It wasn’t that long ago that you could walk into virtually any retailer that sells firearms and find shelves that were jam-packed with a variety of ammunition options. Gun enthusiasts are well aware of the fact that we have been in an ammunition shortage. Over the course of the last 16-24 months, it seems as though finding ammo has become as difficult as finding the Golden Ticket.
In a country where we have a constitutional right to own firearms and the ammunition needed to use them, why is it so hard to find ammunition consistently? The gun experts at We The People Holsters took a deeper look into the problem.
When Did the Shortage Start?
A nationwide shortage of any consumer good typically takes months to reach the critical levels that the current ammo shortage is at. In fact, executives at Hornady Manufacturing report that they began seeing an uptick in their sales as early as October of 2019.
Company Vice President, Jason Hornady pointed out the fact that Walmart announced that they would stop selling most calibers of ammunition around the same time. When one of the largest retailers in the world announces that they are going to stop carrying something like ammo, it stands to reason that other retailers may follow suit.
Based on the fear of not being able to easily purchase ammunition at the big-box affordable prices, many consumers flooded the market and cleared the shelves.
When a resource becomes scarcer, people who are able to obtain the resource will grab it up and resell it for more than they paid for it. If you went to a flea market anytime in 2020, you probably saw multiple tables with ammunition for sale. Without going into the moral debate about whether or not this behavior is ethical, the fact remains that people who have an abundance of something can sell it for a premium when there isn’t a steady supply of it.
Not everyone who purchased an enormous amount of ammo did so with the intention of reselling it. If you went to a store during much of 2020 in search of toilet paper, you may have noticed clear shelves. Why? Because of hoarding. The same principle is true for many of the ammunition purchases that were made during 2020. In fact, Jason Hornady said that March of 2020 was the largest month in the history of their company.
The NRA recently published a study where they looked at the lack of .22 LR ammunition. According to the stats, the average shooter would go through 1,500 rounds of .22 LR ammo if they went to the gun range every other Saturday for a year. Many people bought well above what they would possibly go through in a year and are simply setting on a stockpile.
Surge in Firearm Purchasing
According to Newsweek, 2020 saw a surge in purchases of firearms. In fact, it was reported that there were 7 million new gun owners in 2020. When people buy firearms, they obviously need to buy ammunition.
Many people were motivated to increase their collection of personal protection firearms, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to the stockpiling of essential items and the fear of losing what they owned. Others were driven by the civil unrest that highlighted much of the news in 2020. Whatever the motive was, vendors and retailers reported record highs of firearm purchases which has had a direct impact on the amount of ammunition available.
Depending on the industry in which you work, you may have felt the impact of Covid-19 with a reduction in your workforce or working hours. With reductions in staffing, operating hours, public health guidelines, and other pandemic-related changes to most industries, the ammo manufacturing industry has also been impacted. Humans and machines have a finite amount of ammunition that they can produce in a day. When the demand for ammo goes above what can be produced, there is bound to be a shortage.
The Ammunition Outlook
According to We The People Holsters, most industry experts don’t seem to think that the ammunition shortage will be ending anytime soon. In fact, some of them have forecasted that the shortage may run through all of 2021.
What does that mean for you as a gun owner? Most notably it means that you may have a harder time finding the ammunition you’re looking for. When you do find it, you will probably notice a significantly higher price than you paid two or three years ago. However, gun owners don’t seem to be deterred.