A year into the pandemic and shooting has just been costing more as ammo prices have skyrocketed. For those who didn’t stock up before the outbreak of the, it has been a case of “pay more” and that is only when ammunition has been available.
Insane Ammo Prices, Explained
Even websites such as CheaperThanDirt.com, which is known as the place to go to find affordable ammunition, have steadily seen an increase in prices in recent months. As of this month, a box of 20 rounds of Wolf Military Classic 7.62x39mm, used in the AK-47, SKS, and other similar “Communist Bloc” small arms, was available for $9.98 or roughly 50 cents a shot.
That could seem like a downright bargain at this point. For those looking for the popular 9mm, a box of 50 rounds FMJ (full metal jacket) 124-grain top quality loads were available for $59.98, or about $1.20 for each round. A 150 round box of Winchester Lake City 5.56 NATO FMJ 55 grains – labeled “Value Pack” seemed anything but – as it was available for $224.89.
Why The Increases?
The price increase was not about manufacturers attempting to artificially drive up prices. As Outdoor Life reported, it was the opposite, as 2020 represented the absolute manufacturing limit of the firearms industry. A number of factors played a role in driving up prices.
First, panic-buying among consumers certainly outpaced the supply. Then there was the fact that last year saw record firearms sales, but also some 8.5 million first-time buyers. Consider that if each of those buyers bought on average two boxes of ammo with their new gun, that’s a significant jump. The fact is that most probably bought more than two boxes.
Many online retailers are also continually out of stock because those sellers allow customers to pre-order as stock is replenished. Thus as soon as deliveries are made, backorders are filled. In other cases, retailers allow customers to receive updates when an item is back in stock, but because so many consumers get these alerts the stock is depleted by the time someone goes to check out.
Then there is the fact that as Outdoor Life also reported scalpers are to blame for the lack of supply and high costs. It is “the opportunists who are buying ammo in bulk and then selling it online at increased prices.”
In some cases, gun shops are even buying the ammo back from customers who wisely stocked up when demand wasn’t so great. The stores are of course forced to then further inflate the prices, but what is keeping the prices high is that those with a true entrepreneurial spirit have been scouring the Internet looking for deals, and scouting out big box stores like Walmart – buying as ammo trickles to shelves, then turning around and reselling at a profit.
While this is capitalism in its rawest form, buy low and sell high, there are complaints of price gouging. Yet, as it looks like there will continue to be greater demand for the foreseeable future, now may be the time to curb the shooting, and wait for prices to return to a more normal level.
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.