Many readers and acquaintances have deluged me with questions and concerns about the current shortage of firearms and ammunition.  Is it a conspiracy?  Is the government buying up ammo so citizens won’t have any?  What about price gouging?  When will things get better?


Good questions.  Anecdotally, I took a trip to the local Cheaper Than Dirt retail store last weekend and found their display wall as well stocked with black rifles of all kinds as usual.  Their display cases were, perhaps just a little less full than normal, and all of the usual interesting handguns from all the major manufacturers were present.

There was also a relative abundance of ammunition, but I’m comparing the stock to what wasn’t there about a month ago.  They have .223 and 9mm, but not nearly as much as usual, and it’s double or triple the usual price.  Any .380 ACP was scarce–there and everywhere else I’ve looked–whether major chains or local shops.  There was a smattering of .22LR, but it too was expensive and tended to be exotic brands in small quantities.

Lucky, a premier Internet ammo site, has not a single round of 9mm ammunition for sale.

Back to CTD, magazines, particularly such goodies as 30 round P-Mags and standard Glock magazines for the G17 and G19, can’t be found anywhere at the moment.  Handgun prices are pretty much normal, and some rifle prices, particularly black rifles of any description, are elevated, but not obscenely so.

Most other handgun and rifle accessories seemed to be at normal levels in all respects.

What’s happening?  Industry insider Jim Shepherd, writing for major retailer Brownells, has posted an informative and interesting article that is very much worth your time.

In a nutshell, Americans are producing overwhelming and unprecedented demand, and in an attempt to meet that demand, manufacturers are running at or near capacity and more.  They will eventually catch up, but it’s going to take time.  How much time?  That’s hard to tell, but I’d guess that by fall, Americans should see fuller shelves and lower prices.

Here are some factors contributing to demand:

(1) Barack Obama remains the greatest gun salesman in American history.  When he and VP Biden tell people they respect the Second Amendment and don’t intend to take away guns, Americans are weighing in on their credibility and truthfulness by buying guns, ammo and accessories in unprecedented numbers.

(2) Americans also distrust Congress--both parties–in unprecedented numbers.

(3) Americans distrust the Supreme Court in unprecedented numbers.

(4) Whenever any organ of government doesn’t want Americans to have anything, they tend to react by getting as much of it as possible.

(5) Obamanomics is also driving firearm purchases.  Many Americans believe–with good reason–that varying degrees of economic crisis are not only possible, but probable.

(6) A substantial portion of the population understands that financial collapse and the civil unrest that would result is actually possible.  Mr. Obama claiming there is no debt problem (in real terms, we own–and owe–more than $87 trillion) is not helping.

(7) Americans understand that in conditions of financial collapse, firearms would not only be necessary for mere survival, ammunition would probably be as good as gold, even better.

(8) There has been a sea change in American attitudes toward firearms and gun ownership.  The number of first time gun owners, particularly women, is also unprecedented.

It has been a great many years since I was an avid reloader, and I still have the equipment, safely oiled and packed away.  I’m seriously considering taking up the discipline once again, with the addition of an updated, more productive press and a few other helpful goodies.  I’m making this consideration because I have many thousands of rounds of once-fired brass, accumulated over decades, stored away gathering dust.

The problem is that items like powder, primers and bullets are also in great demand by ammunition manufacturers, and other reloaders.  Virtually everywhere, those items are on backorder status, if retailers are accepting back orders at all.  And few, if any, can give any real estimate of when they might be back in stock.

Still, it won’t hurt to be prepared for times when these items will be a bit less rare.  The paradox is that when they’re once again available, prices will be dropping, and so will loaded ammo prices, which reduces the advantage of reloaded ammunition, particularly when one considers the time involved.  Still, I may as well do something with all of that idle brass.

So the best advice I can give is to relax–a bit.  I suspect that absent more or less total financial collapse (isn’t it bizarre and horrifying to realize that the President of the United States–any POTUS–might be actually working for that collapse?), things will improve, and in the not too distant future.  At the moment, firearms are available.  Ammunition and magazines, less so.

Happy hunting!