If You Are Able to Locate Ammunition, BUY IT

By Rob Sexton, NAGA Executive Director

The year 2020 brought an unprecedented surge in firearm purchases across the United States that continues into 2021. The surge was partially driven by concerns about gun control legislation and executive action that could come as a result of the 2020 election. The protests and riots of the late spring and summer of 2020 added fuel to the gun buying spree, as people became increasingly concerned about protecting themselves and bought firearms with self-defense in mind.

These trends were followed by record level interest in firearms training, target shooting, concealed handgun licenses and in hunting gamebirds. Tired of being confined as a result of a year-long pandemic, people have been flocking to shooting facilities.

If all of this sounds like great news for gamebird businesses, it certainly is, except for one thing. All of these factors have produced record demand for ammunition of all sizes and shapes, and it has become increasingly clear over the last three months that the ammunition industry is not able to keep pace with the demand.

Evidence of the shortage is everywhere. Many gun stores are limiting ammo purchases to just two boxes, and some will not sell any ammunition unless the customer buys a gun. Stores know that a new gun buyer will want ammunition to try out their new purchase, and not meeting that need is not an option. As the market has gotten tighter, prices have risen too. Many common shotgun shells are now selling for $10 per box or more than a year ago, and boxes still vanish off of store shelves within just a few hours after being stocked.

Many hunting preserves that have been willing to sell excess target loads and upland game loads to their customers have greatly curtailed that practice this year, worried that they will not have enough ammunition to last their entire hunting season. The concern is a legitimate one.

In response to concerns expressed by NAGA 2nd Vice President Mike Martz, Executive Director Rob Sexton contacted the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) for ideas. NSSF is the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. The news was not good.

“The ammunition shortage is not going away anytime soon,” Sexton reported from his call. “Ammo manufacturers are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week at full capacity, and most of them report that they are contracted with buyers already.”

NAGA plans to cultivate relationships with manufacturers and wholesalers that may be able to meet needs in the future, but that solution will not alleviate the current situation. Bottom line is this: If you are able to locate available ammunition, it would be prudent to buy enough to last at least a year. Some have even recommended keeping an 18-month supply on hand. Even though prices are building to a premium, it’s still better than the possibility of not being able to sell shells to paying customers.