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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

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

Ammo Shortage
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.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Nqthan

    January 13, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Personally I haven’t seen too much shortage recently but then I only use 9mm 5.56 and 308 and usually buy in bulk I’m guessing the frustration comes from hunters who want 20 rounds or a non military caliber but then again that’s why I bought a 308 hunting rifle

  2. Mike11C

    January 13, 2022 at 8:21 am

    I’ve seen ammo on the shelves but, the prices have inflated somewhat. It’s primers that are hard to find. I did find some at a fun show a few weeks ago but, the guy wanted $150 for a brick of 1,000. I’m not paying that for something that should cost just under $40. I say, let the price gouges sit on their stock until production catches up. Then prices will go back to normal.

  3. Vetmike

    January 13, 2022 at 9:11 am

    I must respectfully disagree. An associate works for a large ammunition manufacturer and his company has been working overtime producing ammunition. Yet, finding ammunition here is a rare thing. Where exactly is it going? Military usage should be way down. Police are probably not using much more than two or three years ago. Increased gun sales cannot account for it unless every purchaser is buying a crate with every gun purchase.

  4. Divia

    January 13, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Unfortunately due to demand and people accepting the prices and adopting a “buy it if its available” attitude, I don’t think prices are going to come down for a couple of years.

  5. LazarusRedDog

    January 13, 2022 at 9:24 am

    The perfect ammo storm: 2 manufacturers have monopolized control the production/shipment of primers (1 item needed for every round). They can get more money per primer that is loaded into live round than selling a box of them to hand-loaders. Suppliers limit sales of 1 or 2 boxes per customer, then add on $25 Hazmat fees in addition to regular shipping fees -meaning $40 for 1000 primers in 2018, now sells for $140 delivered by truck (no air shipments for Haz materials & no truck drivers to deliver them).
    Then Biden imposes foreign made ammo ban – which could have supplemented supplies coming out of Russia/Israel/Mexico.
    You cannot get primers from Canada due to transporting explosives across the border. Not available from New Zealand due to shipping container unloading back-ups.Independent businesses can’t start production of primers due to lack of workers getting paid more to stay home w/Covid welfare checks.

  6. Mark Belk

    January 13, 2022 at 9:30 am

    You should have bought years ago but since you didn’t, bite the bullet and buy as much as you can now. It is probably as low as it will get.
    Cash in your savings and retirement and buy ammo in bulk, inflation is killing cash and savings but ammo is the inflation proof retirement package.

  7. Rocky

    January 13, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Personally I would not bet my life on a 300 win mag in big Grizzly country but you do you. People are not shooting the ammo they can find because they can’t replace it. It just an educated guess but I doubt people are using 30.06 ammo for home defense and if they are they should really re-think their plan. This shortage is as contrived as the whole Biden administration. Keep telling us lies and hope we keep believing them.

  8. Gold River

    January 13, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Americans have an over abundant supply of ammo as we are sitting on over ten trillion rounds of ammo in private hands.

    Yes there are new gun owners who have not bought enough to hunt let alone hold in reserve but those will learn to buy when they can and sit on it for hunting and protection.

  9. Doyle

    January 13, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    Quite frankly except for some specialized calibers there is no shortage. The shortage is cheap ammunition, sorry but those days are gone get over it. If you insist there is a shortage here’s a clue how to fix it, buy a computer, connect to the internet and buy buy buy. Once again it won’t be cheap but it’s there.

  10. Bennett

    January 13, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    I only have handguns and I stick with 9mm and 38 special. The prices, especially for 38’s, have gone up. Still those calibers can be found. I would recommend to new gun owners to stick with traditional, plentiful calibers for now. If you’re looking for anything non-standard, prices and availability will be a problem.

  11. Kris

    January 13, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    This entire article and narrative completely falls apart the second you begin interviewing stores that sell ammunition. From Mom and Pop’s to big stores like Cabela’s, ammunition deliveries have gone from once or twice a week (some places more) to once a month. Additionally the size of the deliveries has been more than cut in half. This means that the ammunition isn’t going to stores, or local law enforcement, or the military, it’s going to Federal Law Enforcement agencies….and if this isn’t the case, where is all of this ammunition going?
    I can’t believe this journalist has a PhD. Just talk with the store owners. You’re a bad journalist dude, or your intentionally parroting BS, which makes you a propagandist.

    Manufacturer deliveries to stores are down ~88%. Which makes every word in this article a lie.

  12. Kris

    January 13, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    This stupid article even stated “More Hunters More Demand” then wrote how the numbers of hunters are down. Dude, this entire article is crap. It must be good to come from money so you can take gigs that pay $39k a year in places like LA or NYC and somehow you can afford to eat out every night.

    You’re bad at your job and kickoff daddy’s money.

  13. Byron A Fanger

    January 13, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    Nothing about the current administration banning ammo import from Russia? Maybe this is not a huge impact as it is fairly new, but Russian ammo has been what I see on the shelf the most and soon that too will be gone.

  14. Geodkyt

    January 13, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Don’t forget Biden banning 30-40% of the ammo sold in America (in the most popular calibers) with the stroke of a pen a few months ago.

    Yeah, Russian imports were THAT much of the US ammo market.

  15. Shawn

    January 13, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    I agree with Kris typical journalist”reporting” with out doing any research and expecting us to believe what they say more worried about getting follower’s or likes than the Truth.

  16. Ja A Hymer

    January 13, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    Terrible article. Very little by way of research. Relying solely on 30 minutes spent on Google.

  17. J R

    January 13, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Sounds like the perfect opportunity for an entrepreneur to open a business. The demand is there and will continue to grow if politicians remain hell bent on destroying our Country and the Criminal Justice System.

  18. DubTeeEff

    January 13, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    You must really not have anything to write about. I can go on 25 different sides right now and buy ammo no problem. It’s stupid articles like these to drive the prices up and have people rushed by ammo that is pretty much always there right now. There was a shortage there has not been for a minute. And the steel case shortage is also BS as all it band was new contracts for two years so the existing ones that continuously put out ammo currently, because they can, were not banned and will probably be able to renew it in less than two years now. If they can’t then that is a problem, but right now Tula and Wolf are shipping plenty into the US making a shit ton of money off of shitty steel ammo.

  19. JoEye

    January 14, 2022 at 6:37 am

    The intense militarization of local, state and federal law enforcement offices is stressing the supply more than anything else. This has been going on for at least a decade and then this “pandemic” strains the supply further

  20. Robert Adams

    January 14, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    ALL AMERICAN MANUFACTURING is in trouble.Time to stop listening to the anti American bureaucratic dictatorship. The CCP will continue to build coal fired power plants while America suffers the restrictions forced upon us by our own”leadership”.

  21. Donnie

    January 25, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Your statement about the military relying on the civilians ammo market as to a reason why there is a ammunition shortage is misguided at least. The government owns their own ammunition production complex and Independence Missouri since the 80s and they contract the workers there through government contracts and produce all of their own small Arms ammunition there and have for a very long time nearly 50 years. That untrue in the sense of the military being the cause or even part of it because the military hasn’t relied on civilian markets like I said, since the eighties. However, law enforcement across America, as well as executive branch organizations like the FBI, DOJ,NSA,DHS, as well as other Federal and law enforcement organizations do on the other hand rely on civilian markets. They are all of them together a small part of the problem one of the problems or main problems is the production of priming compound which can only be made in small batches and we’re talking like 1 lb to 10 lb batches because it is so volatile. Another reason is the cost of the raw materials to make brass as well as lead has gone up dramatically… And by those raw materials I mean copper and zinc, which one alloyed together is how you make grass just for anyone that didn’t know. Also the price of lead has gone up quite a bit too. All of which we mostly get from China who if you haven’t noticed lately we’ve been having some problems with… Consequently we only have one lead smelting facility left in the country and they melt down all the way they get from old car batteries to make lead sheets for new car batteries. Which is a major contributor to not only a shortage but the increased price in ammunition, coupled with the pandemic, the recent huge spike in crime, Democrat president is acting more like a fascist dictator that wants to ban guns, and tons of first time gun owners all seeking ammo to practice with and use as SD ammo

  22. Daniel Boyd

    April 2, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Vista Outdoors has created the “perfect” situation for themselves over the last couple of years and the final piece to the puzzle was buying Remington. They now control 75% of the domestic primer market therefore they will control domestic ammunition and prices in the future. I read an article recently where the “powers to be” at Vista commented that they never want to be in the past situations where ammo is at a high demand then swings to a low demand which kills them financially. They can now control highs and low swings with “primers” and watch them stick it to the consumer for record profits which like any corporation is the “end game”. With our present “administration” sanctioning foreign imports related to ammo and guns and being here for well over 2 more years Vista had plenty of time to neuter and/or put the competition out of business. Get use to a “new norm” of continuous price increases going forward. Then add the world market demand of minerals needed to make components. I’m so glad I reload and have bought and stockpiled ammo for the last 15 years.

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