How to Get Ammo During a Shortage
If you want to go to the range this Independence Day weekend and you normally by ammo like you would buy bread or milk, you are in for a surprise. There is very little. But how can you get some?
About half the times I post a video of myself shooting at a USPSA match on social media, someone will ask me where I'm finding ammo to shoot so much. They also often note it looks "expensive" to blast away on a 32-round stage. It certainly could be, but it isn't for me.
If you are new to shooting you probably don't know about the ebb and flow of ammunition and firearms. Because of the politically charged nature of the industry, every four years the supply and demand goes up and down. Everything becomes a commodity. If people think "I better buy it while I still can" then the demand goes up, supply goes down. In 2016, when everyone was sure Hillary Clinton would win the election, manufacturers were cranking out guns in anticipation of a Democrat in the White House and thus a push for more restrictions. When Donald Trump won, the futures the industry was betting on turned into a lot of inexpensive purchases for shooters. Stock prices of gunmakers even dipped.
In 2020 we not only had an election, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, and a record number of new gun owners every month starting in March. Demand skyrocketed for ammo and manufacturers simply can't keep up, nor can they afford to tool up more machines and staff that they likely won't need in the future.
So where do you get ammo? Truthfully, time travel to 2019 or bend over and take it. But I do have a strategy for getting it now as well.
If you are aware of the political situation and how it drives price and availability, the year before an election you slowly start stocking up. If you purchase ammunition, buy in bulk instead of one or two boxes. Or buy one or two boxes every now and then.
I am currently shooting bullets that I purchased at the very end of 2019 and loaded this year. Since I am a reloader, meaning I buy the components to make ammunition and put them together myself, I always have a stock of those supplies on hand. In early 2020, when COVID-19 started to have a big impact, I started stocking up on the harder-to-get components in a shortage, powder, and primers. I knew they would get scarce and they are.
If you want to shoot you have to ask yourself two questions: "How bad and how much do I want to shoot?" and "What am I willing to pay for a box of ammo?" Set those numbers and stick to them. Some people refuse to pay more than the lowest normal prices. These are people who don't actually shoot much anyway so it's easy for them to virtue signal their disgust, but they wouldn't have been buying anyway.
If you just want to find ammo and the best possible price, your best bet is to just visit the stores that sell it as often as you can. That's what I do because I still buy certain calibers that I don't reload for.
Of course you can overpay online. It's hard to swallow, but it is an option. If you are diligent, you can find auctions for 9mm ammo on GunBroker.com that don't get stupid high, especially if they are auctions. Buy It Now prices will hurt. I was able to buy 500 rounds for $285 a few months back. That's $28.50 for a box of 50 that cost about $10.99 two years ago. I would not have paid over $30 per 50. Like I said, set a price and stick to it.
Like every ammo crisis of the past, this one will pass by the wayside as well. But when prices are at their lowest again, remember, that is the time to stock up on everything.