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why is ammo so expensive

Skyrocketing Prices! [Why is Ammo So Expensive?]

Skyrocketing prices continue to influence our lives, from the food we eat to the gas we put in our cars.

The shooting sports have been hit hard as well.

Record-breaking gun sales and global supply chain breakdowns have contributed to escalating ammo prices. 

During and post-COVID-19 pandemic, ammo quadrupled over their pre-pandemic prices.

ammo bullets

Ammo scarcity and shortages has resulted in some retailers limiting how many boxes you can purchase at a time.

Prices for firearms have not gone above the manufacturer’s list price because they are durable goods that last for years and even a lifetime.

On the other hand, ammunition is intended to be used up. The scarcity of ammunition has resulted in some retailers rationing customer’s ammo to a few boxes at a time.

You might be wondering, “Why is ammo so expensive?” Read on and find out!



Raw Materials

Several factors contribute to the rising ammo prices, including warehousing, transport, and raw materials.

Copper is an essential ingredient that is highly sought after in the global markets.

copper pipe

Copper, which is essential to ammunition production, is also needed in other industries, increasing demand and limiting available supply.

Olin, which carries the Winchester brand, says they compete with hundreds of other companies demanding the metal. Wiring, electric vehicles, semiconductors are all part of the soaring appetite for copper.

In 2020, the average closing price of copper was $2.80 per pound. At the time of this article, it has more than doubled, reaching all-time highs!



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Supply Chain

Head to any grocery store and scan the bare shelves, and you have experienced the fault in our supply chains.

The nationwide supply chain chokehold has impacted every industry. Goods and raw materials are simply not moving fast enough to alleviate the demand.


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There is a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers in the United States alone, and port backlogs are getting worse.  Manufacturers have expanded production, but customers suffer if the goods can’t move.

Intensified firearm demands, and the increase in raw components also contribute to the short ammo supply. Some local stores around the country are reporting that ammo is selling out in minutes once it reaches the shelves.

hinterland ammo online

With ammo supply getting harder to find, many have turned to online sources.

Active shooters need to find productive channels for their rifle and handgun ammo needs. Several online sources, like Hinterland Outfitters, are emerging as great places to do business, while gun shops and sports retailers love to service regular customers.



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Pandemic

The ammunition industry is highly cyclical and prone to shortages. However, gun sales spiked since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a report from the National Shoots Sports Federation, nearly 5.4 million Americans purchased their first gun in 2021 alone In addition, 2020 was a record year for the firearm industry as a whole. 

pistol with bullets on table

With the pandemic of 2020, it was certainly a year that will not easily forgotten. It will not quickly be forgotten by the gun industry either, with nearly 5.4 million Americans purchasing their first guns.

The recent surge of gun buyers was seen as a reaction to the widespread unrest and rising crime that began in 2019.

Many saw the gun surge as an arrival of government change in Washington DC., with some conspiracy theorists claiming that the government engineered the ammo shortage, even though the shortage has crossed over two diametrically opposed administrations.




Consolidation

In some areas of the country long lines of ammo buyers are waiting in line at their sporting goods retailer for the weekly shipment of ammunition, which usually sells out in minutes. Any other day and the shelves are bare.

empty ammo shelves

Empty ammo shelves affect more than just hunters and recreational shooters. It seems that law enforcement agencies are affected as well.

From an outside view, there are boundless outlets to find ammunition. But, twists and turns of corporate greed and financial engineering forced Remington into bankruptcy, after handing over millions of dollars to a private equity firm.

Consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions have resulted in two names controlling the small arms ammunition market; Vista Outdoors and Olin Corp.


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lots of bullets

While profits are being generated from ammunition-producing companies, they are not necessarily resulting in more ammo being made.

Olin and Vista Outdoors do not necessarily reinvest profits into more plants and personnel, which yields more ammunition. Annual reports state these companies are focused on providing “long-term shareholder value.” These companies are after top-line growth, not short-term demand.



Meanwhile, ammo shortages are not only affecting hunters and competitors, but the DOD, FBI, and others. Olin contracts with the FBI, Secret Service, and Border Protection. Olin reinvented government-owned ammunition facilities in Salt Lake City with the government owning and operating 84 ammunition facilities. They are now down to 14.  



What is the Answer To Higher Ammo Prices?

Popular calibers continue to spike, such as the 22 LR, 9mm, and 5.56. When do shooters say; enough is enough, and I am not buying any more ammo? Range owners are sadly looking at their patrons and saying that it’s a buck and a half every time you pull the trigger.


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Buy in Bulk

Consider the savings; the cost of 1000 rounds of 9mm ammo will typically be about 10% less than buying in 50 round boxes.

Bite the bullet, as they say, buy bulk ammo in your favorite calibers, and store it for future use. Buying in bulk locks your cost in right now, so you save money if prices continue to rise. 

lots of bullets

Buying ammo in bulk can save you money now, and even more as prices rise.

Here are some advantages to buying rifle and handgun ammo in bulk.

  1. Negotiate; if you go through a lot of ammo, wholesalers will talk terms 
  2. Save on shipping; buying in bulk; you realize savings on items such as shipping charges
  3. Deals are everywhere; buying in bulk means wholesalers have a lot of lucrative deals to offer


Reloading

A number of shooters believe the only way to go is reloading; in some situations, this may be true.

The first argument against reloading is the significant start-up costs and ongoing expenses. However, reloading saves money if you shoot ammo that is not cheap, like the 44 magnum or 40 S&W.

30-06 casing

While reloading can save money over purchasing new ammo, it can be expensive to get started.

Reloading expenses to consider

  1. Reloading press; a good press can go as high as $1500, with an average of around $500 to $700
  2. Crimpers and dies; some presses require additional equipment
  3. Recurring supplies; gunpowder, bullets, brass cases, primers, reloading dies

Never skimp on reloading supplies unless you prefer inferior ammunition. Once you start reloading, you head to the range more often, which means more brass, gunpowder, bullets, etc. In the long run, shooters who reload can save money with no increase in shooting. It takes a few months to recoup expenses once everything is in place.



Additional ways to save money on ammo

  1. Always look for online and in-store sales
  2. Gun Shows 
  3. Big-Box retailers
  4. Storage


Final Word On Why Ammo Is So Expensive

The days of strolling into your local sports retailer to pick up a box of your favorite ammo at a discount are over, and some say it will never come back.

Shooters must start thinking outside their comfort zone to find the best deals on ammo.

If you shoot one of the premium calibers, a long-term perspective needs to be implemented. Constantly scouring the ads and online stores may now be commonplace. Some calibers like the 9mm are always in stock because of so many firearms that use the cartridge.

Changing your firearm to a readily available cartridge may be the answer if you just love the sport of shooting.

Happy shooting!

N1 Outdoors

N1 Outdoors is an outdoors company and outdoor apparel brand providing hunting and fishing tips via our blog and instructional videos. N1 shares bow hunting, fishing and other helpful information for those who hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors. "Hunting, Fishing, The Outdoors... All N1"

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