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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.

Peter Suciu
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.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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.

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