Strong February Gun Sales Keep Ammo Scarce On Store Shelves

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The Great Gun Run of 2020 has continued into 2021, with estimates of more than 1.3-million firearms sold last month. The National Shooting Sports Foundation released its adjusted NICS figures on Tuesday evening, and the firearms industry trade group reports that background checks on gun purchases were up 7-percent compared to February of 2020.


Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the NSSF, says that Americans “continue to purchase firearms in record numbers, while at the same time, their elected representatives in Washington, D.C. and the Biden administration plot to steal away their rights to purchase firearms.

“It’s not lost on the firearm industry that after a year of record-setting figures for gun sales, Democrats favoring gun control in both chambers of Congress are ignoring the will of their voters and introducing legislation to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens instead of concentrating efforts to reduce crime. It is staggering the tone-deaf response by politicians to attempt to curb gun owners’ rights and ignore criminals that break the law.”

Typically, February is one of the slowest months for firearm sales, as the post-Christmas rush has subsided. Last month, however was the third-highest February on record, according to the NSSF, and Oliva says there is continued positive grown in the firearm market.

It isn’t clear that market demand has been satisfied and there are other factors to consider. Firearm retailers in many locations are still showing empty display cases and low inventory, indicating that firearms are still sought after. February’s background check figures too may have been affected by the Arctic weather that blanketed much of the nation in February. Background checks for gun sales in Texas alone were 13-percent below last February.

Even with the dip in sales in Texas, gun owners around the country are still having to hunt to find firearms in many gun shops, and the availability of ammunition is so low that there are still long lines forming outside of gun stores and big box retailers.


Hours before the doors opened Sunday at the Bass Pro Shop in Hampton, customers wrapped around the building hoping to get a chance to buy ammunition.

“I’m a gun enthusiast and a Marine, and I love shooting, so I’m here to get some ammo,” said Alvin Mccloud, a Newport News resident waiting in line.

Chris Kepics and his chihuahua Coco were first in line around 7 a.m. and the first with bags in tow.

“I am the proud owner of 500 rounds of 9 mm. I got a really good price on this considering how much ammo is nowadays,” Kepics said.

Shortly after the store opened, customers came out saying they were sold out.

That was in southeastern Virginia this past weekend, but similar scenes have taken place in many states, including Texas, where more than 50 customers were waiting in line outside of an Academy Sports store one chilly morning recently, hoping to get their hands on a box or two of ammunition.

In Las Vegas, gun shops say they too are having a hard time keeping ammo in stock.

“It’s literally ever caliber right now. We’re having trouble stocking it. And it doesn’t matter what it is. There are certain calibers that are just completely out and dry, and there are others that are limited,” said The Range 702 General Manager Kris Chanski.

Pandemic-related delays at manufacturing plants are mostly to blame but some say a change government on the national level may also contribute to so-called “panic buying”

Chanski says there’s also another factor. “There’s an influx of new gun ownership. We have not seen this many new gun owners, ever,” she said. Essentially it comes down to basic supply and demand.”


I would expect that once Democrats start moving on their gun control agenda in Congress, likely as early as next week, we’re going to see another influx of customers trying to get their hands on firearms and ammunition. The push for gun control at the federal level tends to spur demand among consumers, so if you’re eagerly awaiting a return to normality in terms of ammo availability, I think you’re going to be waiting for at least a few more months.


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