From new gun owners to long time gun owners, we are all experiencing the struggle of
finding ammunition in 2021. Every day, we are asked “when will ammo become
available again and when will the prices return to normal?” The easy and academic
answer is to refer to the supply and demand curve. However, that does not mean much
to the consumer. The team at Range Time is here to help shed some light on the ammo
shortage in 2021.
In 2020 there were 39,695,315 background checks submitted to the FBI for the purpose
of purchasing a firearm. Each one of those checks can be representative of one or more
firearms being purchased. Also, states like Arizona do not require additional background
checks for those CCW permit holders to purchase a firearm since they have already
undergone a background check for their permit. So the true number of firearms sold in
2020 is well over 40 million. This is more than a 39% increase from 2019. With that in
mind, imagine if everyone purchased 100 rounds for every gun they purchased in 2020.
That is over 4 billion rounds!
The reality that we saw is that many people were buying ammo by the thousands
because of the unstable political climate and civil unrest that we had last year. And on
top of that, add the fact that all of the people who owned guns prior to 2020 were simply
up on ammo and BAM! You have an exponential growth in demand for ammunition. To
make the situation worse, because of the COVID pandemic, there were many factories
that were shut down or running skeleton crews for portions of the year. A reduced
output on top of an increased demand was not helping the ammo situation.
What About The Price Of Ammo?
In the last 12 months, we have seen anywhere from a 3-4x increase in the price of
ammo. This is due to the high demand of a product that there is a limited supply of. At
the end of last year, we saw Vista Outdoors, (which owns Federal, CCI, Speer, Blazer,
and Remington), announce that they were increasing the price of their products from 5-
15% across their ammunition lines. This 5-15% at the manufacturer level will likely
mean a price increase to the consumer that is much more.
The prices of ammo as of January 2021 have skyrocketed, but how long will the prices
stay this high? The real answer is no one knows. The political climate in a highly
regulated industry will have a significant effect on the longevity of the crisis. At some
point the prices will start to come down, but it is unlikely we will see them return to pre-
2020 prices for many years to come, if they ever do. Increasing material costs,
increasing labor costs, increasing taxes, and increasing regulations does not lay the
groundwork for lower ammo prices.
Why Don’t They Just Make More Ammo?
This is a multifaceted problem.
● First, there is a limitation on the raw materials needed to make ammo.
● Second, the cost of starting a new mass production ammo line requires an
enormous amount of capital, plus staffing the plant, and organizing a distribution
chain. Ammo companies learned their lesson after Sandy Hook when they
opened new production lines to meet the demand, and then the demand dropped
off. Companies were left with an enormous amount of capital tied up in these, no
longer needed, plants.
● Third, it takes time to build an ammunition factory and get the machines required
to make bulk ammo and this doesn't happen overnight as much as we all wish it
What Should We Do In The Meantime?
Don’t hoard ammo, that is the compounding effect that we are all experiencing right
now. Every time someone goes out and buys 10,000 rounds of ammo for every caliber
they have, it has a ripple effect. Decide what you realistically need for practice, defense,
or the apocalypse and stick to that plan. The reality is having thousands of rounds
stored up for the end of the world is fairly useless. Find other methods of practice such
as dry fire or shooting simulators like the ones at Range Time in Phoenix, AZ. Be
deliberate in your practice. Gone are the days of shooting hundreds of rounds just for
fun when you are at the gun range. Go to the range with the intent to practice a specific
skill that you need to work on. Or seek professional firearm training. This will be the best
investment you can make as a gun owner. Being able to have a professional help you
become proficient at shooting can prevent you from wasting ammo trying to teach
Train For The Unknown,