Sunday, August 31, 2014

.22 Cal. Ammunition Shortage: Some Explanations

According to CBS News, which offered a great piece earlier this year, re: the growing shortage of .22 caliber ammunition.
"One of the most popular and common"--and cheapest--calibers of ammo for both hunters and target shooters alike, CBS emphasizes that .22 caliber rounds continue to be in very short supply, causing the majority of gun shops and ammunition dealers to restrict the purchase of quantity lots…even boxes of fifty rounds.
Statistically speaking, 24%-45% of Americans own guns either for self-defense or sporting purposes. But getting the ammo to load into those guns is becoming labor-intensive.
Over the past five years, .22 ammo is said to have more than tripled in price. 

Historically, .22 ammo was obtainable for about $0.05 a round. And yes, some retailers are still advertising it for that price. Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc., for instance, still offers two varieties of .22 caliber ammo at roughly $0.05 per shell.

Conversely, Wal-Mart Stores instituted a policy early last year limiting customers to buying no more than three boxes of ammo per person, per day. 
Meanwhile, online, bargain-basement retailers often can be found for upwards of  $0.12 per round.

For that matter, even the $0.12-a-round price may be an illusion. Popular online guns 'n' ammo website AIM Surplus advertises four varieties of .22LR ammunition for sale at the $0.12 price point, if you can find it at all.
Similar stories can be heard from owners of guns of all shapes and sizes--not just .22s. To cite just one example, after skyrocketing prices through the end of 2013.

For ammo connoisseurs, the ammunition market has also been flooded with low-quality ammunition producers from Russia and Italy which produce very quality of ammunition. My suggestion is that ammo consumers, avoid purchasing "no name" firearms ammo manufacturers.
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), public affairs director Mike Bazinet notes that "there are a lot of wild stories" about the ammunition shortage, with some people even blaming the US government for "buying up all the ammo." But according to Bazinet, that's simply not the case. In fact, "government purchases have gone down over last three years."
He may be right. Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association (NRA), helped to debunk the "government conspiracy" thesis for America's .22 ammo shortage. Laying out the facts and figures in a multi-page spread in American Rifleman, the "official journal of the NRA," the NRA described how:

"The dollar value of ammunition sales in America doubled between 2007 and 2012. Highlighting the obvious, the NRA noted that sales really "started to climb fast as gun sales began surging" in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election."

Unfortunately, US mainstream ammunition producers such as Federal, Remington and Winchester have understandably taken advantage of the demand for ammunition in recent years.

For those who shoot regularly, I urge all shooters to consider reloading their own ammunition, which can provide enormous cost-savings and eliminate the need to rely on gun shops for ammunition. I have reloaded my own ammunition for the better part of the last 20 years.
And then there was the interview with privately held Hornady Manufacturing. There, President Steve Hornady explained to the NRA, "People walk into the store, they don't see as much as they want so they take everything they can get. The next consumer who comes in can't get anything, so he/she panics." 
Panic and prudent price-comparison habits rarely go hand-in-hand, of course. This naturally results in higher prices for ammunition.
Now that we know the origin of the .22 ammo shortage, it's time for some good news. 

Recent earnings reports at both Smith and Wesson and Sturm, Ruger reveal and marked marked deceleration in demand for firearms, with sales falling nearly 5% year after year at  Smith and Wesson and down more than 14% at Ruger.

Earlier this year, Cabela's CEO Thomas Millner noted that he's seen a "significant deceleration in ammunition sales" at his stores. 

My suggestion is: Don't wait until you run out of ammunition! Plan ahead because then you'll become a victim of a demand-driven economy and be forced to "pay through the nose."

With any luck, this will eventually result in fully stocked shelves at gun stores, resulting in consumers'  inclination to hoard ammunition and hopefully putting the .22 cal. ammo shortage to bed once and for all.