Primer availability,or lack thereof, explained

Sinclair International, seller of reloading supplies, have explained the lack of primer availability on their blog (emphasis mine):

The first driving force has been the huge demand for loaded ammunition through 2008 and continuing into 2009. The large primer manufacturers like ATK (which would include Federal and CCI), Winchester, and Remington are directing the majority of their primers into loaded ammunition.

the result has been consumers stockpiling and hoarding primers. Individuals are buying and keeping more primers in their own personal inventories and this has prevented some reloaders from having any primers at all. We normally see people buying 1,000 or maybe 5,000 primers at a time, now we are seeing customers buying 25,000 at a time.

Federal told us a couple of weeks ago to not be surprised if we don’t see many primers from them until the end of 2009.

A very dire situation indeed. I expect few of us will ever forget the ammunition drought of 2009!

I highly recommend reading the whole blog entry.

Thanks to Commodore for emailing me the link.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • I’m expecting ammo, guns, and reloading equipment to become readily available cheaply this fall when people that over bought face the reality of paying their credit cards.

  • Secesh

    Since some people are buying 25,000 primers at a time, is there any info on how long primers will last in storage? Seems like they would have to be used in a timely fashion.

  • Freiheit

    Thanks for the info Steve!

    So it does sound like this is simple supply and demand. There aren’t any sort of nefarious shenanigains going on. So if I really do need a mess of ammo it may be safe to wait a bit and save some money.

    For those of you that remember the ’94 market:
    After the peak, did the prices fall back to the levels they were before the peak?

    Is this current spike exhibiting the same patterns as in ’94?

  • HK_USP_45

    I just started handloading a month or so ago, and have been unable to actually load, since there are no primers. It kind of has me torked a little bit, especially when I picture some jerk sitting on 25,000 primers, when I have 0. I guess that’s the way things go. Hate to see one of those primers go off and set off 25,000, though. πŸ™‚

  • “Since some people are buying 25,000 primers at a time, is there any info on how long primers will last in storage?”

    It really depends on how they are stored.

    Primers generally fail if they are exposed to humidity, oil, or solvent. If the primers are wrapped up in plastic with a desiccant pack, and so kept from all the bad stuff floating around in the air, then they should last a century or more.

    How do I know? I’ve bought surplus ammo that was pretty old, and it worked. Of course, using the primers to assemble whole rounds is one really good way to shield them from the environment.


  • jdun1911

    Primer will last longer then you.

  • I’m STILL not seeing any primers out there. Is anyone seeing any primers?

  • HK_USP_45

    I have been finding primers. There’s a local outdoor store by where I live and I stopped in a couple of weeks ago, and they had tons of all types and manufacture. Also, on the Midway USA website, you can go into the page for the primer you want, and click on a link so that they notify you when that product comes in. Just yesterday I got notification for 3 different types of CCI primers. I’ve also noticed it seems the ammo shelves are starting to get pretty full, too. I stopped by Cabelas 3 days ago, and their ammo shelf was completely packed full, with no noticeable holes of missing product. It’s quite refreshing.

    I was just thinking how it seems the shortage seems to be getting better.

  • I just checked primers on the Powder Valley Inc. website. They say they have 50 million primers on back order!!

    • WOW! That is a lot of primers!

  • I just bought some small rifle wolf primers over the internet for about $25. I think I was luck to get them.

  • HK_USP_45

    I’ve been getting CCI primers from Decent price, just the Hazmat shipping charge sucks. But you can order them, and if they don’t have them you can still purchase and they will ship.

    I ordered mine back in May, and they have been trickling in over the last 3 months. They ship them to me as they get them, but I only had to pay the Hazmat fee once.