It’s deer season in many areas of the United States and some rifle calibers such as 7-mm magnum, .30-06, .308, and .270 are difficult to come by these days for sure. And if you do find these cartridges, prices have gone up, whether you are shopping at your local shooting supply store or online.
What about home protection weapons owners and target shooters? Shotgun shells and AR-15 rounds are often short in supply as well. There’s always a high demand for pistol ammunition and this has led to a supply crunch. Stores are starting to ration with one box per customer. Even some police departments are having trouble getting the ammunition they need.
The Great Ammo Shortage: Why?
There are several factors at play that are keeping ammo off the shelves.
There are currently supply chain hang-ups across the United States due to fewer truck drivers operating in the country. So that is naturally causing delays in shipping, across many industries for countless different products. The Covid-19 pandemic also idled production during quarantine periods.
Sometimes it’s a supply issue when makers stop producing. For example, Remington went bankrupt in 2020. Production lines at the famous manufacturer were idle until bankruptcy proceedings and reorganization was complete. Vista Outdoor purchased Remington assets and now production is back on for all shifts, but the downtime led to shortages.
Demand for Guns Is Up
Then there is the simple fact that people across the country are buying more guns. So far this year, there have been 12.4 million background checks for new gun purchases, usually, only about 8 million checks are done a year.
2020 was a record year with 39.7 million background checks. At least 8.4 million of these were first-time gun owners. These people likely did not have ammunition in the first place, so they became avid purchasers.
Sometimes gun buys can be for political reasons depending on who is in the White House. This can lead to panic buying. More empty shelves bring out the hoarders and Internet rumors fuel the fire.
Manufacturers Are Doing Everything They Can
Despite what you hear online, Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation is telling people that ammunition manufacturers are working around the clock – three shifts – seven days a week. But despite the extra work, Oliva believes that shortages will continue for another year and a half.
Another problem is that bringing more manufacturers online takes time. It takes years to build and set up a new factory. So, if demand is this strong, it may continue to outweigh supply.
How to Deal with the Shortage
What to do? Here are a few straightforward ideas to consider.
For starters, and it might seem pretty simple and straightforward, relying on friends and family during deer season and sharing ammo and where you can find ammo might seem like a smart idea. One could also organize trips to other cities that might not be too far away to check gun stores there.
This seems like a no-brainer: conserve. Yes, it takes a few rounds to zero in a rifle, so make sure you are only using three-round shot groups and a laser bore sight.
You ever hear of “one shot – one kill?” That means being accurate. With a more powerful round such as the 7-mm magnum, one shot with this cartridge should be plenty.
Then there is of course loading your own rounds or getting in touch with people who do.
But perhaps most important of all: Don’t buy into conspiracy theories and understand the laws of supply and demand. Stock up now the best you can and save for next year.
1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.