The Great Ammo Shortage Isn’t Over Just Yet – Across the United States, visitors to their local gun shop may have been greeted by an unfamiliar sight: shelves with boxes of ammunition. It had seemed that the “great ammunition shortage,” which began during in the summer and early fall of 2020 following a massive uptick in gun sales, was over and that supply could again meet demand.
Online retailer Ammo.com announced earlier this month that it had recorded a recent surge in consumer demand for small arms ammunition, and further found that the onset of which perfectly coincided with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022.
“We noted a similar surge in demand for ammunition during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alex Horsman, marketing manager for Ammo.com. “As neoconservatives and the mainstream media both began calling for American intervention in the Russian invasion, wary firearm enthusiasts sensed that the products they need to enjoy their favorite hobby could soon become scarce.”
Ammo Sales: What States Are Buying?
Texas, Florida and Washington were the states that saw the highest increase in orders of ammunition. Among the top 10 states to see the highest uptick in orders, in eight of the states, the 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge was the top seller, followed by the 5.56x45mm round, which is used in many modern sporting rifles.
In Michigan, which was number seven on the Ammo.com list; and number nine North Carolina, the 5.56 cartridge edged out 9mm.
Other now “in-demand” cartridges include .223, 7.62x39mm and .357 Magnum as well as 12 gauge shotgun shells.
Ammo Shortage: Local Shops Feel the Pain Too
Gun shops are now again reporting a harder time keeping their shelves stocked – and some never were fully back to pre-pandemic levels.
“In the economy, you have fridges that are hard to get, you have sofas that are hard to get, you have cars, computer chips, there are a lot of things that are hard to get, firearms and ammunition are no different,” Joshua Davis, the owner of Louisiana Firearms in Baton Rouge, told local news outlet WAFB.com.
The global supply chain bottleneck has continued to be an issue, and even as ammunition production has ramped up, the demand simply remains too strong.
“It’s hard to get raw materials. It’s hard to get raw materials to a factory. It’s hard to forage those materials to make whatever you’re trying to make,” Davis added.
The story is the same for Ben Anderson of Diamondback Shooting Sports in Tucson, Arizona. He told KGUN.com that high demand has remained an issue as gun sales have remained strong. Yet, instead of the “first-time buyers,” it is now those buying a second or third firearm – but the results are the same.
“A lot of times now where we had the big rush of first-time gun owners during the COVID times, and now what we’re seeing is those individuals that purchased a pistol or a rifle or a shotgun are now coming back in for that alternate firearm,” Anderson said. “So if they purchased a pistol, they’re here for a shotgun, if they purchased a rifle, they’re here for a pistol etc.”
Ammo Shortage: Thank You, Mr. Putin?
President Joe Biden has been labeled the best salesman the firearms industry could hope for, and now Russian President Vladimir Putin could be to blame for the renewed surge in ammunition sales.
“Many Americans predict that a war effort would significantly limit the amount of ammunition available to consumers. Others fear that the Biden administration, via executive fiat, will somehow limit private sales of ammunition under the pretext that those products must be shipped overseas in support of the Ukrainian resistance,” explained Ammo.com’s Horsman.
“After all, who knew the CDC could unilaterally put a nationwide moratorium on evictions for almost a year and a half before the pandemic? The Biden administration has demonstrated an eagerness to chip away at the Second Amendment when and where it can, and many Americans anticipate that a ‘temporary’ ban on ammunition sales would be anything but,” Horsman continued. “Whether the recent spike in demand for ammunition reflects Americans’ apprehensions about potential scarcity, their mistrust of those in power not to use a crisis to advance their own political aims, or a combination of both, the outcome is the same: American gun owners want to stock up on ammo while they can.”
New DoD Contract
Though American shooters may face ammunition shortages throughout 2022, and likely beyond, the Department of Defense awarded a nearly $16.4 million firm-fixed-price contract on Thursday to McKinsey & Co. Inc., Washington, D.C. to develop a model to evaluate the bottlenecks and capacities of the ammunition industrial base, assess outside the continental U.S. ammunition supply chain dependency and risk, and to develop financial assessments of government-owned, contractor-operated facilities.
Bids were solicited via the Internet with only one received, the DoD’s contracting listing reported.
“Work will be performed in Washington, D.C., with an estimated completion date of March 15, 2024. Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation, Army funds in the amount of $16,397,621 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Newark, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (W15QKN-22-C-0038),” the DoD added.
Clearly, the Pentagon wants to ensure that the supply chain bottlenecks won’t affect the nation’s warfighters.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.