The Demand and Supply for Firearms and Ammunition

If you’re wondering why there’s a sudden surge of demand for ammunition, it relates to a couple of topics you’re not supposed to bring up at the dinner table when family comes to town.

Politics and the pandemic are being blamed as reasons for the ammo industry being unable to meet consumer demand. But how, exactly, do these things affect the supply chain?

The Demand and Supply for Firearms and Ammunition

The Panic-Buy Phenomenon

In times of uncertainty, we often panic-buy supplies, This might range from stockpiling toilet paper and food to gasoline for vehicles. It can also include investing in a firearm for personal protection, and the necessary ammunition. 

Altering Expectations

As consumers, we have to learn to adapt to the changing availability of certain goods. We’ve been spoiled by free, two-day shipping from retail giants such as Amazon, and it can be difficult to learn to wait longer for products and adhere to quantity limits. Shoppers should also expect to pay more for products, including ammo than they did a year and a half ago.

Rethinking Supply Chain Management

So how are manufacturers and retailers adjusting to new ways of doing business? They’re learning the importance of supply chain agility (which you can read more about HERE), and are doing their best to adapt.

Small retailers that stock ammunition has turned to apps that can alert them when ammo is in stock for purchase. They know that if they don’t act within minutes, they can lose out on acquiring products for their customers. In an effort to give consumers an equal opportunity to purchase ammo, whether, for sport, recreational shooting, or law enforcement agencies, retailers have to stick to rationing boxes. Some retailers even went through periods of only selling via brick-and-mortar stores because they couldn't keep up with online orders rolling in from around the nation.

When it comes to supplying firearms to consumers, there’s been a 40% increase in first-time gun owners in 2021. That’s about 8.4 million people! So even if manufacturing facilities hadn’t been shuttered in 2020 and fallen behind in production then, it seems likely there would still be a firearm shortage today. You can read more about the Rise of the Ammu-nation on the 45Blast blog HERE. As manufacturers fall short of meeting demand, retailers are informing consumers that there could be a six-week delay on acquiring a firearm, on top of a shipping delay once the product is actually procured.

How the Pandemic and Politics Affect Supply

Back to the question of how the COVID-19 pandemic and politics have affected the supply of ammunition. 

First of all, when we were all advised to stay home and stay safe, it meant that many of us left our jobs, whether it was in an office, a factory, or a schoolroom. Some industries were able to adapt to new ways of working remotely, but that isn’t easy to do in the realm of manufacturing.

As a result, when no one was available to do the work of producing ammunition, supply dwindled. And as the nation faced uncertainty regarding health and politics, demand grew. 

As lockdown restrictions eased, people turned to activities that felt safe, such as outdoor recreation. Shooting for sport provided many people with an activity they could do alone or together while maintaining social distancing recommendations. Coupled with the increase of people purchasing firearms for personal protection, supply never had a chance.

Did you know that Remington filed for bankruptcy during 2020? They were already on shaky ground prior to the pandemic hitting the US in full force, and this filing was the second in just two years. As a major supplier of both firearms and ammunition, this proved to be another crippling blow for ammo availability.

Panic buying didn’t help the supply of ammo and firearms; when consumers saw bare shelves, (for any product), it triggered a desire to follow the crowd and stock up on the same items. Scarcity creates increased demand, no matter how necessary the product truly is. The fear of missing out is a strong force in humankind.

Popular Firearms that Are Hard to Shop For

In the wake of the pandemic and the political upheavals of the last few years, there are some firearms and ammunition harder to find than others. Even if you already have a common firearm, such as a Glock, finding ammo will continue to be an issue into 2022.

According to a January 2021 news report from Idaho, background checks conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) rose from 2,936,894 in December 2019 to 3,937,066 in December 2020. An increase of a million people applying for firearms is also a contributing factor to the ammo shortage.

Ammunition in Short Supply

While not a comprehensive list, here’s some of the most common ammunition that’s been hard to find for the last couple of years.  With hunting season upon us, birdshot and buckshot are especially difficult to purchase.

Bird Hunting Ammo

No. 6 and 7 ½ shot

2 ¾ inch

12 gauge

20 gauge

.410 shells

Deer Hunting Ammo

.306

.310

.30-30

.243

.270

Other Ammo That’s Hard to Find

9mm

If you reload spent shells yourself, it’s even hard to find primer and powder to do so. 

The Forecast for Firearms

Some experts think that if consumers should take a step back and regulate their urges to panic-buy and stockpile ammunition, shelves could be restocked in nine months to a year. However, it’s not likely that this will happen. 

Even if consumers do locate the ammunition they’re hunting for, they can continue to expect to pay more for it through 2022. If we see a reduction in prices they aren’t likely to reach pre-pandemic levels any time soon. In July 2021, news outlets were reporting that ammo prices would stay elevated for at least another year if not two. So, if you can get your hands on the ammo you need, be prepared to act fast and pay more.

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