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Bullet Shortage: Here’s Why Ammo Prices Are So High

Ammo Shortage
Image: Creative Commons.

For much of the past year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, inflationary pressures have taken hold in many sectors of the U.S. economy—and it appears that ammunition prices were not spared.

However, amid nationwide ammo shortages, sky-high demand, and record-setting gun sales, it is not surprising to see prices for ammunition continue to soar.

“There comes a point when you say, ‘I’m not going to buy it,’” Jeff Williams, a range instructor at the Westside Pistol & Rifle Range, one of two remaining gun stores in New York City, recently told Forbes.

“Every time you pull the trigger, it’s a buck and a half,” he added.

According to Mark Fiacable, who runs, ammunition prices for some calibers have skyrocketed four-fold in recent months—though they have fallen to about double the prices seen before the pandemic.

For example, boxes of 9mm rounds were selling for $12 pre-pandemic but that surged to $40 to $60 during the peak. Meantime, a box of .380 caliber rounds that are usually only $15 were going for $50 to $60.

Fiacable contended that ammo shortages still persist, adding that popular calibers like .38 and .380 are “very, very difficult to get, if you can get it at all.”

Hunters Suffer

Such shortages are also being witnessed in Iowa, a state popular with pheasant and deer hunters.

“We are in fact seeing the impact here in Iowa not only for hunting but for recreational shooting as well,” Jamie Cook, hunter education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, told Iowa Capital Dispatch.

“Certain rounds are hard to get, there are limits being put on how many you can purchase and manufacturers just can’t keep up with the demand due to the spike in interest and the fact that factories were shut down during COVID,” he continued, adding that manufacturers and retailers are telling individuals engaged in shooting sports to place orders for spring ammo as soon as possible.

Guns vs Ammo

According to Smith & Wesson, more than ten million people have purchased guns for the first time during the pandemic. But according to retailers, firearms aren’t as vulnerable to inflation like bullets.

“There absolutely has been significant price inflation at the retail level for ammunition, though less so for firearms,” said Rommel Dionisio, an analyst for Aegis Capital, per Forbes.

“The shortage of ammunition in the U.S. had resulted in dramatic price escalation—as well as rationing, for example limiting customers to a certain number of boxes to be sold per visit—since last year,” he continued.

He added that prices for firearms “have not gone above manufacturer’s list prices, but certainly promotions and discounting has been minimal.”

Ammo Shortage Hunting

Image: Creative Commons.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Art

    September 18, 2021 at 2:59 am

    By rights ammunition prices should have gone up. For years ammunition prices have been held a bit low by the combination of a atomized market (lots of independent makers, distributors, and importers) and an unwillingness of shooters to see even small regular price increases. Everything else had slowly risen in price but ammunition much less so.

    Then we saw a major manufacturer go out of business and several factories closing temporarily.

    Then we had the alarmists using the Obama administration and other politically based rumors to persuade people to come off the cash and buy guns and ammunition.

    Then we have an entire class of small investors working ammunition arbitrage. Buy low; sell high. My neighbor “invested” in .22, 5.56, 9mm, and .38spec to the tune of $5000 early on and easily doubled his money in a few weeks through e-bay.

    He learned all the shipping days for major retailers who didn’t raise their prices and spent mornings waiting for stores to open.

    He found out a lot of Americans suck at comparison shopping. He bought a couple thousand rounds of nothing special .22s at Wally and, on a lark, priced it at only three times what he paid. He sold out in a couple of hours. His prices are high and he charges through-the-nose for shipping and still people were buying it.

    Eventually, retail prices came up. Other small sellers learned the basics of hitting retail outlets early on shipping days and most customers wised up. What was easy money a year ago is almost like work. So he sold the store name (URL) for a handy profit and closed up shop.

    Most of those closer factories are back up and foreign suppliers, attracted by the potential profits, are busy taking up the slack. Prices are down, stores that couldn’t keep ammunition on the shelves for months have something to sell. Prices are still high, but not as bad as they were.

    A local retailer even had a supply Federal .327. Haven’t seen .327 in a coons age. Price was a bit too dear for my tastes, but there it was.

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