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The Great Ammo Shortage Is Now Impacting Police Depts.

Ammo Shortage
Image: Creative Commons.

Across the country there are shortages. Frozen pizza and toilet paper are again in limited supply, but it is ammunition for firearms that remains truly hard to come by.

One example: According to a report from The Longview NewsJournal in East Texas, the shelves at local gun shops are nearly empty, and the only remaining boxes are for far less common calibers.

Sportsman’s Outfitters was among the retailers where customers shouldn’t even ask if 9mm ammo is available because for months the answer has been the same, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. When the limited shipments of ammunition arrive it sells out immediately. The prices for ammunition have skyrocketed – making it truly a seller’s market.

A 50 round box of 9mm was about $14 a year ago before the pandemic broke out, and now it is up to $50 a box – priced at $1 a round!

It isn’t just consumers that are feeling the pinch.

Ammo Shortages now Impacting Law Enforcement

The problem has gotten so bad that small police departments across the country are also now impacted by the shortage. While ammunition is still flowing to law enforcement, the fact remains that it just costs more.

“For some of the heavyweight departments, the big guys, it’s not that big of a deal budget-wise,” El Portal Police Department Chief David Magnusson, told the CBS News local affiliate in Miami. “But for someone in the bantamweight department, such as us, it is a big deal.”

The issue is more than just hitting departments financially. The shortage of ammunition has limited many police officers from taking part in state-mandated range training.

Currently, there have been no reports of officers running short of ammunition while on patrol, but as training has been impacted the question is whether it will get worse before it gets better.

Driving the demand for ammunition is the record number of firearms sales seen last year, and which have continued into 2021. In total there were more than 21 million background checks conducted last year, compared to just over 13 million in 2019, and while there has been a steady increase yearly of around 8 percent, 2020 saw that significant jump.

According to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), while December saw a 24 percent increase in year-over-year sales, just after the election in November sales jumped by 49 percent from the prior year. January also saw a year-over-year increase of 75.2 percent, and the FBI processed more than 4.3 million background checks – a 60 percent increase over January 2020.

As firearms 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 high demand. That means, at least for now the current ammo shortage is likely to stay with us for some time to come.

Shooters and police departments will be forced to pay more…if the ammunition can even be found.

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

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 Suciu is also a contributing writer for Forbes Magazine.



  1. Elton

    February 16, 2021 at 8:45 am

    I ordered in Nov of last year and still not in. Weapon is useless.

  2. David

    February 16, 2021 at 9:02 am

    Just wait until the firearms ban takes effect and the police and military can’t get weapons either.

  3. Shannon

    February 16, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Well, easy way to fix this situation. Government entities including the Small Business Administration, Social Security, Fish and Game, IRS, USPS, have been stockpiling weapons and ammunition for years. Seriously stockpiling. Since the SBA has no foreseeable or reasonable need for this I’d start getting ammo from them first!

  4. BR

    February 16, 2021 at 10:05 am

    I doubt the shortage is anywhere near as bad as it seems. If you are willing to pay the gouge you can buy seemingly endless cases at the outrageous markup from several internet sellers. That is full cases, thousands of rounds per, for 9mm. Hundreds of rounds for standard hunting rifle cases. Expect to pay $2-$4 a round for .270 and more for others. I am sure there is some hording going on but I am also sure the supply has been “throttled”

  5. Hugh Johnson

    February 16, 2021 at 10:12 am

    Well, they should have stocked up like others have. Also, just Barney Fife them all – one bullet in their pocket. That would probably make for a safer nation, anyway.

  6. Filibuster Brown

    February 16, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Time to raid all of the federal agencies who have been stockpiling weapons and ammo since the Obama regime. Over a trillion rounds of ammo there for the taking.

  7. WDS

    February 16, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Next up…..

    “In the interest of being able to protect the populace the Governor
    of the state of _______ is ordering all privately owned ammunition
    to be turned in to local police departments so they may utilize it.”

  8. KatrinaAnon

    April 12, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    While I do have an inventory driven by the last droughts, I have quit shooting until I know how long the current drought is going to last.

    I shoot a lot of 45 Colt on steel targets that are not AR500 rated. Hence they must be cast lead bullets. These cartridges are nearly “unobtainium”. I am happy that as the drought made its presence known I did not swap over to 9mm from 45ACP as my defensive firearm caliber. I generally can get .45 ACP without great difficulty.

    The problem is that shooting sports that consume 150-250+ rounds per match are nearly impossible to participate in. I think of those people shooting MSRs where 200 boxes of 5.56 are selling at $130+. I thought about getting 9mm upper and doing the same.

    I hope Ben Shapiro is right about the 2022 midterms being a Republican rout, but I am doubtful after what happened in 2020. Some of the projections of a ‘return to normal’ measured in months seem to focus on the midterm date. In Shapiro’s favor on his analysis is that Biden has gone the EO route in spite of holding the legislative and executive branches and thus being able to pass laws. Obviously, there are concerned about using the 2020 techniques in 2022. Pelosi and Schumer both know how powerful the gun lobby can be and possibly the NRA fiasco may be over by then making them formidable again.

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