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Great Ammo Shortage of 2022: Which Bullets Are the Most Expensive?

Ammo Shortage. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Ammo Shortage. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Great Ammo Shortage Is Evolving: What if you have to pay a dollar a round just to take some target practice on your local range? 1945 has chronicled the great ammo shortage and price increases extensively in the previous months. Let’s take a look at which calibers are sending prices through the roof. And, if you are a dedicated shooter or someone who needs to head to the range for work, you likely have a good idea what calibers I am talking about:


About 8.4 million people bought a gun for the first time last year. So, you may have already guessed that 9mm rounds are difficult to come by. They are popular with many shooters. A 9mm pistol may be the first gun that people buy. Police extensively use this round as well, leading to shortages. The price can be upwards of a dollar a round – specifically between 80 cents and a $1.20 a bullet. 9mm Luger is somewhat easier to come by but also costs upwards of 70 cents a round.

However, one important note: depending on where you live can impact prices greatly, as there seems to be a tremendous amount of regional fluctations when it comes to the ammo shortage and ammo pricing.

For example, some parts of the US, specfically the Mid-Atlantic, see some stores such as Bass Pro Shop stacked with 9mm for as cheap as $18.99 for a box of 50 full-mental jacket 9mm rounds, Heter’s branded.

Ammunition for AR-15s

You may be asking already, what about my AR-15? The United States has over 20 million AR-15-style rifles legally in the hands of gun owners, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They shoot .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO. Both types can be found here and they cost around 60 cents a round.

But again, not all parts of the country are seeing this phenomenon. And, once again, in the Mid-Atlantic, and if you live near a big box store like a Bass Pro Shop, you may find more AR-15 style rounds at much better prices.

.30-30 Winchester

The .30-30 Winchester cartridge goes back to 1895 with the Winchester Model 1894 and Marlin Model 1893. It quickly became a hunter’s rifle and the .30-30 is still used by outdoorsmen for deer, bear, and feral hogs. If you check this web site, you can see the .30-30 cartridge can cost all the way up to $59 for a box of 20 and at least 25 different brands are marked “Out of Stock with No Backorder.”

Again, you guessed it, where you live makes a huge difference.


You may have a .308 rifle because it is also well liked by hunters. Many consider it a military cartridge because it is the civilian version of the NATO 7.62x51mm round. The caliber is good for deer but may not be advisable for taking large game like elk. I have know one hunter who said he bagged an elk with the .308. The good news is that .308 is available online although it can run you $30 to $60 dollars for a box of 20.

.40 Smith & Wesson

The .40 Smith & Wesson is at least 30 years old and is becoming widespread as a go-to handgun choice. It is used by police officers around the country. People who want a pistol that is concealable for self-defense often choose the .40 Smith and Wesson caliber. You may pay 60 to 70 cents a round.

Here, you know what I am going say by now, location of where you are purchasing ammo can change this situation dramtically.


You can’t go wrong with a .30-06 rifle. It is a versatile caliber that allows for numerous grains of bullets depending on what you want to target. Rounds that are 170 grains or more, perhaps 175 or 180 grain, are good for taking elk or moose. On this ammo seller’s web site, numerous brands and grains of .30-06 bullets are out of stock or temporarily unavailable. Two brands in stock cost $33 for a box of 20. That’s $1.65 a round.

The Great Ammo Shortage: What Other Options Do I Have?

The .38 Special is one option to fall back on. Your revolvers are probably deep in storage and likely could use some opportunity to put rounds down range. Hunter Gilroy of Alien Gear Holsters said, “The former default handgun cartridge, the .38 Special, is one of the few that hasn’t been as completely depleted as 9mm or .45 ACP has. Granted, it is far from untouched, but it’s more available than others are, to be sure.”

If self-defense is your main reason for owning a gun, you can look at some different calibers that are more available and cheaper than 9mm or .40 Smith & Wesson. According to David Maccar at Wide Open Spaces, “…smaller rounds like the .380 ACP are easier to find, and more powerful semi-auto rounds, like 10mm Auto are available too if you aren’t picky about the exact load, though pricing fluctuates and they can be expensive.”

Finding ammunition these days takes plenty of eagle-eyed shopping both in-store and online. The availability and price fluctuates widely depending on where you look. We will probably see these conditions throughout this year, so be prepared.

Now serving as 1945’s 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. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s 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.