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Why We've Had an Ammunition Shortage

Government conspiracy? George Soros? Overzealous preppers? Nah, the ammunition shortage isn’t that simple. Here are some numbers and the facts behind why you can’t find the cartridges you want.

Trying to explain why there has been a prolonged shortage of ammunition is like attempting to understand why people line up outside stores in anticipation of Nike launching its latest basketball shoe or Apple its latest iPhone. A run on a product—or in this case an entire category of products—is the result of a perfect storm of factors. So, for some much-needed perspective, let’s begin with the big picture.

First, we need to see if demand has indeed outpaced supply. Privately owned corporations aren’t in the habit of giving out sales and precise manufacturing figures for their competitors to peruse, so I contacted the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association representing manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and related products. However, as ammunition made and sold wasn’t much of an issue in the past, the NSSF only recently began tracking ammunition production. Nevertheless, there is another way to understand the trend in ammunition sales. There is good historical data showing how much excise tax on ammunition has been paid annually. (Every time you buy a box of shotgun shells or rifle cartridges you pay an excise tax that was established in 1937 when Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson Act.)

Before getting into the numbers, it should be noted that tax revenue raised over time isn’t a perfect way to measure the sale of a category of products. For example, the prices of some premium ammunition have outpaced inflation. Also, commodity prices for copper and other metals over the past few years have generally risen, causing prices to rise for ammunition even faster.

Nevertheless, the tax figure is a useful way to understand overall sales trends.
So let’s look at the numbers. In 2000 the U.S. Department of the Interior reported that excise taxes on ammunition generated $68 million, whereas in 2012 that figure was $207 million. With inflation taken into account, that’s approximately a 129 percent increase in 12 years. A lot of that growth has taken place in the past few years. Between 2007 and 2012 excise tax money generated from ammunition sales almost doubled from $108 to $207 million. Tax dollars from ammunition sales were stable from the mid-1990s through 2006, but then started to climb fast as gun sales began surging.

To understand what $207 million represents, it’s helpful to know that in 2012 the NSSF estimated the size of the consumer rimfire, center-fire and shotshell market at about 9.5 billion shells and cartridges. That includes U.S. production in addition to imports minus exports. Last October the NSSF predicted there would be more than 10 billion cartridges and shells made for the American consumer market in 2013 as manufacturers attempt to keep pace with consumer demand.

Obviously this massive increase in demand has made it difficult for ammunition makers to keep up. Can you imagine what would happen if the demand for your other favorite products doubled in five years? Wouldn’t they likely be more expensive and harder to find? Also, ammunition production can be difficult to increase quickly because it takes investment in expensive machinery and additional personnel to increase production. Making more ammunition also requires companies to purchase more raw materials in a competitive and international marketplace. Manufacturers also must worry about overinvesting in a market bubble and thereby getting caught overextended in coming months or years.

Those are just some of the dilemmas facing manufacturers. Meanwhile, some gun owners have been speculating that this supply-and-demand problem is related to large government purchases. A few people have even hypothesized that the Obama administration might see reducing the ammunition supply via massive government buys as a clever way to enact gun control. After all, a government that would let guns be sold in U.S. gun stores to known straw purchasers so they could be illegally taken across the border with Mexico to arm drug gangs in a not-so-clever crime-fighting technique (if you believe that official explanation) seems capable of anything.

Are Government Contracts Eating Up Supplies?
Concerns from gun owners have been so loud there was even a congressional hearing. At the hearing in April 2013, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs one of the House oversight subcommittees, noted that the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) is using more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition more per person than the U.S. Army. “It is entirely ... inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition,” said Chaffetz.

Chaffetz noted that DHS bought more than 103 million rounds in 2012 and used 116 million that same year for about 70,000 public employees. Chaffetz said the DHS is consuming between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per person, while he estimated that the U.S. Army goes through only about 350 rounds annually per soldier. Of course, anyone who has ever shot a machine gun knows that 350 rounds per soldier is a pretty tightfisted way to train people to shoot automatic arms. But then U.S. Army personnel train for a long list of job responsibilities, many of which have little to do with small arms. The deeper you look the more you realize that comparing the DHS to the U.S. Army is hardly an apples-to-apples comparison.

The DHS is a massive umbrella agency that includes more than 70,000 law-enforcement personnel across multiple agencies and more than 40,000 uniformed members of the military in the U.S. Coast Guard. The ammunition the DHS buys is used to support law-enforcement operations as well as routine qualifications and training for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration and many other federal entities.

Nevertheless, worries spread in some circles on the Internet when it was reported that the DHS had a contract for a maximum of 450 million rounds of .40-cal. jacketed hollow-points to be supplied during the next five years. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) investigated the contract and published a press release noting that, given all the agencies DHS buys for, “450 million rounds really isn’t that large of an order.” Westmoreland’s staff calculated that if the “DHS were to purchase all 450 million rounds over 5 years, then that would equate to only about 1,384 rounds of ammunition” per year per law-enforcement officer and so on.

Some nevertheless wondered why the DHS needs hollow-point ammunition. The answer, says DHS, is simply that hollow-points are the defensive ammunition of choice. A little reporting shows this is certainly the case for federal, state and local law-enforcement officers—as well as for many private citizens.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), meanwhile, asked the DHS for a breakdown of how much it spends on ammunition per agency and how much it uses annually (see table, opposite). The answers Coburn received deflated gun owners’ worries about government malfeasance. The DHS noted that it buys in bulk to save money, but overall its purchases have actually gone down. In 2010 the DHS purchased 148,314,825 rounds. In 2011 the DHS bought 108,664,054 rounds. And in 2012 the DHS purchased 103,178,200 rounds of ammunition.

When I contacted the DHS for any update on these figures, Marsha Catron, a DHS spokesperson, answered: “DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition, computer equipment and information technology services. These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies.”

Ammunition manufacturers back up the DHS’ explanation. For example, Federal Premium Ammunition, which has 1,400 employees making ammunition in Anoka, Minn.—some for federal contracts—published a statement saying that the rumor DHS is “buying excessive quantities of ammunition, thereby restricting availability to the commercial market,” is a “false and baseless claim.” Federal Premium says, “The Department of Homeland Security contract makes up a very small percentage of our total ammunition output. This contract is not taking ammunition away from civilians. The current increase in demand is attributed to the civilian market. Our production volumes on government contracts have been stable since the mid-2000s.”

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157 Responses to Why We've Had an Ammunition Shortage

Gary Shaner wrote:
August 18, 2014

Hard for me to believe that not one company in the USA can not produce a few extra billion rounds of 22lr ammo. Look just because a 1 or 2 million shooters want to buy five or ten thousand extra rounds ammo,it seems that the great industrial machine of America could churn this out in a few months! Oh wait that country is China now. Hey maybe we can ask them?

Jay Z wrote:
August 12, 2014

I have read quite a bit on this article that was written, and it seems to me that it begs the question of why are we not allowing ammunition to be imported? Our government was so kind to send a lot of jobs overseas with NAFTA, why are they disallowing ammunition to come into the US from other countries. I am sure there are countries that would be more then willing to send their products our way... if it is like they say in this article that companies cannot keep up with the demand. The government is allowing weapons to be imported into the US... why not ammo to use in those weapons? So... no, I don't believe that the companies in the US are doing their best to meet the demand, or that the government or anyone else is trying to relieve the situation. Companies are in it to make money... so is the government. If the ammo could be imported, I am sure that the US companies would find a way to boost their production... Does anyone remember the times of Ma Bell and the monopoly that they created?

Eddie F wrote:
July 21, 2014

You are to be commended for publishing such a well-written article, trying to be objective and include actual data relevant to the topic rather than paranoid ramblings. I know fruitcakes are driving up demand by buying every box of ammo they can get their hands on, but your other points related to stats about new shooters are rational thoughts to consider. I've got to go get some ice for my toe now. Obama made me stump it on the way to lunch.

Rick L wrote:
July 12, 2014

It surprises me how many people this is an Obama conspiracy. Stop the paranoia. Gun sales in the US have gone up dramatically in the past few years. Conceal carry laws helped drive this. More guns bought, means greater ammo demand. Supply and demand are out of equallibrium. I think the reasons stated in the article why ammo makers are not catching up to supply are spot on. Once supply catches up to demand, prices will fall. Of course with the current profit margins being made by the ammo makers, why would they want to catch up with demand any time soon?

jeff rhoden wrote:
June 26, 2014

i guess they didn't like my short and to the point first comment- it didn't get published! - look at the competition shooters and Sponsors!!! guys! They are taking a toll on our ammo supplies, Cheaper than dirt and such companies advertise ammo sales and sponsor shooters yet there is never any ammo available to the public. Competition shooters waste thousands of rounds every week. If there is a shortage, Why is there no limit imposed on competition shooting??? . Because There is money to be made that's why!!!!

Patrick wrote:
June 21, 2014

I recently got my concealed carry permit using the instructor's guns and ammo (100 rds of .22 long rifle to qualify). He had TONS of the stuff. No shortage with him, BUT he also owns a gun store. If he can get the ammo, why can't we peons?

Jeff Weeks wrote:
June 01, 2014

The 22 shortage brings up a lot of questions, most of which have been already brought out. My question is, why don't the people who are supppose to support us, American Rifleman, Guns, Field and Stream etc. get us the real reason? Unfortunately their reluctance brings up all kinds of scenarios I would rather not think about.

john wrote:
May 22, 2014

I do not know what scares me more, the fact the government spent so much on amno, or the fact that they shot 27.8 million rounds of amno at people in an operation capacity....

Daniel Boyd wrote:
May 06, 2014

I think this is one of the better articles covering the issues on why there is an ammo shortage. The tax revenue chart is probably the most truthful chart as its not controlled by the ammo industry. As shooters we all need to stop drinking the corporate COOL AID! Stop thinking that these CEO's are looking out for you the shooter. They are in business to make MONEY and right now their industry is in prime time. With the number one salesman in the White House and the NRA (I am a life member) stirring the pot as they too are reaping record donations. Why fulfill the market as that would quell demand the record prices for their goods would go down as would their PROFITS. Its sad that as old time shooters (I've supported these folks for 40 years) we are just given lip service of the wrong kind. These folks are no different then the medical, oil, banking fields....the bottom line is making money the hell with the consumer....and they have us right where they want us....at their mercy. Its sad but welcome to the new AMERICA.

mike Hagan wrote:
April 24, 2014

Open your eyes ears and minds...if they were making as much ammo as they say there would be plenty around...i have stopped at every store that would carry .22 ammo from Minneapolis to Aberdeen SD i could buy NONE...i understand there is hoarding...at the same time if not one store i asked when the shipments were comming in could say...now why is that? And why if shells are flying off the shelves would the manufacturing companies not make shipments to compensatefor demand...because its intheir best interest not to...dealers either...the more you have to come in looking for ammo just increases the probability you are going to purchase other available items guns and supplies...Greed is the word here... I remember not to many years ago you couldnt get in a pickup without stepping or seeing .22 ammo laying all over now i cant even find a box of 50 .22 shells in 2 states

albert snow wrote:
April 20, 2014

Hog wash! The ammo makers say they are making 22s as fast as ever and in larger amounts but here, it is not getting to the point of retail sales locations. Ammo in, but at every location I have visited I hear the same story 'were not getting any!' This leaves only the distrubition chain. One owner said it use to take 4 or 5 trips from the truck to bring in his order now only one. This happened overnight after the election. Nobody is getting the same supply as before November 2012. It is true what does come in sales quickly but this is only a fraction of what they got in 2012.

Mike Stone wrote:
March 24, 2014

Government conspiracies....bah humbug. Lots of ammo out there. Just not getting to store shelves. It's getting scooped up in the distribution chain by opportunists. I can go on gunbroker.com right now and buy a semi truck full of 22lr. If I want to pay .20-.25 a round. The ammo is also filling the shelves at price gouging retailers. Manufactures ship to distributors. Who the distributors give it to depends on who's willing to pay the most. Companies like Cheaper Than Dirt or LuckyGunner always have plenty of ammo. Because they pay the distributors inflated prices to get it and pass those prices on. 500 rd bulk pack of 22lr at Walmart is under $25. But you have to wait for it. Want it now? Plenty to be found at $60-$75 a box.

David Elledge wrote:
March 20, 2014

With ammo flying off the shelves so fast, and excise tax totals soaring, one wonders why State DNR agencies are being asked to cut budgets into the marrow of the bone.

Derek wrote:
March 20, 2014

Simple economics here of supply and demand. Manufacturers clearly want more money for their product. Initiate a shortage of supply and jack prices up. It doesn't make sense for the short run, but long run it does- once higher prices are established they are easier to sustain. This article is an excuse. Everything boils down to money, that's the blood of society.

Dannyboy wrote:
March 18, 2014

Frank I appreciate you taking the time to research and write on this subject. I have served as a Soldier and a Peace Officer and what you have written simply doesn't make any sense to me. To the government I would say...don't urinate on my boots and tell me it's raining. We are not freely giving up our arms!

Kim wrote:
March 18, 2014

It is absolutely absurd to believe that DHS actually needs 1,600 rounds per person. Only a small percentage of the people in DHS actually shoot their weapons on a consistent basis. I'm sure every admin person in these agencies is not shooting all the time and I doubt that even the first line DHS employees shoot that often. Most law enforcement agencies, just as the military in peacetime, do not shoot that often. Nothing in this article explains why the DHS is using this much ammo

R Black wrote:
March 11, 2014

I think to some extent, the supply chain is adopting a model much like DeBeers did with diamonds.

Ross wrote:
February 18, 2014

There was a fair amount of baloney in Miniter's article. The proposed DHS buying spree was reportedly 1.6 billion rounds over four to five years, or about three to four hundred million rounds a year. Those numbers are far higher than DHS purchases of the past few years. Comparing the DHS ammo usage to the military's is an apples to oranges comparison, but not in the way Miniter thinks. The military kills people for a living. DHS agents only rarely have to do so. Thus the fact that the agents get four or five times the yearly ammo that soldiers do indicates vast overuse and overbuying of ammunition. The agents' need for practice is hardly greater than that of military members. What's stranger yet, dum-dum bullets are outlawed by international agreement, but DHS agents carry and use them routinely while the military is prohibited from doing so? Hollow point ammo flooding to the feds is very much a legitimate concern for American citizens.

HUSKY 1 wrote:
February 14, 2014

we are a sporting goods shop in northern MI my reps tell me there sales on ALL RIMFIRE AMMO is DOWN 75-80[%] in 2013 nothing available to sell Jerrys sports center & Ellettt brothers outdoor sports & Simmons all say the same my Jerrys rep told me there normal Volume on 500 pack bricks of Rimfire is 250,000 a week currently they are receiving 3000-5000 bricks a week now divide that between 20000-25000 dealers nationwide that is where the shortage is IT IS NOT BEING MADE OR GETTING TO THE DISTRIBUTORS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WADWIZARD wrote:
January 27, 2014

I think that if the .22 ammo dries up, then over 1/2 of all rifles in the US households will have been disabled.

Steve Witt wrote:
January 26, 2014

While I agree with the idea that there are groups out there that would use creative methods to remove as many guns (and ammo) from society as possible. We all know that we are not about to give them away. I think it's possible that economics may be at play with the .22 shortage. Does anyone know what the most profitable calibers are? I suspect that .22 being the lowest priced ammo means that the margins may not be the best. The manufacturers are going to ramp up production on the money making stuff first and while they wait to bring up .22 production the price will rise due to demand and therefore make more money for them in the long run.

Francis wrote:
January 25, 2014

The shortage of 22 lr ammo would not be so bad if the quality of to large manufacturers wern't so bad.Average of two misfires in a box of 50

Kim wrote:
January 23, 2014

The article did not come close to explaining the continuing .22 LR shortage. Distributors don't have it, retailers can't get it, and we consumers can't buy it. It must not be being produced in sufficient quantities. But it will when the manufacturers can charge 10 times what it was 2 years ago.

Tony wrote:
January 23, 2014

I'm not satisfied with any of the author's explanations. Of course they appear feasible but, in a world of capitalism the manufacturers and stockholders should continue making a fortune - yet why is there a severe absence of .22 which historically is THE most affordable ammo to shoot and train with? There are only two acceptable explanations... 1. Manufacturers are being paid to a) not manufacture or b) not ship ammo. 'That's conspiracy theory!' you say, well I say NOT! FACT - Our government pays farmers to NOT grow crops! - FACT 2. Local Wally-world stock-boys/girls are hoarding the supplies as shipments are received, and are reselling on Gunbroker at incredible markups. You decide...

BobJ wrote:
January 16, 2014

Where I live the ammo supply seems to be returning to pretty much normal. I can get just about whatever I'm looking for. I did notice that during the crunch, the ammo was flying off the shelves as fast as it was put out, so I don't doubt that had an effect. As for DHS, it really isn't fair to compare DHS with the military. That's apples and oranges. The average soldier in a non-combat MOS may only shoot 50 rounds or so in a year's time. A 3 second burst from a helicopter minigun can eat up enough ammo for 6 GIs yearly use. DHS not only has it's own law enforcement officers to provide for, they also operate 3 training centers that provide basic training for every federal agency except FBI, DEA, Border Patrol and Coast Guard, and many of those go to advanced training at a DHS facility as do many state and local officers. Their contract is for 'UP TO' a certain amount over a 5 year period. That just makes sure it's available. They probably won't take actual delivery of that total and they get a better price for a large single vendor contract. As for some of the comments I've seen about the big bad 'Hollow Point' ammo, even the military uses hollow point ammo on domestic facilities. Only when they leave the US do they have to carry FMJ, per NATO requirement (stupid I think). Federal law enforcement agencies almost across the board carry hollow points and most (mine included) are REQUIRED to train with the same ammo as they carry on duty. (Thank the trial lawyers for that). My agency issues one type of .40 cal ammo, Speer Gold Dot Hollow Points and we cannot use anything else except for approved frangible ammunition for training on steel. Most fed agencies qualify 4 times a year. For me that's a minimum of 700 or so rounds just for handgun qualification. Add in shotgun and rifle , tactical training, specialty training and some others and I go well over 1000 rounds in a year's time. The specialty team members are even higher. It's not an unrealistic figure when you take into account what DHS really covers.

Craig wrote:
January 15, 2014

I'm not buying it. Our local Walmart Supercenter has had bare shelves for all .22 rimfire, of any type, for well over a year now. Nothing of any brand, from .22 BB to .22 Magnum. When money can be made in landslide amounts that could be made right now, the manufacturers would darn well be making the ammo. Imagine what the Shareholders of these companies would be asking, if they could be making money hand over fist, but production is 'going as fast as we can right now'? I'm leaning towards the subsidy theory right now, as has been mentioned. Too many holes in the authors 'explanation.'

A Reader wrote:
January 13, 2014

One of the characteristic pathologies of socialism is that the shelves in stores are empty, eventually. So, why would anyone be surprised that more and more socialism in the US disrupts the equilibrium between supply and demand? The Obama administration is NOT a bunch of fools. They know what to do to trigger the shortages of products that they don't want us to buy.

Nick Charles wrote:
January 10, 2014

They say we are hoarding the ammo and so there is not enough to go around. How can we hoard the ammo when they will only sell us 3 boxes? When the retailers get their shipments they get maybe a couple thousand rounds of .22's. If the factories are making billions of rounds there would be way more going to the retailers. If the factory people are trying to help by making more ammo, why are the prices going through the roof? I bought a single box of Hornady 223 plastic tip last week cost me $25.00. Well over a dollar a round that should have been fifty cents a round or less. This was at a Bass Pro. If things were right, and the demand was there, production would increase to meet the demand. Things are not right. The ammo is not being made in the volume they say it is or we would have plenty. Why would DHS need 1300 rounds a year to train each person? No police agency shoots that much ammo for training. Trust me, I know. I think this is just like the farmers crop rotation plan, where the government pays farmers not to plant crops. The government is paying the ammo people not to produce.

9pointkid wrote:
January 10, 2014

Every Democrat voted for obamacare and every one of them lied about the facts to the American people. Are we the people now supposed to believe the DHS which is headed by Obama appointee lawyer Jey Johnson, a New York Democrat?

Ron W. wrote:
January 08, 2014

In my opinion, If the U.S.elects a Republican in 2016 there will be no shortage

JD wrote:
January 08, 2014

A young, new shooter usually starts with 22 LR, with his dad or grandad teaching the basics. But that's disappearing quickly, as it's difficult to get youth started in hunting or shooting sports when 22LR is suddenly scarce. Wake up; of *course* the Federal Government is limiting the supply by whatever means they have at their disposal! Recall Eric Holder's 1995 statement: ''What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that's not cool, that it's not acceptable, it's not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we changed our attitudes about cigarettes.'' Eric Holder is the Liberal Fascist in charge of the DHS. And you know what's scarier? The GOP isn't so much better than Democrats. Both Parties are in power for power's sake, and desire to CONTROL the unwashed masses is their mutual goal. We are well and truly screwed.

Michael wrote:
January 06, 2014

I have too much respect for our industrial infrastructure to buy the idea that, even a year later, the ammunition making firms can not scale up (process efficiencies, extra shifts, investment in new equipment).

Stan wrote:
January 03, 2014

Some great comments on Mr. Miniter's apologetic article but I don't buy it either. I know there are .22 (and other caliber) shortages in SC, CA, TX, OK and some other states I hear about. Why? That caliber is a basic one for the entire world, not just USA. Also, echoing other comments, 'You don't need to worry about the billions of .40 Cal hollow points. They're for training.' Yea, sure they are. Who could blame the citizens for being very distrustful of our present administration? Little comfort from Republicans, either. As a friend said, 'Both political parties are working for the same banks.'

Cpl. Blair USMC wrote:
January 03, 2014

Remember though that when a faction finally removes firearms from a populace; as has been the case time and time again, those with nothing more than the knowledge of firearms are then subjected to removal as well, but I’m glad to see that Ya’ll have more or less the same concerns that I do over the ammo shortage issue; here is my feeble stab at it any way. I do not believe that the NRA is as nearly short sighted as it seems, and in these trying times that it justly holds the ideals of our founding fathers as TRUTH. So; maybe Ya’ll can help me reconcile some disconnects that I find in the NRA’s major publication, the AMERICAN RIFLEMAN; especially the January 2014 issue. Why we’ve had an ammo shortage, P. 84, Frank Minter; for starters, and despite being the 2nd (pun intended) such AMMO shortage piece in AR in the last year or less; I don’t think it really addresses my (OUR) fears down here on main street USA; because despite the “numbers and facts behind why you can’t find the cartridges you want” which are all very convincing and RATIONAL; I also read; Jan. 14, Standing GUARD, Halfway Home, P.12, Wayne LaPierre, “But we’re only halfway home, and the next big test begins right now.”; also VERY convincing, with the sense that in the near future we may just may have a 50/50 chance of GUNS & AMMO (ask Dick Metcalf) or NOT. So; on one hand NRA says supply and demand, but on the other hand NRA says; HEY wake up this is it…. Unless you change things, so what do we THINK; sit around and wait; send more money, or horde ammo, it is a vicious cycle, and I’m (we are) scared and not at all RATIONAL or soothed. I ask around and study up on the AMMO issue outside of the NRA’s sphere and find MANY distressing concerns among the GUN culture that I actually live with on a daily basis, and it is VERY disconcerting; primarily because of my perception of the fears and concerns of the un-coached people I talk to and/or read about. “The NRA tells me; supply & demand”, yea; NO that’s NOT it, something else is up MAN, and this is coming in no small part from the employees in the retail outlets that I haunt. I know I don’t have to tell the NRA about the 22 long rifle black-market in the Wal-Marts across the nation, but a BLACK MARKET in ANY LEGAL commodity is indicative of an type of societal break down that is generally seen in dire situations! As the NRA very well knows this is AMERICA and as such in this free market economy WE are usually able to rectify supply & demand toot sweet because capitalism works; RIGHT? Was the ammo industry and the NRA inexplicably caught off guard; kind of like the launch of Obama care? Or could it be that the NRA could not orchestrate a preemptive industrial (web design, maybe?) strategy that would keep US(A) in 22lr, unless the NRA IS (is NOT) in league with the ammo manufacturers to profiteer off uncertain times; given even “IF” 22lr returns it will be around a dime a pop? One Pawn GUN shop owner said to me “did you stop buying milk when it went to $4.79 a gallon? Well then”!!! For those of us trapped outside of the beltway in Washington D.C. ON and ON twirls our (just me?) thought processes above and beyond supply and demand; so maybe just maybe this will strike a chord; because as so aptly put by Wayne, AR, Dec. 13, P.13, “Bring it on, because Americans – by the millions upon millions – will fight to defend our freedom.”. If and when; what shall be the call sign? Semper fi Cpl. Blair USMC

Michael Travis wrote:
January 01, 2014

This reminds me of the 'Good old days' when the NRA fought against the 'Ugly Black Guns', and assisted in the creation of the 'Assault Weapon' mythology.

Phillip McMillen wrote:
December 30, 2013

The information Mr. Minter provided was overshadowed by the information he did not provide, insinuations and misleading readers by the old political trick of using correlation instead of causation reasoning. 1)Your paragraph concerning 'Business 101' was far from enlightening or revealing. Every producer/manufacturer in the free market economy is faced with the same issues. You failed to provide the readers with the answer to what this has to do with the shortage of ammo? Are you insinuating ammo manufacturers are not willing to risk the investment? Then say so and cut your article short. 2) I am still not aware of why the DHS requires more ammunition per person per year than the Army does. Mr. Minter's comment about 'Army personnel train for a long list of job responsibilities, many of which have little to do with small arms' insinuates that every one of DHS's personnel carry/use small arms. I guess the American people should feel much better knowing an additional 70,000 DHS agents are armed and trained for any and all contengencies. 3) Last time I looked, Federal Ammunition was owned by ATK. In 2010, ATK was ranked number 31 in the top 100 Contractors of the U.S. Government. I am sure a company who has the majority of their profit coming from the Federal Government will give totally objective statements concerning their primary customer. 4) Your reasoning about why demand has 'gone up' is suspect at best and faulty at worst. The lead in statement regarding the increase of women in the shooting sports can only stand if the number of men remains constant. This inormation was noticeably absent. Additionally, your statement about gun ownership increasing, although good for the gun manufacuterers, has extremely little to do with the increase of ammo demand as I believe all NRA members can attest to knowing vast numbers of people who own guns but never shoot them. Please read 'Freakenomics' before attempting to use correlation as your foundation of reasoning for your next article.

Earl Olson wrote:
December 27, 2013

You missed the number one reason there is a shortage. The number of private Ammo distributors has gone up . These individuals buy large quantities and try to resell at an inflated quick profit. Ammo sale listings on Gunbroker.com has gone up by the thousands this past year.

O. Geiseman wrote:
December 25, 2013

Conspicuously, 5 to 10 yr government ammunition purchase data is not presented. If it’s so elementary and no nefarious gov’t activity this data would have made explanation easy. The public demand explanation is hyperbole because market growths with mfg capacity growth are rigorously tracked to maximize business performance unless there is collusion.

Matt wrote:
December 23, 2013

I have 3 or 4 places where I buy ammunition. They all say the same thing. They cant get very much ammo and when they get it it is all gone in an hour or so.

Matt wrote:
December 23, 2013

'Some nevertheless wondered why the DHS needs hollow-point ammunition. The answer, says DHS, is simply that hollow-points are the defensive ammunition of choice. A little reporting shows this is certainly the case for federal, state and local law-enforcement officers—as well as for many private citizens'. They don't train with hollow point ammunition and they don't issue 1300 rounds per officer !

JLD wrote:
December 23, 2013

Hey Miniter. Your article was a real eye opener. Did you write the Warren Commission Report as well?

John P wrote:
December 22, 2013

The. 22LR shortage is being caused by the boy scouts across the country buying and hoarding this caliber. This can be the only real reason since mostly kids shoot that size. I hear there is a shortage of BBs and pellet ammo as well.

JV wrote:
December 22, 2013

I check the website ammoseek.com routinely. A check this am is showing lots of ammo for sale from numerous online sellers. Including CTD, Cabelas, Brownells and others. 9mm, .223, .22lr is available. Although the .22lr seems rather high priced.

Russ wrote:
December 22, 2013

This is directed at you Mr.Frank Miniter.That article was a pretty lame excuse for investigative reporting . You need to try again . I understand and agree that there is a higher demand for ammo , but if your sources were telling the truth then my local stores would be receiving as much ammo as they did in the past . Everyone I've asked has said the same thing 'we aren't getting any and when we do it's only a couple of boxes' So get back out there and get us the real answers - we deserve to know .

R. Ellis wrote:
December 21, 2013

Excellent article. Every thing you say is perfectly logical to me, as for the doubting Thomas's, they may be our best allies. Keep up the good work!

Don Merriam wrote:
December 21, 2013

The cause of the problem is simple and its not the hoarders. The problem is the Democrats. The hoarding and panic buying is because the people don't trust them or their motives. We saw the exact same thing back in the 1990s over primers when the Clinton gang stated they wanted new primers with a limited shelf life. I used to be able to go to the sporting goods counter in my local grocery store and buy one or two boxes of primers whenever I needed them to do some reloading. Once the primer scare started, you had to buy them online in packs of 5000 to be able to get any at all. The manufacturers aren't going to expand their ammo production because they don't trust the gun grabbing Democrats any more than the rest of us do. Any expansion will be based upon a carefully calculated future stable sales market. Why would they want to expand when they know this administration wants to put them out of business at the firat available opportunity? Face it people, we're not going to see stocked ammo shelves until two years into the next Republican administration and congress. It will take that long for people to regain their confidence in a new regime and actually acquire all the ammo they want so they'll never be caught offguard again. The Democrats are like a bad case of herpes. They may go away for awhile, but they always come back again later to irritate you.

Charles Sager wrote:
December 20, 2013

This article is nonsense. In a free market, the more of your product you sell, the greater the profit. Ammo manufacturers Should have no problem expanding their operations and their output. They're holding back, or being held back.

R. Wellinghurst wrote:
December 20, 2013

At Louisville KY gun show last weekend, anyone could find as much ammo as he or she might want to normally buy, including such hard to find items as .45 Auto Rim (which have been very hard to find for past 2 years). The ammo makers are putting it out there and in this area things appear to be slowly returning to normal, except for pricing which is still being held high by retail sellers.

Calin Brabandt wrote:
December 20, 2013

Regardless of how much ammunition the DHS consumes, it consumed NO ammunition before 9/11, because it didn't exist!

John Kent wrote:
December 20, 2013

Really don't see it getting any better? Seems to be a problem on both supply and demand sides. I also believe that gun control has morphed into ammo control. The country is becoming more and more involved with groups that simple what to tell you what to do, really not a new thing in the history of mankind? Somebody always knows whats best for everybody else and will force that issue whether the people like it of not.

R. Saffell wrote:
December 20, 2013

I have been a Life Member of NRA since 1967....and my comment is deleted? I said I didn't believe you and you deleted my comment? I said I had been trying to contact the NRA for 15 years and you deleted my comment? Scared?

Larry wrote:
December 20, 2013

I don't buy it. Plain and simple the shortage is too coincidental to the Obama war on firearms ownership. Since the shortage started there has been enough time for the free market system to have spawned $$$$ signs in the eyeballs of any people connected to making profits from this legal product to the point of going whole hog in finding new ways to meet the demand of the hungry hordes eager to spend their cash on what they want. Even dummies like Michael Moore know guns are reduced to paperweights without ammo. There should be NO SHORTAGE of this legal product unless forces above and beyond simple supply and demand are frustrating larger supplies for larger demands.

lbrac wrote:
December 20, 2013

Note that the number of rounds of ammunition used for operational purposes only amounts to roughly 20[%] of the total number of rounds consumed. I assume that the chart includes handgun, rifle and shotgun ammunition but I suspect the handgun ammunition makes up the vast majority. If less expensive full metal jacket (FMJ) handgun ammunition were used for training purposes and more lethal jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition were used for operational purposes, there should be significant savings, as generic FMJ rounds are less expensive than premium JHP ammunition. There would be no appreciable difference for training purposes due to the use of the less expensive ammunition. The military must use non-expanding FMJ ammunition, as the Geneva Convention prohibits the use of expanding bullets by military forces. Note also that the military does not use .40 caliber handgun ammunition. They use 9mm NATO handguns, although some special forces personnel use .45 AUTO caliber handguns. On the other hand, if DHS only purchased JHP handgun ammunition to assure that large quantities of the more lethal ammunition would be available should martial law be declared, then it would be justified to only purchase JHP ammunition and pay the premium for the JHP ammunition used for training. It seems to me that the average use of 1300-1600 rounds of ammunition per person each year is a lot of ammunition. Like the military, many DHS employees do not normally carry, or are even trained to use, firearms. Because of this, those that do use firearms use an even larger amount of ammunition.

Powers wrote:
December 20, 2013

There has certainly been price gouging by enterprising individuals as some people buy up all they can find so they can resell the ammunition over the Internet. And businesses, like Cheaper than Dirt, Lucky Gunner and Bulk Ammo, which I think are the same company, among others. Make sure you do not forget all the businesses that took advantage of customers. Remember them and shop elsewhere.

Al wrote:
December 20, 2013

None of this covers the EPA making it harder to smelt lead, or the proposed extreme taxes on ammunition. We can expect ammunition prices to stay high and only increase in the future no matter what the excuse. The smelter in question is the last Primary lead smelter in the United States which means all raw lead will have to be exported and refined then imported again to be used. Any point in the route can be blocked by a hostile regime and recycled lead will be the only route to an affordable product. The question remains. Why are domestic 'police' activities receiving more ammunition than the military? If other proclaimed statistics about lower crime rates are factual there should be less need for ammunition and armed agencies, but maybe we're looking in the wrong direction. More and more people are being declared criminals since this regime took over and the daily lives of many people who cannot find work are increasingly uncomfortable. Everything points to civil insurrection and Martial Law being imposed to take care of the problem. We shouldn't be concerned with ammo when the real problem is the Police State that is growing in size and scope. I urge people to step aside from the guns and ammo aspect of this shortage to look at the big picture. A 100[%] increase in firearms and ammo sales should tell you something isn't normal. It's a good development for pro-gun people, but it means there is a lot of palpable fear in the population, and that's the problem. Is the government buying too much ammo? YES! Just the idea that hundreds of thousands of rounds or more are to be used for 'operational' purposes should strike fear into everyone who reads and deciphers this information. Let's not forget that the government isn't supposed to have it's own military and all police powers are supposed to be subservient to the people. We all know that government is no longer responsive to the people and the law of the land, so where do we go from here?

1ShotJoe wrote:
December 20, 2013

I am not a mathematician, but speaking with 20+ years in LE there isn't any way I am buying into these government numbers of 1,300 > 1,600 rounds fired per person yearly for either/both training and/or qualifying with a firearm! With agencies that I have either worked at, or have firsthand knowledge from associates in other agencies, including small to large agencies, they do not use premium/new ammunition to practice! Not once, in the three agencies I worked for did I train using new ammo, only reloads! Yes, there are exceptions to this, but how many? There is the likelihood that some agencies use new ammo, of the type used on-duty to qualify, but what percentage? Also, how many agencies, of any size, provide the officers duty ammunition? Or each time they qualify is a new box of fifty issued? I also know that most agencies do not have a mandatory firearm qualification every month! One of the agencies I worked for tried doing that, but the cost of thousands of additional rounds of ammo (even just reloads) was financially cost prohibitive and the budget wouldn’t stand the additional costs! Subsequently, qualifications returned to each officer needing to train/qualify every three months. And, some agencies only require twice a year, or even once. I don't have the figures on this, only my 20+ years of active LE experience, but the majority of agencies I have firsthand knowledge of, including those I worked for, do not have monthly qualification! Also, using this article's figures of 1,300 > 1,600 rounds fired by each federal LE officers is amazing to me. They are either the best small arms personal, or the worst! Just how many rounds are required to train and/or pass a qualification? A more realistic number would be a box of fifty rounds per officer in my experience. And, are these federal agencies required to a mandatory once per month qualification/training? My years of government experience as a LE Officer has given me insight into many things, especially what is being said, and not what is being done! My experiences have taught me well… Never believe what you are being told by any government agency! That’s why I always wore boots on-duty! If you trust/believe these outrageous government explanations and numbers, you need a reality check!

Bud Fugly wrote:
December 20, 2013

For all of you folks who don't have ammo and are pissed at the hoarders. Too bad, shoulda thought ahead. Don't piss and moan now that you cannot find much. That's the whole idea of being prepared; call it hoarding if you wish.

GandolfTheWise wrote:
December 20, 2013

I have not seen .22lr in almost a year - I live in Port Orford, OR and do my shopping in Coos Bay (55 mi) as they are large enough to have some of the bigger stores - but ammo is obviously scarce unless you are willing to pay outrageous prices for it. I must admit, that although I have not been able to buy and I haven't stockpiled any, if I did have the opportunity to store some away, I would. I believe that our economy is going to fail because there are many in our government that want it to fail. Why else would they have been adding over $45 Billion / month until Aug 2012, when they upped it to over $85 Billion / month! No government in the history of the world has survived after adding fiat money to the system for more than a very short period. So, ours is destined to fail as every politician knows this and hasn't bothered to stop it (but they did relish their own kickbacks when it doubled). So to be honest, yes I would stockpile. If I had the money I would also invest in precious metals. Since I am on the lower end of the financial spectrum, I advise (myself and others) to invest in precious metals, and if you can't afford platinum, gold and silver, then buy guns and ammo! And the ammo I would advise that would be the most easily used in bartering for other goods - .22lr and 9mm! And I know I'm shooting myself in the foot, but I'm old, and may not survive long , but for others with families, take heed - Obama promised CHANGE, and it is coming.

Darius Medea wrote:
December 20, 2013

I personally think it is being bought for the DHS so that Obama can use the DHS, which is not bound by laws forbidding the military to fight US citizens, to form his own 'army' of Gestapo-type thugs who will carry out his commands regardless of what the Constitution says.

Fred Derf wrote:
December 19, 2013

It's my fault, I'm buying up all the ammo for when more regs and bans occur, and for currency when the present organized crime gang's money scheme collapses.

bob wrote:
December 19, 2013

My feeling is ammunition is being held back in some part due to the development of new primers that will have a limited shelf life. I also believe that new ammo taxes are in the making the way tobacco has been taxed. That is just my gut feeling.

R. Saffell wrote:
December 19, 2013

America has Communists in charge of government. Frankly, I do not care one whit about all the excuses for no ammunition. I do not believe *any* of it. As far as that goes, I am begining to have a lot of doubts about the NRA. Why? For more than 15 years...and I am a Life Member by the way...I have attempted time after time after time...to try and contact someone..ANYone, in the NRA and try and find out why they do not sue the 'government' for infringing on our civil rights to not only KEEP..but to BEAR arms. Why? But to date, not ONE person has returned any of my emails, letters or phone calls. Not one. This sound suspicious to you? It should.

mike g wrote:
December 19, 2013

IF I was the manufacturer WHY Would I INCREASE production to LOWER MY DEMAND PRICe and easy profit. Same as Grocery stores.

MF wrote:
December 19, 2013

I don't believe a word of it.

face wrote:
December 19, 2013

@Muaddib67, they do sell it, check out the liquidation site, they might not have it in your area because companys scoop it up before it hits the website so that they can resell it for more.

rfb wrote:
December 19, 2013

phred, yours may be a local phenomenon. I don't use 22LR, but have not had any problem getting 380. I do have more problem getting 9mm.

HC wrote:
December 19, 2013

I like Stacie's answer!

Muaddib67 wrote:
December 19, 2013

One thing I haven't seen mentioned lately, is that government agencies that are supposed to sell their used brass casings to the public for reloading, have been destroying them instead.

Phred wrote:
December 18, 2013

These fugures do not help. I have been in more than one store that claims not to have seen any 22LR ammo in a year, and about the same for 380. The consumer is not buying it up, there is none.

Tom Demaree wrote:
December 18, 2013

Well written an very informative!

Gunz4all wrote:
December 18, 2013

All reasons explained seem viable,but to the people complaining about .22LR shortage I offer the fact that a great deal of use .223 owners practice with a .22LR conversion because the centerfire IS DAMNED EXPENSIVE. To Spike I offer' One shot, One kill is how a expert sniper operates. But even an expert sniper isn't worth a tinkers damn if he is busy dancing and running from a continual spray pattern of lead.

spike wrote:
December 18, 2013

I was taught that only the strong will survive, so translate that into if you are a good survivalist you don't need to store a lot of bullets you will be able to get more, when, and if, and I say if every comes time

Citizen Vet wrote:
December 18, 2013

The last USA lead smelting plant in located in MO is closing due to new stringent EPA rules.

Michael wrote:
December 18, 2013

I see where some are writing that they have bought more then 10K of .22 ammo in the past year. Why in hell would anyone purchase that much ammo? I shoot once in a while, but I'll never shoot more than 200 rounds in a year. You hoarders are the idiots that's causing the price to go up. Stop it! As Roosevelt said, 'the only thing to fear is fear itself.' Once folks stop hoarding, the price will go back down and a goodly amount of ammo will be available again.

JimmyC wrote:
December 18, 2013

It would be nice if an economist could explain the shortages. The supply and demand curve sure doesn't fit here. You would think that with prices raising, there would be a softening of demand - but you would be wrong! I know there are other factors in play here but the numbers do not add up. Take any caliber and divide the total rounds manufactured by the number of gun owners and it just doesn't make any sense. How much higher must the price of ammo go to temper demand? Or how much longer before everyone in the country has 5000 rounds of ammo for every gun they own. Gotta be gettin' close!

marty wrote:
December 18, 2013

I don't mean to sound anti Zionist but why are the top ten gun control people Zionist? Lieberman, Finestein, Blumenthal, Bloomberg,Schumer,Chersoff, Boxer, Frankin, Soros? What's going on?

William Curtis wrote:
December 18, 2013

Shooters should be commended for doing their part in bolstering the economy by purchasing guns & ammunition. Not only do American gunners constitute the largest army (militia) in the world they also support their Constitution faithfully and their communities economy. God bless the American gun nuts!

Joe Coastie wrote:
December 18, 2013

Under the Geneva Convention, the US Coast Guard can not use hollow point munitions. So you have to discount Coasties when you calculate rounds per person.

James wrote:
December 18, 2013

I own a gunstore. No matter where I try to order .22 ammo, it is never available and has not been for a year. Our local Walmart gets in .22, but only in limited quanities and with no regularity. I don't have the answer but I do know I don't trust the government. I don't know that I really trust the manufacturers either since they are large corporations that the government could easily use the IRS to control. As far as blaming it on the hoarders and gougers, I am sure they are responsible for the supply and demand price of what ammo they can get their hands on, but even with the number of online auctions, there are not enough to account for the ammo missing from the shelves. I wish someone we could trust could give us a genuinely researched and accountable explanation.

James wrote:
December 18, 2013

If you didn't see this comming years and years ago than you weren't paying attn. What do you think is gonna happen to our nation with a Dem. house? God help us all.

Ken W. wrote:
December 18, 2013

It's amazing to see how many people assume that since they don't see the ammo on the shelves, that it doesn't exist... I have worked on both sides of the country during this freak out period and I can tell you, the .22lr is out there, I know, I have had my hands on it and sold it to the same 40 old men who are at my place of business every morning and bring their wives and every other person they can find of legal age to purchase their limit for them, EVERY DAY... THAT is where your ammo is going! The location I am currently at (part of a major chain) had 280 bricks of remington olden bullets on black friday @ $18.98 for 525. We sold out in exactly 19 mins. Guess what, most of the people buying were the same faces we see over and over and over again. We get 50 to 80 bricks in a shipment, at least once, most weeks, and it still hasn't lasted more than 2 or 3 hours. At both companies on both sides of the country, I received significantly more .22lr than I had EVER received during a normal time period. Just because these hole in the wall gun shops don't have the buying power to get it doesn't mean it doesn't exist... I have multiple customers, by coming in every single day, have literally bought over 20,000 rds from me since May. There's your real problem!

Jeff wrote:
December 18, 2013

“DHS were to purchase all 450 million rounds over 5 years, then that would equate to only about 1,384 rounds of ammunition” per year per law-enforcement officer and so on. 1,384 rounds of ammunition per yer per LEO. 95[%]+ of most federal LEO's only qualify once a year, and that is the most of their firearms training or usage. As a LE firearms instructor most LEO's don't need 1,384 per year for qualifications. They aren't in a combat zone expending rounds in fire fights. Most annual LEO qualifications only require 100-150 rounds MAX. What are they doing with the other 1,200 rounds?

Jim wrote:
December 18, 2013

The ammunition supply companies should refuse to sell munition to the Government.

azlandman wrote:
December 18, 2013

I just read that CMP has been told that the 35,000,000 rounds of Aguila 22lr they ordered will take several years for delivery.

James wrote:
December 18, 2013

I've got 4-5 bricks of .22 on my ammo shelf, I don't try to conserve and I squirrel hunt and target shoot everyweek, weather and schedule permitting. I won't burn through that much till sometime fall 2014. Will you .22 cal speculators buying'everything you can' please fall of the planet so normalcy may resume?

Varian wrote:
December 18, 2013

Shortage? I'm buying American made .223 cheaper now ($0.38) than a year ago ($0.50) before the scare started. Only thing I can't find is .22LR at $0.03 like I could 18 months ago. There's no shortage. gunbot.net is your friend.

ben wrote:
December 18, 2013

SIMPLY PUT, SOMEBODY'S LYING !

Matthew wrote:
December 18, 2013

Shooting enthusiasts are shooting themselves in the head on this one. I know people what are hoarding remarkable amounts of ammunition right now because it makes them feel safe/powerful/smart/etc. If people bought what they would actually consume in the near future, the supply lines would fill-up again. The good part is that there is a TON of ammo stashed across the USA due to peoples' stupidity and greed.

Bill wrote:
December 18, 2013

I hear that gun ownership is up by 35[%] that could be part of it but people are scared and untrusting of Washington and can you blame them!

Donnie wrote:
December 18, 2013

I noticed someone say there is no shortage of ammo outside of US, maybe that is where the ammo is going. That would drive up the price, and wouldn't need to involve many people. I could be anti-gun and/or ammo people doing it looking to drive up price.

Mark wrote:
December 18, 2013

I own a gunshop and when people ask me why there is a shortage i reply: :how many rounds do you normally purchase and shoot in a year?' the average answer is 50-100 rounds. 'How many have you purchased on the last 12 months? the answers have averaged from one box to 30,000 rounds. If you want to see the cause of the shortage you dont have to go any farther than the nearest mirror.

Stacia wrote:
December 18, 2013

And there are 300 million armed Americans

David Dempsey wrote:
December 18, 2013

The large chain stores like WalMart can make huge orders for ammo and keep it in their warehouses and just send a small amount to each store in order to keep the ammo prices high.

Perry wrote:
December 18, 2013

the shortage is a result of the U.S. DHS has ordered over 2 BILLION rounds of ammo, mostly hollow point large cal. Remember this for the homeland . . . be very concerned!

ETP wrote:
December 18, 2013

It really amazes me that people are buying into the fact that closing Doe Run's plant won't affect ammunition supplies. When less lead is being produced eventually lead acid batteries will start using recycled lead leaving less to be used for ammunition. At the very least expect cost increases, at the worst significantly less ammunition available. Basic Economics 101, and a page out of governmental propaganda history.

John Hauser wrote:
December 18, 2013

Not that I'm doubtful, but when you have a Socialistic anti-gun president, a good cover up can continue until a Snoden let's out the facts. I am not convinced this is pure supply and demand. I don't have enough trust in Washington to believe it is that simple, rather it is ' you can keep your guns, you just can't shoot them'. I think if we wait long enough the conspiracy will be found and exposed.

Carl Smith wrote:
December 18, 2013

Our 4-H club has had trouble getting 22 ammo for our shooting sport for the last 3 years. Since we normally get a small discount we figured we were on the bottom of the food chain.

Larry Coleman wrote:
December 18, 2013

it's like any thing else, if you don't want someone to have something make it hard to get, or so outrageously price they turn away. If they can't take your firearms, they will take away you ammo.

Roger Halstead wrote:
December 18, 2013

What we should be thinking about now is what come after? IOW if 'the shortage' is consumer driven which it appears to be and that is driven by concerns leading to hoarding, then some time soon the demand is going to be met. If this is ourely consumer driven then we will be left with a huge surplus in manufacturing capacity as even the most concerned buyer is going to reach a point of saturation. A consumer driven shortage should not las! When shooting trap competetively, I used about a case a week on average (20 boxes a week or 26,000 12 Ga shells per year.) While shooting competetively I shot only new shells even for practice. They were cheaper back then and I shot a whole lot better at 40 that at 70. I've been unable to get enough centerfire pistole and rifle ammo and 22 rimfire over the past two years to maintain my level of competency. Now if we suddenly end up with a surplus of capacity, that means equipment, workers, and supplies tied up with no useful output. I would think that would drive prices up because someone has to pay for that and the manufacturers can't just eat that expense.

Bill wrote:
December 18, 2013

I appreciate the more scientific or statistical approach made on understanding the ammunition market. The numbers make sense. It also looks like the marketing departments of most all of the manufacturers where caught asleep at the switch. The market trends were there and so was the information. Good information and not anecdotal.

Ryan wrote:
December 17, 2013

This article could have been summed up in a few paragraphs, too much time on how the gov is not the problem.

Jeff wrote:
December 17, 2013

Farrel, that's not quite right. The last PRIMARY lead smelter is closing. They take ore and produce new metal. There are a number of SECONDARY lead smelters which do a brisk business in recycling lead. I think it will be awhile before lead becomes unavailable for ammunition. It's more likely to be banned in places like California before it's not actually available.

D Cartier wrote:
December 17, 2013

We can almost count on the EPA adding increased regulations on the import of lead. I think more people are going to lose it over the price of car batteries, but ammunition, certainly won't be getting cheaper anytime soon. I've been thinking about investing in reloading equipment but it's not something I've ever tried, yet.

patrick wrote:
December 17, 2013

As for Walmart. I have 5 supercenters near me that I check on for .22 lr ammo regularly. When I ask about it I get the same line, ' we had some this morning but it was bought up in less than a half an hour'. I was there at the time they mentioned and there was no .22 ammo. Or the other line is ' we had some yesterday morning but it was all gone within 30 min. Or so. I'm retired and like to shooty .22s. That's why I check on their supplies at Walmart. One thing is for sure in my area, Fenton MO, I am being lied to by Walmart! Think what you will. Carry on. 3/5 GET SOME!!!

Richard O. wrote:
December 17, 2013

Don't know why anyone is having trouble finding 9mm. It's been online everywhere the last few weeks. Midway has 34 types in stock, right now, including range and defense types.

John Geskermann wrote:
December 17, 2013

The article in the latest “American Rifleman” entitled “Why We've Had an Ammunition Shortage” is a good start on the shortages experienced for more than a year by American shooters but unfortunately falls short of addressing two major sectors. Let’s look at these chronic shortages and bring to light what is behind these problems in a future article. Imported Handgun Ammunition Where has the imported handgun ammunition gone? Yes the really cheap, steel case stuff is available in limited quantities and the really expensive ammunition is available in limited quantities but that is a fraction of the import market. I don’t mean rationing but reasonable quality brass case handgun ammunition has not been on the market for over a year. Take a look for 9mm, 38 Special, 45 ACP Sellier & Bellot ammunition on the Sportsman’s Guide website and you will see what I mean. Is there a rush on handgun ammunition in Europe such that they can no longer export to their best market – the American consumer? Let’s get an explanation for these chronic shortages. Reloading Components A large portion of NRA members reload. Unfortunately reloading components were not addressed in the article. To be fair a few reloading components are starting to appear in the market place although very few. I waited 8 ½ months for powder order form a reputable vendor, H-4831-SC hasn’t been available in this area for over 2 years and for almost a year some on-line vendor refuse to take backorders on powder not in stock. I can’t get quality primers, and though some rifle bullets can be had if you’re willing to wait a few months they are difficult to buy. Jacketed pistol bullets in popular calibers are extremely difficult to find and for the most part nonexistent. It is difficult to support a Prairie Dog hunting habit when components are so hard to acquire. I would certainly like to see an investigation into the year and a half dry spell in reloading components. Further, the article skirted any political issues in a rather coy fashion. Let’s face it the large scale shortages erupted after the big push for GUN CONTROL in late 2012 and early 2013. Call it panic buying if you will but that only explains 3-6 months of shortages. Once the gun control measures failed on a national scale and the smoke cleared here we are with no imported handgun ammunition and no reloading components. We are experiencing de-facto gun control because without ammunition or components to make your own the guns remain silent. What’s up?

BEL wrote:
December 17, 2013

I work for one of the largest Distributors in the US and daily check supplies. What I can assure you is that whatever comes in one day is gone the next if not the same day, and the only time our prices to retailers has gone up is when they've gone up to us.

danf wrote:
December 17, 2013

What makes no sense is I live on the Michigan Indiana border near Illinois. Michigan walmarts get no ammo Indiana has been almost fuuly stocked for like 2 months. Tons of 45 and 40 not much 9 it goes in spurts of it being in stock no 22 since before last Christmas. I even see 357 mag and 38 so it is getting better here just barely any hallow points just fmj mainly

Ken wrote:
December 17, 2013

I second what Mr. Reynolds stated. A family member works at a large Western and outdoor store here in Great Falls, MT. They have a standing order for .22 ammo from all their suppliers. 8 mos ago they got in a pallet and it was gone in a day. Since then it's been a few 50 and 100 rnd round boxes at a time. This is a company with multiple outlets throughout the West, not a Mom and Pop store way down on ammo feeding chain. If ammo is being produced at the volumes stated many of us are at a loss at to where it's going because every retailer says the same. 'We are not getting it'.

J Wesolowski wrote:
December 17, 2013

To me it seems this 'shortage' was created by mass retail chains. Example I live in a small town and one day walmart was fully stocked then the next morning they had nothing on their shelves. I did see that they had all of their ammo under the counter behind the solid doors that you can't see through. Caught a glimpse of it when a worker opened it looking for a hunting reg booklet for me. That made me realize how in my small town every single box of ammo disappeared over night (even the odd ball stuff) Makes me thing these huge chains bought out the ammo to starve people so they can hike the price. Like 223 walmart was 4.88 a box o 20 now it's 9.88 for the same box. I do run a business that sells ammunition too and none of my suppliers have had any til recently though the prices are still sky high from them.

Tom McD wrote:
December 17, 2013

Likewise to many of the other comments. It would have been a better article if there was a breakdown on the production of 22LR and 9MM. For some reason these two calibers are non-existant or have tripled in price. My local Walmart that used to get 10 cartons (100 boxes) of 525 federal 22LR has not seen any of this brand in a year. If the manufacturers are putting out the same and the distribution is the same, why is the products aren't showing up? Would like to see a 2nd article with more details please.

Mark wrote:
December 17, 2013

My cousin's hubby works at DHS, and he said they bought 20 years of Ammo to re fight the Iraq War. That combined with panic buying and closing the last lead smelter in the U.S. have built this mess. Don't fully trust any political party with your rights! Republicans gave us the 1989 assault weapons ban! Democrats gave us the 1994 assault weapons ban! If you want facts, not lies disquised as truth, google gun owners of America.

Luke wrote:
December 17, 2013

Not true about a shortage because of the lead supplier. Ammunition is made with recycled lead…not the first run lead coming from the foundry closing down. Most of your ammo used to be batteries.

Ammos Ammoman wrote:
December 17, 2013

I live in Central Indiana. For a YEAR there has been little to no 9mm or .22LR. Does not matter where you go. Our Walmart has had 9mm once in a year never any .22LR. All around Indianapolis, it is scarce. When it can be found, it is some gun dealer selling a box of 9mm (50 rounds ball ammo) for $35 or more. There is something missing from the 'facts' in this article. My experience applies to friends I have all over the nation and this is an issue we discuss monthly... seems like another article that fails to explain much of anything. And when you interviewed the DHS, who would be foolish enough to believe ANYTHING government tells us any more?! REALLY?

Mike Gay wrote:
December 17, 2013

For those of you who think Mr. Miniter didn't say WHAT the cause was, go back and read it again. The shortage has been caused by the huge increase in purchases by all of us gun owners as a group. Winchester's first quarter report shows that they had about 3 times as many orders as the could ship from their commercial (non-government) accounts. Their shipments to commercial accounts were up $40 million over 2012, but backorders skyrocketed from $138 Million to $495 million in 90 days. Great article, Mr Miniter!!

Mark wrote:
December 17, 2013

It looks to me like someone said - the big stores are manufacturing a shortage so they can charge us an arm and a leg for 22's. Our local Gander Mountain had an ad in the paper saying they had CC Mini-Mags - 100 round boxes for $7.95 a box and High Velocity for $32 for a box of 300. Got there the day the ad came out all they had was standard velocity CC 22's $55 for 500 - bought them because they may be the last ones I can find.

James Reynolds wrote:
December 17, 2013

Although the article did a masterful job of telling us who is NOT responsible for the shortage, it didn't tell us very much about who, what, and why the shortage exists. In the midwest, we are still seeing a major shortage and rationing by the retailers - which means they are not getting the product from the manufacturers. It would be a great help to know why, and when (if ever) it might ease to a point that I can resume competitive shooting. Not only are specific calibers not available, but neither are the components for reloading - powder, primers, and bullets are almost nonexistent, and brass is getting harder to find - and much more expensive. I don't really care who is responsible, I just want it to END.

Adam Shaffer wrote:
December 17, 2013

I can understand your claim on the shortage of ammo.but answer me this,why is there also a shortage of reloading equipment also?I cant even find all the eqiupment to reload my own ammo.

JoshB wrote:
December 17, 2013

If you really blame Gun Broker, you have no understanding of reality. I just checked the site and the supply on there is not even close to the numbers that are usually generated by the manufacturers. This is as silly as blaming hoarders. The numbers do not add up, no matter who you want to blame on the demand side of the equation. The issues is in the supply chain, either with the distributors or manufacturers. Ask anyone who was looking for an AR during the panic. They are everywhere now, as the hoarders were forced to sell to pay their credit cards off and the manufacturers caught up on production.

Robert McMaster wrote:
December 17, 2013

I live in South Carolina and the shortage of ammo like .22lr,9mm,and a variety of other calibers doesn't add up,and I'm not happy that the MY NRA is publishing stories over and over the are basically telling us to calm down. I'm sure there are ways to track ammo from the manufacturers. the whole thing stinks and I'm starting to look at MY NRA side ways.

Tom N wrote:
December 17, 2013

I took up hand loading many years ago and I stay well stocked on .22lr. Leaned my lesson when we went though this the time before this!

Jim MN wrote:
December 17, 2013

This appears to be another problem driven mostly by greed. Buy the ammo reasonably and sell it for maximum dollars. How much are you willing to pay? 325 .22LR for $120? If you pay that price, you're only contributing to the problem. A year ago, AR's were selling for as much as $3000. Why, because consumers were willing to pay that much at the time. When the panic subsided, the shelves filled up and the price dropped like a rock. The same thing will happen to ammo if the consumer just stops the panic buying and allows the shelves to fill up. It's simple supply/demand marketing. As long as you keep buying the shelves empty, the price will continue to climb. Wake up boys and girls, you're doing it to yourselves.

Jeff wrote:
December 17, 2013

Best place to find ammo. http://ammoseek.com/ammo/22lr I've been able to buy many rounds of 22 through Cabelas by checking this sight every morning around 7.

Chris Want wrote:
December 17, 2013

Enjoyable read but I found it to be mostly fantasy or at the very least the 'cool aid' that 'WE' as consumers are expected to swollow. As GM of a retail Gun Store in Lake Havasu AZ I get to talk with both customers and suppliers, one ammunition manufacturer told me face to face the company he works for produces 4million rnds of 22lr per day, 7 days per week. I have not seen a box of 22lr in my shop in over 6 months so I am a little confused with the figures you have put together and the title of the story, 'Why We've Had An Ammunition Shortage'.......'Had', implies the shortage is over dosen't it? If this is true please tell me where I can find product to put on my shelves.

TommyO wrote:
December 17, 2013

Shortage? Stuffs sitting on shelves by me at good prices for all but .22. 9mm 50 rounds all brands, $16 - 19 a box no limits. .45, .380, whatever I need. Life really is normal again. Except for .22!!!

DLW wrote:
December 17, 2013

I was in a Cabelos in Denver recently. They had a whole isle of 22s. One of the clerks said they had never been out of 22s and had a good supply since the store opened.

Chris wrote:
December 17, 2013

New shooters that actually shoot + teaching everyone to hoard( buy it cheap and stack it deep) = less availability and increased prices. Also add in a president that has inflamed panic buyers.

rfmidura wrote:
December 17, 2013

Beg to differ with you; the shelves are pretty empty here in southern Maine in less you got a odd caliber. If your looking for 22 LR forget about it have seen a box in a store in 1.5 years

Joel Satterwhite wrote:
December 17, 2013

DHS loads a tractor trailer every day at the Remmington plant at Lonoke AR, with 22 shells. Why do they need ammo ?use against !

D Jones wrote:
December 17, 2013

It did make one thing clear, DHS is a the prime new component in the puzzle. One to rival the use per man of the US Army. This tells us a lot for those comparing it to historical numbers here in the USA and in specific other countries that I won't mention.

Farrell wrote:
December 17, 2013

I have no doubt that there has been panic buying by consumers. And, that there are multiple reasons that there is an ammunition shortage. But you left out one. The EPA is closing a number of factories and power plants with their new regulations. One of these plants is the last lead processing plant in the US. The government knew this was happening and contracted for ammo at a fixed price. In 2014, the manufacturer's will have to import their lead, thus raising prices. If you where a manufacturer with a fixed price contract and a rising material cost next year, you would try to fill that contract as fast as you could with the material you have. The manufacturer's have released just enough ammo to the public to keep them going (remember the 1 million .22 rounds to the shooting sports in May?). The new ammo that we are seeing on the shelves this month reflect some of the new pricing. The situation will even out over the new couple years, but we will all pay 5 times more for a box of shells than we did just 10 years ago. Don't be surprised if Obama puts tariff's or restrictions on imported lead in the coming months.

Dolores wrote:
December 17, 2013

We're having the same problem here in southern Missouri. Where are the 22's?

Mark wrote:
December 17, 2013

Stockpiling is the issue, I buy as much ammo as I can get my hands on (from Wal-Mart 22lr & 45ACP). My gun dealer recommended I buy a 40 S&W, as its the one round he has no trouble keeping in stock.

Tom wrote:
December 17, 2013

Interesting idea, but... When I go to the Cabelas website and select rimfire ammunition, all it shows is three selections of .17HMR. No .22lr even shown...

Michael Vaughn wrote:
December 17, 2013

Why is it that the TSA has the same number of rounds each year and they don't wear sidearms? What is 'operational' rounds? Should we really believe they have expended all those rounds? I smell stockpiling!

Michael Thomas wrote:
December 17, 2013

It's tough for my agency to even get ammo. Let alone as a private consumer. I don't know where it is, but I can assure you we don't have it.

Jim John wrote:
December 17, 2013

I don't believe that for 1 second! The government has everything to do with it. 2007?? Isn't that the year Obama was elected, and the problems started right after the senseless acts of a couple of mental madcaps! Another democrat lie right here!

John Adams wrote:
December 17, 2013

Profit High demand. Low supply

Spacegun wrote:
December 17, 2013

I ask the NRA and manufactures, if all is true as reported above where in heck is all the reloading components in this mix. ???

Jeremy wrote:
December 17, 2013

Can't find ammo? Try these sites: Wikiarms.com Gunbot.net Ammoseek.com You're welcome

Adam wrote:
December 17, 2013

I know that where I live in Idaho we still get 22L shipments in every week of one thousand rounds or more. They are gone within a day though. I still have 9mm rounds sitting on my shelves right now waiting to be sold. So maybe regional distributors are having problems.

Dan wrote:
December 17, 2013

If one manufacturer makes 4 million rounds a day there shouldn't be a shortage on .22 LR. There are only 310 million people in this country. Do the math!

RH wrote:
December 17, 2013

THe ammunition supply continues to be filled unabated by the manufacturers. If you go to Europe or Africa, there is no shortage of ammunition. The shortage is only here in the U.S. As allueded to by one poster, the ammo shortage can be found on Gunbroker and other sites. I saw 525 packs of Federal 22, 2 (1050 rounds) sell for $275. That is in reality well less than $100 of ammo, but someone was willing to pay because somebody else made them afraid they would not be able to buy any more. Blame the preppers and the hoarders. Blame the Internet ammo stores. That's where the ammo is. As for the 'ammo behind the doors' at Wal-Mart, many retail employees will buy whatever comes into the store first, often before it hits the shelves. (I have confirmed this with employees from both Wal-Mart and Dick's Sporting Goods). They get some, or tip off their friends that it is there and ammo sells out instantly. Blaming this shortage on some 'grand conspiracy' is foolish and shortsighted. Go look in your own ammo bunkers and then ask yourselves where the ammo is.

Christine wrote:
December 17, 2013

I still don't know why there is a shortage of 22 L I live in WV and haven't been able to get any

AndrewC wrote:
December 17, 2013

@Chris Want: ''Why We've Had An Ammunition Shortage'.......'Had', implies the shortage is over dosen't it?' Actually, no. 'We've had' is short for 'We have had', and 'have had' is the present perfect tense, indicating that there was an ammunition shortage in the past, that has continued in the present. The ammunition shortage has definitely recovered some, but not completely. I used to buy a 1000rd case of brand new 9mm brass for $220. Now I have to get remanufactured brass to get that price. However, during the worst of it, even the reman stuff cost $400 for 1000 rds. You can now get 22lr for under $.20 a rd, but nowhere close to the $.04 a rd before this craziness.

Larry wrote:
December 17, 2013

I see people are still wondering about the .22LR shortage. Well, I have 3 frineds that bought over 20,000 rounds EACH back just as the shoprtage was being felt. Multiply that by how many friends we al have that bought that much or more, and you begin to see why and what is happening. Every time I see .22LR for sale, I buy all I can, EVERY TIME I see it! I am NOT a kool-aid drinker, but I am also a reasoning, non paranoid type, and I can see where the shortage is going. And something else, the Government doesnt use .22LR for anything. they use .223, 9mm and .40 so the gov would account for the 22 shortage anyway...

don lauver wrote:
December 17, 2013

people can not buy up ammo that never gets on the shelf,, say what you want but we can only buy what's on the shelf and not much is getting there. and what is , is marked way up

Jeff wrote:
December 17, 2013

with the gov buying so much ammo,it must have took a ton of people standing in line with the 2 box max per person.js

Steve Clayton wrote:
December 17, 2013

I travel between NJ and SC. .40 cal and .22 long are hard to find in NJ, but they are plentiful in South Carolina. I was very surprised.

F. B. Mack wrote:
December 17, 2013

Since when has a 'legal mandate' stopped Congress from using excise tax moneys for things other than what the law requires?

Bill McKenna wrote:
December 17, 2013

If you want to really know where your ammo is go to Gunbroker.com and check out our fellow consumers the that are trying to make a fast buck on there hord. They have not only hurt us but the small dealers also.

rob wrote:
December 17, 2013

LIKE DHS WILL TELL THE TRUTH.......NO TRUTH IN BENGHAZI NOR FAST AND FURIOUS, HEALTHCARE.........NEED I SAY MORE........THEY EVEN TWEEKED THE NUMBERS FOR THE CBO TO GET OBAMACARE PASSED......They paint rainbows and unicorns....and all I see is them blowing smoke up Americans rears

Boyd wrote:
December 17, 2013

I agree conspiracy isn't believable. I agree government purchases have been under long term contract. No, closing domestic lead supply hasn't caused it (see 6 month lead on kitcometals.com). So what has? Panic does not describe a condition that's lasted more then a year. At some point, price should drive supply to meet demand.

CM wrote:
December 17, 2013

As someone who has been buying and selling ammunition online for quite some time now, I can tell you there is absolutely no shortage of ammunition in the United States. There is, however, a shortage in retail stores. Why? Because retail stores can only mark up ammo prices to what their local customers will bear. When you sell online, you can court customers from across the nation. Customers who are used to paying for a high cost of living (think big cities) are willing to pay more than customers who are used to a low cost of living (think suburban/rural). Big cities also have a higher population, and contrary to popular belief there are a lot of gun owners in big cities despite the left-leaning politics of those cities. So the shortage is only on the retail side...the ammunition is there. Don't believe me? As of the time of this comment, there are currently 18,000+ ammunition auctions on Gunbroker alone. 700+ of those are .22 LR ammo. This is about opportunistic buying and reselling, not government interference. The panic buying is largely over as prices have dropped in recent months (I collect and analyze this data on a large scale). My research indicates that private citizens are cashing in on the easy profits to be made by buying what they can find locally and reselling for more nationally. There's nothing more to it. The good news is that the profitability of this behavior will continue to decline, though don't expect to ever see ammo prices as low as they used to be in 2012.

R. Welch Sr. wrote:
December 17, 2013

Long article and interestng reading, but it does not address why there is a shortage, and when it will end. after a year and one half, there is not good reason not to find .22s

Brian wrote:
December 17, 2013

The lead refinery closing will have almost no effect on ammo manufacturers. The plant closing is the last that smelts directly from ore. Far and away, most ammo is made from secondary sources. Let China poison their environment, we don't need to any more.

r burk wrote:
December 17, 2013

If you sign up at Cabela's, you can build a ( comparison chart ) and add the ammo you want to that chart, save the chart to your favorites and watch the chart as much as possible, plenty of .22 available, but you have to buy as soon as it is put up....it sales as fast as it goes on website, I bought over 10k rounds of .22 this year, quit buying in October after I was stocked, I shot allot....it takes time and patience watching your comparison chart.....