The last couple of years of “strong consumer demand” (panic buying) has finally come to an end. .22 LR ammunition is still thin on the ground (although easy to purchase online) but centerfire inventory is good, retailers are flush with AR-15 rifles and there is a higher level of discounting than what we have seen in a while.

We are half-way through Obama’s second term. If history is anything to go by then there will be at least one year, maybe 18 months, before the next era of panic buying starts. And no, this is not a political statement. This is just how I think the market will react to another presidential election.

TFB’s editorial policy has always been to avoid spreading the fear and uncertainty that leads to panic. This is why I am advising all of you to stock up, well in advance, so in two years time, we can collectively sit back, with a smug grin on our faces, while the less well prepared cry out that there is some sort of conspiracy depriving them of guns and ammo.

This is what I do: If I plan on shooting 50 rounds of a given cartridge at the range, I buy at least double that. The rest I keep in storage. Once you have a decent stockpile, start rotating out the older ammunition to shoot. This way, over the course of a year you will accumulate an entire years worth of ammunition. If you cannot afford to buy double, but an extra 50%, 25% or whatever you can afford.

(Yes, I buy my ammunition at retail, just like all of you)

AR-15 lowers are cheap right now. If you don’t already have a few sitting in storage, start slowly buying up stripped receivers. The same goes for magazines. If you don’t have a reasonable stockpile, start slowly accumulating them (for all the guns in your collection).

Diversity is good. If you are thinking of buying a new gun, consider buying one in a caliber that is not one of the most popular, but still popular enough that ammunition is easily available. The 9mm, .223/5.56, .308/7.62, .40, .45, .38 ACP etc. sell out the fastest. Maybe try 10mm Auto, .357 SIG and .38 Super. But be careful, don’t spread your self to thin with exotic calibers (unless you reload, which brings me to my next point…).

Consider learning how to reload ammunition if you do not do so already. The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition has many good reviews of it on Amazon and costs less than $10 (I have not read the book, so don’t consider this an endorsement). Better to start learning now than in two years time when reloading supplies are all out of stock.

I know for many, or even most, of you this is advice is nothing new, but you would be amazed at how many emails I received over the past year from gun owners furious about the lack of ammunition and firearms at their local gun stores. I did not want to rub salt in their wounds by saying “well, you have only yourself to blame”. Hopefully this blog post will reduce the number of stressed out folks come November 2016.

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.


  • Blake

    & if you reload, stock up on primers big-time!

    • Klingon00

      Heck, I still can’t find good powder reliably.

  • Tim U

    I’m working on getting myself loaded up on reloading, as well as factory ammo cheap enough to merit it over reloading. I was almost always able to find .40 in stores during all but the worst month of the whole panic, so I moved to a new edc in.40. Of course, I kept my older edc so I can switch back and forth.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Good advice, if you can afford it. For many, even that extra box of ammo or accessory is a stretch.

  • SM

    I have been buying 9mm, 7.62x54r, 12ga and .22lr since I was 15. I never bought a bunch at once (except for the 54r, spam cans FTW); just one or two boxes of something cheap every month. By the time I was 21, I had over 1000 rounds of 9mm (mostly 115gr FMJ), 2000 rounds of 7.62x54r, 500 rounds of 12ga (various loads) and 4000 rounds of .22lr. It’s the little investment each month that adds up over time.

    I, regrettably, had to sell off most of my .22lr to pay for a vehicle repair, but I made a massive profit off of it.

  • Jack Morris

    This was a very thoughtful article. Unfortunately, pistol powder is still scarce as an honest politician here in St. Louis 🙁

    • dan citizen

      you mean it’s a mythical creature like a unicorn?

  • Geoffry K

    I started reloading about 2 years ago. Powder and primers were scarce when oblamo was re-elected, but slowly coming back now. Bass Pro usually has primers, but rifle powder is hit or miss (only place around here with reloading stuff). Mail order bullets always available. I have stockpiled around 2200 rounds of 9mm., 1200 rounds of .223/5.56 and working on reloading 7.62X54R for my Mosin, I have 120 rounds right now. IMR4895 good for both calibers. And pretty much any other rifle caliber I may buy.

    • Jim

      Why reload 7.62x54R? Just curious since surplus is still cheap and available.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    Historically, the panics come in predictable waves. Twenty years in the business tells me the predictable ones come in four waves: just before the election theres a panic, right after the election theres another surge, then its quiet for a few months and theres another one right before inauguration, then another one shortly after. Those are the predictable ones.

    Having sat through the Assault Weapons ban of 1994-2004, I’ve made sure to stock up in case it happens again. It’s been ten years since the ban was left to expire…if you havent taken advantage in those TEN YEARS to get your ‘lifetime supply’ of soon-to-be-banned items then I have no sympathy for you.

    Mags are easier to ban than guns, so I’d get the mags first. Then the gun. But don’t be sap and think it won’t happen….get both.

  • USMC03Vet

    357 sig you say? Gotta win the lottery first I say.

    I hope a buyers market hits for AK’s prior to the rush, but it doesn’t look good. I’ll be here bellyaching about it.

  • Chase Buchanan

    As far as Firearm Blog headlines go, this one was quite alarming.

  • HMSLion

    Stock up in bulk…and if you have the funds, have some stuff squirreled away for sale. Buy low, sell high.

    • dan

      So you were doing what every other a$$ hole was doing. Thanks bud hope Karma fists you right in your balloon knot

      • Grindstone50k

        Yeah, fucking capitalist!

  • JT

    How about trying to shift to community to equate panic buying with stupidity and selfishness rather than assuming stupidity and selfishness from the getgo and encouraging that sort of thinking? Kind of like, prepare A LITTLE for it, but try to stigmatize it rather than fail to discourage it. I do believe it’s possible to shame scalpers out of what they do and make for a better community that cares for each other or at least shows empathy for people who shoot casually, want to take their family out to shoot.

    In other words, build a better, less selfish community, discourage the profiteers, then you wouldn’t have to worry about this cyclical hysteria so much or the scalpers cashing in and prolonging it.

    • Doom

      Dont discourage having tons of ammo, that is antigun thinking, but do discourage scalping, that is messed up.

  • Muttdad

    HMSLion. So you’ve identified yourself as one of the hoarders. Thanks a lot bozo.

  • billyoblivion

    > Yes, I buy my ammunition at retail, just like all of you

    I order mine over the internet in case lots.

  • El Duderino

    Shoot one, buy two is an excellent strategy.

  • Bleh. I wasn’t worried so much about trying to get .22 LR and would only buy in small quantities. But I wasn’t shooting much then. Now that I’m back at the range, trying to get the same .22 as last time is more impossible that actually getting .22. I still have a small reserve left but it’s not very good ammo.

  • Rick

    so where’s 22LR online that isn’t 4-6x the pre-panic price? Or only 32 or 36 grain instead of 40? every supplier I see listed, is “backordered”, “out of stock”, or over $10 for a 50 round box

  • Steve_7

    Why would you stockpile AR-15 lowers? Still using a Colt lower I bought in 1987. The barrels are the bit that wears out.

    • Cymond

      Because many people like to make different “builds”. Also, it is the lower that is the firearm that would be restricted. The rest of the parts are expected to remain legal well in to the future, with only occasional shortages due to mass purchasing.