Ammo Shortage?

Now it seems that in addition to the run on toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, bleach, and antibacterial soap, you can add ammunition to the list.

Cam Edwards reports:

The panic buying of toilet paper and cleaning supplies that have temporarily left store shelves bare is also starting to be seen in gun stores around the country, and it may soon have an impact on the availability of some common types of ammunition in the days and weeks ahead.

On Twitter, I asked folks who’d gone shopping in the past 24 hours to chime in and report on what store shelves looked like while they were in their local gun store. Plenty of people reported back on bare shelves, particularly for 9mm and .223/5.56 rounds.

He goes on to explain that any shortage probably will not be as the result of the difficulty in obtaining the raw materials – lead, copper, and brass – but the possibility that factories might be forced to close temporarily due to COVID-19.

The Power Line Blog which is not a gun blog had this anecdotal report. It came from an unnamed friend who wished to be anonymous and who goes to the range and gun store three times a week on average.

But today it wasn’t my place. It was a damn mess.

People, people, people! Everybody is buying guns. It happens every time apocalypse fever fills the air, animated by crazed dreams of civil breakdown, too many viewings of Mad Max, food shortage, the whimsy of life and death, and anyone’s aching need to protect children, spouse and self. This time it’s COVID-19, but it could be any dodgy possibility as sustained and amplified by the willfully ignorant.

So as I sat there in the crowd, waiting for my turn to get to the firing line, I wondered: Who ARE they?

They’re not conservatives. Conservatives already have their guns, many of them of the so-helpful AR and AK variant, and many boxes—and crates and pallets—of ammo. That’s because apocalyptic thinking is never far from the conservative mind, with its realthink about the evil that men do and how quickly they can do it. It wasn’t a liberal who said, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

So what can you do if your local gun store has run out of either your favorite caliber or your preferred brand?

May I suggest going to Luckygunner.com. You can find your ammo, you will pay a fair price, and it will be delivered to you at home. Click on the banner to go to their website.

Buy bulk ammo at Lucky Gunner

I should also note that I am an affiliate of Luckygunner.com and have been since 2011. I will earn a small commission that helps this blog and it won’t cost you any extra. I personally know many of the people there and they are good folks.

How CCI Makes .22 LR Cartridges

Given that few of us can find .22LR ammo in the market due to (hoarding, greater demand, an expanded market, or all of the above), I thought it might be interesting to at least see how the ammo is constructed.  Jim Scoutten of Shooting USA visited the CCI ammunition plant in Lewiston, Idaho.

Turns out that it is a fairly complicated process from making the brass to filling the shells with priming compound to seating the bullets.  While the plant makes 4 million rounds a day, that isn’t a lot when you think about it. Doing the math, that is 40,000 100-round boxes or 2,000 cases per day.  Another way of looking at it is that this is approximately one case per Walmart in the United States daily.

Let’s Hope This Helps Solve The Shortage of .22LR Ammo



I got a press release today from Norma-USA. They are the American distributors for Swedish ammo maker Norma. The release announced that they would be importing a new brand of .22 LR ammo for sale in the US.

As anyone who has gone into their local Walmart knows, .22 LR ammo is scare to nonexistent on the shelves. Norma is well-known for making fantastic ammo and I expect this .22 LR ammo to be no exception. With a MSRP of $4.99, Norma-USA TAC-22 is also reasonably priced for what it is.

Let’s hope this helps to ease the shortage of .22 LR on dealer’s shelves. It is available by mail order from both Grafs and Midway USA.

Hornady On Ammo Availability

Steve and Jason Hornady of ammo maker Hornady Manufacturing released a YouTube video this week discussing the ammo shortage. In their own humorous way, they showed that they really are working 24/7 on getting ammo out the door. Their parody intro is really good. It’s great to see a company that isn’t so stuck up on itself.

High Demand For Ammo Is Not Just In The US

I read a press release from the Swiss ammunition manufacturer RUAG this week announcing that they were increasing production. RUAG Ammotec produces ammo in plants in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, and Tampa, Florida. While you might not recognize RUAG Ammotec, you’d probably recognize some of their brands. They include RWS, Dynamit Nobel, Norma, Rottweil, Hirtenberger, MFS, Swiss P, and GECO.

What made RUAG’s announcement interesting was that they said they were increasing production due to “the high level of capacity utilisation in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary and the USA.” This is bureaucratic-speak saying that not only are Americans buying more ammo, so are the Germans, Swiss, Swedes, and Hungarians.

From their announcement:

RUAG Ammotec was quick to recognize the signs and create additional production capacities. On the one hand, this increase in capacity is being achieved by taking on more staff and by intensifying shift operation, and on the other hand a major investment programme in the upper double-digit million range is to be implemented in the coming three years. It is the biggest project of its kind in the history of RUAG Ammotec.

“Expanding our production network across all our locations will ideally increase our current capacities. This is the only way for us to be able to meet the high international demand even better in future and reinforce our market position,” states Cyril Kubelka, who has been the CEO of RUAG Ammotec and member of the Executive Board of RUAG for many years.

Three Years And Counting

May 2013 became the 36th straight month – or three full years – in which the NSSF-adjusted NICS check figures topped the same period in the preceding year.

The May 2013 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS) figure of 974,457 is an increase of 15.9 percent over the
NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 840,412 in May 2012. For comparison, the
unadjusted May 2013 NICS figure of 1,424,450 reflects a 9.1 percent
increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,305,392 in May 2012.

While the NICS checks are not a direct correlation with sales, they are an indicator of trends. The National Instant Criminal Background Check
System is also used by a number of states for concealed carry permit background checks for both new and active permits.

There are many anecdotal reports that a good part of current gun sales are from first time buyers. If this is indeed the case – and I’ve come to believe it is – then this is not a bubble but a shift in the demand curve.

This could also explain the scarcity of ammo. If I were to buy a new 9mm pistol, I have ammo for it that I’ve bought over the years. I don’t have to run out to Walmart, my local gun store, or go online right away to get ammo. However, if someone who has never owned a gun now buys one, he or she will need ammo for it. In the past week, I stopped into two Walmarts that were over 100 miles apart. Both had a decent selection of rifles and shotguns. Neither of them had any ammo in the more common calibers even though they have restrictions on the amount one can buy.

Make Them Buy Their Ammo At Walmart

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to HR 2217 – the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014 – that forbids DHS from purchasing any more ammunition until they report to Congress on their previous ammunition purchases. The amendment passed Tuesday with a bi-partisan majority of 234-192. The amendment was proposed, I’m happy to report, by my Congressman, Rep. Mark Meadows (D-NC11).

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) proposed an amendment to the DHS spending bill for 2014 that would require the report to Congress before it can pursue plans to buy 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition. Meadows said the speed bump is a necessary reaction to news of the huge purchase, which alarmed many Americans and prompted conservative groups to suspect that the government was stocking up on the rounds to fight citizens.

“Given this large purchase, the American people and members of Congress rightfully had concerns and questions,” Meadows said. “This is a responsible amendment which ensures that Congress and the American people are aware of the necessity and the cost of ammunition prior to entering into new contracts for procurement.”

This amendment was opposed by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) who is Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations who said it was unnecessary based upon his talks with DHS officials and that it would interrupt the regular procurement process at DHS. I guess he means their solicitation for 30-30 Winchester and .45 Long Colt (sic) ammunition.

The roll call vote can be found here.

Rep. Meadows had more to say on the issue in this release:

A provision of H.R. 2217 requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a report to Congress detailing its ammunition purchases by the time the president submits his next budget. Meadows’ amendment complements this reporting provision by prohibiting DHS from entering into a new contract for ammunition purchases until the report is submitted to Congress.

“Over the past year, many questions have been raised about vast purchases of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),” Meadows said. “Earlier this year, we learned that DHS solicited bids for 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition. This is more than ten times the amount that the department purchased in fiscal year 2012. Given current inventory, DHS has nearly 4,000 rounds for each employee trained and certified in firearms use.

“Constituents of the 11th District have repeatedly voiced their concerns to me about these purchases. Prior to committing taxpayer dollars for ammunition contracts, we must ensure that government agencies justify the necessity and cost to both Congress and the American people.”

The amendment passed the House with bipartisan support by a vote of 234-192.

I might have gone further than Rep. Meadows and included a provision that DHS have to buy their ammo over the counter at Walmart or their local gun shop. Oh, and they would have to abide by the usual limitations on purchases that the rest of us do including no more than 3 boxes of ammo per day at a time.

Hornady Clears Up Some Rumors

On some of the reloading lists that I subscribe to I’ve seen a lot of rumors about ammo and ammo component manufacturers. While this response from Hornady certainly doesn’t cover other large scale ammo/ammo components manufacturers like Remington, Federal, and Winchester, it is still good info especially with some reassurance for reloaders.


A Word on Availability

The current political climate has caused extremely high demand on all shooting industry products, including ours. Empty retail shelves, long backorders, and exaggerated price increases on online auction sites – all fueled by rumors and conjecture – have amplified concerns about the availability of ammunition and firearms-related items.

If the information you hear doesn’t originate from Hornady Manufacturing, don’t believe it.

Here are some of rumors we’ve heard, and questions we’ve received:

  • Have you stopped production, or has the government forced you to stop?


    • Not at all.

  • Did you stop selling bullets so you could only make loaded ammunition?

    • Absolutely not.

  • Since we can’t find your product you must be selling it all to the government.

    • Nope, less than 5% of our sales are to government entities.

  • Why can’t you make more? Ramp up production? Turn on all the machines?

    • We’ve been steadily growing our production for a long time, especially the last five years. We’ve added presses, lathes, CNC equipment, people and space. Many popular items are produced 24 hours a day. Several hundred Hornady employees work overtime every week to produce as much as safely possible. If there is any question about that – please take a tour of the factory. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

We are producing as much as we can; much more than last year, which was a lot more than the year before, etc. No one wants to ship more during this time than we do.

We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience. We don’t know when the situation will improve, so please bear with us a little longer. And remember, when it comes to Hornady Manufacturing, if you don’t hear it from us, please don’t believe it.