Skip to comments.Ammunition Availability, Shortages, and .22 Production
Posted on 03/07/2014 10:05:16 AM PST by marktwain
The first time I heard about a shortage of ammunition was from my father, who talked about how ammunition was impossible to get during World War II. As I now own the .22 rifle that had kept much of the neighborhood in venison during the depression (he told me that it had accounted for about 200 deer over the decades, as it was loaned out to neighbors), I made the mental note that I would not be caught short in a future conflict.
As a young adult I noticed a special on Remington .22 ammunition under the Peters brand at the local Farm and Fleet. I bought 10,000 rounds. So did my brother. I finally used the last of that reserve quite a few years later, after burning through multiples of the amount in target practice, informal plinking, training of new shooters, competition, and a little for hunting.
The next notice was in the early 1980's. I had picked up a "sporterized" Enfield MK IV (.303 British, of course) as a truck gun. I had seen the prices on surplus .303 in Shotgun News at very reasonable rates, not six months previous, and figured that I could buy a few hundred rounds inexpensively. I was wrong. Surplus .303 had disappeared! It took me a couple of weeks to figure it out. The Russians had invaded Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan had been elected. Surplus .303 disappeared off of the world market.
Afghans love Enfield rifles, and even make copies of their own, in relatively primitive shops. They make AK copies, now, as well. The CIA or proxies, were buying up the entire available surplus .303 on the world market, and sending it to the Afghans who were fighting the Russians. I remember an astute friend, who taught me much about power politics, warning that we needed to be very careful about arming Islamics. Prescience noted, 20 years later. Surplus .303 would be not be available again for many years. I sold the Enfield and did not buy another for two decades.
There were golden years during the 1990's when surplus ammunition was cheap, and I stocked up. I ended up selling most of it at a profit, at prices that seem ridiculously inexpensive today.
Everyone who has bought ammunition in the past few years has noted that there have been of shortages. We are in the middle of one for .22 rimfire ammunition and to a lesser extent, centerfire. As with earlier shortages, they are caused by politics. I do not credit the various conspiracy theories when the simple, obvious mechanism of supply and demand explains the process easily.
Machinery for manufacturing new (not reloaded) ammunition is very expensive, has a very long life, and is a major capital expenditure. Manufacturers are reluctant to make major capital expenditures for momentary spikes in demand, and for good reason. A company does not stay in business very long if they are imprudent with capital expenditures of this type. Winchester nearly went bankrupt after WWI because it had borrowed too much for capital, and passed out of family ownership in 1919.
The demand for ammunition stems from a fairly new awareness of multitudes of the American public about what my father passed on to me about 1960. Ammunition shortages happen, and it is a good idea to have a stockpile. The uncertainty of the Obama administration, the attack on second amendment rights, and world wide conflicts escalating with the current administration channeling a combination of Neville Chamberlain and the Muslim Brotherhood make it hard for any but the most obstinately polyannish to be unconcerned.
There are about 80-100 million American gun owners. Millions of them are new, thanks to the Obama administration. A Majority of them own a .22. Rimfire ammunition is not practically reloadable (yes, there were a few kits sold in the 1980's). Most people did not buy 5,000 rounds as a strategic reserve. Most probably had less than a box on hand. Suddenly, tens of Millions of people became aware and thought that a thousand rounds of .22 would be nice to have. Maybe a couple of thousand. Demand for .22 has historically run under 4 billion rounds a year in the United States, which is by far the largest market in the world. My friend Alan Korwin reports that the U.S. manufacturing capacity is 4.2 billion rounds a year.
Suppose 50 million Americans decided that they would like to have 1,000 rounds of .22 on hand for a rainy day, rather like I did in the 1970s. That is 50 billion cartridges, or about 12 times the annual manufacturing capacity for .22 ammunition in the United States. My observations show me that virtually every .22 manufacturing plant around the world is running flat out making .22 ammunition for the American market, and it all gets snapped up as soon as it becomes available, at prices about three times the rate of even a year and a half ago.
Basic economics: when demand outstrips supply, prices go up until the demand drops to supply levels. This puts money in the hands of suppliers, who then ramp up production to increase supply. It is happening, but it will take a while.
Now with the Ukrainian crises, Mike Vanderboegh is forecasting an importation cut off Russian ammunition by the Obama administraiton. If that occurs, there are a few months supply in the pipeline, but panic buys will empty the domestic stockpile and drive up prices. There seems to be plenty available at the moment, in spite of rumors of a cut off by the Russians instead of our government.
Aren't you glad that we live in such interesting times? (Chinese curse reference)
I am going to look for another gun show to give away some more .22 ammunition as a promotion, but I have to replenish my supply of business cards that go with the ammo.
I learned foresight from my father. I predict a rising popularity of air guns for target practice, pest control, and small game hunting ( I have a couple, and thousands of pellets). Integral suppressors included on air rifles are common, legal, and cheap, making a mild report even quieter.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
Most of the ammo that is in short supply in my WalMart is 22LR and the harder to find 22WMR. Other rounds like 9mm and 40 S&W are usually found. 38, 38+P and 357 Mag are scarcer and infrequent on the shelves. 45 ACP is a little better. You see Winchester Super X 45 LC sometimes, too.
Rifle calibers, 7.62X39, 223 and 5.65 are pretty well stocked along with many other calibers primarily used for hunting.
Crap and dang! I hadn’t even thought about how 0 would turn this Ukraine thing into scheme to drive up ammo prices. Just when they started going down too. I’ve been getting some here and there, but nowhere near how much I should have.
Look for Wolf and Tula to start getting sparse.
I saw on FR last night that Putin has cut us off.
Can’t be true because he is smarter than that.
He is committed to supporting many rogue nations and other groups around the world, most of whom run AK-47’s.
So some slick operator in one of those Russian puppet countries will order 7.62 x 39 by the container load and re-ship it to the US, for a price of course.
As well as ammo for the AK-74 and other weapons.
Russia is so infected with corruption that it will be almost impossible to prevent it.
So no need to panic.
My two local Wal-Marts have ample supplies of shotgun shells and odd ball rifle cartridges, just the opposite of what is normal.
No rimfire ammo at all. No 9mm, no other pistol ammo that I have noticed.
A very good stock of AR style rifles. More than I ever recall.
One of my best friends works at the Remington Arms plant in Lonoke, AR. He affirms that they are running 24/7 as much ammo as they can put out the door in every line. Some extremely staggering numbers - and the plant is also undergoing a major expansion to add several new production lines.
And for those curious - .22 LR ammo is being produced at well over 6 million rounds per day... at just this one plant.
I plan on buying a 10/22 from a friend this summer and concernd about ammo avaialbility (still ?)...
I hope I can procure some . . .
In s.w. Virginia you cannot find .22 ammo at Walmart. Had to go to the local gun and pawn shop and paid out $49 for 500 rounds. OUCH! We used to love and shoot our .22 rifles for fun/target practice every weekend. Now we are simply trying to hoard some up.
Right now is the time to stock up on 5.56 and 7.62x39. Both are readily available. I have a few thousand rounds of .22, so I’m good there, but I never shoot it, because I’m afraid that it wont be easily replaced. I also have around 15k of good 5.56(for long term storage) that I never touch. Also have a thousand or two of this, and a thousand or two of that.
Never thought I’d see the day when 5.56 could be fired without giving it a 2nd thought, with .22LR being the one to conserve. It’s tough to find cheap .308(7.62 NATO)for ‘plinking’. If there IS a such thing as plinking with a .308. My shoulder tends to REALLY not like much more than a 20rnd mag of it in a short amount of time. Unless you own an M60, or shoot alot, a couple thousand rounds of .308 will keep you set for a LONG time.
After trying to do my part the last few months by NOT buying any ammo, I stopped by the local Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, Ga. this morning.
Found 2 boxes of CCI Mini Mag 22, one at $.17 and the other at $.10/round. Trying to figure which outlandish price is the correct one.
Plenty of handgun ammo available.
I’m also in SW VA. You practically have to personally know someone that works in the Sporting Goods department to score any .22 ammo from a Walmart.
Luckily, I do! hehe (still limited to 2 or 3 boxes purchase per day though)
Lucky you! Where r u? I’m in Pulaski co.
The author is correct with respect to his assessment that air rifles will become the default .22. Much quieter and yet effective as a protein getter. I am looking for a good air rifle under $200 for small game, squirrels, doves, and rabbits. I would like to get Freeper’s views on models, caliber preference, power sources, etc.
” I predict a rising popularity of air guns for target practice, pest control, and small game hunting ( I have a couple, and thousands of pellets). Integral suppressors included on air rifles are common, legal, and cheap, making a mild report even quieter.”
That has been happening for a while here in Californicator land. Big 5’s ads each week offer deals on .177 caliber high end one pump pellet guns.
One of our younger neighbors has set up a minnie firing range for pellet rifles and pistols.
He let me use his blue Beretta style pellet pistol that is a repeater. It feels like a real Beretta and is a cheap way to practice to keep up your skills. It uses a CO2 cartridge and a cylinder to put the pellets in.
Carroll. Not far from ya! lol
I’m in mountains not far from Parkway/NC border.
I have a heavy-barrel .308 I could shoot all day. I usually quit at 40 rounds because that’s where it starts getting expensive, I worry about my barrel heating up too much, and the wife will start to miss me after about 2 hours.
I can see where a lighter gun would wear out your shoulder with that caliber, though.
I love shooting, but this ammo situation for the last 6 years has really taken a lot of the fun out of it.
You can find .22LR here and there from time to time, but the cost is usually 3 to 4 times what it was before Sandy Hook. It’s still quite a bit cheaper than most centerfire ammo, so people will still be buying it despite the high prices.
I’ve more or less given up on just walking into Walmart and picking up .22LR any time I want. I’m now just hoarding what I’ve got and hoping to get lucky when I look for .22LR rounds.
For range time, I bought a high end .22 cal. gas piston air rifle. It’s nearly as good as my .22LR rifle, and although it cost more than my 10/22, the muzzle velocity is actually higher and I can get 500 .22 pellets for about $10. It’s loud too; as loud as my 10/22.
There a a number of versions with integral suppressors, as noted in the article.
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