The ammo shortage



Have you tried to buy any ammunition lately? Good luck.

Statewide outlets for firearms and ammunition, whether big-box stores or locally owned sporting goods stores, are pretty much out of stock, especially for the most popular calibers of ammunition. In mid-October, the ammunition shelves at area Walmarts were as empty as Hannaford’s bathroom tissue shelves back in May.

Here is what you definitely cannot find: .22 caliber, 30-30 caliber, .308 caliber and 30-06 caliber. There is also a shortage of shot shells in most calibers. This is ironic. Conventional wisdom has always been this: If you are going to buy a firearm for the first time, buy a popular caliber. That way you can always be sure of finding ammunition easily. According to those in the know, this has all been turned on its head by the COVID pandemic shutdowns, civil unrest like we have never seen and election year anxieties about future gun control regulations. (Ammo hoarding?)

During the first half of this year, nationwide firearms sales increased by 95 percent! Between January and July of this year, 5 million Americans bought their first gun. FBI background checks on potential gun buyers are 72 percent higher than last year.

So clearly, demand alone is driving much of the shortage. Dave Lorenz, who owns the Old Town Trading Post and recently purchased Whitney Outfitters in Lincoln, says that “gun sales have been brisk.” Lorenz says that over the years it has been his experience that the “political scene affects gun sales.” He also says, with a smile, that “the first frost always brings out the deer hunters looking to buy or trade a new deer rifle.” Lorenz says that although he still has guns on his shelves and some less popular ammo calibers, manufacturers have been unable to keep up with demand. He thinks it will be a while before he and other sporting goods outlets have full gun and ammo inventories.

Lorenz notes, too, that there are corporate upheavals going on with some gun and ammo makers that may figure into the shortage equation in the days ahead. Remington Arms is in Chapter 11 and there is a merger pending with Marlin and Ruger.

The additional bad news is that shortages drive up prices, whether ammo or gasoline. However, spokesmen for Cabela’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods are projecting a flattening of the supply-demand curve and a softening of ammo prices in the fourth quarter of this year. “The surge in firearms and ammunition is clearly winding down,” says Cabela’s CEO Thomas Millner.

As firearms and ammo manufacturers spool up to meet the demand backlog, the recovering economy should reap the benefits. For example, one ammo maker in Arizona reportedly has a backlog of $81 million in sales contracts to be filled. Up and down the national supply chain, scenarios like this put people back to work.

If you are a deer hunter sighting in your Winchester 30-30 at the range, you might want go easy on that last box of Remington Core -Lokt. Save a few rounds for the November deer woods.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected].net.

V. Paul Reynolds

Columnist at Ellsworth American
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]

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