The Great Ammo Shortage: Factories Working Around the Clock: Vista Outdoor, which is the largest ammunition provider in America, is working 24/7 to supply ammunition in an environment where scarcity and high prices reign supreme. Prices for ammo are rising, demand is growing, and supply can’t keep up. Vista Outdoor is making record amounts of revenue due to these precarious times. The company has even started an innovative ammunition subscription program to quench the ammo thirst of target shooters, hunters, and home defense enthusiasts.
Look at All the Money Ammunition Companies Are Making
Vista Outdoor owns several ammunition manufacturing or retail brands such as Remington, Federal, Speer, CCI, and Hevi-Shot. It’s no surprise that business is booming. Vista Outdoor, a publicly-traded company that owns other leisure brands, reported $778 million in revenue in November of 2021. That’s an increase of 35.3 percent year over year. Shooting sports sales were up 49 percent. In its last earnings report, the company forecasts exploding sales gains of over 30 percent for all brands in 2022 compared to 2021. In the second quarter of 2021, Vista said they made $78 million in profit. This is the company’s fifth record quarter in a row.
Ammo Shortage Won’t Go Away: Producers Still Can’t Meet Demand
It’s tough for the company to keep up with shooters’ need for ammo. The summer of 2021 was difficult for the firm to pump out ammunition. CEO Chris Metz said on an earnings call that “[W]e cannot meet the current level of consumer demand.” Metz said they are making “tens of millions rounds” in 2022.
Will a Subscription Service for Ammo Help?
Vista Outdoor is trying something new by selling an ammunition subscription program to customers. Vista’s Federal subsidiary is pushing out the plan. Customers can order five boxes of ammunition each month delivered to their door with free shipping. Subscribers must commit to a year. Prices are on the high side – .45 rounds run $169.99 a month.
Federal said in an announcement that the program is fired up.
“We are very excited to launch this new service which is loaded with benefits for our online customers,” said Jason Nash, Federal’s vice president of marketing. “At the time of the subscription service launch, available calibers at the initial rollout will be 9 mm, 40 S&W and .45 ACP, with possible expansion into other loads and cartridge options, pending market demand.”
Who’s Making All This Ammo?
Vista Outdoor ammo factories are going gangbusters. Vista runs four ammo plants around the country. In the Lonoke, Arkansas site, employment numbers are spiking. Last year 450 people were working at the factory, now there are 1,050 employees. They are working three shifts a day, six days a week. Bosses want to hire 100 more workers. This plant is the third biggest ammunition factory in the world. “Remington’s going 24/7” at the factory, said President of Vista Outdoor Ammunition Brands Jason Vanderbrink.
Vista’s Lewiston, Idaho plant is pumping out ammo as fast as it can. The orders in the pipeline will keep workers in Lewiston busy. Metz said the future orders are worth at least $1 billion.
Leadership at Olin Corp., which makes Winchester ammunition, said the Winchester brand sales went up 100 percent in July of 2021 compared to 12-months prior. During the third quarter of 2021, Olin’s net income was $391 million. According to an earnings news release, “Winchester sales for the third quarter of 2021 were $400.0 million compared to $206.4 million in the third quarter 2020.”
The Great Ammo Shortage Means Ammo Prices Are High
But despite all this production, demand and price for ammunition will still be high. Overall rates of inflation is hitting the rest of the economy, and this will likely take a toll on the ammo industry. Industry inputs such as copper (needed to make bullets) are more expensive. Copper prices per ton hit a three-month high recently.
People are buying more guns and ammunition out of fear too. Proposed policy changes on federal gun laws are driving some to stock up on both firearms and ammo. There is a nationwide crime wave that has seen homeowners buying more supplies to defend their property.
When Will the Great Ammo Shortage of 2022 End?
The ammunition subscription plan from Federal sounds promising. Five boxes a month is not bad, even though the cartridges are limited to a few calibers and the prices are high. But at least you know you can shoot all year without facing empty shelves.
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.