a growing shortage of .22LR ammo. One of the most popular and common, and cheapest -calibers of ammo for hunters and target shooters alike, CNN reports that .22LR ammo is in short supply these days. Interviewing one supplier, CNN reported that while as recently as two years ago it was easy to buy .22LR ammunition as much as you needed... now they're putting restrictions on how much you can get and how you get that ammo.
This is a issue for ammunition retailers such as Target Sports USA-- and for gun owners as well. Statistically speaking, 24%-45% of Americans own guns either for self-defense or sporting purposes. But getting the ammo to load into those guns is becoming a bit of a hassle.
Over the past five years, .22LR ammo has more than tripled in price. Historically, .22LR ammo was obtainable for about $0.05 a round. And yes, some retailers are still advertising it for that price however - placing a policy limiting customers to buying no more than three boxes of ammo per person, per day. So getting a deal on 22LR ammo is a lot harder then what it seems.
Meanwhile, online, bargain-basement website TargetSportsUSA.com shows that the more usual price for 22 ammo today is $0.08 a round -- or even $0.10, $0.11, or $0.12! For that matter, even the $0.12-a-round price may be an illusion. Popular online ammo website Target Sports USA.com advertises four varieties of .22LR rifle ammunition for sale at the $0.12 price point
Where is all 22LR ammo?
Same stories can be heard from owners of guns of all shapes and sizes -- not just .22LR ammo. To cite just one example, after skyrocketing in price through the end of 2013, 7.62x39mm Ammo are now entirely unavailable on Target Sports USA. All you can get today is cheap Russian Wolf ammo ... that costs $230 for a box of 1000 rounds.
Why is this?
NSSF, public affairs director Mike B. notes that there are a lot of stories about the ammunition shortage, with some people even blaming the U.S. government for buying up all the ammo. But according to Bazinet, that's simply not the case. In fact, government purchases have gone down over last three years.
Earlier this year, NRA, helped to debunk the government conspiracy for America's .22LR ammo shortage. Laying out the facts and figures in a multi-page spread in American Rifleman, the official journal of the NRA," the NRA described how:
- The dollar value of ammunition sales in America doubled between 2007 and 2012. Highlighting the obvious, the NRA noted that sales really "started to climb fast as gun sales began surging" in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election.
- ATK subsidiary Federal Cartridge Company attributes ammo shortages to "high demand for our products," and said flat out that the biggest increases in ammunition purchases are coming from "the civilian market." (This means you).
- Olin Corp's Winchester Ammunition agrees it is "that experiencing an extremely high demand."
- And privately held Freedom Group, which manufactures Remington cartridges, says "it's clear to us that any lack of supply in the marketplace has been from consumer demand."
And then there was the interview with privately held Hornady Ammunition. President Steve Hornady explained to the NRA, People walk into the store, they don't see as much as they want so they take everything they can get. The next guy who comes in can't get anything, so he panics.
Panic and prudent price-comparison habits rarely go hand-in-hand, of course. This results in higher prices for ammunition.
Time for some good news
Now that we know the origin of the .22LR ammo shortage, it's time for some good news. Recent earnings reports at both Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger show a marked deceleration in demand for guns, with sales falling nearly 5% year over year at S&W, and down more than 14% at Ruger.
Earlier this year, Cabela's CEO Thomas Millner noted that he's seen a "significant deceleration in ammunition sales" at his stores. And website TargetSportsUSA.com goes so far as to say the ammunition shortage "may be ending," as manufacturers crank up production, wholesalers restock, and supplies begin filtering down to the retail level. With any luck, this will eventually result in fully stocked shelves at gun stores, assuaging consumers' panic-fueled urge to hoard ammunition -- and putting the .22LR ammo shortage to bed once and for all.