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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.

3 Comments

3 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.

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