Last year’s record firearms sales, which followed into the first half of this year, have continued to impact the supply of ammunition, and manufacturers have failed to keep up with demand. As a result hunters, recreational shooters, and even law enforcement are finding it hard to acquire enough ammunition.
And if you can find ammo, get ready for massive sticker shock.
Additionally, many new gun owners have also been impacted, as they may not receive enough training, or won’t have the ability to practice at the range to learn how to handle their new firearms safely.
“We have had a number of firearms instructors cancel their registration to our courses because their agency was short on ammo or they were unable to find ammo to purchase,” Jason Wuestenberg, executive director of the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association told the AP.
The surge in new gun owners last year certainly impacted the market, and that contributed to the shortage of ammunition.
“When you talk about all these people buying guns, it really has an impact on people buying ammunition,” said Mark Oliva, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association. “If you look at 8.4 million gun buyers and they all want to buy one box with 50 rounds, that’s going to be 420 million rounds.”
This year has also seen an uptick in hunting participation, brought on by the fact that last year’s pandemic resulted in many states outright canceling the annual seasons. That has also pushed demand and more people are returning to the woods.
But one of the biggest factors last year was a breakdown of the supply chain. Just as toilet paper, backyard pools, and building supplies were impacted by reduced production from the import of raw materials due to border closings and lockdowns, this also impacted the ability to even produce ammunition at full capacity last summer and fall.
Then there was the Remington Arms Company bankruptcy. Despite the increased demand for firearms, the storied company was forced to sell its assets, including its ammunition manufacturing business. Its production lines were shuttered for months. While new owners, Vista Outdoor Brands, acquired the Remington facilities in Lonoke, Arkansas, it took months to get it back up and running.
Imports Helping Address the Issue
Even as some Americans may tend to shun imported products, ammunition from overseas is helping meet the demand. According to data from Panjiva Inc., an independent global trade tracking company, ammunition imports are up by more than 225 percent from the past two years. Ammunition is now flowing in from Russia, South Korea, and from nations across the European Union.
What may not make some domestic firearms owners so happy is that the Panjiva data still shows that U.S. ammunition has continued to be exported to Australia, Israel, and Belgium – but much of that could be through government contracts and likely wouldn’t do enough to address the supply issue.
Additionally, even as law enforcement agencies across the United States have been impacted by ammo shortages the U.S. military remains unaffected. U.S. military ammunition is produced at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) in Independence, Missouri. The facility is part of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command and is government-owned and contractor-operated and it is currently run by Winchester Ammunition.
Some good news: there is no concern that the great ammo shortage of 2021 might leave our warfighters unable to do their job. For the rest of us, buy what you can find will continue, and hope the shortage ends soon.
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.