Understanding the Spending Habits of Ammunition Buyers

223 Ammo Brass
Understanding the Spending Habits of Ammunition Buyers

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL.-(Ammoland.com)- Based on public reports filed by manufacturers, demand for ammunition has been in decline. Several possibilities have been cited as driving this trend, including a firearm-friendly White House and U.S. Senate which has reduced the fear-driven sales seen prior to the 2016 election. Many in the trade speculate that consumers previously purchased excess ammo and now are ‘shooting through’ their surpluses. But what do ammunition consumers say about the matter?

According to a survey of active hunters and recreational shooters by Southwick Associates, the nation’s leading outdoor market research and economics firm:

  • 24% of ammunition purchasers say they now spend less on ammunition than they did three years ago;
  • 38% report purchasing about the same amount compared to three years ago, while…
  • 33% say they now buy more ammunition than they did three years ago.

Five percent of respondents weren’t sure of their spending trends over the past three years.

While only a third of active ammunition consumers report spending less than they did three years ago, the difference is in the size of their purchases. On average, those who report spending less have reduced their annual purchases (in dollars) by 38%, while those who report buying more are buying only 23% more. When combined, the net effect of the two groups translates into a roughly 2% decline in overall retail ammunition sales. The differences between manufacturers’ reported declines and the numbers reported here can be attributed to this survey’s orientation towards more avid spenders and retailers’ inventories which affect the volume of orders received by manufacturers.

Over the past five years, stockpilers, or those who set aside 20% or more of their ammunition purchases for future use, account for 44% of all ammunition purchasers. Reasons given for storing ammunition include:

  1. Uncertainty about future supplies, 69%
  2. Uncertainty about the political climate, 64%
  3. To save money, 57%
  4. Uncertainty about future economic conditions and income, 54%
  5. To save time, 39%
  6. Other, 8%

This significant portion of consumers with their various reasons for buying excess amounts of ammunition certainly had an effect on the industry’s recent record ammunition sales.

“Concerns about future availability drove many consumers to buy greater supplies of ammunition than normal,” said Nancy Bacon, Vice President of Southwick Associates. “It is our opinion that, once excess ammunition supplies are shot, we’ll see a lift in sales and a return to normal, stable buying patterns – barring any new political shocks.”

Digging deeper into the purchasing habits of ammunition consumers, Southwick Associates found the average annual spending on ammunition by avid hunters and shooters was around $400, with 65 percent of them spending $300 or less each year. Only 15 percent of those surveyed reported spending more than $600 on ammunition in the past year. Another insight examines frequency of purchase.

How often do you purchase ammunition?
How often do you purchase ammunition?

Over the remainder of 2019, Southwick Associates will be releasing new insights and services to help companies better understand trends, sales and purchasing motivations within the hunting, shooting and personal protection markets. Stay tuned.

About Southwick AssociatesSouthwick Associates logo

Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm, specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets. For more than 25 years, Southwick Associates has established a proven reputation for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics assisting business and strategic decisions across the entire outdoor industry; from government agencies, industry associations and non-profit organizations, to affiliated businesses and manufacturers. Aside from custom market research, Southwick Associates also provides syndicated participation, media consumption and equipment purchase tracking studies utilizing their proprietary sportsmen panels. Visit www.southwickassociates.com for more information.

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I have no problem because it always stays at home.

M. L. Maus

Unfortunately I have lost my only gun in a boating accident far from land in very deep water. So I don’t buy ammo or reload it either. My report is on file with the government of a land locked country that no longer is open for business.


I do have a rubber band gun. Does that count?

danny b pro2nd

Guns and ammo will always be a hot topic in this country because the news media can grab a headline and the left politician can get a soundbite. But statistics bear out that more life is lost via abortion, drunk drivers and accidents then by guns but “don’t confuse us with the facts”. Like I have reported in the past, as people that like to shoot guns you need to have ammo and/or components in order to do it. I do not feel sorry for ammo companies or companies that make the components that because sales are down they aren’t… Read more »


I said before WHY IN THE HELL POST AMMO POSTS? DAM GUN GRABBERS READ TOO. When you report about ammo they sceme how to mess that up too.think about it.unless your like nra slipping it up members butts slowly

Roy D.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you proof positive that even monkeys can use a keyboard.


I have the same view too.

Get Out

IMOA ammo purchases will be centered around political figures who are anti-gun and spout off about it. An example is the magazine ban that was lifted recently for a week, magazine flowed into California for better than a solid week. The ammo restrictions in California are probably for the most part unenforceable.

Gary l Bayse

That’s why I love living in Sunny Florida

Ted wright

Been to FL panhandle once. It was gorgeous. BUT.! I dont want to risk having tax payers rebuild my house every year after a hurricane. Granted we risk earthquakes here in Commiefornia but in comparison to the frequency of damaging hurricanes the earthquake is nonexistent. That being said I hate it here everything is either illegal, to expensive or takes to long (traffic). But it’s not that easy to pick up and go at 59

Chris B Grodhaus

I escaped California when I was 45. I now live in Idaho. I am 65 now. Biggest problem with Idaho? I didn’t move here 30 years sooner.

Ted wright

Been through south Idaho quite a bit . Enjoyed most of it. That I saw through the windshield of a Peterbilt

Ted wright

Dear Calif resident . Make freinds with truckers or better yet have trucker family that live in free America have your online ammo purchase sent to their address and when they bring freight to Calif they bring your ammo too! Simple effective. When and if you purchas4 ammo from a bordering state leave you automobile somewhere else and walk or take uber or taxi etc to the gun store. When crossing back into commiefornia use the backroads where there are no ports of entry.

Wild Bill

@Ted w, those are excellent asymmetrical suggestions!

Gregory Winchell

Its ok. I thought it was a charming mistake. ‘Freeloader’ here means that you are a free individual who reloads.


The article didn’t mention that there was a flood of WWII and Cold War manufactured rifles, pistols and ammunition purchased by US consumers for more than a couple of decades. As the available surplus firearms began to dry up, the available ammunition to feed those weapons increased and the prices dropped. Likewise, easy to manufacture AR and AK-type rifles were produced by multiple competitors and their prices also dropped, as did 5.56×45 and 7.62×39 ball ammo.


Starting July 1, 2019, California DOJ will monitor and record all ammo sales and will enter that info into a data base. If someone buys whatever DOJ feels is too much will tigger a visit to your home. That is the intent and expectation of the new law.


Starting July 1, 2019, California DOJ will monitor and record all ammo sales and will enter that info into a data base. If someone buys whatever DOJ feels is too much will trigger a visit to your home. That is the intent and expectation of the new law.

Jeffrey Hendrix

I choose to buy ammunition by the case. That is a thousand rounds at a time and it takes me awhile to shoot it at the range. Fortunately it is easy in Georgia but I am always cognizant of the political winds and we’ll stay stocked

Chris Milbutn

Someone asked about those who do their own reloading and this should be explored. As a freeloader I can do ammo for less than half the cost of factory ammo allowing me to stock up more.

Chris Milburn

I hate auto correct….I meant as a reloader not freeloader….lol

Gregory Winchell

Its ok. I thought it was a charming mistake. ‘Freeloader’ here means that you are a free individual who reloads.


Don’t forget, under Obama the government was hoarding ammo with huge purchases from the USPS, IRS, etc.

Greg K

Have given this some thought…You are correct, and it’s important we know where or from whom we get our ammo. In this case we buy from the same people the government did. The main ammo suppliers did and are running serious overproduction, which has and is being bought mostly by, We the People..

It may be a blessing in disguise.


NOT IN COMMIE KALIFORNIA! NO mail order buy’s, No bringing in from free states. Reduced to “state approved” sellers. Starting July 01, 2019 background checks too.
Big box stores may will no longer sell ammo, too much trouble. Leaving to the rip off ammo vendors and FFL’s that know well they have captive buyers, meaning higher and higher prices, only because the can. YUP, crime has now ended? LOL LOL LOL

Wild Bill

@KGM, Do the agents of the state of California search your vehicle when you come back from out of state?


They don’t need to. They have state DOJ doing surveillance at gun stores at the border, which gives them probable cause to search your vehicle coming back over if they see you loading up stuff there.

Jerry M

When Massachusetts police camped out in the parking lot of New Hampshire liquor stores to identify Massachusetts residents crossing the border to buy the cheaper (and tax-free) New Hampshire liquor, the governor of New Hampshire sent his state police there to threaten them with loitering charges until they went away.

It seems like Nevada or Arizona should have something to say about Californian tax officials working in their states without permission.

Riper 6

From AZ … To hell with California…

Chuck Westing

This is the best action by gov I have heard in a longgggg time lol!

Wild Bill

, So two cars are needed. One waiting for goods transfer in Bull Head City. Then the first car becomes the decoy vehicle. Next time you will need three vehicles for diffused transfer and travel on later day and differing routes.
Does anyone have “relatives” from different states (with out of state licenses on their vehicles) that bring wrapped Christmas presents.
We need to think asymmetrically, people. This game could be more fun than federal income tax.

Gary Spoon

Sounds like a police state , you folks need to change your government while you still can . It’s all unconstitutional sounds like nazi Germany


Californians have had decades to make changes but they refuse to. As a whole they’d rather wait for government money to fix their self induced problems. They’d rather steal a neighboring state’s water than manage what they have.
Nah, they won’t change.
Not even with all the illegals Trump can send them. Lol

Randy Wentz

That is why in live in Tennessee


R Wentz Amen Brother.


I thought you reside in a Tennessee because all your exes live in Texas. Is that not the case?


Does this survey include reloading components? Other than .22lr, I seldom buy factory ammo anymore since I took up reloading.


What caliber(s) do you reload? How many rounds do you usually do at a time and have you figured your cost per round vs what you could buy it for today?


I’ll throw in. Like Wade, 22lr is about all I buy factory. I load 9mm @ 14c per round for jhp, 223 @ 18c per round for jsp, 308 for 37c per round jsp, 30 06 39c per round jsp, 458 SOCOM for 55c per round jsp, 75c per round for flex tip. All those costs do vary. For example, I just picked up a case (5000) CCI primers for 2.5c instead of the normal 3.5c each. Or various sales on powder make a huge difference in rifle cartridge cost. Bullet prices can also swing pretty good especially on the… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Cliffaling, Your 6 year old daughter helps with the reloading process? You get a big hooah for that. That is the best thing that I have read all week!

Dave C

I guess I’d have to answer the question with “which caliber?” I reload except for 22lr., and sometimes, 9mm, when I get a good sale. I reload for savings and accuracy. Anybody priced 458 SOCOM? Reloading it is Mandatory, unless you are filthy rich, and I’m just a retiree. I know what I have, and I know what I need, and I know what I want, so purchases are pretty much governed by sales…. I always buy powder at the local shows to avoid the HAZMAT charges.