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Old February 17, 2013, 03:35 PM   #1
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Where Has All the Ammo Gone?

I work for the world’s largest retailer of firearms. I understand that in the previous election year (2008), and post election there was hording of ammo by the American citizen consumers (ACC) that caused shortages. That is definitely happening again in 2013, but there are certain facts that I cannot explain away, if the shortage is caused solely by hoarding by the ACC.

Working for a retail chain that has hundreds of stores throughout the United States, I understand how modern retail and logistics work. I understand that we no longer keep stock in warehouses, to be doled-out when stocks have been depleted. Modern retail is now, “on demand.” Inventory is now tracked on computers, and when inventory gets down to a certain level (subtracted at the cash register) a new order is sent to the manufacturer. This could explain a certain lag time in resupply during times of hoarding by the ACC.

Truck Day:

At the large, urban chain store location of the world’s leading firearms retailer, where I work, Thursday is “truck day,” the day we get skids ammo and firearm delivered to the store. In summer of 2012 we would typically get several skids of mixed ammunition in every Thursday. With rare exceptions, these skids usually covered all ammo previously sold, and all ammo was restocked and in good supply. As Fall came on, the skids we received contained more target shotgun rounds (7 1/2, 8, and 9 shot), and less center fire pistol and rifle rounds. In late December many center fire rounds stopped arriving, or came in at a trickle, sold out within hours of hitting the store shelves.

Now, in February, 2013, very little center fire ammo arrives on truck day. No hollow point center fire rifle ammo is arriving on truck day. If the large, urban chain store location of the world’s leading firearms retailer, where I work, is not getting the ammo produced by our nation’s ammo manufacturers, where is this ammo going? When we do get popular center fire rounds in (.223/5.56), it is usually some off brand, full metal jackets, made in Israel, or some such country. I have not seen a 200 round box of Remington UMC .223 ammo (once as common as house flies) in any retail store that sells ammo in my area, in three months. .308 ammo is not arriving at our store, period.

Even more perplexing is the dry up of .22 cal rim fire ammo. Why would the ACC be hoarding this? I know of no threat to .22 rim fire ammo that would cause a need to hoard. It is just driving the price up. We now are warehousing skids of target shotgun shells, the shelves and aisles full to capacity, and it just keeps arriving. Is someone expecting an invasion of clay pigeons? Reloading supplies are scarce, or nil around the whole metropolitan area where I live. Can someone explain these shortages to me?
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Old February 17, 2013, 03:50 PM   #2
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I work for the world’s largest retailer of firearms.

Anyhow, you ask some good questions. How much .22LR ammo does a person think they need? 10K? 20K? 50K? Why?

On a side note, why does WalMart in Illinois display cases upon cases of Buckshot before deer season. It’s against the law to hunt deer with Buckshot in Illinois. They always, and I mean always run out of slugs during deer season, but have plenty of Buckshot that no one can use.
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Old February 17, 2013, 03:54 PM   #3
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An unknown future. No one knows exactly what changes may, or may not come as legislation is debated. Several proposals would include huge taxes on the sale of ammo. People are stocking up on 22 and other ammo in anticipation of large taxes in the future. I'm not anticipating a major problem, but have been wrong before.

Another reason is lots of first time buyers. I'm a long time gun owner and have enough ammo on hand for several years if necessary. But I built up that stockpile gradually and have had it for years. I try to maintain a certain level of ammo on hand and usually buy replacement ammo as I shoot it up, but usually in bulk and only at good prices. I've not bought any new ammo in months and don't plan to until things settle down. But there are lots of guys who had only a few rounds available for each gun, and lots of new gun owners trying to build up supplies to get to the level where I am now.

Got a neighbor who was never interested in an AR before the Newtown shooting. Since then he has bought 2, along with around 2000 rounds of ammo and about a dozen 30 round mags. He paid a small fortune for them.
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:34 PM   #4
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Where Has All the Ammo Gone?

Shotgun target loads in abundance is to get us to "shoot skeet all the time." Haha!

Look at the draconian laws and over the top rants by gun grabbing politicians. Gun owners are left to conclude everything is up for grabs to be banned, regulated, taxed, or registered and nothing is guaranteed off limits.

This has also drawn in formerly unarmed citizens by the droves to acquire their fist firearms and ammo.

The barnyard animals sense something on the wind and it aint good.
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:36 PM   #5
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I have read & heard on the news more than once Walmart is the largest retailer of firearms in the USA, unless my information is wrong.
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:43 PM   #6
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Nothing breeds demand like scarcity. As long as the shelves are empty and items out of stock online, people will be involuntarily drawn to snapping up whatever comes in stock when they see some.

It is a self-feeding cycle that will only be broken when one of two things happen.

Either the demand side (people buying) gets so saturated that even the most ardent hoarder cannot muster to buy more stuff. Will this happen when the average Joe has 50K 22lr, or 100K 22lr, or more? Hard to tell.

The other solution is that the supply side (ammo and component manufacturers) ratches up their production. Keep in mind that they know that this demand surge will not last forever. They don't want to make the investments to triple their production for a short-term surge only to end up holding the bag with excess capacity and load of inventory once this folly dies down.

If I was to guess there will be some increase on the supply side but the true return to normal will be when people stop hoarding either due to running out of money or coming to their senses as to how much ammo / components makes sense to have on hand.

Once it reaches the point of some stocklevels being maintained in the retail channel I think it will return to normal fairly quickly. I.e. when there is enough stock on the shelves to worry about "do I really want to buy this brick of 22lr that is $3 more than the other brand" rather than "OMG, OMG, a box of 17WMR, I don't have a 17WMR rifle but I better buy this because if I don't, someone else will".
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:44 PM   #7
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Where has all the ammo gone? It's gone into gun cabinets, gun safes, and other shooters storage areas. Panic buying has set in much worse than the last shortages a few years ago. Virtually everything is in short supply now. Same can be said for guns.
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:57 PM   #8
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Uncertainty has a lot to do with it. There are proposals out there that would tax ammo, some proposals about guns that may or may not include the "lowly" .22. If I crank my tinfoil hat down good and snug, I can tell you why I'd want 20K of .22: barter. Now we don't do TEOTWAWKI threads, but I can imagine several scenarios in which I'd want enough .22 to both: (1) take down small game; and (2) trade for other supplies.
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Old February 17, 2013, 05:06 PM   #9
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I think some are missing the point of the OP. If he works for the largest gun retailer in the US one would think that that retailer would be in line for new ammunition supplies first before the many other smaller sellers. If the number one seller is not getting the ammunition who is?
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Old February 17, 2013, 05:16 PM   #10
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You've got a point, UtopiaTexasG19. I would guess that if the #1 retailer isn't getting its ammo supplies, it's not the #1 priority recipient.
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:46 PM   #11
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I think that if the OP does work for Wal-Mart, then that might explain it to a degree. Wal-Mart may have over 3,000 Supercenters in the US, but in general their firearms section is pretty small. Lots of other places that have much bigger firearms sections that probably get allocations before them when things are tight. Wal-Mart is notorious for basically telling suppliers what they will pay for a product, so, why sell it to them if they can sell it to someone else for more money.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:17 PM   #12
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I've wondered why there isn't a massive loading of cargo planes with ammo from all over the world to ship here.

I do know that we have folks who camp in tents by the local stores and then buy all the ammo to stash it or flip it. I hope when the supply catches up, they have to make Peanut Butter and 22 LR sandwiches for lunch.

Guys buy an AR at the regular price and run to the gun show to flip it to Peter Panic.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:25 PM   #13
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OMG! pilgrim your right. I've been skeet shooting every weekend since ammo shortage began , so not to deplete plinking ammo, wow I've been duped.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:34 PM   #14
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A local gun store owner told me he sold all his 22lr to a single customer. I told him I wished I didn't know that, he asked me why. I told him he just told me he didn't care bout his customers.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:40 PM   #15
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Most of the stores around me are now limiting ammo. I think that's probably a good move for them. Best to have a little for several customers than a bunch for one or two and alienate the rest. Plus, I'm not tempted to buy more than I can afford if there's a limit.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:46 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by briarbramble
Even more perplexing is the dry up of .22 cal rim fire ammo. Why would the ACC be hoarding this? I know of no threat to .22 rim fire ammo that would cause a need to hoard.
Your answer can be found in American's lack of confidence in their government and the economy. (see recent polls) Anyone that can balance a checkbook understands you can't sustain the massive gov spending on borrowed credit. They know that this hasn't occurred in their lifetime and financial "judgement day" is around the corner. With that said, they are preparing for the possible scenarios for when the gov credit card bill comes due.

Many will resort to reloading, hence the stockpiling of center-fire reloading components. But everyone realizes there's no reloading rim fire cartridges. Since more rim fires exist than any other caliber, it stands to reason the demand will be high. Rim fire is also cheaper so those wanting practice ammo will use it before depleting their center fire inventories. Lastly, it's easier to transport and afford 500 rounds of rim fire than the equivalent of center fire ammo.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:16 PM   #17
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I get tired of all the economics 101 I read on here, but this is good

Peanut Butter and 22 LR sandwiches for lunch.
and now for some more basic econ... (ugh)

they are taking the risk that the supplies will return, prices will drop and they'll be left holding the ammo and have to sell it at a discount.

On drudge today, big article about the government buying up eleventyquadrillion boolits.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:34 PM   #18
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Around where I live, I talked to employees at 3 major chains. THey all told me they believed the ammo was being bought up by guys who are then selling it at gunshows. Every truck day at Academy, Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops, these guys were lining up. I say 'were' bc all 3 of those chains have introduced per customer/per visit buying restrictions. But what was going on was these guys would queue up in the parking lot at 6-7 AM. They'd wait on the store to open. THen they'd buy up all the .223, 9MM, .45, .308, .22 LR, everything they could get. Before the restrictions, Academy was dealing with it by giving them all a number so they could keep some order - i.e. so they could deal w these guys in the order they arrived. But then they found the first buyer was buying 20 - 50 boxes of ammunition. So these guys create the scarcity, and then sell the ammo at gun shows at inflated prices.

Now we have restrictions on how much you can buy, but I still can't get any ammo or even components. It seems like, to the original poster's point, the stuff just isn't arriving.
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Old February 17, 2013, 09:48 PM   #19
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I was happy to walk into my local Academy and see they had about a hundred boxes of 38sp in stock. They have been rationing the ammo sales to a box per customer per day for awhile now and got to the point where they keep whatever they have in stock behind the customer service counter. I have not seen that much ammo in stock there for about 3 months now. Is it a sign that things are getting back to normal?

Also, on the online gun classified sites you can find .223/5.56 for as low as 60 cents per these from private sellers that last month was still trying to get a dollar a piece.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:00 PM   #20
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Since we're all assuming that the retailer under discussion is Walmart, I'll give my observations. Whoever is in charge of ordering guns and ammunition for them is an idiot. From what I've understood from people I know who have or do work for them, someone at the corporate level decides what and how much of any product each store gets.

Just the other day I walked by the ammo cabinet to find it stacked full of 7mm Mag, .300 Win. and WSM, .30-'06, and the like. Some "Deer Thugs" logo or something on all of it. I don't think they've sold a box. You can't tell me that the LGS down the road that's a one man operation run out of a 70's model single wide trailer gets priority over Walmart. He is currently having no trouble coming up with 5.56, 9mm, .40, and .45. It ain't dirt cheap or anything, but it's available.

So here's what I think: the people in charge of getting product for the stores don't know crap from shinola when it comes to guns and they're ordering whatever they can get for cheap and shipping it to stores not knowing the difference. That's the only explanation I can come up with.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:02 PM   #21
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On Saturday, I saw 223 for the first time. It was Hornady 55 gr soft points (zombie-max) packaged in 20 round boxes. $21 per box. They had about 3 dozen boxes on the shelf.

It is the first 223 I have seen since December.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:24 PM   #22
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I think that the military and govenment LE is getting priority on ammo with us consumers at the tail end of the supply line. The 22 rimfire shortage hurts since it's a round that can't be handloaded.
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Old February 17, 2013, 11:25 PM   #23
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This should be a strong reminder of why people should have several months of food stashed up at home. I dont know what would cause a run on food like the run on guns, but it is pretty clear that if there ever is a run on food, its going to go fast and all of a sudden.

Imagine if for some reason transportation was limited. Whatever food got delivered would be taken by those lined up at the store before it opened and sold for hefty profits later.

The lesson is store up on things you dont want to do without.

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Old February 18, 2013, 12:12 AM   #24
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My local Wally World had been out of ANY type of 22LR ammo until today. The last time I saw it was over a month ago. The other popular types were hit or miss - I saw (and grabbed) 45ACP and 40S&W FMJ when the 100-round boxes showed up, but the rest of the shelves were getting picked clean.

When I asked the guy with the keys to the ammo case today he said they had again changed their policy - it is now one box per customer per day. This is in the best-supplied chain in the world, as deep into Texas as you can be. So it's not like ammo or gun owners were scarce before. Everyone here already had what they needed, but were buying anything that showed up. My LGS guy said last week that he bought 6 boxes (him and his wife) of 9mm when it showed up on the Wal-Mart shelves just so he would have something for people in his CCW classes to shoot.

Anyway, I grabbed a box of 325 22LR rounds just because.
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Old February 18, 2013, 08:03 PM   #25
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"I think that the military and govenment LE is getting priority on ammo with us consumers at the tail end of the supply".

Hmmmm. I don't think so. I have several LEO friends and 2 cousins in the PD and they all are in the same boat as the rest of us. Originally I thought that they would have access to ammo so I call one of my cousins and ask him to see if he could get me some 223......pfffft, he said. I got a 3 month wait to fill my order. Funny thing is, I few days later I came across some 5.56 at Bass Pro Shop and I call him to tell him never mine... Within a minute he call me to ask me where did I found some.
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