of-stock situations on ammo were not nearly as troublesome as they are today.
Oh, sure, I’ve even heard some of this blamed on the fact we have been at war now for several years. Well, I guess this would explain the shortages of 9mm, .45ACP, .223 and 5.56mm…but since when did our armed forces start using .380Auto in large quantities? It’s widely believed this caliber is one of the most difficult rounds to purchase these days. Even .22LR has been flying off the shelves — that’s definitely not a popular military round.
Some even explain that our law enforcement agencies are stocking up for their practice reserves and this is diverting supply from the normal retail shelf. I suppose this is possible, to some extent.
Of course, we are living in some extraordinary times these days. Whenever economic strife hits our population there grows a general uneasiness about the future. Remember that “clinging to their guns” comment made during the election campaign last year? Guns without an adequate ammunition supply happen to be worthless.
Speaking of guns, did you know that some gun industry experts believe that roughly 30% of all guns being sold today are to “first time” gun buyers. That’s amazing. Of course, these individuals will need ammo. New consumers of a product will certainly further stress the supply side of things.
Yet, another facet of the current political climate threatens us with outrageously high taxation on ammo. How long do you have to listen to the political rhetoric proposing 500% tax hikes on ammunition before it has a negative effect? Or even more ridiculous, serialization of our bullets so that every bullet is registered to a particular individual. Oh sure, this sounds great in theory…but practically speaking this bullet identity measure would be the final nail in the coffin for the firearms industry.
Honestly, I’m not really sure anybody has a good handle on why certain kinds of handgun and rifle ammunition are now being found in short supply. Certainly there are many factors at play here. I suppose that one could even conclude that investing in ammunition has proven more worthwhile than the stock markets as of late. Indeed, I’ve heard stories of individuals buying certain calibers of ammo when they don’t even own a gun now that shoots it. You just wouldn’t have witnessed bizarre behavior like that pertaining to ammunition back a decade or so ago.
I guess what matters isn’t so much analyzing why ammunition in certain calibers happens to be difficult to buy. No, what matters more is simply being able to purchase the ammunition one truly needs. Problem is, when you wait weeks to finally locate the ammo you seek and then pay a much higher price at the cash register…how likely are you to go home and actually shoot it? Honestly, when the commodity you’ve finally attained has such a high perceived valuable…does it somehow diminish your enjoyment for actually shooting it?
As my friend originally said, this may not be an ammo “shortage,” but whatever you want to call it, its a stinker of a situation we must now somehow deal with for at least the short term.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.