When the ammo rush started after Barack Obama’s reelection, common calibers went first. The gun control push that followed saw shelves nearly emptied of every common caliber, especially general purpose full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo. Manufacturers shifted to meet the demand for general purpose FMJ ammunition, and now hunters that didn’t stock up early with hunting-grade hollowpoints and softpoints are discovering that the shelves are empty.
Shotgun loads for shot and rifled slugs remain easy to find. But reflecting a national trend, availability of rifle and handgun ammunition in Pittsburgh area sporting goods stores is spotty and inconsistent. Many shelves are empty. A clerk at one local store, who asked that he and the retailer remain anonymous, said customers are going from store to store searching for common calibers and sometimes not finding them.
Keith Savage of Braverman Arms in Wilkinsburg put it this way: “It is unbelievably hard to get common stuff.”
Long term, the national ammunition shortage began with record gun sales that started the week after President Barack Obama was elected to his first term. Apprehension over possible new gun laws spurred many gun owners to stock up on firearms and ammunition. A push for gun law reform early in Obama’s second term further increased sales.
The current ammunition shortage began in January when increased sales of new high-performance firearms led to increased purchases of .22, 9mm and .380 cartridges for those guns. To meet that demand, manufacturers shifted away from producing popular hunting ammo that was well-stocked at the time, including .270, .30-06, .30-30 and .308. Now, as consumers seek hunting ammunition, manufacturers have used up their reserves and are struggling to catch up. Wholesalers can’t supply the stores with what they need and shelves are conspicuously empty.
This a little puzzling on a number of levels. No, not the shortage, but the lack of preparedness from hunters.
The soft point and hollowpoint centerfire ammunition commonly used by hunters was not part of the first big ammo rush early in the year, and could be found for most calibers through April in most parts of the country. Likewise the majority of hunters don’t expend a great deal of ammunition in the off-season, and the practice of not shooting hunting rifles except to recheck scope zeroes is still sadly commonplace.
If there are a large number of hunters shooting .243, .270, .30-06, .30-30 and other common centerfire hunting calibers that are suddenly panicking, it suggests that they simply didn’t have more than a box or two of cartridges after last season concluded, and simply assumed that there would always be plenty.
They’re learning a hard lesson in preparedness, aren’t they?