As firearm sales continue to set new records, and show little to no sign of slowing down anytime soon, ammunition is likely going to remain expensive and likely difficult to find. Even not so popular calibers, such as .250 Savage, have been increasingly hard to acquire, while the more common calibers are now all but impossible to locate anywhere.
Brick and mortar and online retailers alike continue to sell out as fast as supplies arrive, so the best that consumers can do is to look often, sign up for back-orders and hope to get lucky.
A betting man could have cleaned up if he had guessed a year ago that 9mm would be this difficult to find, but a year into the pandemic whenever this common caliber is available it sells out quickly. Prices have gone up and 9mm is running between 80 cents to $1.20 a round. One factor driving up prices is that 9mm is so widely used by law enforcement, so that just adds to the demand across the country.
It may not be hunting season, but it will take all of a hunter’s skills to track down this popular caliber. If you do an online search for the 30-30 Winchester cartridge, get ready to “Temporarily Unavailable” or “On Back Order.” Perhaps that is for the best as prices now range from $1.10 to $2.45 per round. This is pandemic pricing to say the least.
Currently the most popular round used by American hunters, the .308 Winchester is often described as the commercial of civilian version of the NATO 7.62x51mm round. Introduced in the 1950s, it has been a preferred choice for hunters but has caught the eye of the tactical crowd in recent years. As a result, .308 Winchester is increasing hard to find right now. The good news is that when it is available it almost seems like a bargain at about $1.25 a shot.
.40 Smith & Wesson
This caliber celebrated its thirtieth birthday last year, but over the years it only seemed to go up in price. The .40 S&W was introduced to replicate the performance of the 10mm round but in a slightly smaller and friendlier consumer package. In the past three decades it has become a popular choice with handgun owners, and that has made it increasingly difficult to find during the pandemic. It sells out fast, but searches online have shown that the good news is that range from less than a dollar a round to around $1.20 a round—making it a reasonably affordable option if you can actually find it.
.223 and 5.56
These popular “cousins” of ammunition - .223 Remington and 5.56mm—aren’t exactly as interchangeable as some suggest, so while both are selling out fast, shooters shouldn’t automatically go for either when it is available. Generally speaking, it has been suggested that it is safe to fire a .223 round in most 5.56mm firearms, but the same isn’t true the other way around.
As both are still hugely popular with the AR-15 crowd the prices have gone way up in the past year. If you see it, pull the trigger—because it will likely only get more expensive in the coming weeks and months.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.