February 8, 2021

THE TRUTH IS, IT SUCKS: The Truth Behind The Great Ammo Crisis.

The simple explanation is that demand exceeded the supply, then continued to exceed the supply. But to understand how that happened you have to go a little deeper. According to Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal, CCI, Speer and Remington, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was considerable excess capacity in the ammunition market.

Manufacturers could make more than they could sell, so supply was abundant and prices were low. You could order a case of 9 mm off the Internet for $200. Manufacturers were prepared for an uptick in sales that normally accompanies a presidential election, but the excess capacity would have been enough to cover that.

2020 had other ideas. The first was the COVID-19 pandemic. Then a summer of civil unrest that sometimes turned violent. A hotly contested presidential election, and then the party of gun control having control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Any single one of those would have spiked demand, but all these factors happening in rapid succession was more than the market could bear. Partly because the NSSF estimates that 7 million new gun owners entered the market in 2020. As Vanderbrink pointed out, if those 7 million new gun owners each bought 100 rounds of ammo, that’s 700 million rounds that the market needs to produce.

To put that in context, the entire commercial market in 2018 made approximately 8 billion rounds. An 8.75 increase in demand wouldn’t shut everything down, but when it’s added on top of the demand created by all the other factors, it becomes too much.

I took my boys to the range on Saturday, and was relieved to find the ammo shelves weren’t totally bare. The handgun selection wasn’t great, either.

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