My Take on the Ammunition Shortage

Empty Brass Ammo
My Take on the Ammunition Shortage
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Montana Shooting Sports Association

Missoula, MT –-( Several of you have asked me what the cause of the ammunition shortage is.

The ammo shortage is nation-wide, and pretty much for all calibers. The shortage also includes ammunition components (brass, powder, primers and bullets) and all reloading equipment and supplies.

A part of the problem is the heavy federal government purchases, stressing an already-stressed marketplace.

However, the larger problem is the difference in elasticity between supply and demand.

The supply side is relatively inelastic. Manufacturers cannot increase production more than 30-40% before they begin exhausting their component suppliers. The component suppliers can't expand more than 30-40% before they max out their material suppliers, all the way to the ends of the many supply chains.

This is a usual rule for any type of manufacturing, and applies now in spades to ammunition.

Manufacturers are running hard trying to satisfy demand. Hey, they're in business and want to sell.

However, the demand side is VERY elastic, and driven by the psychological response of Americans to economic and political uncertainties. One supplier says he doesn't have a shortage of ammunition, but a serious surplus of customers. As long as people have discretionary funds available and are stressed by political and economic uncertainty, or even by perceived political and economic uncertainty, demand for ammo will outstrip supply.

The only thing that would turn this around in the near future is if conditions change to remove or moderate the perception of economic and political uncertainty in the U.S.

Frankly, my crystal ball doesn't see that happening any time soon, unfortunately.

If authorities would imprison a slug of high mucky-mucks in D.C., things might cool down, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for that.

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Gary Marbut, presidentMontana Shooting Sports Associationwww.mtssa.orgauthor, Gun Laws of

About Montana Shooting Sports Association:MSSA is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit:

  • 23 thoughts on “My Take on the Ammunition Shortage

    1. Classic conservative stupidity. YOU, the gun owner, go out and hoard ammo and have the nerve to blame Obama. Pull your heads out of your collective @sses and get a clue.

    2. “These are the people who PAID for Obama to create DHS” someone said on an earlier post. Wrong, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
      was put in place on November 25, 2002. That was Georgie’s doing. Give credit where credit is due. We get to thank him for DHS and 2 wasted wars because in the long run, they’ll both be civil wars, at the cost of thousands of U.S. lives and trillions plus in debt.

      Someone also posted:”The DHS and DOD orders were purchase requests. The governments way of saying request for proposal. A way to lock a purchase price in place for a certain amount of time. I have seen and read the actual DHS request. Yes it is for the largest amount ever purchase…but they now also control the coast guard. The order is for UP TO that quantity and they have 5 YEARS to place the order”. Rumor is DHS will soon require all civilian security guard companies to standardize and stop using revolvers and use semi-autos on all Fed contracts from SSA to GSA. If true, expect a supply and demand problem with semi-auto handguns, probably in 9’s and 40’s and the related ammo. And more hoarding and scalping soon thereafter.

    3. Clowns hoarding are a big problem. Had a guy walk into a local shop, wanted to buy up all the large rifle primers, said he already had 150 cases(5000 in a case), that’s 3/4 million primers. We asked him how much reloading he does a week. He replied he didn’t, just buying them, brass, powder, bullets, just in case. He’s hoarding for resale or stupidity, his house is probably a bomb waiting for a match. People like him and supply and demand are big factors. And no company makes ammo w/o components. When suppliers run short, production suffers.

    4. @Lee on May 23rd. You sir are mistaken. Obama as president must dole out his real agenda slowly but while he was a state politician he stated many times his wish for a disarmed America. Do some research because the media never did.


      As a Consumer Research professional this mass purchasing has intrigued me since early January when I was at cabela’s doing some observations on another category and saw two gentlemen walk over to the ammo shelves and fill their carts with every round of .223, .308, 45 acp, and 9mm the store had. I know go there almost every morning, seeing the same 20 or so people come in every day check the shelves. If they have what they want the will make multiple trips from the car to the shelf to the checkout to the car…rinse and repeat to get around the box limit. I spoke to one gentleman last week while “Looking for .308 ammo”. and he mentioned that he and his brother have spent nearly $10K since the last election on ammunition.

      Here the thing. I went to a local gun show last week sponsored by the local teamsters, and almost every one of the “regulars” had booths selling their ammo. One individual had a full size Uhaul truck full of .223 and 9mm.

      It is easy to see where the ammo is going. WE are hoarding it…creating a “black market” condition. And it is regional. Cabela’s here in STL had at least 200 boxes of 7.62*39 this morning, and has never had less than that this entire time. Both they and BassPro had large amounts of .22 LR and .22 Mag until these forums started commenting on their scarcity.

      The DHS and DOD orders were purchase requests. The governments way of saying request for proposal. A way to lock a purchase price in place for a certain amount of time. I have seen and read the actual DHS request. Yes it is for the largest amount ever purchase…but they now also control the coast guard. The order is for UP TO that quantity and they have 5 YEARS to place the order.

    6. Lee, you ignore the basic underpinning of the problem. This IS NOT PARTISAN POLITICS. Obama is screwing you too… BUT, he isn’t the one making those decisions. Money is power. If you want to find out who is making the decisions, find who is in control of the money. Our money is controlled by the illegal Federal Reserve Bank, who is in turn controlled by the Bank of International Settlements. The B.I.S. via “Basel 2.5” regulation/manipulation initiated the market crash in 2008. These are the people who don’t want you to own guns or ammo. These are the people who PAID for Obama to create DHS. These are the people who want nothing more than to force us all onto a global currency under their control, because once that occurs, they truely will be the rulers of the Earth. How would that become pallatable to Americans? Crash their system, make them suffer, cause massive chaos, death, and misery…. then offer a solution, for free, as a good sumaritan, and the American people will demand to be placed under the thumb of these banksters who caused the whole damn mess in the first place! If we want to be PATRIOTS, forget your party affiliations. That is a diversion to keep us at each others throats instead of looking around and finding out who is truly screwing each and every one of us. The market now IS NOT doing well due to administrative policy. The market is being propped up by nothing more than the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing bond buying bonanza. The mere second they even HINT of tapering off this insane money printing orgy, the market tanks. Look at the market chart, spot price of gold, and the timing with Ben Bernake’s last report to Congress. The response is almost instant to the general meaning of his words through the entire speech. If we are going to solve this, don’t point fingers at each other. Instead, point rifles at the Federal Reserve and their cronies at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and the rest of the “too big to fail” criminals! THEY are your enemy.

    7. it has never been in where in the current administration’s agenda to impose any kind of gun legislation until Sandy Hook. even then NO WHERE was it written that this administration wants to take away anyone’s second amendment rights. if you want to hate President Obama, then hate him…it still is a free country and that’s your right, just like it was my right to dislike the idiot that served the two terms before him. but don’t blame President Obama on the fact that you can’t find ammo on him. when your tax dollars bailed our savings and loans who did you blame then? use your brain…if all of this was a conspiracy by the federal government then why are there thousands of listings of ammo on gunbroker and the like. if there was NO ammo it wouldn’t be there either. also HLS orders ammo on a regular basis for their needs…this happens every year. so please stop spreading that lie. it’s only an issue this year because Bubba can’t find ammo for his a r15 which happens to cost more than his house. by the way…have you seen your 401k balances lately? or have you spent it all on ammo? why is it that everyone hates the federal government until their state burns down or a tornado blows away their 100k rounds of ammo. isn’t that right Rick Perry and Chris Christie?

    8. I know if you have it keep it.If the shortage goes on into November than it’s not like the last one when President B O was elected.It didn’t last as long.Though what a way to stop future gun owners from buying firearms.Make it so its extremely hard to find ammo for the firearm you purchase.The DHS doesn’t want civilians armed because the dollar is going to collapse.Mayhem and chaos will happen for the unprepared and the DHS will be the private police force and FEMA CAMPS and FEMA COFFINS will be full.Don’t lose hope.GOD will guide us through just trust in him.

    9. Fortunatly I stocked up in 07& 08 before Presidet Fubar took office, havent sold any aint, gonna sell any, friends & neighbors might need it one of these days.

    10. The buying frenzy is dying quickly. Two months ago everything listed sold immediately no matter what the price. Now only the cheap stuff is selling and that’s it. Idiots have burnt up their income tax returns and maxed out their cards. Now if everyone would quit buying anything from gunbroker it would finish off the reselling idiots and force them to sell cheap just to get rid of what they are sitting on.
      The government is hoarding because the dollar is fixing to lose its status as the standard by which all other currency is based. When that happens our economy will totally crash because the government will no longer be able to hide inflation and DHS will be the private police force used to protect the ultra rich. They know it’s going to happen, you just don’t know it.

    11. My observation while attending past and present gun shows and frequenting ranges is the shortage is caused 50% by paranoia and 50% by greed, there were people who don’t even own guns who purchased ammo to resell and make a profit. Guys are selling and people are buying $80.00, 500 box of Winchester 22 rounds. that were $20.00. And they can sell as much as they have.More than anything the shortage is consumer driven, not a government plan.

    12. The REAL cause of the ammo shortage? Barrack Hussein Obozo.

      Get rid of that communist con artist scumbag and you’ll get rid of the ammo shortage and most of the rest of America’s ills.

    13. DHS, including all of the alphabet soup of agencies, has placed orders for so many calibers & types of bullets it’s incredible. They’re buying up .45 LC, .357, and even calibers like .45-70 govt & .30-30!!! They DO NOT want Americans to be able to stock up on ammo. The question HAS to be WHY??? Can it possibly be true that the govt has a nefarious agenda in mind against us? Can it possibly be true that they know something is coming which will set off massive civil unrest, especially in all major U.S. cities and they want us powerless against whatever we face? The orders they have placed are available for all to see. But, and this is important, several sources have reported that the govt isn’t even taking delivery of these orders! They don’t have to take delivery to wipe out the supply. All that ammo, or at least a major portion of it, is sitting in warehouses collecting dust. It can’t be sold to civilians because it’s spoken for! DHS just placed ANOTHER order for a couple million MORE rounds! Apparently, they’ve got enough ammo for the next ten years! Yeah, they’re drying up the supply of civilian ammo, obviously because they don’t want us to have any. Again, ask yourselves why in the world would they want to do that? The reasons you come up with should concern you.

    14. Once the lead wolf is gone from the pac, Hopefully we can rebuld america to its former glory.Please mr McCain go with the lead wolf.You are as much help as a screendoor on a submarine

    15. There is an agenda here in play. It does not revolve around political or economic recovery. Non of this is by accident.

    16. The military put out requests for purchase, not orders. Second, with people buying 5K rounds at one time, like the earlier poster, how the eff would it be possible for others to buy anything? It’s like the fat kid at a party who eats all of the hot dogs. Leave some for the others, ya meatheads! I called a store to ask about ammunition and they sell a lot to LEO & members of the military- he said they don’t limit purchases, so people are buying everything the store gets when they go in. First, it’s bad for business, second, it leads me to believe that far too many are stocking up on FMJ ammo when they need hollow point. If they want to wage war and it’s not against a military force with medics, stopping the intruders is more important than wounding them. That’s not how a military force works- shoot someone to wound, so it takes three others to help them and it takes more out of the fight with each round. In civil unrest, people will be left to die while the others keep coming.

      I hesitate to buy online because it leaves a paper/data trail. That’s because the paranoid part of me thinks the government will go after people who bought a lot of ammo before they go for the guns. However, I think the backlash from all of the recent IRS/AP/Benghazi/Obama-care and other issues will make Congress pause before they let the PHIC do anything REALLY stupid.

    17. With the exception of less-popular or uncommon calibers, all of the ammo shelves at my local gun stores, Walmarts, and target ranges have continued to collect dust. It’s absolutely deplorable.

    18. Was at a Lorain, Ohio Walmart yesterday and the ammo shelves were almost bare.
      Just some odd-ball rounds no one wanted and stuff that can’t be shot in Ohio, not even for deer hunting.

    19. I just dont really see the ammo shortage anymore.I just bought another 5K M855,& 2K 45ACP. It’s out there,a little higher,but there.

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