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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Why the Great Ammo Shortage Won’t Go Away Anytime Soon

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

Reasons Why There Is an Ammo Shortage for 2022: It’s been a frustrating few years for shooters, that is for sure. They made it through last year’s hunting seasons looking for rifle and shotgun ammunition. Now they have to compete with many other gun aficionados trying to stock up on ammo for 2022. Reports of shortages only aggravate people wanting to buy as much ammunition as possible. The more they hear about the dwindling supply, the more they want to buy – exacerbating the situation.

Here is a rundown of the latest situation involving what seems like the never-ending Great Ammo Shortage and why it is so persistent.

Buying More Ammo Is My Constitutional Right

People buy and use guns for reasons that value Constitutional themes of individualism and freedom. There is also a yearning for greater self-defense where crime is rising throughout the country. These factors lead to more demand for ammunition.

Remote Locations in the Rural States Have Trouble Getting Ammunition

In Alaska, where outdoor enthusiasts often carry powerful .300 WinMag rifles to protect against bear attacks, and use handguns for backup, people are facing bare shelves. A reporter for the Alaska Daily News pointed out in December that more people are hoarding bullets because they are worried about supplies that cannot reach remote Alaska locations.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Took Its Toll

Two years of the pandemic have taken their toll on ammo supplies and the current omicron variant is causing more laborers in the ammunition industry to miss work. Factories were forced to shut down during the initial stages of the pandemic and this affected the amount of ammo made. The firms are bouncing back to increase production but are having trouble keeping up. News of the shortfall increased the number of panic buyers. The global supply chain crunch is not helping either.

More Hunters Equals More Demand

There are also more hunters who need ammunition. Around 2.5 million people bought hunting licenses across the country in 2020. In 2021, the number of licenses went down slightly – maybe because of ammo shortages. Demand for ammunition every November for deer season usually trends upward. Popular rifle rounds such as .30-06, .308, 7mm, and .270 fly off the shelves. As 1945 has reported, a gun dealer in Alabama recently confirmed this lack of supply for rifle ammunition. Some people load their own cartridges to get ready for the annual deer quest.

Gun Purchases Are Still Strong

The FBI, which handles the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), is always busy. They have conducted 300 million checks since their inception in 1998. The FBI did nearly 39 million checks last year – slightly down from 2020.

The Laws Are Changing to Make Guns More Abundant

Gun regulations and laws often change from state to state, and this can lead to more gun and ammo purchases. Texas has a Constitutional Carry which means, “if you can legally own a handgun, you can carry it, open or concealed, without a permit,” according to the Texas Gun Owners of America. More states are instituting similar laws.

Ammo Makers Forming a Duopoly

The ammo industry has been consolidated. Only two firms, Olin Corporation and Vista Outdoor own the major brands such as Remington, Winchester, Cascade Cartridge, and Federal Premium. This lack of diversity in ownership can affect supply. The idea is to create economies of scale, but the industry could become monopolized (or duopolized) where the nation depends on just two big fish for supply.

Don’t forget ammunition manufacturers must provide for the military and law enforcement too, which increases demand.

All Of These Combine to Create the Great Ammo Shortage 

All of these factors will contribute to keeping supply running low in 2022. More people will have to wait in line at stores, or just wait in general. You can load your own, but many people don’t have the time or inclination to self-supply, and you still need to buy the materials – and those are in short supply as well. Additional people are hunting and target shooting, which influences some to hoard ammo. This does not bode well for the gun-owning public.

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.