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Ammo Remains in Short Supply

Fear of new legislation sends guns enthusiasts on buying spree

A big demand for ammunition has cut supplies short. (Mike Suchan photo) A big demand for ammunition has cut supplies short. (Mike Suchan photo)

By: Steve Rogers,

If you are a frequent purchaser of handgun or assault-style weapon ammunition – or even an infrequent one – you know the frustration.

On your favorite online supplier’s website, where it used to always say “add to cart” or “buy now,” it now reads “out of stock, no back order.”

At the local guns and ammo store, the salesman behind the counter grimaces and shakes his head at your request.

“I wish I had them, but I don’t,” he says. “I’ve got a shipment arriving in three days. Check back then.

“But,” he adds, “I would get here early.”

There is a nationwide shortage on ammunition as gun enthusiasts fear new legislation that could restrict gun and ammo ownership. As a result, they are purchasing at an unparalleled rate, and stores – both online and tradition – and manufacturers cannot keep the shelves stocked.

“Every morning we get here, we’ve got people waiting in the parking lot to look at what we’ve got,” said Louis Janski, the general manager at Fort Thompson Sporting Goods in Sherwood, Ark. “We turn away 50 or 60 people a day because we don’t have what they’re looking for. That’s every day.”

While he used to keep pallets of all types of ammo on hand at all times, Janski said he now receives “just a couple of cases” per shipment, and they are quickly sold out.

“We can’t get any inventory with a 100-mile radius,” Mark Campbell, owner of Mid America Arms in St. Louis, told

The same goes for big retailers as well. Wal-Mart began rationing its ammo in January, limiting customers to three boxes per customer per day. And as demand has risen, so have prices, as much as 50 percent in some cases.

“We’ve started having two-box limits, otherwise people would stock up and sell them on the internet at elevate prices, which is a crock,” Janski said. “We’ve determined that limiting purchases is the right thing to do to keep that from happening.”

In recent years, gun and ammo sales have typically risen around election time. This time, however, shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and eight adults dead, talk of new gun legislation surfaced.

And citizens have been purchasing guns and ammo at an elevated pace ever since.

“It started right around the election, as soon as President Obama mentioned gun control,” Campbell told “But right after the school shooting in Connecticut, that’s when it went crazy.”

There was a record number of FBI background checks required for gun purchase in December. Those numbers have continued to grow – according to FBI data, 7 of the 10 biggest weeks for background checks have occurred since Jan. 1.

The shortages have stretched across the industry, but mostly in ammo for hand guns and AR-style weaponry. The same goes for high-capacity magazines.

“Those are almost impossible to get,” Janski said. “9mms, .40s, .45s … I used to get them by pallet and now I can’t always get boxes.

“The manufacturers I’ve talked to, they’re running three shifts … 24-7, seven days a week. They just can’t keep up with demand.”

Janski said practice ammo, typically .22 caliber, is the hardest to keep in stock.

Jeff Young of Sandia Park, N.M., told the Albuquerque Journal it is becoming more and more difficult to his keep his 16- and 12-year-old sons, both avid competition shooters, supplied.

“They used to shoot about 200 rounds” during a typical practice session,” Young said. “Now what I’m having to do is limit the amount they can shoot. Last weekend, they could shoot 15 rounds apiece.”

“Even with the standard velocity .22s, a couple pallets would usually last me all summer,” Janski said. “Now it’s gone in four or five days.”

In many parts of the country, assault weapons are equally difficult to find for purchase. Janski said his store has plenty of assault weapons available. Handguns, however, are different story.

“On handguns, we have more holes on our wall than we’ve ever had,” he said. “Anything compact or subcompact that can be used for concealed carry, we can’t get them. And when we do, we can’t keep them.”

For videos on how .22 ammo is made, click the links. Manufacturing, and Quality control and testing.

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