Long Term Consequences of Ammo Shortages in .22

Clayton Cramer blogged about the possible impact of a copper mine landslide on ammunition production, and that got me thinking about the extended impacts of today’s continued ammunition shortages.

Working with the Friends of NRA program, I’ve met several local instructors for youth shooting programs. Since most of these folks work with new junior shooters, they always start off with .22. I know at least one local Boy Scout camp shooting instructor who seriously questioned their ability to have any kind of shooting program due to the lack of ammunition. This is a long-term problem, folks. Every opportunity we lose to introduce new shooters to safe firearms handling is an opportunity to lost creating another pro-gun voter in the future. At the very least, it’s the loss of someone who likely won’t become hysterical gun policy debates because they at least have some basic understanding of firearms.

I’ve actually thought about getting back into shooting at Sebastian’s club more this year since I largely haven’t shot anything in a good year or more. But then that goes to the issue of not wanting to use up what ammunition we have knowing that we can’t easily get more of it.

A local gun shop is showing their new shipment of 50,000 rounds 5.56 which is already on sale (normally, they wait and put all ammo on sale on Saturday mornings) and even available for up to 10 boxes purchased at a time. Meanwhile, the few boxes of .22 are limited to one box per customer. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the shock of .22 being the high demand caliber of ammunition.

I am thinking about pestering Sebastian to fix my Crosman this year so I can shoot air gun again. A quick search of places that sell pellets actually show specials to get a free tin (or multiple free tins!) of pellets with a purchase. That’s a very refreshing change to see. (For what it’s worth, any air gun billed as “tactical” makes me laugh.)

25 Responses to “Long Term Consequences of Ammo Shortages in .22”

  1. Countertop says:

    My other, conspiracy theorist, self can’t get over the thought that the DHS buyign spree has more to do with Obama’s desire to use government purchasing power to dramatically raise the cost of ammo and reduce its availability. Much like that Chris Rock program. That’s why I was thrilled to see Sen Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Cong. Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduce legislation to prevent DHS from buying more ammo.

    We will see how it fares (doubtful, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some level of appropriations rider used to stop the purchases). It will also be interesting to see if Napalitano even survives the Boston bombing. She’s a woman, so I bet she does. But only time will tell.

    • Alpheus says:

      There’s another “conspiracy-theorist-ish” (or perhaps it is more properly called “cynical-theorist-ish”) idea that I’ve seen floating around, that the reason why government is purchasing so much ammo is because it’s so fungible: it’s very easy to “shoot” all that ammo, turn around and sell it, pocket the cash for yourself, and repeat. Granted, the officers who “practice” won’t get the skill they “need”, but then, what kind of skill do you expect Department of Education “officers” to need?

      In any case, I’m not thrilled by any of the possibilities as to why government is buying so much ammo right now…

  2. MattCFII says:

    High quality Gas Blowblack airsoft guns are also a good option. Cheap to shoot, can be shot indoors without as many issues as pellet/BB, and can be used for Force on Force training.

  3. Richard says:

    The Austrians in the late 1700’s had a 20 shot repeater air rifle with comparable ballistics to the firearms of the period. It was fragile and took special equipment to reload but was very potent. So much so that the French took to executing soldiers found with one. Lewis and Clark took one across the plains which suitably impressed the tribes.

    I think this would qualify as a tactical air rifle.

  4. JFT says:

    I don’t know how it is in your area, but it seems .17 HMR is almost always on hand here. Even considering I’m in varmint land where everyone has at least one .17 for prairie dogs, etc. It’s one possibility for new shooters. More expensive (OK, a lot), but available. Programs would need rifles, but that can be worked around.

  5. Andy B. says:

    Thinking about the problem of ammunition for Junior programs, that might be a place to swing over to modestly priced air rifles in .22 cal. I don’t follow the sport, but I would think in a pinch it would even be possible to cast or swage your own high-quality pellets, or, use buckshot in the .23″ – .24″ range, maybe with a little sizing.

    (If I’m reinventing a wheel, or I’m way off base, someone let me know.)

  6. Terry says:

    I miss the days when I was but a wee lad growing up in the Northern Pine Woods of the State Of Maine. I remember at the age of 8 years old shooting tin cans with a 22 cal long rifle out behind my house. Not a concern in the world. All of my friends owned rifles and we all knew how to shoot. It was not a big deal.
    What the F happened to this country ?

  7. borekfk says:

    Also because people in Washington care more about feel good legislation and patting themselves on the back with their idiotic beliefs and ideals instead of leaving us alone.

  8. MichaelB says:

    For youth shooters, air rifles are ok to start with, but they aren’t firearms. No bang. No powder. It’s different.

    I’ve halted our 4-h small bore program this year because I can’t find .22. It is already having an impact.

    • Zermoid says:

      I’d say going to .177 cal BB guns for the time being would be better than scraping the program entirely, and BBs can be reused almost indefinitely.

      While it’s “not the same” it is better than nothing.

    • JC_VA says:

      Did you make sure to note that the program was halted because of the efforts to restrict shooting?

  9. Andy B. says:

    Just for historical perspective regarding ammo shortages, I remember my dad’s story about scoring five rounds of 8 x 57 hunting ammo for his sporterized WWI war trophy, in 1941 or 1942, and having to make it do for deer hunting through the rest of the seasons of WWII.

    As a result, I remember him and my uncle stocking up on powder and primers in 1956, because they thought the several crises in the middle east were going to lead to a major war, and ammo would disappear from the civilian market again.

    I also remember more than one “In My Experience” article in the American Rifleman, back in the early ’50s, about people doing loading experiments with only five or a dozen primers, because that was all they had.

  10. Publius says:

    One word: Pellet guns (or was that 2?)

    Point being, there are always ways to teach the fundamentals of shooting.

    Point of fact: I remember when my Scout camp switched from “free” ammo (of course, our parents paid for it with the camping fees) to charging us all of 25 cents for a buncha rounds, maybe 50 or 100. We had single shot .22’s so those lasted for a while. I never tried the shotgun range, but they also started charging a nominal fee, but that was mostly for the clays. That was in the mid-to-late ’90s, so I can only imagine what the score is now…

  11. Jim says:

    .22 is in short supply for many reasons:
    1)It’s non-reloadable.
    2)It was fairly cheap to buy.
    3)It’s easy to carry alot of rounds.
    4)Will be great trading stock when the SHTF, and it will eventually.
    5).22lr empty cases can be swaged into .223 bullets for reloading.
    6)Nobody with a brain still intact trusts the government.

    • Zermoid says:

      And I think #2 might be the biggest reason.
      EVERYONE who has guns has a 22, and even if they can’t afford a case of CF ammo, they probably Can afford a case (or at least a couple bricks) of 22LR.

      I have to admit I didn’t see this coming tho, or I wouldn’t have let my kid burn thru my 5K+ round stash of 22LR last year……
      Got less than 1000 rnds now….
      I stocked up on reloading supplies in “09 but never thought I’d see 22 dry up……

  12. johninlv says:

    I just sent this Contact message to my two US Senators – Reid and Heller:
    Senator, please support the efforts of Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) who are trying to get credible answers from DHS on why that agency is buying or is planning on buying billions of rounds of ammunition.
    I can only think of two reasons for DHS actions:
    1) They are preparing to wage war on the American public when President Obama issues a gun confiscation Executive Order.
    2) DHS is engaged in a form of gun control – keeping law-abiding citizens from being able to purchase ammo.
    This is a serious matter, Senator, so hopefully you will look under the covers to find the truth.
    Thank you –

  13. Heather from AK says:

    The lack of .22 is significantly impacting Appleseed programs in my neck of the woods.

  14. Glen says:

    While ammo shortages are causing real and lasting problems, it is very unlikely that the fortunes of an individual Kennecott mine or a government conspiracy are at the root.

    The truth is that copper prices are falling. And, as Mark Keefe has noted, buyer behavior can dramatically affect the demand/supply equilibrium.

  15. Whetherman says:

    Could we be in a sort of economic bubble where the manufacturers have discovered that, at least for now, they can make higher profits by selling LESS ammo and components than before, at ever increasing prices? And that we’ll snap up everything they make, for practically whatever they are asking? (Remember the self-fulfilling report of a toilet paper shortage, some years back?)

    I don’t know the sales statistics, but even if they are making and selling MORE than ever, they could still be holding back, on the theory that if you can make the same money in a widget shortage by selling ten widgets, than you could by meeting the demand for fifteen widgets, why bust your hump making fifteen widgets? At least, until someone enters real market competition and breaks the cycle.

  16. Ratkiller says:

    Got an enormous ground hog to kill (I’ve killed hundreds of them with the .22 rifle) because she’s living under a shed only 5 feet from the garden I worked so hard to prepare. And I couldn’t buy ammo for it today. Had maybe 100 rounds, but can’t find them. I don’t want to blast with the 12 gauge because of possible damage to the shed and plants. The thing is an old, heavy, blunderbuss and I don’t like using it for anything. An old bird gun. I like to use Winchester .22 copper-plated hollow points for this application. And it really perturbs me that the ammunition pigs hoarded the supply. These things are caused by supply and demand. If it’s legal to market, the market will eventually provide and adapt no matter how much the government may or may not be buying. Government sources cannot ‘corner the market’ on anything but stupidity. The hoarders got paranoid about Obama and bought the entire store. Freaking jerks.

  17. Fleendar the wise says:

    Words of advice. Get to know your ammo seller’s truck delivery days and times. Then, get there EARLY. Early, as in, before 5 AM. I just bought 2,000 HP .22 cal rnds this morning and 2,000 3 weeks ago,