Can't Find Ammo? Why the Great Bullet Shortage Could Last Years.

Can't Find Ammo? Why the Great Bullet Shortage Could Last Years.

According to the weapons website The Reload, those in the industry expect the shortage to continue for years.

Another shortage reported: AmmunitionThe unprecedented pandemic of the past year has led to all sorts of unusual supply chain bottlenecks, which have led to shortages. We’ve seen that, last year, with toilet paper, coins, and laptop computers, and this year with gasoline and lumber.

Now, there’s another shortage: Ammunition.

According to the weapons website The Reload, those in the industry expect the shortage to continue for years.

“On certain products, we are certainly seeing backlogs that stretch out two years and beyond,” Brett Flaugher, president of Winchester Ammunition, told the website. “For those who shoot 9mm and 5.56 ammunition, which are both in high demand, it’s very uncertain how long it will be before people will consistently have ammunition readily available.”

The story added that the shortage has gotten so bad that “many gun owners have simply stopped shooting for months on end,” and that some ranges have run out of ammo to sell.

What is it that caused the shortage? The Reload says it’s about manufacturers not being able to meet rising demand. There were three things driving that demand: Worries about safety during the pandemic, an increase in recreational shooting while people were bored during the pandemic, and fears that the election of a Democratic administration would enact gun restrictions.

“We have certainly experienced unprecedented demand for all categories of ammunition over the past year—rimfire, centerfire rifle and pistol, as well as our shotshell products,” Flaugher told the site. “Over the past year, we’ve seen more than 21 million firearms sold, with over 9 million to first-time gun buyers. This is an incredible number. Overall, more than 52 million people in the U.S. participate in the shooting sports, which is actually 2.5 times higher than the number of people who golf.”

Guns and Ammo also recently looked at the ammo shortage problem.

“Manufacturing is not without hiccups; there have been COVID-required quarantines, causing plant and production line shutdowns,” the Guns and Ammo story said. “This applies to almost all industries, and there are ripple effects. Few ammunition brands manufacture all four components of a metallic cartridge (primer, case, propellant and projectile). When one component runs short, product is delayed.”

Another explanation is that while ammunition manufacturers are ramping up production as much as they can, they don’t want to be stuck with extra inventory once the demand curve goes back down. The Guns and Ammo story also suggested that, like with many supply bottlenecks, hoarding has become a concern.

CBS Chicago, meanwhile, looked at the similar specific bottlenecks in the Chicago area- and predicted that firearms sales could break records in 2021. It quoted the FBI as stating that there were  16 million background checks for firearm purchases nationwide between January and April, a 31 percent increase form the year before.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.