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  • Writer's pictureBrad Parker

Ammo Shortage: The Most Important Ammo to Have Now

Handgun cartridges lined up.
Ammunition is expensive and in short supply. What kind of ammo is most important now?

A number of things have contributed to the ammunition shortage we have seen over the last two years:

Millions of first-time gun owners are added to the mix now. In 2020, it is estimated that 8 million new gun owners bought their first firearm. That’s awesome. Welcome to the club. But this is a whole new segment that is now looking for ammunition as well. AND, that’s not counting the millions of new gun owners from 2019 and 2021.

If each of these new buyers left the gun store with just one box of 50 rounds of ammunition that would account for 400 million rounds. If, more realistically, they bought 100 rounds during the last year, that accounts for 800 million rounds. 800 million more than the normal consumption!

It has not been uncommon to go into your favorite store and see a severe lack of any of the common calibers. There usually is a smattering of specialty calibers available. If your caliber was available, it has become incredibly expensive.

Now in the spring of 2022, things are finally improving according to industry sources.

Ammunition prices have seen a decrease in the past few months. The popular calibers are also being sold again at local shops.

Manufacturers are catching up with backorders of some types of ammo, and there are new deliveries to retail and online stores.

Remington Ammo Purchase Helping Production

One positive item to note is the resolution to the Remington bankruptcy.

After their second bankruptcy, the future of America's iconic Remington Ammunition Company was uncertain. Vista Outdoor purchased the ammunition and accessories side of the business at a firesale price. This included the historic ammunition plant in Lonoke, Arkansas, which is up and running producing shotshells and .22 rimfire ammo.

Vista also owns Federal Ammunition — now the two arguably biggest ammo manufacturers are now under single ownership.

The company has stated that the two ammo lines will remain separate, Remington will remain Remington, and Federal will remain Federal.

Presumably this means the company has the talent and the wherewithal to continue to produce during this time of shortages.

The biggest problem most ammunition manufacturers have to address is capacity. When you do the Federal Ammunition page linked to above, we still see a header that apologizes for the delay in shipping because of increase demand (at the time of this writing).

Most people don’t know the US produces most of its ammunition and primers from just a handful of companies (see the above on Federal and Remington). Not only do these manufacturers make the bulk of ammunition that consumers purchase, they also manufacture ammunition for the government.

Although demand for ammunition is the highest it has been in some time, manufacturers are still seeing the market as cyclical and are not making large investments to increase their production capacity. Face it, at a certain time in your life you realize you've seen a number of boom and bust cycles. And we'll probably see more. It might be that manufacturers realize this fact of life.

If you look at any of the video footage of the aforementioned Lonoke plant, you are not going to be seeing examples of the latest and greatest high-tech chip manufacturing company. It's a decidedly simple and traditional factory. I personally think it's interesting to see, but don't expect clean rooms. It's all mechanical.

Some of the increase in manufacturing capacity is simply getting employees back from the disruptive effect of the pandemic.

Political Sanctions Adding to Ammo Shortage

Steel cased ammunition makes up an estimated 40% of ammunition sold in the US. Almost half. And a huge percentage of inexpensive steel-cased ammo comes from Russia.

Russian ammo (and firearm) imports have been already been heavily restricted because of sanctions. For example, the Biden administration announced additional sanctions on Russian ammo and firearms in 2021 in response to accusations that Russia was responsible for poisoning a dissident.

The current chaos in Ukraine adds another layer of complexity. Steel-cased ammo has become increasingly scarce. It looks like the leviathans are lining up over Ukraine so we can bet Russian-made ammo will not be readily available to the West.

Cost Increases and Effect on Ammo

The basic materials to manufacture ammunition are all seeing disruptions and price increases. Think about the elements like copper, brass, and lead that go into the cartridge. Now think about the costs for the energy in the manufacturing process. Think about the labor from the people involved in the process.

In 1992, brass-cased .223 could be bought for 18 cents a round. Last year, prices for .223 FMJ were at 80 cents per round and some stores were asking nearly a dollar a round. The good news is that prices some places have dropped to around 55 cents a round.

But the big question is will the price continue to drop or will it go up over the next year?

Taking all of this into account it's realistic to assume prices won’t go down much further and may even go up from here.

The Most Valuable Ammo to Own Now

Ammunition for your firearm is as critical as gasoline is for your vehicle.

This becomes a top priority for us while crime is skyrocketing across U.S. cities. (Note: crime is skyrocketing in many parts of the world and threatening to increase, but in this context we are purely discussing American cities because we are assuming the defensive firearms are not readily available elsewhere).

Question: What is the most valuable ammunition I should have now?

Answer: Your practice ammunition.

What? Don't you mean my super +P hollowpoint penetrators?

No. Your practice ammunition.

Don't get me wrong, modern defensive ammunition is an important concern for my carry. I want to have all the advantages that the technology for today's ammunition provides.

However, the critical nature of lethal force encounters demands that I be prepared in a way to respond in a "unconsciously competent" manner. My actions must be so honed that I don't have to think about the shooting aspect or the gun handling aspect of the encounter.

That means repetitions. Thousands of repetitions to create the myelination along my brain pathways so my mechanical actions are automatic.

Repetitions. And time. Repetitions spread over enough time (think the10,000-hour rule) to make my actions a habit.

That means practice. And practice means practice ammunition. True, we will spend a good amount of time dry firing and practicing without shooting live ammunition. But there is nothing to compare with validating and confirming your dry fire with live fire.

We are going to be introducing on the YouTube channel a number of low round count drills that maximize our repetitions of movement and critical gun handling skills. These rules will be helpful but they all require ammunition to fill the specificity part of your practice.

How do you get better at shooting? By shooting.

After you have secured three or four magazines worth of dedicated defensive ammunition, turn your efforts towards acquiring inexpensive practice ammunition.

And practice. Like your life depends on it.


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