The great ammo shortage that began last year will likely continue at least into early 2022, or perhaps even later. Shelves at firearm retailers have largely remained empty, and ammunition continues to sell out as fast as it comes in. It isn’t uncommon to see customers lined up at large retailers and even trekking to remote gun shops in the hopes of finding any ammunition.
Increasingly, the lines for ammunition have become to resemble holiday shopping for that must-have toy of the season.
The situation is not any better online, where retailers also quickly sell out of their stock. In some cases customers have thought they were in luck, only to find the stock depleted by the time they go to check out.
Ammo Shortage of 2021: Trending and Continuing
Last month across social media the hashtag “#ammoshortage” began to trend on TikTok and other social media platforms, where there have been images posted of those long lines at retailers and downtrodden customers who went home empty-handed.
For the firearms industry, 2020 and 2021 have been boom times, and last March to September saw a ninety-one percent increase in sales. There were more than 5.1 million first-time gun buyers last year.
Numerous factors included the novel coronavirus pandemic, the civil unrest that began last summer, and then calls by candidates, including then-candidate Joe Biden, for new gun control. That has been good for the industry but has created issues for shooters.
The approximately 15.1 million new guns needed ammo, but some of the same market factors that led to increases in sales also slowed ammunition production. Ammunition and firearms manufacturers were required to temporarily halt operations in certain states when they weren’t deemed an essential business, while international shipments of materials used in the production of ammunition were delayed or also restricted. Ammunition imports have also been severely restricted.
All that created the perfect storm where demand seriously outpaced supply.
Right now it could be well into 2022 before conditions return to normal. Two of the largest manufacturers in the United States, Federal, and Hornady, are doing everything to ramp up production but each expects the drought to last for months. Federal, which purchased Remington’s ammunition business last year, is now running some of its plants twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to increase production.
Those efforts are still not enough.
Expect to Pay More
The increased demand has certainly resulted in higher costs whenever ammunition even shows up on store shelves. According to recent reports, a box of fifty rounds of 9mm was around $10, but now the same box can sell for upwards of $35.
The lack of ammunition, along with the higher costs, is now impacting sport and competition shooters and events. There have been reports that many shooting teams have had to curb practice in order to save ammunition for actual events. Even with reduced participants at many of these events due to the pandemic there simply isn’t enough ammunition.
As a result, we can expect more unhappy people taking to social media to complain that they can’t shoot the new gun they bought because of the ammunition shortage. Yet, as things get back to normal supply will catch up to demand. Perhaps the story next year will be the great ammo glut of 2022.
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.
May 5, 2021 at 9:54 am
To me there is more here than meets the eye. The fact is the ammo is not reaching the retailers. Not only are local gunshops not receiving ammo but large retailers with buying power such as Cabelas have no inventory. It’s not that they are selling out or that people are buying from the retailers and hoarding. The retailers can’t get it. So where is it disappearing to between the manufacturer and the retailer ?
May 5, 2021 at 11:05 am
I had a retailer tell that the ammo companies are diverting most of their resources to loaded ammo.. So where is it. I agree with 1911 doc.. Where’s it going to.
May 5, 2021 at 9:57 am
Where are you finding boxes of 50 9mm for $35?
I can’t find it for less than $60, maybe $55 for reloads.
That $10 price for 50 was more than two years ago, if you could find it discounted on sale.
Point me to a $35 box of 50 9mm and I’ll buy all they have.
May 5, 2021 at 10:54 am
Sportsman Warehouse seems to have ammo fairly regularly. You have to get to the store very early on Saturday morning as its behind the sales counter. You can buy two boxes so everyone will have at least some ammo and they do not raise the prices and gouge you. Powder & primers is another story though if you reload your own ammo and there is almost none available
May 5, 2021 at 11:58 pm
There’s plenty of 9mm (ammo inc) available in Scottsdale, AZ $139 for box of 200. I will leave it up to you to figure out the name of the business.
David Walters, Captain of Infantry, USMC, Retired
May 6, 2021 at 11:26 am
” I will leave it up to you to figure out the name of the business.”
That’s mighty kind of you.
May 5, 2021 at 11:23 am
The counter-revolution won’t be won by bullets, but by dollar bills and people in the streets…fact.
May 5, 2021 at 1:37 pm
Somehow I can’t see a story about an “Ammo glut” happening! They’ll be so much practicing on the range going on it’ll take care of any “glut!” Right now nobody wants to go to the range to use what they can’t replace!
May 5, 2021 at 11:06 pm
Mr Suciu isn’t very well informed. Retail stores have limited stock but plenty is available online in common calibers like 5.56 or 9mm. The prices are usually 50 cents and up per round
Robert C Thompson
May 6, 2021 at 11:26 am
On Gunbroker, there are 132 pages of listngs for 22LR bullets, and that’s more than when I first began to look around the first of the year. Somehow the scalpers are getting plenty.
David Walters, Captain of Infantry, USMC, Retired
May 6, 2021 at 11:08 am
I’m an ex-Marine infantry officer, Vietnam era (and for those who prefer “former” go F yourselves, my Marine lineage goes back three generations and all before me were perfectly comfortable with “ex”).
There are two Marine Corps sayings I’d like to share with those who are bellyaching about ammo shortages:
1) Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance, and,
2) Failing to plan is planning to fail.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU GUYS IF YOU’RE NOT A BRAND NEW GUN OWNER? I have more than 1,000 rounds of every caliber I shoot,.45 ACP, .22LR, .308, 7.62, 9mm, 5.56, etc.
To my Marine brothers in the neighborhood I give it away for free to keep their mags topped off so they don’t hesitate to keep up their marksmanship skills at the range. Hell, I might need those guys’ accompaniment and their marksmanship skills one day the way BLM and ANTIFA is devolving.
I haven’t bought a box of ammo in decades. When I did buy it I bought multiple 500 round boxes at one time. Buy ’em cheap, stack ’em deep.
One question, do you think you who are bellyaching about the cost and unavailability of ammo might learn something from this shortage and change your behavior?