2020 Ammo Shortage

The date today is Aug 9, 2020.  We are in the midst of a critical nationwide ammo shortage, and industry insiders predict it will last 6-12 months.  To the extent that you can find ammo (availability varies by caliber), prices are at least double what they were last January.

The reasons are complex, but involve a perfect storm of circumstances: a pandemic leading to civil unrest and uncertainty about the future, and then race riots (hijacked by Communists) in places like Portland, Seattle, New York, and other cities.  There are millions of new gun owners now, and hoarding of ammo.   Besides the insane demand from the public, manufacturers have long-standing contracts from Federal, State, and local law enforcement, plus the U.S. military.  The major manufacturers (Federal, Speer, Magtech, Hornady, CCI, Remington, and others) are already running 3 shifts, and making ammo around the clock.  They can’t increase production.  The smaller companies (Freedom, Defender, Black Hills, etc.) can increase, but that would still be a drop in the bucket.

What to do?  It is still possible to get ammo, but it will take time, patience, and money.  The time is past for you to stop by Cabela’s or Walmart and grab a few boxes of ammo.  It will likely be a year before that comes back.  Here are some suggestions:

  1.  Go to a gun show.  Those are starting up again, and there will likely be some vendors there with ammo, although there may be quantity restrictions.
  2.  Go to a gun range.  They buy ammo in large quantity, as they cannot operate without it.  They will not sell it out the door; you have to be using their range to shoot.  Check in, and buy whatever amount they will sell you, probably 1-2 boxes.  It will cost you whatever it costs to shoot there, plus the ammo.  If you have a membership where you can shoot for free, there is no overhead, and you usually get a discount on the ammo.
  3.  Use these websites:  ammoseek.com and ammobuy.com.  These are search engines for ammo, and display the current inventory of about 75 online retailers.  They are updated several times each day.  That is the best way to get ammo (but expensive), but you may have to check them for several days to find a price you can live with, and it will often take 3-10 days to get it. 

At this time, you can’t be too choosy about brand names; take what you can get.  Right now, the best prices are on Russian ammo (Tula, Wolf, Barnaul).  Lesser-grade ammo is not dangerous, it just may not be as accurate, and may include a dud now and then.  It is what it is.

In terms of calibers, it appears that .380 ACP is completely gone, except at unbelievable prices.  All other calibers appear to be available, at inflated prices.  The most popular ammo in the world, 9mm, is in short supply, but because they make so much of it, it is being restocked, but at very high prices.  It will get higher before it gets lower, so you should buy as much as you can afford, ASAP.  Besides range ammo, don’t forget some hollow point.