Friday, December 4, 2020

Thoughts on the Current Ammo Shortage

Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, VSSA's sister organization, shared the below information on the current state of ammunition availability with ISRA members yesterday.  VSSA thought you might be interested in this information:

The constant question everyone is asking is where all the ammunition is. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories out there but I don’t buy any of them at this time. The production of ammunition is more complicated than one might assume.

In the fourth quarter of each year, ammunition companies estimate what is going to happen in the following year. In 2019, ammunition manufacturers estimated how much raw material would be needed in 2020. Handgun and rifle ammunition requires lead, antimony, copper, zinc, aluminum, bismuth, bronze, rubber, steel, tin, tungsten, and several varieties of plastic. Additional waxes, types of oils, waxes, and other lubricants have to be purchased. In short, they have to buy a lot of stuff before they begin manufacturing.

The other factor is the ammunition companies run a full year’s production on one caliber and then reset the machine to run another caliber. There are not 9mm, 38 special, 380 ACP, 45 ACP or other calibers in ammo loading machines just sitting around waiting to be turned on. There is no order that says, “Hey Charlie, run over to the plant and run a couple million 9 mm’s.” It doesn’t work that way.

Think back to the Fall of 2019. The Election was a year away and things were relatively peaceful. In January, COVID-19 hit us, and later, George Floyd was killed. That is when things started to fall apart, at least as we know it. Ammunition sales went up and are now averaging 139% more than in 2019. There are 7,000,000 more gun owners in the United States than last year.

Ammunition companies are getting ready for the process to begin for 2021. They have to rebuy all the components that I mentioned earlier. Let’s guess they are buying 50% more than last year. That means the cost of materials may go up if supply is short. Remember, many other industries are using the same materials. That’s my take on the ammunition problem.

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