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How has the Great 2021 Ammo Shortage Affected You?


The Great American Ammo Shortage of 2021

"Has this impacted your shooting regiment?"
by Scott Crawford - June 25, 2021

It started as a Pandemic supply chain shortage and developed into a full blown component & ammo shortage across the United States. Although this has impacted areas around the world, primarily it's a U.S. consumer issue. This has been reviewed, evaluated, discussed & written about at length however I wanted to take it a bit further.

As a prolific shooting sportsman myself I've endeavored to better understand the why, when, who is affected and most importantly, when will this end. We've all seen & watched video's from the leading ammunition suppliers CEO's trying to explain their position. I've accepted that there has been a consumer run on ammo & components however we need to understand why.

The Great 2021 Ammo Shortage

Empty Shelves where supplies use to be readily available

I first wrote about this back in March of 2020 where component shortages began to present itself widely across the United States. The two major reasons given by industry executives for the shortages were the over whelming surge in first time firearms owners buying ammo for their newly acquired firearms due to the Democratic presidential election. The 2nd primary reason for the shortages, especially component shortages was the fact that more first time firearms owners were wanting to hand load because of the ammo shortages. That and the supply chain failures due to the massive COVID 19 outbreak.

I understood the impact of COVID on factories, supply distribution and brick & mortar store fronts. What I had trouble coming to grips with was that new firearms owners were jumping into the hand loading side of the sport so quickly. I also wrote about this in March 2020 in a separate article. I questioned whether the Hand Loading game was a dying discipline.

When I could no longer find primers for hand loading I knew we were headed for a real problem. That and with suppliers such as Remington curtailing their sales of components across the board I knew it could only get worse. But when you couldn't even buy new brass cases it was all but over for the hand loader. Now I've been stockpiling components for the last ten years preparing for retirement knowing full well that I'd have a limited income so I figured I'd buy in early. That has paid off hugely with this shortage in full swing however I'm certain the majority of hand loaders were not this prepared.

In December just before Christmas, Jason Vanderbrink, president of the ammunition manufacturing companies Federal, CCI, Speer, and Remington released a video statement on YouTube that was meant to reassure buyers that efforts were underway to address the shortage of ammunition on retail shelves.

Vanderbrink was quick to the point stating, “I’m tired of the hate mail,” and “I’m tired of people showing up at our factories.” He quickly added that there has been a lot of misinformation on the Internet that his companies haven’t done enough to meet the demand.

In his statement, Vanderbrink reaffirmed to buyers, “We are making ammunition every minute of every day! We are making all of the ammunition as fast as we can! We are doing our damndest to meet the demand!”

He added, “We know, ammo seems hard to come by right now. But rest assured, we are building and shipping more and more every day—right here in the USA.”

“We are making ammunition every minute of every day!"

In the four-minute video, some key points were also addressed, including the fact that 2020 saw the largest increase in new or first-time shooters ever. While the Covid-19 pandemic certainly impacted production across the industry in the spring of 2020, the point remains that with more than seven million new gun owners each buying boxes of ammunition, it isn’t hard to see why there was such demand.

Analysts also noted that there were more than 25 million new guns sold in 2020, and that with each new firearm an estimated two boxes of ammo was also purchased. As a result ammunition sales actually rose far more significantly than gun sales alone.

It hasn’t just been Federal that has come under fire for a failure to deliver.

Jason Hornady talks about the Ammo Shortage

Hornady vice president Jason Hornady told Guns & Ammo in December that his company also saw demand pick up in October 2019 when Walmart announced it would get out of the market – which shifted consumers to go to other sources. As shelves emptied at local gun shops the demand only increased.

Then with the pandemic, there was the massive stock up on guns and with it ammunition. As Hornady added, “no one asks for a box or two, they want to buy a case.” He added that in one case a relative asked to buy a pallet of 5.56 ammunition – about 9,000 rounds.

We also saw Remington go belly up shutting down all of its ammo and firearms manufacturing in 2020. After a "successful" selloff of assets like Marlin Firearms to Ruger they were able to become solvent again and restarted ammo manufacturing with great speed. Remington has positively begun to impact ammo availability again - keep it up!

Smaller, independent bullet suppliers have really picked up their game to help with component shortages as well however they are only as capable as their supply chain. The price of copper has sky rocketed adding to the consumers angst. Same with brass, everything has increased in cost driving an overall negative impact on the buyers. Sticker shock is probably the bigger concern for folks who have been in the game for years. "Why would I spend $50 for something this year that I have always paid $20 for previously?" Many are just going without rather than incur the steep price impacts of 2020/2021.

Some EDC and Hand Loaded Ammo

Some Typical EDC Kit along with Hand Loaded 38 Special

When Walmart announced that they would stop selling hand gun ammunition that also drove a bit of a panic buy from handgun owners driving perhaps the first spike in sales back in September 2019. Consumers read this as a tell on possible availability issues to come and jumped on the buy now band wagon.

As a hand loader myself, I've been very surprised at how far this problem has spread. It's been almost impossible to buy reloading components but it's been just as difficult to buy equipment from dies to shell holders, presses & on and on. One would think that all of a sudden every U.S. resident has taken up the hobby of hand loading. How it is even possible that hand loading suppliers such as Lyman, Frankford Arsenal, RCBS, LEE, etc can't keep up with demand in their factories? Does it really come down to the fact that nobody wants to work anymore and would rather grab an unemployment check instead? Sorry, that might be a topic for my next rant!

Finally, Is all of this happening primarily in these United States simply because of our 2nd Amendment rights to own firearms? I see just across our Northern border that Canadians aren't having near the hardships finding ammo or components and their pricing hasn't escalated nearly like ours have. Is this the price we pay just because we have the right to bear arms?

I wonder sometimes if we're our own worst enemy. Stockpiling just to stockpile is counterproductive and negatively impacts so many individuals. Maybe the answer is buy what you need and put off buying extra or we may never see this situation improve. All it takes to panic owners into another buying frenzy is some politically charged statement by an elected official and that my friends will continue as long as there is fresh air to breathe.

Federal Ammunition CCI Ammunition Speer Ammunition Remington Ammunition Hornady Walmart Lyman Reloading Frankford Arsenal RCBS Lee Reloading


Ammo, Ammunition, Bullets, Shortage, 2021 Shortage, COVID19


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