U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– In 2020, demand for ammunition grew. Ammunition became difficult to find. Ammunition prices shot up. Record gun sales were recorded in 2020 and 2021. We were in another ammunition supply bubble.
The ammunition bubble may be starting to leak. At the local Walmart, on May 19, 2022, there were about 20 thousand rounds of Federal Automatch in 325 round bulk packs. At $21.16 per 325 rounds, that is 6.51 cents per round, significantly lower than this correspondent has seen for months. The Automatch has generally received good reviews for reliability and accuracy, when used for the ordinary tasks a .22 rimfire is set to perform.
In addition, there were about 7 thousand rounds of CCI standard velocity at $4.83 per 50 rounds, or 9.66 cents per round. There were about a thousand rounds of Winchester Super X in 222 round packs at $18.83, or 8.48 cents per round. Much of the Federal .22 was stored on the bottom shelf, outside the frame of the picture above.
The clerk at the store was very helpful. He said ammunition had been coming in more regularly than had been the case in the last several months.
These prices may appear high in historical terms. When we look at them under the lens of inflation, they appear more reasonable.
When inflation is taken into account, ordinary .22 Long Rifle rounds in 1950 would cost 16.8 cents in 2022 dollars.
In 1960, they would cost 15 cents in 2022 dollars. In 1970, they would cost 9.5 cents. Jumping to 1990, they would cost 5.6 cents. In 2005 the cost had dropped to 4.2 cents. Those prices are from price lists, known today as manufacturers suggested retail prices.
Alert shoppers can find sales, discounts, or other ways to lower the price even more. Many shooters have told of finding sale prices lower than 2 cents a round in the 1990s. Those prices were equivalent to lower than 4 cents a round in 2022 dollars. In 2018, particular sale prices dipped to 2.5 cents a round.
The 6.5 cents per round price is higher than it was 17 years ago. There has been a historically high demand for ammunition for several years.
This correspondent is unwilling to predict whether the price of ammunition will rise or fall in the immediate future. The future seems especially murky at the moment, with many trends toward instability. The war in Ukraine, supply chain woes, and soaring energy costs all have the possibility of pushing ammunition prices up. If the American Republic survives, constant dollar ammunition prices will probably trend down in a few years, but inflation may have raised to nominal cost as the value of the dollar deteriorates.
Ammunition manufacturers are working hard, running as long as possible, and putting out about 5 billion rounds of .22 rimfire for the United States every year. A fair amount of that ammunition is imported. Aguila ramped up its production significantly in the last decade. It exports significant amounts to the USA from Mexico. While the volume is not as great, Armscor is sending .22 rimfire to the USA from the Philippines.
The United States is the biggest market for .22 rimfire ammunition in the world. No other country comes close. The single Walmart sighting of a lower priced ammuntion supply may be an unrepresentative blip.
Readers are invited to inform us of .22 rimfire prices at their location.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.