Since I last posted on ammunition shortages, I have gone through the process of turning a 30 year long hobby of reloading fairly seriously to a business whereby I manufacture custom handloaded ammunition in significant quantities. After the first 100,000 bullets you make, the rest are more of the same and you get quite good at it. I have had a meeting of the minds with the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), a serious discussion with the State Department (the US State Department) for an Export Permit, long hours talking to my local Fire marshal, discussions with the State of Wyoming Sales Tax Division and last but certainly not least my new insurance company. I think that one was my 14th FBI background check.
For years, I have been around professional shooters, was a police officer, have carried a concealed weapons since 1993 continuously and as far back as 1989 as a police officer. I’ve shot over a million rounds down range and only had one hit me coming back (right eye). In other words, I’m a gun guy with some experience in the ammunition business now having established working relationships with 4 major bullet companies, several major middle men in the industry and several gun distributors with warehouses the size of K-mart. In other words, I’ve been educated. I have ammunition for sale across the state of Wyoming currently under the name of Extremunition™. I produce 35 different cartridges with 2 to 8 variations on those themes.
This being said, the point of this blog is to update you as to the condition of the ammo supply, gun industry and some insider thoughts regarding future supplies and concerns. It is my hope to fully communicate what I have learned since my first blog on this subject.
As I type this in mid-February 2011, the state of the gun business is fairly strong. Sales of semi-automatic pistols and long guns that look like military weapons but in semi-automatic mode are strong. High end collectible gun sales are strong at auction. Ammunition sales are brisk in warm parts of the country but slower where winter has reduced the opportunity to shoot and thus consumption is down. This is why all the industry trade shows are held in the winter months, it is slow season. Hunting season is over and most stores that are in good financial shape are/were strong buyers of the calibers that are available to them. Some calibers are produced seasonally depending on availability of various components (usually the brass) such as .41 magnum and others. In other words, most stores have most cartridges for sale at the moment.
A little history to get us to this point in time though. With the election of Barack Obama, (voted gun salesman of the year), the year of 2009 was a HUGE gun sale year pulling ammunition sales along with the gun sales. There were major shortages of most common calibers going against the conventional wisdom of “buy the common calibers, you’ll always be able to get ammo for it”. Last year, if you could find ANY .380 ACP, you were pretty lucky. Production caught up with demand mid-summer 2010.
Some interesting points, the instant background check system showed significant increases in normal sales volume from previous years as does the data from 2010. In otherwords, gun sales have been brisk through all of last year. However, around the first of the year some weakness in sales have occurred with some wholesale prices being reduced from suppliers for firearms. I don’t believe that this will carry through to ammunition prices however since the price of components has gone up along with and corresponding to commodity price increases of copper/lead and brass.
As announced within the industry, bullet component price increases at the first of the year will be felt on the shelves this summer. This will occur with or without additional costs by the price increases by UPS and other transportation which is a significant factor. I today paid $345.00 to ship about 50K bullets from Utah to here in Wyoming via truck freight and I had to go pick them up at a distant terminal for additional cost and time. These bullets were 100 percent copper bullets and very high end but if you don’t think that copper going high on the markets effect bullet prices, you would be wrong. If a lead ban goes into effect across the country like the EPA was trying last year, it will REALLY make the cost of shooting go up. Those companies using lots of lead in their products would be hit terribly but those focusing on copper only bullets would have a field day (no pun intended).
Calibers to buy if you don’t own a gun:
Shortages last year were worst for the following calibers. .22 LR, .223, .308. .32ACP, .380ACP, 9mm, .38 special, .357 magnum. The military calibers were almost unobtainable. The most common calibers there were always boxes on the shelf. .357 Sig, .40S+W and the really big pistol calibers were usually available along with most hunting calibers. Shotgun ammo was never observed by me to be in short supply and is a very good choice for self-defense. Remember the old wisdom of: “your pistol is used to fight your way back to the rifle you never should have put down”.
The “Perfect Storm”.
OK, Lets pretend for a minute that riots and protests over the most of the islamic world weren’t happening, the economy isn’t about ready to fall off a cliff, hyper-inflation couldn’t happen, essential commodity prices weren’t going to the sky, gas isn’t going to hit 5 bucks and the muni-bond crisis was a figment of a retirees imagination. Who am I kidding. One would have to be under the effect of some illegal substance to pretend all that and believe it. So….. When you are in the middle of a hurricane, wind, rain, tornados, tidal surge, flying debris and lightening are all threats. Something is going to get you. I’m not a profit of doom or for that fact Chicken Little BUT, is it just me or does the sky look like it’s getting closer?
If you want to see a repeat of the ammunition shortage of 2009-2010, just wait around for one of those little problems in the real world to fester to the point where there is a SINGLE violent riot or confrontation of significance in an American City. Watch EVERY ROUND in EVERY GUN STORE in the country FLY OUT THE DOOR. People are on edge, aren’t prepared (aren’t spending limited funds on ammo yet), don’t have a plan, live in the middle of major population, and are scared. I don’t blame them as the security that we used to enjoy is quickly leaving the room. Maybe we are clinging to god and guns but there is something better about having a bible and a loaded firearm nearby than not having one.
Get your ammo while you can. Get your pantry full, get some extra toilet paper (don’t want to be trading ammo for TP do we?), try to get your hands on some silver coins and do your best to help others get similarly prepared. The best way not to be a refugee during hard times is to be reliant on yourself not others. Hang in there, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself and show charity if you can afford to.