Elusive Ammunition…

Last year when I started competing and practicing on a regular basis, I decided to stock up on ammunition so that would never be a barrier to shooting. I came close to crying a few times as I parted with cash or paid my credit cards, but over a few months, I hit my goal.

With what has happened since I’m really happy I did that. Now, as I use up what I bought I am trying to replenish as I get close to the minimum level I’d like to keep on hand. But being rather frugal, I’m also patient.

Before the election and Sandy Hook, a reasonable deal on 9mm Luger was around 25 cents a round.  That is $250 per 1,000 rounds (without taxes). And I’d much rather buy in 1,000 round batches than have to run to the store for 3-5 boxes over and over until I feel stocked up again. My last 1,000 round purchase was from PDHSC in January for $238. They laugh at me now when I ask if they have more bulk ammo in stock.

I have a friend that has recently paid around $600 for a 1,000 rounds and I’m just not willing to pay that. At that price I may have to reconsider the frequency I shoot live rounds and force myself to spend much more time on dry fire practice.

What I’ve found though is that with patience and persistence, ammo is out there and not everyone is price gouging.

UMC 9mm Luger 50 round packs from 9Forward in Oxford, NC. Price: $14.71. Five "box" limit.

UMC 9mm Luger 50 round packs from 9Forward in Oxford, NC. Price: $14.71. Five “box” limit.

For example:

  • I was in a Walmart near my mom’s house in SC a few weekends ago and decided to stop by sporting goods. I’ve been in this store before and I’ve spoken to the very knowledgeable woman who works there several times in the past. She asked what I was looking for and I told her .38 Special (for mom) or 9mm (for me). Amazingly she said she’d found some 9mm in the back and had two boxes left. I asked the price: $19.99 — for 100 round bulk boxes. This was the pre-election price! No price gouging here. I was happy to give her my money. 
  • In Oxford last week I found 9mm in 50 round packs for $14.71. They have a 5 box limit per customer. Turns out they also had some Winchester 100 round bulk packs for $26.94. The first is 29 cents a round, the second 27 cents a round. In this current ammo starved environment, both are very reasonable deals.

I’m not sure what the future holds but with some networking, tips from friends, and supporting businesses that are not price gouging, I’m hoping that I can continue to shoot without resorting to paying top dollar.

Of course, the real solution is to start reloading. But one thing at a time…


12 thoughts on “Elusive Ammunition…

  1. That’s a good deal, I’ll have to check out 9forward.

    I found some hard cast lead 9mm reloads online recently for competition that I’ve been shooting a bit of, and I’ve gotten lucky here and there finding ammo, but it’s been tight.

    Reloading is an option, as soon as I can find a press in stock, it’s mine.

    • They are showing no 9mm on the website now, so call and talk to them. They may have it but are reserving it for in store sales only. If they say they have it in stock, I’d trust that it’s there.

      And they are really 10 minutes from The Range. But they are not open on Sundays.

  2. I was talking with the owner of a Cary gun shop the other day who offered the most rational explanation I’ve yet heard for the ammunition shortage. Conspiracy theories aside, in a nutshell the shortage is a combination of maxed-out manufacturing capacity and hoarding, with at least some of the latter being done by first-time gun owners who will rarely, if ever, fire their weapons (which of course pisses me off).

    Before this mess began, ammunition manufacturers were at equilibrium with purchasers (including, by the way, DHS). Manufacturers were at full production capacity but keeping pace, with no firm plans to build new plants or expand existing ones. After the Connecticut school shooting, demand skyrocketed and the market took over. Simple economics I’m afraid, with a dose of fear thrown in for good measure.

    The shop owner’s firm belief is that it will take at least thirteen to eighteen months for supply to catch up, in part, with demand; over-zealous purchasing will diminish and some manufacturers will figure out how to increase production. But, we will likely never see ammunition prices as low as we have since I began shooting 36 months ago. Some firearms and ammunition manufacturers will expand their plants, but they’re probably going to watch for awhile before investing lots of capital on what might turn out to be a “bubble”.

    Any future loosening of supply depends, of course, on the public’s perception (real or imagined) of the sanctity of our Second Amendment right.

    Regardless, I choose to keep shooting and spend the money as long as I have it. I have limited my practice time to once a week with a reduced round count, but I have just started to increase my match attendance so it will probably be a wash. I will dry-fire more; that’s always a good thing. But shooting keeps me healthy and I consider that a worthy investment in myself.

    Great blog, by the way.

    • Thanks for the overview! I’m really hoping that this is a bubble and availability becomes less of an issue over time. If not, I will have to make some hard decisions about matches and practice time.

  3. Personal Defense is now completely out of 9mm. They don’t even have any to sell to people renting guns. They expect a pallet on Wednesday.

    And, for what it’s worth, PDHSC sells 1000 rounds of .40 S&W for almost $400. I’ve found 1000 rounds of 9mm online for $550, so switching to .40 isn’t worth it. I’ll pay what I have to pay.

  4. I picked up 5 100 round boxes of 9mm at Walmart this weekend at pre-election prices. They have not raised the prices — if/when you can get it. Yes, they have a 3 box limit. I bought 3 and got my mom to buy the last two boxes in stock. I take her shooting when we have the time so she’s glad to help.

  5. Walmart and most of your sporting goods stores have not raised their prices but the demand is so high that you just never see it!

    I was lucky to sneak out of Walmart with almost 1000 rounds of .22lr for $30. I had to choose between .22lr and 9mm due to the 3 box limit, but as I have not bought my dream 9mm yet I stuck with the .22lr for the range. The thought did cross my mind to sell my rounds for 3x what I bought them for, though.

    I think we will start to see the demand go down in the coming months. Even Academy ’round here has a variety of guns again. Not just Taurus and off-brand guns, but rugers, glocks and sigs.

    The ammunition/gun scare is largely based on false demand created by legislation that was a result of the election and Sandy Hook. So we have the government saying they’re going to take it all away, so the initial scare began with people learning how to shoot and then stocking up. However, the real damage came as the vendors who lurk around the gun shows and some of the gun shops realized that they could make a profit off of fear.

    The people in line at 7a.m to raid the ammunition restock truck are not the normal working citizens who need ammunition for range shooting or self defense. They aren’t even law enforcement, military or government officials. They’re resellers. So they buy up as much as they can and sell it for 3-5x retail. A round of .22lr goes from $0.04 to $0.25. Then, by securing the available stock coming into the retailers who are not changing their prices because their supply isn’t threatened or limited, they get to set the market value for ammunition.

    This then heightens the scare. Oh no! Prices are going up, and no one has ammunition but the gun shows, or this shop over here! Yes, this is true, but it’s simple economic manipulation. If you own the supply, and you have the demand, you can set the market value.

    A few ranges down here are trying to be ‘true’ to their range shooters and are saving ammunition for folks shooting there. They are charging 2x retail for .22lr, probably the same for 9mm, but they could charge much more if they made it available to the open market.

    I think we all just need to be patient, if we stop buying into the scare then we made it unprofitable. I do call arounds to local stores, check their restock/times and what survived the rush rather than panicking and gobbling up rounds for skyrocketed prices.

    • Hey Faye! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      I agree with your assessment. The key for regular shooters is to stock up when availability is plentiful to get through the tight times. I did that last fall so I’ve never had to skip practice or a match. Now I buy when I can but only at reasonable prices. So far that has worked for me and I’m really hoping the market will level out and availability will increase. Once it does the price adjustments should follow.

  6. Just buy .40 it’s in stock and cheaper than nine. If you push real hard you can get it in the chamber of a 9mm.

    • Too funny!!! I have seen lots of .40 – the range where I practice have stacks of it. I am sticking with 9mm for now but I see the upside to owning different caliber guns now: Shoot what you can find.

  7. It WILL get better. Keep the faith. As soon as the folks who used to be satisfied with 50-100 rds. stop grabbing 1000 whenever they can get it.
    It’s hard to predict – but I’m sure will get better.

    I’ve been handloading and bullet casting for about 35 years. :Let me know if you wanna get started…….

    • Lynn,
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. I agree and I’ve already started to see a bit more availability. I may take you up on the offer to teach handloading in a few months. I have a few other projects to address in the short term but I see reloading in my future and it’s not something I want to learn from the internet!

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