Surgical masks, disinfectant and toilet paper aren’t the only things flying off the shelves as Americans prepare for coronavirus. Several retailers contacted by American Rifleman report ammunition sales are up significantly, with another warning that foodstuffs and survival gear once considered the exclusive realm of hardcore preppers and survivalists are in even higher demand.
Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply, an online ammunition retailer, experienced a 99.7 percent increase in website traffic from Feb. 23 to 25 (when compared to last year) and roughly double the sales. “It’s clear our customers want to be prepared in a worst-case scenario,” Jacob Long of Widener’s said. “For a lot of our families, a disaster plan includes having ammo on hand.”
Brick-and-mortar stores are experiencing a similar response, according Danny Garcia, manager of Money Quick Pawn and Guns in Fayetteville, NC. “We have seen a distinct increase in both handgun and rifle ammunition in the past few months,” he said. “February was a record sales month…Talking with our customers we are hearing the increase is due to both the prospect of a coronavirus outbreak and the pending elections.”
Ryan Repp, director of content and communications for Brownells said the company is experiencing something slightly different. “Our ammo sales are up a few points, but our emergency food and survival supplies sales are trending up higher even than ammo.”
Don’t expect cartridges to repeat the vanishing act like they did in 2013, though. Undoubtedly, the manufacturers anticipated the political rhetoric and are monitoring the viral demand. In addition, the company’s contacted indicated they have a generous supply on hand.
“We are in great supply for both ammo and emergency supplies,” Repp said. Garcia noted, “Our shelves and stockroom are full, and we have pre-ordered a very large amount of ammunition that should easily provide a steady flow of ammunition to our customers.”
The inventory situation is the same at Widener’s, although the company provided eye-opening figures readers in some regions should note. Orders from Michigan are up by 566 percent. Other states with enthusiasts buying at higher-than-normal rates include Connecticut (up 390 percent), Florida at (+383), Kentucky at (+304), and New Jersey (+241).
“We are seeing an increase in sales across the board. It’s not product-specific, it’s industry-specific,” Long said. He also provided a breakdown of the cartridges most in demand. Sales of .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO are up 2,036 percent, .45 ACP has risen 195 percent and the 9 mm increase came in at 110 percent.