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Ammo Is Scarce and Prices are Insane: Is Hunting Season in Trouble?

Hunting Ammo Shortage
Image: Creative Commons.

There have been concerns that the ongoing shortage of ammunition and high prices could derail the fall hunting season, but there is no need to worry, the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF) announced on Wednesday. Ammo makers have stepped up and while shortages may continue and some sportsmen and sportswomen may need to do a bit of ammo hunting before heading out into the field or woods, this year’s hunting season is a go.

“The scarcity of ammunition is frustrating, but hunters and recreational target shooters should know that ammunition manufacturers are working 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to meet their needs,” the NSSF said in a statement.

“The ammunition problem isn’t new. It’s been a market factor for well over a year and is rooted in the extraordinarily high number of firearms that were sold over the past 18 months,” the trade lobby group for the firearms industry added. “Firearm sales skyrocketed starting in March 2020 and set an all-time high record that year, topping out at 21 million background checks for the sale of a gun. NSSF surveys revealed that 40 percent of those sales were for first-time gun buyers, an injection of over 8.4 million new owners. That pace hasn’t slowed, and through August of 2021 there were another 12.4 million background checks for gun sales, easily outpacing 2019 and 2018.”

Numbers Game

One factor has been the volume of ammunition those new buyers have purchased. If each of last year’s first-time buyers purchased just one box of 50 cartridges, it would equate to 420 million additional cartridges – while for each of the 21 million background checks conducted last year that would put demand to levels never seen before. That would equate to one billion rounds and that is if each gun owner bought just one box of 50 cartridges.

The NSSF has said that should be seen as unexpected, but welcoming news – as it means more individuals are exercising their Second Amendment rights, while it also puts ammunition makers to these test. Even as those companies have stepped up, they’ve said it would take 18 to 24 months to meet and satisfy the new demand.

“In addition to the new gun owners, existing gun owners have been buying up ammunition at record levels over concerns of scarcity. Ammunition is frankly being cleaned off shelves just as quickly as it can be stocked,” the NSSF added.

There has been great progress made by the manufacturers, and the NSSF highlighted the efforts made by Remington Ammunition since it was acquired by Vista Outdoors. It has hired additional workers, and is back to full production while other major manufacturers report that they are making more ammunition than ever before. But they are still urging patience from consumers.

“In the past year we’ve had a half-dozen events that have driven sales of firearms,” Jason Hornady of Hornady Manufacturing told Guns & Ammo earlier this year.

“The industry has done a pretty good job; estimates are that every manufacturer is up 30 to 50 percent,” Hornady added. “The reality is: No one can afford to have an extra, idle factory sitting around waiting for these scenarios. There is no factory that doesn’t want to make as much as it can. We get all kinds of nasty comments about how we should stop making T-shirts and make more ammo. We don’t make our own T-shirts, and even if we did, those machines cannot be converted to make ammunition.”

The great ammo shortage of 2021 isn’t over yet, but it won’t be enough to derail this year’s hunting season.

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

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.