Saturday, April 25, 2009

Got Ammo?

I took my trusty old M1911 to the shooting range a few times this month in preparation for my concealed carry class at the end of the month. I was advised to bring 50 rounds of ammunition to the class. I hadn't bought handgun ammo in over a year. As I burnt up my ammo supply in practice, I figured it would be no problem to stop by the local Thiesen's or Wal-Mart and pick up another box. Boy, was I wrong! A nation-wide shortage of all types of ammunition, handgun ammunition in particular, has emptied store shelves.

My friend (a first-time gun owner) spent the other day driving around Cedar Rapids (Iowa's second largest city) looking for his particular caliber and type. He went from store to store only to find the ammo shelves bare. At one store they said that the delivery truck arrived at 11:00 am on Thursdays and that the handgun ammo was usually gone by noon. Apparently you practically have to help unload the truck yourself if you want some ammo. My friend ended up at hardware store in a small town outside C.R. paying 50 bucks for 50 rounds.

There are several causes to the shortage. The long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have helped to dwindle ammunition supplies, as suppliers give priority to military orders over civilian sales. The largest cause of the shortage, however, is fear. Buyers are snapping up ammunition and hoarding it while they still can.

Many gun owners, including an increasing number of first-time gun buyers, are afraid that President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress will move to outlaw or excessively regulate guns and ammo. Some previously proposed legislation dealing with ammo has included placing a 1000% tax on handgun ammo, bans on lead (i.e. most) bullets, and "encoding" each bullet with a unique serial number (making it vastly more expensive).

If the specter of all of the Democrats previous gun control schemes weren't enough to drive ammo prices through the roof, recently President Obama announced his support for CIFTA, an international gun control treaty. Among other infringements upon the Second Amendment, the treaty could require people who reload ammo at home to get a federal license. (No one knows how much such a license would cost, or even if they would be issued.) The treaty should drive ammo prices up further and keep them there.

So in a time of ammunition scarcity, what can shooters do?

If you can't find the ammunition you need at your local merchant, you can try ordering ammunition online at Cheaper Than Dirt, The Sportsman's Guide, or They may be sold out of what you need, but keep checking.

If you can wait, try attending the next gun show near you. There are usually ammunition vendors at gun shows, giving you at least a chance to find what you need. Unlike what you've probably seen on the network news, gun shows are not lawless orgies of illegal gun sales with Satan himself laughing in the background, but you can pick up some good deals at one. maintains a list of Iowa gun shows here.

Good luck and good shooting!


  1. Rifle ammo is bad too. The discount bulk military surplus is all gone from everywhere on the most common calibers...7.62x39mm, .223, .308 calibers. Some of the on-line sources mentioned still have commercial-brand sporting ammo but expect to pay rounghly $2 per bang. CMP is advising a 90-120 day wait on their orders.

    It is impossible to get primers for reloading at the moment too. The big 'net boys like Weidener's and Midway are completely out with no back ordering. Cabela's allows back-orders, but expects a 2-month delay. I just saw a 1000-round brick of Winchester large pistol primers auctioned for $80. They cost $30 at the beginning of this year.

  2. Ben, you need to get current. Heck, it is impossible to get even .380 now, and that is not a caliber that you shoot a lot of. Gun shows are no better, really. I went to a large one here this weekend and it was scarce and expensive if there were any. I have been trying to get some .308 bullets to reload, none, nowhere, at any price. Primers were $55 a brick at the show, 2 brick limit.

  3. Mark, yeah it's getting to be pretty hit-and-miss. I was able to get some .45 ammo from Cheaper Than Dirt about a week ago and now I see they're all sold out. Still, the internet and gun shows give us a couple of additional options if our local store is out (which it usually is now). It's better than just gnashing our teeth and cursing!


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