Where Has All The Ammo Gone?

The record-setting run on guns has left many store shelves bare, and while firearms and ammunition manufacturers are producing as much as they can, gun owners are getting increasingly concerned about how long the shortage might last. Media outlets across the country are now starting to pay attention to the ammunition shortage, from Texas:

At Past & Blast in Whitesboro firearms sales have been surging since the Coronavirus pandemic began. Owner Matt Whitmire says it’s the best numbers he’s seen in the last eight years.

Whitmire said he has “plenty of firearms” but it’s ammunition that he, and other gun store owners across the country, are hurting for.

to Virginia:

“In March, we started to see some of the ammo SKUs that we purchase frequently be less available,” said Safeside Tactical Co-Owner Mitchell Tyler, adding other gun shops and ranges are seeing the same thing. “It’s just kind of become progressively worse. At this point, we are really expecting this to go well into next summer.”

to South Carolina:

Hunters Headquarters Manager Jacob Harris attributes the surge in sales to first-time gun buyers, which made up an estimated 60 percent of sales over the past six months.

“Sometimes during election years and other sorts of crisis, it seems to drive new buyers because they feel unsafe and the best way for them to feel safe is to protect themselves with a firearm,” Harris said. “A lot of people flock to firearms when they start to be less comfortable in their homes.”

Although his store still has ammunition and most models of firearms, staff is limiting the number of boxes of ammo per day per customer.

Clearly the demand for both guns and ammunition has been off the charts for months, but the situation has been compounded by rising prices for common materials like copper and lead, which may have limited ammunition manufacturers’ ability to quickly ramp up production. There’s been some good news on that end in recent weeks, with copper miners in Chile ending a strike a couple of weeks ago, and some employees at several copper mining and processing facilities in Arizona and Texas are heading back to work after a strike that began last October.

Some ammunition manufacturers are also beginning to take the plunge and invest millions of dollars in expanding their operations to produce more ammunition. In late July Fiocchi of America announced that it’s expanding operations at its Little Rock, Arkansas plant, where 85 workers will soon be producing centerfire ammunition.

“These are good-paying jobs that will make a difference in our community, and most importantly, I hope that this is a partnership that will lead to future growth down the road,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at a news conference announcing the plant.

The jobs are great, especially at a time when our nation’s unemployment rate is still in the double digits. Still, I’m guessing most gun owners are more excited to hear about the increased production for some common self-defense calibers.

The ammunition industry is currently caught in the middle of unprecedented demand and more supply problems than they’re used to, but of the two, I’d say it’s the demand that’s really keeping store shelves bare at the moment. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone in the industry expects that demand to subside anytime soon, so while the ammunition shortage isn’t permanent, it’s also not likely to disappear over the next few months. Demand is likely to actually increase as we get closer to Election Day, and if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris actually win in November, Americans will be buying up every round that they can find in advance of the most anti-gun ticket in history taking office.