A friend turned me on to WeaponsMan blog as a guy who really knows his stuff, and I’ve very much inclined to agree with his opinion, based upon what I’ve read thus far.
I’ve been having some interesting conversations with various people about ammunition in the past couple of weeks (a million here, a few million there, and pretty soon it adds up), and I think WeaponsMan’s assessment of the market pretty much joshes with what I’ve heard, including the shortages in .22LR:
- There’s a ton of new shooters, and shooters with new guns. Tens of millions have new guns have found new owners, and retailers tell us a high percentage of them are first-time buyers, and another large segment is people long away from shooting or gun ownership that are coming back to it. The entire demographics of shooting is changing, as a visit to a range will show you. These new shooters need ammo, and their mentors and trainers need ammo to train them with. That’s not all of it, but it’s one factor.
- Economists know that when the price or availability of a desired good rises, one predictable effect is the consumption of an alternative good in its place. The .22 rimfire is the long-standing alternative to expensive and scarce centerfire calibers like 5.56, 7.62, 9mm and .40. As a result, the shortage of any one of these calibers becomes, in time, a shortage of .22; and to a lesser extent it becomes a shortage of all of these calibers.
- People who were comfortable buying shooting and hunting ammo day-of or day-before have been spooked by the shortage into carrying an inventory. The longer the shortage continues, the more of these guys there are, the more of an inventory they feel they need. Exercise for the reader: if you shoot 500 rounds a week, how many rounds do you need to weather six months’ disruption in supply? Before you say we’ll never have six months’ disruption, stop and think: we’re in about month eight of a shortage right now. People who never stored ammo before are hoarding it now, and people who hoarded it already are hoarding more. This is probably the single biggest factor.
- People who concentrate on preparedness, for example the readers of Jim Rawles’s website and novels, have realized that .22LR ammo is a lasting store of value that has more stability in good times and bad than currency or even gold. (If the rule of law collapses, gold may still have value but may be difficult and risky to exchange). We think this is a larger factor. A lot of people who aren’t going to get fully on board with preparedness and move to the mountains like Jim recommends, will still take incremental actions like storing necessities: food, drinking water, and .22 ammo.
Make sure you follow the link over; he hits the centerfire shortages and DHS conspiracy theories, too.
Obviously, the shortages are biting into everyone’s training, and .22LR-dependent programs like Appleseed take a hit when shooters can’t find ammo, or at least ammo at reasonable prices (see the photo at the top of the article). The simple fact of the matter is that the current ammo shortage is going to continue for a long time (I’d suggest at least another year or two) as individual shooters continue to stockpile what they can.
Interestingly,this may result in a significant cultural shift. “We’re all preppers now,” at least when it comes to ammunition.
The “average” guy who owns one or two guns but doesn’t shoot much and who kept just a couple of boxes before, now may have a few hundred to a few thousand rounds. Avid shooters, used to having a case in reserve, often now has multiple cases in reserve. I have readers and associates—individuals, not companies or government agencies—who claim to have more than 100,000 rounds in reserve.
It will be very interesting to see if this hoarding instinct for ammunition spreads across other aspects of people’s lives. A lot of the people building up their ammo caches also seem to be buying spare parts kits for firearms, and even extra copies of firearms they already prefer. They then buy more magazines, cleaning kits, optics, rings, bases, slings, etc, and then more “kit” in the form of packs and web gear to carry it all. Then they have all the gear, and decide they need more training (we’re supposed to be “well-regulated” and in good working order as members of the unorganized militia, after all), and so now even “soccer moms” are learning to ring steel at 300 yards and going through contact drills.
We’re growing as a community. There will be growing pains. But we’ll adapt, improvise, and overcome.