There has been an ammunition shortage for quite a few years; different calibers at different times. However, we are now seeing shortages in nearly all calibers. So when will the ammunition shortages end and what the heck is really causing it? The bad answer is no one knows when the shortages will end but here are some signs we can look at.
When people stop buying guns at the rate they are buying them.
During 2020 there were 21-Million background checks for firearms sales in the United States, compare that to the old record set in 2016 when 15.7 million background checks were recorded. This increase includes 8.5 million new gun owners, so estimate two boxes of ammo for each of those first-time gun owners, and that’s hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition that manufactures didn’t figure they were going to have to make. We are currently on track to meet or beat those number in 2021. [BTW, we don’t want people to stop buying firearms]
When the supply chains return to normal.
According to Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation “The bottom line is we’re producing more ammunition today than we ever have for hunting and recreational shooting, but the appetite for ammunition is still overwhelming demand”. Companies like Winchester has stated that if they stopped taking orders for .22 LR right now, it would take 2 years to fill all the backorders. So, with the supply chain recovery in some far-off future, coupled with labor shortages we may be waiting years for the lag to catch up.
The US military is buying the 5.56, 7.62, .308, and other small-caliber rounds.
According to a March 5, 2021 Outdoor Life article, military purchases do not have a significant effect on civilian purchases. However, they also stated in the same article “The Army procures DoD small-caliber ammunition requirements from both its LCAAP as well as several commercially owned facilities….The Army’s acquisition strategy is to allow the operating contractor to use excessive capacity at LCAAP to be used for commercial purposes strictly on a non-interference basis. All DoD orders take priority…which allows the Army to maintain a stable and ready workforce and equipment to address a surge in requirements if necessary”.
Government agencies are buying up the ammunition.
According to a 2018 GAO report, the way US Government agencies purchase firearms, ammunition, etc… is a little odd at first glance; the GAO “found that federal agencies’ internal data on these purchases did not always match data that were publicly available on USASpending.gov. For example, ICE told us that it spent 8 times more on firearms than the amount we calculated using data from the website. This was partly because other agencies used ICE contracts to buy firearms but weren’t properly identified in ICE’s website data”. In the same report the GAO stated that “Information that HHS, IRS, and the Transportation Security Administration deemed sensitive has been omitted”. So, I guess we will never know who and how much has been purchased and for what purpose our government is purchasing firearms and ammunition as well as other items.
When the restrictions are lifted on imported ammunition.
Although the US is a small recipient of Russian manufactured ammunition, the State Department sanctions beginning Sept. 7, 2021, will have a negative effect on those that normally use that ammunition. Some would say the number is not significant and only effects certain calibers however, you need to remember the folks that use the Russian manufactured ammunition will now need to tap into an already stressed ammunition supply chain. This nonsensical ban is based on the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, or the CBW Act and in retaliation for over Russia’s use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. This ban that is for a minimum of 12 months will not hurt Russia but will have a cascading effect on US gun owners.
In conclusion, with the continuing erosion of individual liberties, rising violent crime in the streets, and the concerns of a real-world crisis gun ownership rates will continue to go up and so will the demand for ammunition.
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