Concern over COVID-19 has increased demand for firearms and ammunition and at least one manufacture has ramped up production to address potential shortages. A source at Vista Outdoor—parent company famed cartridge and component manufacturer Federal, Speer and CCI—told American Rifleman on March 18, “We have many hard-working Americans giving it their all in our factories. We are operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The staff member, who requested anonymity, also confirmed the company sent a letter to retailers on March 17 indicating investments were underway to increase production capacity. To help underwrite the expansion, a modest increase in wholesale prices will go into effect April 1. “Promotional Centerfire Pistol—5 percent to 8 percent,” according to the note, and “Promotional Centerfire Small Rifle—6 percent to 10 percent.”
American Riflemanreported on the high demand for ammunition on March 5, but a March 18 Tulsa World (OK) report indicates significant acceleration. “My ammo sales are up 500 percent and gun sales probably 30 percent,” David Stone, owner of Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading, told the reporter. Sporting Systems, a firearm retailer in Vancouver, WA, posted a temporary limit of five boxes, (or 1,500 rounds) of ammo per family, per day, on its Facebook page.
Gun sales were up in February—before the frenzy—by 17.3 percent when compared to figures a year ago, according to Small Arms & Analytics (SAAF). Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for the organization, noted at the time, “it appears as if firearms owners are casting early votes in the upcoming presidential election this year: Unit sales in both, January and February 2020 have been at their highest levels since 2016.”
Cartridge sales were already brisk in February, according to SIG Sauer Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Taylor, but nothing compared to what the market is currently experiencing. “As for ammo, demand was also strong over the past couple of months, but now that has reached extremely high levels,” Taylor told American Rifleman on March 17. “Stores are sold out and now rationing ammo everywhere on defensive rounds. We are not sure how long this demand on both guns and ammo last, but the market has certainly intensified at this time.”