Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Great Ammo Drought of 2013

My good pal Mark Keefe tackles the great ammo drought on his AMERICAN RIFLEMAN blog this AM:
 All the major ammunition companies have increased capacity and production over last year’s levels, which was a banner year. If the ammunition makers are producing more ammunition than ever before—regardless of government contracts—why is there no ammo on the shelf? Simply put, other people are buying it before you do. This is basic supply and demand. When demand is high and supply low, prices increase.
As you know, I believe we've stumbled into a REALLY REALLY perfect storm, which includes the drastic increase in domestic demand, the continuing war in the Middle East (and the depletion of our military reserve of ammo), worldwide tensions (major offshore ammo suppliers are pouring their ammo into military contracts), the final depletion of the great Cold War (and WW2) surplus ammo stashes in Europe, China and India competing for such commodities as copper and lead and generally bad juju. I suspect what we're seeing here is a "readjustment" of the domestic ammo market, which is a nice way of saying that while supply may stabilize (12-18 months from now), the "new normal" of higher pricing is here to stay.

Paul Erhardt in today's SHOOTING WIRE talks about "panic" and "hoarding" in his own inimitable style on ways to cope with the ammo crisis:
No. 6 - Panic. That's right. Nothing ever really gets done until you panic and waiting until the DHS armored vehicles start rolling down the street to start is too late. Panic now! And No. 7 - Hoard. Two words: Stock Pile. Maybe that's one, but whatever, you get the point. When Gideon blows that horn I want to be standing on top of a mountain of ammo, ready to take on all comers.
LOL! Having had a good laugh, I have to say that I actually don't agree with the current vituperation being heaped on "hoarders" and "speculators." Remember, I'm a "small L" libertarian at heart and I absolutely believe in capitalism. "Hoarders" are people who were smarter than you, or who saw the writing on the wall when you didn't, and were willing to commit their funds to protecting themselves and their families. In short, a hoarder puts his or her money where his or her mouth is.

Wouldn't it be better if everyone had 100 rounds of .22 as opposed to the current situation? "Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen!" LOL! Karl Marx's great dictum on equality of results — "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need," if your German's a little rusty — always assumed a world of abundance...there's plenty for everybody, so let's spread it around. Sort of like America in the Old Days, or at least the way we remember the old days.

But unfortunately the Age of Abundance has followed the Age of the Dinosaurs into extinction. We now live in an age of constraints and have to adjust our lives accordingly. I remember in the last drought (or, more correctly, the beginning of this drought) there was a post on one of the gun forums from someone who shot a match twice a month, On the way to the match, he would stop at Wally-World and buy just enough ammo to shoot the match. One Saturday morning, there was no ammo on the shelves of his Wally-World. On the forum he was ripping into the damned hoarders and the damned speculators...except that in my readings of the U.S. Constitution, the Bible and Das Kapital, I could not find one single reference to, "You have the [inalienable/God-given/provided by the All-Seeing State] to pick up just-in-time ammo on the way to your Saturday match."

On the DOWN RANGE Radio podcasts before the current shoe fell, I have been begging people to stock up when the prices dropped...because in an age of constraints, there is always going to be another crisis! I got letters from people who said, frankly, that they didn't want to spend their money on ammo or components. That is a perfectly legitimate decision, but as with any decision one has to live with the consequences.

Regarding those damn speculators, let's talk about risks. A speculator in any field places a bet, absolutely no different than you or I walking into the Stop-And-Rob and buying a $20 lottery ticket. Sometimes the speculator wins the bet — prices rise and the speculator is able to sell goods for a profit — and sometimes the speculator loses the bet, and all his or her money. Speculation is an inherent part of capitalism...another word for speculation is "investment." I invest in a product in anticipation of making a profit somewhere down the line. The market will decide winners and losers!

Heck, reminds me of an Ayn Rand quote: "Run for your life from any man who tells you money is evil. That sentence is a leper's bell of an approaching looter."

BTW, here's Julie Golob's tips on surviving the Great Ammo Drought:


Tom Wright said...

The number of new firearms owners hasn't helped. Even my antigun co-worker bought one. I stocked up on reloading supplies for my centerfire needs but, thought I had enough .22.

It's pretty bad when I can shoot centerfire much cheaper than I can rimfire. .38's are my new .22 Now, if I could only find a Ruger 77/357.

gunfreezone said...

I have 7.62 Russian ammo I bought for $90 the 1K. I stopped looking at prices when the box of 20 rounds passed $3.
I am afraid to look at prices now and considering to buy a bank vault just for the ammunition!

GundamSubaru said...

I've had my abundant stock of SHTF supplies set aside for years so I'm comfortable from that standpoint. It just sucks to not be able to practice and enjoy our hobby. I've actually even been selling off some of my recreational stock to friends who are new gun owners or who didn't prepare prior to now. I hate to part with my fun stuff but I won't allow the people I care about to go unarmed because they couldn't forsee the current state of affairs.

It does frighten me a little bit that all these new gun owners and CCW permit holders won't be able to get the practice they need. I dread the day someone causes the death of an innocent in a self defense shooting scenario. The media will have a field day. I think it speaks to the extraordinary skill and good judgement of the shooting community that there haven't been any major instances of this since the whole concealed carry boom started.

The Freeholder said...

Well, I took your advice (it was also the advice of several others, including that little voice in my head) and stocked up not only on ammo, but on certain guns as well. I guess that makes me a (happy) panicked hoarder. I can still go to the range and shoot when others are sitting at home complaining. Thanks for being sure we were awake.

I think the nicest thing is that while everyone else is spending a lot of time, effort and gasoline chasing expensive ammo, I'm able to take advantage of the fact that certain gun accessories aren't selling so well and their prices have come down a bit. My new Eotech 512.A65 just showed up today. I paid less than I can ever remember seeing them advertised for. Woot!

Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, here's a little tip that might help : Sell your Ammo.

Now, I'm not saying all of it, but think about it. Do you have Ammo for a Gun you no longer shoot or even have? I did. Sold off my 3rd. Gen Smith .40 a few years back, but I had a Fat 50 can full of Ammo "for the next .40 S+W." But I never bought one, focusing on 9mm and .357 instead for the pistols I do have. So off to the Fun Show last weekend, and I sold enough of it at Today's Prices that I was able to get another .357 for $400! And this was a 1961 Smith Highway Patrolman! And I do have a LOT of .357 on hand.

So the people looking for .40 S+W got some, I made a good Profit, the Owner of the Smith was Happy, I'm Happy, and I still made enough to get some 7.62 Nato for my Chilean Mauser.

Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom Wright,

Everyone who buys a gun HELPS! They are now "stake-holders" in the Second Amendment.

Bubblehead Les is also right. One of the un-intended (intended?) consequences of the ammo shortage created by_______ (you fill in the blanks), is that new CPL applicants don't have ammo to use in their classes and to qualify with. So, be sure to share some with them.

Life Member

Scott said...

You told all of us Michael. For years.

And how many of the whiners with no ammo have a new(-ish) truck or car? Or two? RV? Big screen TV? Two or three HDTVs? ATV/snowmobile/boat/motorcycle/ulta-zoot pedal bike? [no offense, Michael!] How about that Vegas/Hawaii/cruise vacation last year? iPhone? Google-feeding Android tablet? 392 HD cable channels? Netflix? Eating out? Gym membership? Stop at FiveBucks for coffee every day?

Shut up! We're tired of hearing you. You HAD money! You made stupid choices. Get in line, wait, scrabble, beg, and pay more. But shut up about the hoarders. If you think this is hoarding, you really don't understand what you think you mean [yet; but you will]; plus you are Progressive, Communist, FSA boot-lickers.

cj said...

I've always figured...worst case, I have ammo to shoot, best case I have a valuable commodity should alcohol/tobacco/firearms/food/ammunition/gold become the most negotiable items out there.

cj said...

Hmm...just realized I switched my best and worst cases...

Scott said...

cj, remember that the worst day shooting beats the best day after the societal collapse.

I think you got the worst/best correct. You would be looking pretty sharp sitting atop a pile of .22LR, rice, beans, and Mountain House.

You might want to add TP to your list.