Hunters are spending more time searching for ammo than they are game. Supply chain issues, production problems, and increased demand are contributing to an ammunition shortage that has lasted nearly two years. And experts don’t see it ending anytime soon.
The problems began in early 2020. The pandemic pushed people into the fields to take up hunting for the first time. States issued record numbers of hunting licenses last year. But that increase in interest thinned out stocks of ammunition, and manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up with higher demand despite increasing production.
Mark Whitlock, vice president at Mark’s Outdoors in Alabama, said companies that bullets makers are backlogged. Even if he could order more ammunition, most would take between six months to a year to reach his shelves. He said hunters should buy bullets whenever they can find them but don’t hoard ammo.
“If you can find it, yes it is a good time to buy,” he told an ABC News affiliate. “I don’t think it is a time to necessarily stock up.”
Many hunters though are stocking up. They’re turning to scalpers to purchase bullets at outrageous prices. Rounds for an AR-15 that sold for .33 cents last year, now cost more than a dollar. Boxes of bullets that retail for $19.99 fetch more than $100 online on sites like GunBroker.com, Outdoor Life noted.
The publication spoke to a scalper who asked to remain nameless. He made $30,000 last fall exploiting the shortages in the market.
Bullet Makers Running Production Lines ’24/7′ To Meet Demand
Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told National Interest that this ammo scarcity will likely continue for at least another year. That’s due in part because manufacturers were struggling in the years leading up to this bullet boom. So, they weren’t investing in their infrastructure.
“If you put a shovel in the dirt today, you’re looking at three to five years before you can turn the lights on in that facility,” Oliva said. “But what we have seen is manufacturers are maxing out the production they have. They’re keeping those machines running 24/7.”
Oliva said hunters that are waiting until prices drop to purchase more ammunition should “bite the bullet” because they won’t fall anytime soon.
Ramping up production this quickly though isn’t cheap. And ammo maker are passing those extra costs onto the stores, said Blaine Smith, president and co-owner of Juniata Trading Co. in Pennsylvania. He’s started posting emails from manufacturers that detail the increases at the cash registers at his store.
“Some are a big percentage,” he said, adding that some mark-ups are as high as 15 percent over previous years. “It’s not the store’s fault.”
Further complicating matters is the materials used to make ammunition are also in short supply. Copper, a key component in bullets is also necessary in several other items such as car batteries and coins that are also seeing a spike in demand.