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Ammo Shortage of 2021: Federal’s CEO Explains Why

Ammo Shortage of 2021
.45 Ammo. Image: Creative Commons.

In December just before Christmas, Jason Vanderbrink, president of the ammunition manufacturing companies Federal, CCI, Speer, and Remington released a video statement on YouTube (see above, very interesting to say the least) that was meant to reassure buyers that efforts were underway to address the shortage of ammunition on retail shelves.

Vanderbrink was quick to the point stating, “I’m tired of the hate mail,” and “I’m tired of people showing up at our factories.” He quickly added that there has been a lot of misinformation on the Internet that his companies haven’t done enough to meet the demand.

Ammo Shortage of 2021, Explained

In his statement, Vanderbrink reaffirmed to buyers, “We are making ammunition every minute of every day! We are making all of the ammunition as fast as we can! We are doing our damndest to meet the demand!”

He added, “We know, ammo seems hard to come by right now. But rest assured, we are building and shipping more and more every day—right here in the USA.”

In the four-minute video, some key points were also addressed, including the fact that 2020 saw the largest increase in new or first-time shooters ever. While the Covid-19 pandemic certainly impacted production across the industry in the spring of 2020, the point remains that with more than seven million new gun owners each buying boxes of ammunition, it isn’t hard to see why there was such demand.

Analysts also noted that there were more than 25 million new guns sold in 2020, and that with each new firearm an estimated two boxes of ammo was also purchased. As a result ammunition sales actually rose far more significantly than gun sales alone.

It hasn’t just been Federal that has come under fire for a failure to deliver.

Hornady vice president Jason Hornady told Guns & Ammo in December that his company also saw demand pick up in October 2019 when Walmart announced it would get out of the market – which shifted consumers to go to other sources. As shelves emptied at local gun shops the demand only increased.

Then with the pandemic, there was the massive stock up on guns and with it ammunition. As Hornady added, “no one asks for a box or two, they want to buy a case.” He added that in one case a relative asked to buy a pallet of 5.56 ammunition – about 9,000 rounds.

While not everyone is buying at such extremes, there is that fear of being left without ammo.

As one user on YouTube responded to Vanderbrink’s concerns, panic buying essentially drove up prices, “I’ve gone through at least four major ammo shortages just since 2000.  Every time, people think it is the end of the world. You learn to stock up when times are good and ammo is abundant (and prices are good) and you don’t buy during the brief times of the shortages and you let the fools pay the high prices.”

Gun sales are likely to remain strong in 2021 – driven by the fact that a Democrat is back in the White House, while the democrats also have a narrow majority in both the House and Senate – ammunition will just as likely remain in demand. That will make it more expensive to shoot, but as history has shown, in the coming months there could be a glut of ammunition as consumers are stocked up.

So for now, buy only if you must.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Written By

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Suciu is also a contributing writer for Forbes Magazine.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Steve Doyle

    February 18, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Then one of several things is happening. If the manufacturers are producing and shipping all they can to distributors and wholesalers where is it going after that. Either the manufacturers are lying to us in which case we need more international manufacturers in the game or the wholesalers and distributors are holding out and only shipping to favored customers.There is a black hole out there that is allowing a few to get their hands on all that is shipped. Either fix the system or open it up to more competitors

  2. Bob B

    February 27, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I didn’t see trucks being loaded. Every bin he stuck his hand was full…waiting to be packaged. There shouldn’t be bins full of ammo waiting to be packaged. That is a lack of efficiency on his part. Plus look at his employees, can they possibly work any slower? Two workers walk up to a large shipping container and each place 3 boxes in it? The output is so slow that an employee can only walk three boxes of ammo each trip?

    What I saw was a facility incapable of keeping up with the demand and doing nothing about it. He didn’t show us a single thing he has done to increase production and or efficiency. He mentions hiring hundreds of new employees, but as he walked through the plant I never saw more than a few dozen at most.

  3. Pat S

    February 28, 2021 at 7:43 am

    I’ve not seen small pistol primers available for many months, some online vendors have taken down their web page that used to show their stock of the various primers they sold. This is not a good sign. Of course they appear to be plentiful in Canada (cannot be exported), including those made by US manufacturers. Are we to assume there is little to no demand in Canada? If demand in the United States is so high, it seems the Canadian supply would have dried up a long time ago, if they were not getting product like the US vendors.

    The popular excuse is that “everything is going toward commercial ammo production”, that might be. This makes the primer availability in Canada even more of an oddity. The conspiracy theorist in me suggests this is by design. I’ll take off my tinfoil hat now.

  4. Walkerny

    March 25, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    People need to take a deep breath and think linearly and not emotionally. Comments about how some business is operating poorly or slowly based on a glimpse and likely little knowledge of manufacturing or business aren’t accurate. Manufacturers (of any kind) do not invest in machinery to meet peak demand. That machinery is expensive and would sit unused most years. They invest in base load equipment and use overtime to increase production during higher demand. During huge surges, this isn’t enough, hence shortages.

    First off, these companies are in business to make a PROFIT. That is a good thing, meaning that when demand is high and they can increase units sold at a higher margin, they DO SO.

    Some of the things aggravating supply:

    25 million NEW firearms sold in 2020, each averaging 2 boxes of ammunition. 50 million boxes for new guns alone.

    An increase in ammunition purchases due to violence in 2020/21 society, unrest and Democrat election victories.

    COVID 19 related production challenges. If it effected meat packing plants, auto producers & toilet paper factories, YEAH IT WILL EFFECT AMUNITION PRODUCERS.

    Flat out HOARDING. Yep, gun owners panic buying way more rounds than they could ever conceivably need.

    Again, buy a reasonable supply when panic season is not in session, and chuckle at those who did not and now wish to blame others over what is a cyclical event.

  5. Jonathan

    March 28, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Those new gun owners are going to want more ammo sooner, later, sometime. The consumer base has expanded by MILLIONS and ammo companies say “nah there is no long term demand to warrant a new factory.” That’s the dumbest thing I have heard in awhile. Add to that the fact that each shortage runs longer and deeper. It all points to shortages. If federal or cci can’t figure out how to make more and cash in that is pretty sad in a mostly free market.

  6. Jorge

    March 31, 2021 at 12:06 am

    Well, I, for one, have had a single case of range ammo back-ordered now for ten months. Ten months! If manufacturers like Federal have been running 24×7 as claimed, you would think that retailers would finally be receiving the merchandise that their customers ordered ten months ago.

    I have always bought by the case. A case of range ammo lasts me about three months in normal times. That is NOT hoarding.

    So, sorry, but I have to call Bravo Sierra on Mr. Vanderbrink. Manufacturers are choking supply to price gouge their distributors and retailers and run up their profits to make big bonuses for CEOs, CFOs, and big dividends for shareholders. The price gouging ultimately gets passed along to the customer. And the anti-2A politicians in power are ecstatic that the supply to the law-abiding citizenry has been choked off.

  7. None Of your Buisness

    April 12, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Reading this comments I didn’t expect to hear so much bitching and moaning from gun owners, they sound like a bunch of democrats. Talking about a 5 second video clip and thus they know the production speed of the entire operation. Or about how there’s some “black hole” that is buying up all the ammo.

    What part of production closures during covid, 25 million guns sold, 7 million new gun owners, higher fuel costs, stricter regulations, stimulus checks to people who don’t need it, and democrats in power don’t you understand? This should be common logic, as this is happening to MANY industries.

    Like another person said, think rationally, not emotionally.

  8. Joe Sterba

    April 18, 2021 at 11:28 am

    $65 bucks for a box of 230 grain 44 mag? Are you kidding me? No right!

  9. Steve P

    April 18, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    I don’t believe this. There is NO 9 mm ammo available except Russian steel case and IMI hollow. If this were simply a shortage due to increased demand by new gunowners there would be something on the market except Russian and IMI brands. It’s been like this for well over a year now. In a rational market suppliers would adjust production and prices to match demand. This would be an opportunity for suppliers to make more money at good margins. Here, I will say it again, there is nothing.

    btw – toilet paper became available at old prices within a few weeks of the shortages. The analogy with ammo does not hold.

    Something is very wrong.

  10. Perhaps

    April 30, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    BS
    Greed is the answer and the destruction of America will be their fault.
    It has been demonstrated by the past with Clinton and Obummer, reloading hoarding and prices multiplying because they could. These companies don’t care and we all know it and will hold them personally accountable.

  11. Ed Walton

    May 19, 2021 at 11:07 pm

    No one will ever post a photo of a box of ammo with a manufactures date of 2021!!!

  12. Edward K Goodman

    May 26, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    oh well, not going to hold my breath while waiting for what i need. just have to hold onto the 20 round box of buffalo bore 340 grain for my ruger redhawk .44 mag, 7.5 barrel. see some stores that have .44 ammo but they be in another state and no online purchase at this time. life goes on.

  13. Brian

    August 31, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    So, someone please explain why we can buy nearly anything dirt-cheap from China but not ammo? I’m sure there are manufacturers just itching to flood the market with ammo at pennies per round. I guess this is one of the last industries in America protected from Chinese dominance and that is just fine, IF the American companies could just deliver the goods.

  14. Timothy Wieboldt

    September 24, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Companies are stalling doing this to drive up the price. As can I guess, they need more competition and more manufactures of ammo. If the military can get ammo fast, the people of this country should too. I think the government has their hand in this too. Don’t trust any of them these days. Life time politicians are a threat to this country and need to be removed. 12 years should be the maximum time for politicians. I have been trying to get reloading supplies for years now and seems the only ones that have it is companies that I don’t trust. I would like to just be able to go down to the local store and buy it. But no one has anything. Sad times in the United States when you cant get supplies anymore.

  15. Bradley Johnson

    September 30, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    LIES.

    The self-proclaimed masters of the universe (may they rot in hell) intentionally disrupted key sectors of the ammunition supply chain (among others).

    I want to hear one of these nose-jobs come clean and admit it.

  16. Eric

    January 6, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    There are two things that are not being mentioned and one thing to think about. First the new gun buyers are looking at the same empty shelves we are and are not buying out the store since most ammunition is being rationed at the retail level now. Two is that Canada has had US manufactured Ammunition and reloading components on shelves and restocked when they are empty. Our government doesn’t seem to have any reservations about giving us incomplete or incorrect information as can be attested by the number of times that we hear the denial of a “conspiracy” when I never thought there was one. I also understood that there was a limitation levied on imported Russian manufactured Ammunition and components.

  17. Mike richters

    January 7, 2022 at 1:17 am

    I smell a skunk a very big skunk these ammo companies are losing to us ,I think some one in government is behind this suit if there were just more demand.for ammo and reloading supplies than the percent ammo makes can make you sound see new ammo companies springing up to fill the demand and get I. On the action because there are folks always interested in making money if the demand were as great as they’d have you believe there would be investors start new ammo companies period,as I’ve said if it sqeaks.like a rat walks like a rat looks like a rat its a fucking rat!!

  18. Mike richters

    January 7, 2022 at 1:29 am

    Godamned auto spell messed up I can’t turn it off so in my previous message words were changed not buy me!as for this ammo shortage its all bs why can’t you even get powder primers bullets nothing to buy ,,out of stock no back orders is all you see midway brownells mid south shooters,local gun shops all the same a local guy I know who has a small shop.says he just can’t get ammo amywhere,these damned ammo companies are just not making it,he says first time in twenty years I as a dealer can’t even buy.it he says he can’t resale what he can’t buy himself!wake up people something is wrong in yhe.usa!!Revolution now!!!

  19. Mike richters

    January 7, 2022 at 1:44 am

    Listen up not wits its not hoarders as you’ve been told!you can’t get it anywhere now even the scaupers are running out of their stocks they had so as to get rich off marked up prices!someone with deep pockets as a collective are behind this!Same thing is happening with groceries stores this is the.first time in my.seventy years I’ve seen bare shelves in stores,I’ve seen prices.rise but.never a shortage.in food products before the gods bed leaders of this government are bring down the usa !.,for what reason I can’t figure out don’t they know their going down with the ship also!!!

  20. Mike richters

    January 7, 2022 at 1:57 am

    The farmers in the usa should starve dc to death not sale them a bite of food let them all starve ,the workers should go on a national strike,,anyone old enough to. Rember. lECK WALINSKA?from Poland he led the people in a strike and made,(forced) the government to give into the peoples demands!I’m having a really hard time writing this my computer keeps changing my words ,ha,ha,maybe big brother is watching me!

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