By Joshua Gillem
It’s quite apparent that we’re in the midst of a massive ammunition shortage. This shortage has been raging on for about 10 or 11 months as of this writing, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
In fact, based on what I’m hearing from my sources it’s actually set to get worse. Much worse.
So, what happened to all the ammo?
2020 was set to be a crazy year before the bad cough began just because it was an election year. And then on top of the election, the brown stuff hit the big reciprocating device in the sky.
Let’s take a more in depth look, before we can figure out what’s next —
Ammo Shortage 2021
2020, Donald Trump, and an Election:
No matter what you thought about President Trump, he was a polarizing figure whom half the country hated. This made things a lot worse for our ammunition supply once everyone realized we were in the midst of an election year.
The ammunition and firearms industry generally tends to run on a cycle that is closely tied to the country’s elections. Every four years, gun owners across the country prepare for what we deem to be an anti-gun politician to take office even though we have no clue what the outcome will be.
Last time, everyone prepared for Hillary Clinton to take office. And in fact, many ammunition companies ramped up production numbers in anticipation of this and they made more than they could sell after Trump won.
That actually screwed the ammo manufacturers for some time as they were unable to move much of it. Humans generally tend to buy some stuff based on fear, and guns and ammo are notoriously some of those items. For the past several years I had been telling people in my writings on other websites to buy now while you can, and nobody listened to me, it seems.
They eventually did get caught up in sales, but it didn’t take long before the next election cycle came into play to dry everything up once more.
But this time, everything else was hitting the fan right around the same time.
The Bad Cough:
Of course, before the election actually took place we had the bad cough. You and I both know what the cough is, but I’m not going to name it so I don’t piss off the search engines for talking about something I shouldn’t be.
But the cough really screwed things up. I remember hearing about it at SHOT Show 2020, thinking that it’d never make it to our shores and if it did, it was only a bad cough. It was nothing more than the common cold.
I guess I was wrong because the crap hit the fan because of this thing. If the election was the flour and eggs, this bad cough was the icing on the cake. All of a sudden the manufacturers were unable to go work to make the stuff we need to feed our guns.
In other words, in the middle of an already heightened buying season due to a volatile election, the companies started the year off basically being unable to make ammo.
Supply and demand, along with economics being what they are, there were some reserves that carried us through about late March, early April. After that point every gun store I went in was empty of the popular cartridges.
A few months after that, they were even out of the odder, hunting-only ammo.
Then, if the bad cough was the icing, it sticking around and preventing everyone from going back to work for so very long was the cherry. There was an extended period of time where ammo wasn’t really being made. I mean, it was, but not enough to fill any voids that were around.
And of course, this was all fueled further by violence and fear.
This violence started in May, 2020 after the police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck, killing him. It was disgusting and disturbing to watch.
Afterward, all hell broke loose, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this would bring us as a country. And in fact, this violence is still taking place in certain cities throughout the country as of this writing, whether they’re being covered by the news or not.
2020 was Biblical at this point. We already knew that it was an election year, and the bad cough was driving everyone nuts with fear that the zombie apocalypse was upon us.
The violence brought out a different kind of fearfulness after we all wondered if our city or town was next. My personal closest big-ish city, about an hour away, saw riots and violence that thankfully never made it to my small unincorporated town in the middle of nowhere.
But this violence had a side effect that many never saw coming —
Defunding The Police:
Things in our country took a drastic turn for the worse when calls for defunding the police started to come out not just from people protesting in the streets, but also from politicians. To anyone with a fully functional brain, if the police are defunded and/or unable to do their job correctly, then honest people who want to be left alone will need a way to protect themselves.
This new panic in addition to the stuff that was already happening at this point had millions of people who had never owned a gun before in their lives driving to the gun store to buy a gun to protect themselves and family.
And of course, if you buy a gun you’re going to need ammo for it.
New Gun Owners:
2020 broke a few records. First, it was the highest number of background checks that ever occurred in a calendar year. These background checks don’t equate directly into gun sales because some of these checks are for concealed carry permits and other reasons.
But still, if I remember correctly we broke the record in September or October of 2020, really before the high buying season of Q4 even started.
Second, and this isn’t actually a record that can be recorded, a multitude of, with the NSSF estimating as many as 8.4 million, new gun owners were added to our ranks during the 2020 year for the above reasons.
The above-listed violence and cough were the reasoning behind the all of these new gun owners coming onto the scene, but I don’t think any of us, especially the ammo makers, had any idea how many new gun folk would be joining our ranks, basically all at once (yes, throughout the year, but it was just one year).
The thing that a lot of people seem to forget, is that when new gun owners buy a new gun, they’re also going to have to shoot that gun. In order to do that they have to buy ammunition for it.
But they can’t, because there isn’t any. Nor are there certain parts of the ammo, what we call “components” to manufacture it. There is nothing out there. And the companies can’t keep up.
And when there is more demand than there is supply, the price skyrockets.
Ammo shortage of 2021, what’s next?
Well I can assure you that things will not be getting better any time soon. There will continue to be a shortage on ammo of all types. I was originally writing articles about buying odd-ball caliber guns because there is still ammo there, but that’s no longer the case.
In order for the manufacturers to keep up with demand of the popular calibers, they have to make less of the odder stuff. So now nobody is happy.
Remember the election fear we spoke about a little while ago? That’s not going away now that Joe Biden is president like it did under Trump. That’s sadly here to stay.
Because that’s here to stay, as is the cough and violence, ammo will continue to be scarce, likely into next year or the following. Because it will continue to be scarce, it will continue to rise in price well into the future.
There is no end in sight for this ammo shortage.
Things may not be correcting themselves until 2023, and even then, these new prices are likely closer to what we’re going to be paying for ammo now. It’ll go down some, but I don’t suspect 2019 prices at any time soon.
For example, I think paying 19 to 21 bucks for a box of 50 9mm FMJ is going to be standard for quite a few years.
I do hope I’m wrong, though, because I write gun reviews for a living and I won’t be able to afford that.