Ammunition Shortage – Causes and Cures
The ammunition shortage and panic buying has driven up the cost of even cheap ammo like these .22 caliber long rifle rounds.
If you haven’t noticed, there is an ammunition shortage. The shelves are bare or nearly so at many retail outlets, and I’m hearing of people at gun shows purchasing ammunition at unheard of prices. For example, a “brick” of .22 long rifle ammunition (500 rounds) should sell for about $20, yet some buyers were paying $75. That’s ridiculous, as .22 ammo is like popcorn, it ought to be just a few cents a shot.
The shortage of ammo is due to several causes. Let’s look at those, and then let’s explore a few solutions that the self-reliant individual might appreciate.
The triggering event was the Sandy Hook School shooting. It was certainly a tragic episode in America that no one can ignore. And, as expected, there was more call for gun control. That helped create the following knee-jerk reactions:
- At least one large retailer decided to stop selling firearms and ammunition. An act apparently intended to distance themselves from anything having to do with firearms.
- Many firearms owners (and wanna-be owners) stocked up on firearms and ammunition in expectation of not being able to get either product. We’ve seen this over-reaction before and we’re likely to see this again and again.
As a result of an increase in demand, manufacturers have been unable to keep up, and that has simply caused more unavailability which has fueled greater demand and higher prices.
This phenomenon has been seen before. If you look back in recent history, you’ll find that when the Mazda Miata sports car first came out, there was great demand for the vehicle. It was very stylish and had great appeal. It was not uncommon (at least in California) for purchasers to pay higher than retail price for the vehicle just so they could own one. I think it was crazy, but then some folks in California will do unusual things, perhaps just to amuse the rest of us.
The higher prices have yet to quell the increase in demand, but they eventually will, and that will reestablish adequate supply. That’s basic free market economics in action.
The solutions to this situation broadly apply to many other areas in our lives. Like most other situations, it’s prevention that’s most effective, not a good response or a wild reaction. So, let’s look at prevention first and then what one might do in response to the exorbitant cost of ammunition.
On the preventive side of things, I’d suggest the following:
- Like they say, “plan ahead.” Shine up your crystal ball and try to see into the future. Stock up on things that are essential, items you’ll make good use of, and resources that will increase in value. As an example, I invested in reusable lids and gaskets for canning jars. I think never having to pay for those things again will be a money saver, and now I can can my own food without recurring costs associated with one-time-use metal lids.
- Recognize the economy of bulk purchases. As Joan suggested, get your emergency supplies now or inflation will eat your lunch. This is especially good advice for items, materials and resources that have a very long shelf life. I’ve had the opportunity to fire ammunition from the 1960s and it worked perfectly well. There is little reason why serious shooters shouldn’t have a good stock of ammo for their firearms. It will keep.
In terms of a response to the situation, I’d suggest:
- Create marketplace alternatives to ammunition. This might include buying ammo from private parties who would sell for less. It also includes reloading your own ammunition. If you reload your own shells, you can expect to pay about half the price of factory produced ammunition. As the prices increase, expect an even greater savings.
- Determine if there is something that you might use instead of a firearm. For small game and varmints, perhaps a pellet gun, bow and arrow, or even a trap might serve your purposes. If you simply enjoy target practice, you might find a slingshot or bow and arrow to be just as satisfying.
My general suggestion is not to panic. At $1 per round for some rifle ammunition, I’m very willing to let people with more money than brains buy up all of the ammunition they can.
After everyone gets finished jerking their knees, availability will go up and prices will go down. In the meantime, start thinking about how the lessons from this episode can be applied to other areas of your life that are at least as important have having ammunition.
My suggestion is to start thinking about water, seeds, tools, fuel, shelter, medication, small animals for the homestead, and whatever it is that you believe is essential for a secure and comfortable life, regardless of what marketplace perturbations you might see coming down the pike.
When all of this firearm and ammunition madness started, Clair Schwan checked his supplies and concluded that he had plenty of what he needed. Instead of heading off to stock up on things related to firearms, he decided it was best to relax and write this post instead.