Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Where is all the rimfire ammo?

Written By: Bob - Jun• 18•13
No... the price tag is not a misprint.

Sadly, the price tag is not a misprint.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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42 Comments

  1. Doug says:

    According to CCI, they manufacture 4 million rounds of .22 rimfire each day. That would be 20 million rounds per week. Then you thrown in Remington, Federal and Winchester with whatever they produce on a daily/weekly basis. Let’s say for arguments sake that there are 8 million rounds manufactured per day combined from all companies. That equates to 40 million rounds per week. Since nobody has .22 LR for sale (CCI, Remington, Winchester)where is it all going???? You cannot sell what you do not have. .22 LR is not available on-line or in our local outdoor stores. So where is the approximately 160 million rounds of .22 LR going each month???

    I sent this same inquiry to CCI last week and received a form letter in return.

  2. May I draw your attention to a DHS bid for, among other calibers, .22LR and 410 gauge ammunition, ostensibly for traning purposes? Here it is https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=2f1797093c18ff14a2cb4c2186c83677&_cview=0

    While this is a smallish order, they are indeed buying these smaller calibers. Any comments on that?

  3. Comrade X says:

    ($49.95) That’s not a bad price for what I’ve been seeing local.

    You can watch the price of ammo go up and down every day like stocks on the stock market on this site;

    http://www.gunbot.net/

    But IMHO ammo is a better investment than stocks now a days!

    Death before slavery!

  4. Greg B says:

    Nearly all the .22 I’m finding is FTF, private sales. At high prices.
    I have been able to get my bigger caliber cartridges at about a case per week.
    Now, I am only dealing with two center fire rounds right now, but .45 might be in my future.

  5. PubliusII says:

    Last summer I bought the box in the image for $19.95….

    I’ve come to think it’ll take until after the 2014 elections (if they go strongly anti-left) or 2016 (ditto) for ammo to become easily available again.

  6. Treker says:

    Another great and timely article Bob. You mentioned hoarding , with 63% of ALL our nations groceries coming from Walmart . If the Chinese or the NSA want to bring America to it’s knees,just screw with Walmarts computers . Millions would be thrown into a panic . I can live a month without ammo but not so without food .
    If Snowden has taught us anything is that don’t put anything passed this government and it’s craving power . Please stock up.

  7. Corpsman says:

    The points you make in the article are valid but, imo, fall very short of a full explanation. I would agree with you if .22lr were showing up on store shelves and internet sites and being bought as quickly as it shows up – BUT IT’S NOT EVEN SHOWING UP! If it isn’t making it from the factory to the store shelves that sort of cuts the consumer out of the loop doesn’t it?
    And who is shooting? I know lots of shooters and the days of blowing through 500 rounds of .22 in an afternoon are long gone. No one is shooting more than the bare minimum these days.
    To simply dismiss something by using the word “conspiracy” is (as the NSA has proven) foolish. I remember when people used to laugh at me and call me paranoid when I told them the NSA was monitoring everything they were doing online and they best be careful.

    • Bob says:

      Some .22LR ammo is making it to the shelves. It is simply snapped up within seconds, like the box you see in the photo in the article. The store got 2, 525-round boxes of .22LR that day. I bought the one you see before it could be stocked on the shelf. The other box was purchased within 10 seconds. This is common at the retail level, and I’ve watched it happen with my own eyes in various stores in the Raleigh area over the past few months.

      I’m hearing organizations are snapping up .22LR ammo at the distributor and wholesale levels, placing multi-million round orders. One such order, by one large purchaser, may account for several days production. Foreign ammo is sitting on the docks, with Customs waits of more than 6 months. I personally know of one ammo shipment of a specific caliber I shoot (not .22LR) that hit Customs on the west coast in January, that has not moved. Is Obama intentionally crippling timely importation? I wouldn’t put it past him.

      American manufacturers/importers produce 10-12 billion rounds a year. Even including the military, the government uses a small fraction of that, less than 2 billion rounds (the “billion” round DHS fabrication was a possible RFP for over 5 years, nothing close to that has actually been ordered by DHS, much less delivered).

      Your fellow shooters are hoarding, some converting their stock and bonds into lead investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where is all the ammo? Everything suggests that it is likely in your neighborhood, just not your house.

      • Corpsman says:

        It makes sense to me that DHS may simply be interfering with delivery and importation as in the cases you cited vs. actually buying it all. Though they are probably doing both. And certainly have motive as they know that is the caliber we train with.
        But an interesting oddity is the fact that I can still buy all the 7.62×39 my little heart desires, and at reasonable prices.
        If DHS wants us disarmed, then why allow me to feed my AK, yet starve my 10/22?

    • Henry Bowman says:

      “To simply dismiss something by using the word “conspiracy” is (as the NSA has proven) foolish.”

      Really? I think the NSA revelations VINDICATE the conspiracy-minded!

      • Corpsman says:

        I think you misunderstood what I said. Or was trying to say. I agree with you! My point was that many, in an effort to dismiss an argument, are quick to employ the term “conspiracy” or “conspiracy theory” in a derogatory manner as a way of saying they are somehow intellectually superior to those of us that see it.

  8. john says:

    I can tell you where approximately 8000 rounds are. : ) It’s not because i hoard, it’s because i SHOOT. I prefer “zero sum” shooting where i end the day with as many rounds as i started with. If i can buy what i hope to shoot that day, i will, if not, well, i can always count on the stash. Sue me. : )

  9. john says:

    This all begs the question, How hard would it be to tool up and actually open a new factory producing .22LR? Seems like an opportunity for someone with the cash and the gumption to act….

  10. hillbilly says:

    How hard would it be to just create a new ammo factory? Seriously? Do you have any idea of how much Fed paperwork would be required to apply to open such a facility? Also, you got a site selected, employees lined up and several million dollars cash laying around?

  11. emdfl says:

    The problem isn’t one of “tooling up” to produce the stuff, it’s first findiga sourcre of brass to draw the cases from and then finding a powder mfg to buy the powder from(and let’s not even get started on the priming mixture for the round. Then there is the problem of sourcing the (LEAD!!!!!)projectiles, and good luck with that…

  12. Brad says:

    I wonder if a cheap low powered version of .22 long rifle would be possible and profitable, considering the current dry spell.

    I’m thinking of some kind of plastic bullet + plastic case with a power level similar to a .22 BB cap, the limiting factor being the strength of the plastic cartridge case. Obviously such ammunition would only be useful in manually operated firearms, and only at very short range. But there might be a place for such ammunition if it was significantly cheaper than conventional .22 long rifle.

    • Bob says:

      Not a bad idea, but I think it then ends up being less aggravation to shoot air rifles… and it looks like quite a few people are.

    • Bill says:

      I was thinking ceramic ammo for target shooting and someone shot that down as too brittle.

  13. parker says:

    Its more than ammo on the retail shelf; primers, powder, and bullets have become more expensive and scarce. Reloading used to be a very inexpensive way to shoot a few hundred rounds per week, but not so much now. I live near the county range (where I shoot) and usually at this time of year you have to wait 30 minutes for one of the 6 shooting lanes, now days the range is mostly empty. I stopped shooting 22LR several months ago because I was down to what I consider to be the minimum to keep on hand. Now I only shoot, sparingly, what I reload.

    So while hoarding and new shooters probably do explain part of the shortages and the steep increase in prices, something more must be is contributing to this predicament, what it exactly is I don’t know.

  14. SO2001 says:

    I haven’t had a problem getting ammo. I do have to get it online though as most local stores are cleaned out.

    From what I understand as well by having a talk with the woman that runs the local Walmart sporting goods section it’s the same two assholes coming in at 4am buying everything up because they are only getting s few boxes for the popular calibers right now.

    The only way she could think of stopping that is either not selling to those two guys or not putting the ammo out until 8am or something like that.

  15. Clay Moore says:

    Navy armoury worker stated he was receiving cases of 22LR and didn’t have anything that shot it.

    • Skeptical One says:

      Sure he did. Who, when and where?

      Stop the rumor-mongering and bullshitting.

      • Dave says:

        …and that’s not how ammo works you don’t just get a box in the mail…you go to the ASP(Ammo Supply Point) and pick up the ammo that you requested weeks ago on paper….it is a process….same with the ASP..they request what units project for the year….ammo doesn’t “just show up” …at least not in the military

  16. Joel K says:

    I find it really hard to believe that it is just increased demand and hoarding… I am a competition shooter and I usually shoot 2-2.5 cases of cci blazers a year and I depleted my reserve case last fall and I do not know anyone who has vast reserves past a brick or two. I have had an order for 8 cases from several suppliers since November 2012 and I still do not have a projected ship date. Shooters I know from across the country are seeing the same thing so its not just my state. A local ammunition suppler (this is a bulk supplier not a local gun shop) says there is at least another year wait and this was only a month or so ago. The regional bulls-eye league has decided to suspend the league for the next year possibly the next two due to the shortage and the projected ship dates of current orders.

    • Bob says:

      I don’t see why this is hard to believe at all.

      Americans were consuming between 8-10 billion rounds/year (roughly) prior to 2008. After Obama’s election in 2008, that ticked up significantly to a consumption rate of up to 9-11 billion rounds per year (my estimate). Reserves at the manufacturer and distributor levels began drying up, as more shooters entered the market. There was a second uptick as Obama was reelected, and then a surge after Sandy Hook that would have seen us consuming (and I’m estimating) perhaps as many as 15 billion rounds/year if the ammo was available.

      We’ve got to face reality.

      Ammo companies ramped up from 85% of capacity to 100% in response, but have not purchased new equipment (other than replacement equipment) and have not expanded their production machinery significantly in years. Even if they’ve already ordered it, the lead time on new equipment is 18 months. When demand is up well over 100% of capacity, there are going to be severe shortages. Combine that with any “slow-walking” of imported ammo that we’re hearing rumors of, and it is no wonder that ammo of many kinds is very hard to find, especially for those calibers in most demand.

  17. Rock says:

    I have found .22LR to be the most difficult caliber to source. I’ve had to resort to trading other stuff for it, mostly 12-guage shot. Which is okay, since I find 12 guage from time to time (at a reasonable price), but it’s a lot of work to find trading partners and meet-up. I have not seen .22LR on a shelf since December. I see it online sometimes, but it always sells before I can fill-out the order page.

  18. Comrade X says:

    Had a friend send me a picture of a dolly with thousands of rounds being wheeled into a VA hospital, A VA HOSPITAL!?

    Now government locations like that are hoarding ammo, first question is why but 2nd thought is; it is something good to know.

    I heard a story once about WWII where we drop these guns behind enemy lines for those opposed to the Nazi’s, they were only one shot guns, you were suppose to use them to take out a bad guy then you would have his gun & AMMO!

    Now here we are today, lots of guns with more shots than one (behind enemy lines), well I reckon for us all we need to know is where the ammo is and always keep at least one or more rounds around!

    Death before slavery!

    • Skeptical One says:

      Post this picture. Or admit that you’re lying.

      • john coward says:

        this old vet at va hospital saw wheel barrel
        full of ammo roll into front door at
        West LA Vet, kommiecalifornia june 2013.
        Why buy this stuff , your competition has
        more than MONEY.
        OLD GUY, NO GUN , NO ammo.

  19. NY OEF vet says:

    Ammo is out there but its gone very fast. Ive networked with about 20 people in my area to help find it. When anyone finds desirable ammo they send a group message so we all know where to go asap. I almost feel bad that we tend to clear out local supply on our own. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We also donate large amounts of 22 lr to youth shooting programs that are having a tough time finding it.

  20. BillC says:

    I have been using Ammoseek.com to check prices. Ammo is available and prices are slowly coming down. Ten cents per round of .22lr is currently the best on that site. If you want to pay $.14/round, you can get 5000 rounds of eley ammo.

  21. PopTart Pistolero says:

    It’s my understanding that Remington is making a $20M expansin to their ammo mfg. plant in Arkansas. Federal is supposedly in the process of similar expansions. There is a shortage and backlog on new brass. Reloading supplies are going thru the roof. I should have invested in a Corbin die set much sooner. It makes very nice 223JHP/JSP bullets from spent 22LR cases and a lead core.
    I also recently saw an awesome die pkg setup on Ebay where you make beautiful 40cal bullets from 9mm brass, and I believe 44 or 45 cal bullets using 40S&W brass. Bulk lead is still somewaht reasonable on Ebay or from scrap yards. Looks like my next rifle is going to be a .25 and 9mm or 357 cal big-bore air rifle. Besides the available hand pump, a scuba tank or 200-300cu/ft HP nitrogen will keep you shooting a long time. If they can drop pigs and deer, they should also work on 2 legged varmints. Don’t know abot the rest of the nation, but Walmarts in the Houston region are limiting customers to 2 boxes of 20 or 50 rds, and one box of 200/250/325 etc. Anyone that can afford $45 for a small brick of 22LR is desperate in my opinion, enjoy! Anyone paying the scalpers $65-85/brick is a dnag fool. As long as foolish people are willing to pay that price the hoarding and scalping is going to get worse before it ever gets better. Several million shooters saw this coming way before Sandy Hook, several million others refused to see the writing on the wall, ignored signs, and or got caught with their pants down. Folks, this isn’t much different than preparing for or riding out the aftermath of a hurricane, you don’t wait till 1-2 days before landfall to get your supplies and you dang sure don’t do to well trying after it came ashore and ravaged your world. If you weren’t prepared for this storm, all I can say is it sucks to be you. Yes, guns and ammo is a good investment, but just how do you “bug-out” with a giant arsenal and 100,000rds of ammo, while still leaving room for other vital supplies? Can you really take it ALL with you? We will all get thru this with level heads, prudence, patience, and proactive voting.

    • Right_2_Bear says:

      I too looked into the swaging dies for .223 projectile making and ruled it out due to the high price tag. In hindsight it seems it would have paid off. Also .22LR is the only brass to find at the range as nobody wants it.

      As far as preppers/hoarders go, actually bugging-out into the vast unknown is the last resort. The homestead is the best “fort” to defend. Guys with stashes that size have no intention of going anywhere and expect the enemy to fight them on their ground.

      I agree on keeping level heads as this storm will eventually pass.

  22. SO2001 says:

    gunbot.net is also another good site they even took my feedback and added 7.62×25 as welland I was able to find some of that.

  23. Right_2_Bear says:

    One thing we can all do is agree to not buy the stuff from scalpers. These are the guys that go in to Walmart every day and buy 3 boxes then put it on the web, or sell it to dealers who resell it for $50-$75 a box. Stop buying from scalpers and that will help with the shortages.

    I have noticed mags and guns are slowly becoming more available. So the ammo is going to get more available eventually too. But I do think this will be a few years until things get anywhere near normal again.

    Also keep note of who is putting the hurt on us shooters by charging $2000 for a common AR15, $85 for P-Mags, and $50 for a box of .22LR for example. I certainly won’t be doing any business with these greedy SOBs when this is over.

  24. Duane says:

    Last .22 I saw was Fiocchi 500 rnd bricks for $89.99

  25. John says:

    17 hmr at 13cents/round and much better performance turned out to be a wonderful investment. What a capable round!! Also, I made small monthly purchases seeing this all too clearly coming. What was wise then will remain preferred tactic in the future. Next, consider well transferring the monies to other calibers or even more essential, training. Training involves in the field trauma care as well. Lastly, the demand curve is permanently shifted in a marked quantum leap by both new shooters and the realization that the govt, whether Presidents utilizing UN small arms treaties or the Congressional attack on 2nd amendment, is threatening the just in time supply of ammo. No one is ever again going to keep minor supplies. Ammo is the sword of damocles hanging over the ability to shoot. Its a new day in America.

  26. Jonesy says:

    I was at a gun show in MI 2 weeks ago. I saw plenty of ammo in most calibers, but at extremely inflated prices. 22lr was going for $60-$80 per 550rnd brick. Handgun calibers were the worst, 9mm and .40 were $40 for a box of 50rnds. Federal M855 was $189 for 300 round box. Didn’t see much .308 or 7.62×39, but that could have been sold out early( I was there on a Sunday). The stuff is out there, but the cheap retailers like Walmart are getting hit by the 3am or 4am early birds, I can never find anything there. It will take a few consecutive months of dealers having some stock on hand before prices come down. When that will be is anyone’s guess. If there truly is a large influx of new shooters coming on the market, it will likely coincide with them feeling comfortable and start to pull back on buying, taking some of the additional pressure of the market.