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At This Rate …

… I’m never going to be able to replenish my .22LR supply at a reasonable price. I am honestly not much of an ammo stockpiler. For calibers I reload, I have enough supply to get me through an ammo shortage. But I was negligent on my .22 supply.

I was down to a half case of .22 when the pandemic started. I should have ordered a few cases then. Never again though. When supplies return to normal, I’m gobbling up a case every month or so until I have a deep enough supply to weather shortages.

BTW, in my experience almost no one believes this is a demand driven shortage. Conspiracy theories abound, as well as accusations of price gouging by the manufacturers. Doesn’t take much to clear shelves, folks, and manufacturers are going to be really reluctant to add capacity when they were in a slump recently because they overbuilt during the last ammo panic.

35 Responses to “At This Rate …”

  1. Hank Archer says:

    Went to my ammo supply for .22 a few weeks ago and found I had none! Asked my son about and he mentioned that, yeah, he took a friend shooting last summer and used the last of it.

    Why he didn’t immediately restock remains a mystery. I haven’t been able to find a single round in the entire state of Idaho.

    FWIW – I think the shortage is demand caused.

  2. Andy B. says:

    Oh, for the days when my uncle was a MSgt. in the National Guard and I would get at least one brick for every birthday or other life-event. I wonder how the NG is faring?

    Among reasons my dad started reloading, almost 70 years ago, was that he could remember making it through all the deer seasons of WWII with five rounds of 8 x 57 ammo. That included casting our own rifle bullets. He and one of my other uncles buddied-up on a 12 lb. keg of Red Dot during the Suez Crisis, as it looked like another big war could be coming.

    None of that helps with .22 ammo, of course, though I have read about reloading rimfire ammo in the real old days. I seem to recall that the heads of those old-time wooden matches was involved as priming compound, but I personally wouldn’t try that at home.

    Anyone remember the .22 JGR, a centerfire that was supposed to just duplicate .22 Long Rifle ballistics?

    • Andy B. says:

      On the supply problem: The politicization of everything must be a real problem for manufacturers, because runs on ammo have to mean the average shooter gets all stocked up, then doesn’t need to buy again for awhile. Unless they just keep building bigger and bigger stockpiles. But, I don’t know how many cycles we can go through before the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” phenomenon starts to kick in and panic buying moderates.

      Being naturally (and IMO rationally) a contrarion, I punched up my supplies when Trump got elected and everyone was singing “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’, No Mo'”, and shelves were full again. But, I was already well supplied with ammo I had bought for a song back in the ’90s, from disillusioned survivalists/preppers, and was just filling holes.

      Which suggests a thought: Check in with the families of old shooters who pass away. They may have had stashes their kids will sell off for bargain prices, just to get rid of it. But, I know it’s hard not to feel like a vulture.

      • HSR47 says:

        The reason for that cycle is that, prior to this panic, retailers refused to raise prices.

        Under the “keep prices artificially low” model, people keep buying until they think that they have “enough” and then they stop. When that happens, it snowballs through the entire industry, and then the remaining ammo stocks rot on the shelves. It can take YEARS to get to that point (as it did after the panic that started in late 2012).

        On the other hand, raising retail prices significantly gets people to slow their buying down significantly. That helps give retailers and manufacturers a better idea of what the market actually needs, which lets them more effectively plan for the future.

        Combine that with higher prices allowing retailers to buy at higher prices, which also allows manufacturers to raise prices ahead of expansion to front-load the cost of expansion (so that they can drop prices when demand finally falls).

        Together, these two factors help enure that more stock makes its way to retailers, and that it stays on shelves longer. Together, these help back people out of the panic mindset, and bring us out of the panic faster.

  3. Gerry says:

    Sorry but calling BS on the demand shortage. The local stores don’t have ammo, the chains don’t have ammo and the distributors don’t have ammo.

    I traded a small box of 3 1/2 inch turkey loads for 500 rounds of copper jacket 22 so I could shoot a steel plate match on Sunday. New gun owners sucking up the magnum turkey shells? No not really.

    • Nick says:

      That reads more like an unintended consequence. Ammo company sees massive increase in orders for 2.75 inch buckshot and slugs, allocates more production to meet it. Ammo company decides not to cut skeet/trap/other sporting loads because demand is up there. Ammo company cuts production of hunting loads to near zero, to dedicate its manufacturing to meeting needs above. In the meantime, hunters – educated by the toilet paper shortage – start stocking up, causing stores, and eventually distributors to run out becuase manufacturers are focusing their attention on other products…..

      So no, it’s not new shooter demand for 3.5 inch turkey loads, but it’s still a consequence of new shooter demand….

      • Sebastian says:

        Yep. It’a also the fact that a shortage will feed on itself. My demand for ammo is up because if I see it for a reasonable price, I’ll pick up more than I would have before, since I don’t know when I’ll see it again.

        • Andy B. says:

          Nick’s analogy to the toilet paper shortage is exact. My household continued to buy up toilet paper on sight, long after adequate supplies had returned to shelves.

        • HSR47 says:

          And this is one of the big reasons why prices need to rise at retail: A big part of the supply/demand imbalance is that people are panic-buying because the shelves are bare.

          This sets up a vicious cycle that keeps the shelves perpetually bare (helped along by scalpers, who capitalize on their ability to get ammo at low prices by doing so and then immediately reselling it at a steep markup), which in turn keeps people panicking until the supply expands enough to finally satisfy the panic demand. When that happens, demand evaporates overnight, and then the manufacturers who overextended to produce at that level end up going bankrupt.

          Raising prices at retail reduces hording, prices scalpers out of the market, gives retailers more capital to use to expand their supply, and finally this allows manufacturers to front-load their expansion costs so that they can return to more normal pricing once demand finally stabilizes.

      • Publius says:

        I’ve been guessing pretty much that.

        I haven’t seen .30-30, .38, or .357 on the shelf anywhere in almost a year. But I can usually get 12ga loads (except buckshot can still be hard to find).

        And, you don’t need turkey loads to hunt turkey. Plenty of other stuff works just fine in the #4-#6 sized shot range. Consult your state’s rules to see what’s legal.

        • HappyWarrior6 says:

          Time to “roll your own loads” using a roll of quarters. It’s definitely time.

  4. Richard says:

    There is a supply element to the shortage. The big Remington plant next to I-40 in Arkansas went off line for a while due to their bankruptcy. Supposedly, it is operating again now but there was a lot of lost production while it was closed. But mostly the shortage is demand driven. In our fact free world, you have to believe someone and I am going with the manufacturers. I get the new gun owner issue but for people with experience how many of these shortages have we had in the last couple of decades? Four, I think. Are we capable of learning? Buy it cheap and stack in deep. byw, I had plenty of TP. The epidemic, the riots, and electoral unrest were a pretty good trial run for really bad supply disruption of stuff. I learned some things.

  5. Andy B. says:

    It occurred to me that my WWII hunting ammo shortage stories were all supply-driven. All ammunition manufacturing worldwide was dedicated to military production. It was the same reason there were no new cars to be had between 1942 and 1946.

    Speaking of ammo though: I heard stories of people creating hunting ammo by pulling the bullets from .30-’06 military rounds, and turning them around, with the open bases forward. I heard no reports on their performance.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    A friend of mine in the sporting goods business says that suppliers are putting through retroactive price increases to the retail vendors; as in “those orders you placed that we haven’t filled yet? Price went up – either pay up or cancel the order; we’ve got people who will”

    And apparently the lines to make .22lr ammo are very capital intensive to set up.

    • Richard says:

      The social contract has been broken so why not purchase contracts too.

      • Andy B. says:

        “The social contract has been broken”

        Social contract? Funny, I don’t remember signing one. I only remember being told what I was obligated to do by virtue of where I was born. (“Greetings from the President of the United States. . .”) Obligations that flowed in the other direction were subject to “the convenience of the government.” There always seemed to be fine print in the contract, that I had missed.

        I know Rousseau is generally credited with originating the concept of a “social contract” (extrapolating from Hobbes’s earlier “state of nature”) but the idea sounds like it has a strong undercurrent of Marxist philosophy contained in it. As I recall Marx didn’t criticize the theory, just massaged it into his own classist interpretations.

  7. RAH says:

    I had some old stock But I just check the ammo I use for 22 lr which is low velocity and not available from CCI. I expect that most ammo being made is 223 and 5.56 for the AR style rifles. Gun sales have skyrocketed since last summer of riots and turmoil So I think this is more demand driven and lack of supply

  8. emdfl says:

    A friend of mine who is a professional re-loader – as in he is on the distributor-level for buying components – told me that EVERYTHING is in the unavailable mode currently. No primers, no projectiles, no brass, and no powder.
    Powder is mostly made overseas and imported, lead for projectiles has to come from overseas, brass for primer cups and cases, ditto.
    Some small quantities of all the above are available, but he refuses to pay the asking prices. Example – he found .260 brass for me, but the cost for him from the distributor was $1.50 each and he was very unhappy when he told me.

    • Andy B. says:

      I didn’t spend a lot of time on this issue, but it appears to me something is wrong with this picture.

      Right now and for the past month commodity prices have not reflected any shortage of metals. For example, copper prices (= brass) have not been near their historic high, nor have lead prices been high. Both are forecast to go higher as the pandemic recovery accelerates, and with the passage of an “infrastructure” bill, but in recent history there doesn’t appear to be anything fundamental to reflect itself in an ammo component shortage or high prices.

      Also, shortages of overseas commodities should be reflected in increases in prices and production of domestic sources, and in a very few minutes I could not find evidence of that, though maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

      That’s not saying that your professional reloading friend isn’t experiencing real component shortages, but it is saying that my first quick glance at the excuses for it suggest those excuses may not hold water.

      • HSR47 says:

        It’s likely the result of a few things.

        First, a vertical supply chain issue–That the the supply chain is built around supporting one level of consumer demand, and that there’s only so much that each link in the chain can do to expand production. There will always be a bottleneck, and bottlenecks like that will often result in price spikes for finished goods.

        Second, the component manufacturers, particularly of things like primers, are typically companies that are also manufacturing loaded ammunition, and supplying the reloading market with their surplus. Their prices are naturally going to rise in times like this: They need to account for higher production costs (New employees, overtime, emergency production expansion, etc.), while also discouraging their customers from over-utilizing the limited flow of “surplus” components.

  9. Andy B. says:

    Sorry to change the subject, but. . .

    I’d usually be the last guy to say “I told you so,” but in this case I did, and only a few days ago. I remember saying I hoped to be wrong, but I wasn’t.

    The Trump/Federalist packed SCOTUS has just punted on the Second Amendment again.

    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up three challenges to a federal ban on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, surprising Second Amendment advocates who hoped the court would chip away at the restriction.

    By not taking the appeals, the nation’s highest court let stand a series of lower court rulings that prohibited people convicted of driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun.

    The decisions Monday, which were handed down without explanation, are the latest in a series of instances in which the Supreme Court has skirted Second Amendment questions. The high court last issued major guns rights rulings in 2008 and 2010, cases that struck down handgun restrictions in the District of Columbia and Chicago.

    Kinda makes you wonder what issues those Federalist Society folks really care about, don’t it?

    • Joe says:

      This is why the Democrats are screaming about “Court-Packing”.

      Just as was “The Switch In Time That Saved 9”, the Court Packing Threats by the Stasi-Scum Pig F***ers in the Democrat Party today, are producing the desired results. It’s extorsion outright.

      “Conservative/Republican” Politicians have been nothing short of cowards, minus a few instances, in Post Civil War America.

      • Andy B. says:

        Thanks!

        I had been mistakenly thinking they’ve just been kicking the 2A can down the road for what, 90 years now?, just because it’s always proven useful in the next election — arguably, for all sides.

        I never guessed that the SCOTUS was failing to do what they have the unquestioned power to do, because they too were being extorted. (Hmmm. Consider that a 6-3 Federalist court would have the power to declare an attempt to increase the number of Justices, unconstitutional!)

        But there’s always an excuse that’s traceable to factionalism, isn’t there? At least, an excuse that 2A advocates will believe, and vote about in the next Most-Important-Election-In-Our-Lifetimes.

      • Andy B. says:

        A friend pointed out to me yesterday, that even if the “conservative” Justices were intimidated into inaction on the 2A by threats of court packing, it still means there was an issue they were willing to trade away the 2A for.

        Which is not news to me, because I’ve recognized for years that that could be almost any issue on the “conservative” laundry-list. They just found one more.

      • Andy B. says:

        This is what Volokh Conspiracy (Josh Blackman) has to say on the subject:

        Last month, I expressed some optimism that the Supreme Court would soon grant a Second Amendment case. We know there were four votes to grant a gun case last term. And now, Chief Justice Roberts is no longer the fifth vote. We have Justice Barrett, I thought. Certainly an ostensible 6-3 conservative majority would be enough to grant a gun case. Hope springs eternal.

        Today, the Supreme Court denied review in three Second Amendment cases. Each case involved a non-violent felon who sought the restoration of Second Amendment rights. And these cases were brought by leading Second Amendment attorneys. Holloway v. Garland was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition. Folajtar v. Garland was filed by David Thompson at Cooper & Kirk. And Flick v. Garland was filed by Alan Gura. None of these cases was even relisted. They were denied outright.

        [snip]

        At this point, the only way for the Court to take a case will be for the government to lose in the lower court. Force the Solicitor General to file a cert petition, and let’s ride it out. To be perfectly frank, I would prefer the Court to put Heller out of its misery, and hold the right is limited to the home. . .I don’t even know if I will bother teaching the Second Amendment in future classes. What’s the point? I have to throw my hands up in class and say, “I don’t know, and the Court will not tell us.”

        I remain amused that no one but no one among very astute people will recognize the obvious: No one wants a Second Amendment question settled. It’s too useful for the pols. Of all persuasions.

        • Scott in Phx says:

          Yes, this is why we “won” (as far as that goes) in Heller.

          We got to the SC on a win, DC made the appeal.

          I believe MacDonald was the same way.

          That’s why DC didn’t appeal when they lost Heller II.

          I’m not surprised the justices punted on felons.

          But they have to eventually take a carry case and an “assault weapons” case as there are circuit court splits.

          • HSR47 says:

            It’s also why NY went to such great lengths in it’s efforts to “moot” the NYSRPA v. NYC case.

        • Joe says:

          “I don’t even know if I will bother teaching the Second Amendment in future classes. What’s the point?”.

          Just surrender to the Anti-Gunners. It’s the Conservative Way; Cry, Bitch, Moan, Surrender.

          Mr. Blackman can choke on his dead-weight hide for that matter. F*** him.

          • Andy B. says:

            Sometimes you need to compartmentalize issues.

            The immediate question at hand isn’t Josh Blackman’s virtues, but, why the SCOTUS, even a SCOTUS well-stocked with an alleged “conservative” super-majority, keeps dodging the 2A questions?

            I maintain that it’s because most “conservatives” don’t give a flying fig about the 2A, except as it creates an issue useful to them around election/fundraising time. Blackman dodges that issue completely, while addressing the obvious: That even with the “conservative” super-majority we were exhorted to pray for, they keep kicking the can down the road.

            I’ll buy explanations that are alternative to mine, just don’t tell me the one entity in the United States whose rulings are above question, is being “intimidated” by the Meanies in the Demo Party. I’ve been listening to that crap for sixty-plus years.

            • HSR47 says:

              In fairness, I don’t think that the court is dodging this issue for the politically cynical reasons you suggest.

              I think the issue is just that Roberts has entirely lost his spine–And he hasn’t lost it on our issue specifically, he’s lost it in general. He’s decided that he must pander to the likes of CNN, in order to make believe that the court is not a political entity.

              That’s how they got to the nonsensical “it’s a tax/it’s not a tax” BS from the ACA decision, as well as the idiotic rehashing of Loving v. Virginia that was Obergefel v. Hodges (where they made the same mistake by not depriving the state of the ability to regulate marriage contracts).

              If I’m going to believe a cynical conspiracy theory about why the court keeps screwing things up like this, it’s not that they’re trying to be political: It’s that they’re being blackmailed.

              • Andy B. says:

                “I think the issue is just that Roberts has entirely lost his spine–And he hasn’t lost it on our issue specifically, he’s lost it in general. He’s decided that he must pander to the likes of CNN…”

                But, what power do “they” have over him, such that he would “lose his spine”? It’s not like he has to worry about getting reelected, and he’s old enough that he could take a side-job and still collect full Social Security. Or, is he subject to “peer pressure” for entirely social reasons — which if anything would support my argument that he has no ideological commitment whatsoever, but just happened to fall in with a faction-of-convenience?

                I’m just not going to buy the “lose their spine” argument when it’s applied to the most powerful and above-questioning political organization in the nation. Especially when it’s applied to what is alleged to be the “ideological” majority.

                And tangentially — unless you regard everyone in government, or in the business of manipulating the masses on behalf of government, with an eye so jaundiced it matches a Yellow Cab — I don’t think you really get what you’re dealing with.

          • Andy B. says:

            The Wikipedia article on Josh Blackman is worth checking out:

            Joshua Michael Blackman (born August 13, 1984, in New York City) is an American lawyer and associate professor of law at the South Texas College of Law, where he teaches constitutional law, contracts, and legal theory. He writes about constitutional law, Obamacare, and the intersection of technology and law.

            After attending Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and the Antonin Scalia School of Law (then George Mason University Law School) in Arlington, Virginia, Blackman worked as a law clerk for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania under Judge Kim R. Gibson from 2009 to 2011. He then worked for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit under Judge Danny Julian Boggs from 2011 to 2012.

            Blackman joined the South Texas College of Law as an assistant professor in 2012 and received tenure as an Associate Professor in 2018. Blackman is the founder of the FantasySCOTUS and the author of several books on the constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

            [snip]

            Blackman regularly contributes to amici briefs and commentary for pending cases in federal court.

            Most notably, in 2015, he represented Defense Distributed in their First Amendment challenge to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations ban on 3D printed gun files. Blackman’s case was notable insofar as it was a First Amendment challenge to arms regulations.

            My point being, Blackman has been enough of an insider with the “conservative” power-elite to understand what is going on — and yet he pretends at puzzlement. Puh-leeze. . .

  10. Scott in Phx says:

    Yeah, well that’s my plan too (though I’m better stocked than many) but I’m wondering if this isn’t going to be a much longer period before we return to “normal” than any we’ve seen before.

    I see plenty of guns out there, but no ammo or reloading supplies.

    Wish I had been even more astute about stocking up in 2019.

  11. HSR47 says:

    I’m actually in the best position I’ve ever been in WRT .22lr: I didn’t get into guns until 2010, and I didn’t really get into rimfire until after the panic started in late 2012.

    Back in 2019, I happened to swing through one of my LGS while they were working through selling an estate–I ended up buying 10 bricks of premium subsonic .22LR for about what normal .22lr was going for on a good day at that point. A year or two earlier, I’d bought a case from Tanners when they got it in for a reasonable price. I still have most of both, and at this rate they’ll easily last me several years.

    • Andy B. says:

      One thing we are lucky with is that powder, primers, and even brass all age a lot better than they did in the past.

      Old Story: When I was in my teens I found a brown paper bag on the dump, with several hundred rounds of copper-case .32 RF ammo in it. And, a few rounds of copper-case .22 RF.

      None of the old .22 RF fired at all. But a friend of mine acquired (by shady means) a S&W Model 2 revolver in .32 RF, which we foolishly decided to shoot. (At the time we didn’t appreciate “collectibles”, and also the revolver was less than a century old, so didn’t quite have the aura of “antiquity” yet.) Perhaps half of those old BP rounds didn’t fire at all, and the rest experienced hangfires of up to several seconds — we knew we had to be really careful.

      One oddity in the process was that one of the rounds that didn’t fire (fortunately), on inspection turned out to be too small for the chambers. When I micced it it turned out to be .28 cal., which I have since heard was an exceedingly rare RF caliber.

      We fired that old S&W #2 until finally the hammer spur, which had apparently turned brittle, broke off upon firing. I don’t know what became of the old revolver, but I’ve always felt guilty afterward for contributing to its abuse.

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