The record setting pace of ammunition sales and resultant shortage is not slowing. In fact, Florida’s Fox35 News reported this week that people are camping out as early at 2 a.m. in front of an area sporting goods store to buy cartridges once it opened—despite a three-box limit.
“I just come here on Monday. Tuesday, I go to Buena Vista. Wednesday, I go to East Colonial. Thursday, Buena Vista. Friday, East Colonial. Sunday, I go to Millenia,” David Godkin told the reporter as he explained his methodology of staying supplied for his frequent range sessions. It’s enough to keep the avid enthusiast active at the firing line, but he’s also concerned the new administration may limit future purchases.
The situation’s similar out west. On Jan. 9, Orem’s KSL TV covered, “An amazing sight outside a Utah gun store as hundreds lined up to buy ammo.” There were 200 people waiting in a line before the store opened. News had spread that the company was getting a shipment of 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. that day and the result was an early morning crowd willing to honor a 200-round limit. “We have seen a rush on guns and ammo before—but never in January,” store employee Chris Hansen told the reporter.
Brick-and-mortar stores don’t hold an exclusive on the crowds. WTOC’s coverage at a Savannah, GA, gun show this month said there was a long line to get in, and ammunition ranked high on nearly every attendee’s shopping list. Even online supply is limited and retailers are encouraging enthusiasts to place their names on alert or waiting lists.
Demand is outpacing production and the ability to increase manufacturing capacity isn’t an overnight option, as American Rifleman’s Mark Keefe explained in December. “Expanding an ammunition plant isn’t something that can be done easily,” he wrote. “Not only are such facilities expensive to build and maintain, there are a lot of regulations surrounding the manufacture of ammunition, with zoning and environmental regulations being just a part of it.”
As for when inventory returns, Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz issued an ominous forecast to NRA Publications’ John Zent last month. “…[O]ne thing we’re noting is that what we call ‘heavy shooters,’ those who shoot 10,000 rounds or more per year, a lot of them haven’t been purchasing,” he said. “They’ve seen the frenzied activity and are holding back in hopes it’ll subside. Well, we all know what's going to happen when they work through their stockpiles and at some point, come back to the market.”