Many of us remember the ammo shortage of the early 00s with a combination of horror and perverse pleasure. If you happened to be one of those gun owners with a pre-existing ammunition stash so spectacular it rivaled the warehouse of a major manufacturer, it wasn’t so bad. If you happened to be one of those gun owners who just grabbed a box or two of ammunition when the urge to sling lead down-range hit, well, it was a bit worse. So here’s the question – and it’s a fitting one considering the fact that this is an election year – was the ammo rush and shortage drive by sales, hoarding, or a manufacturing shortage? (Or is there perhaps some other factor?)
Let’s use the 22 LR as an example. .22 LR was, of course, the biggest offender for shortages. It did vary according to which part of the country you were in, but in some areas – mine included – finding a single box of .22 LR on the shelf was akin to stumbling across the Mona Lisa at a redneck yard sale. It wasn’t just hard to find, it was impossible. Lately it’s been a bit easier to find and in some areas it’s practically flooding the shelves (although that seems to be the exception rather than the rule). Many arguments have taken place over the actual cause of the .22 LR shortage. Some say it was due to manufacturers simply not making enough while others said those manufacturers just couldn’t keep up with the demand (because it was, ahem, a manufactured shortage…pardon the pun). Still others say it was from the government buying up every single round of .22 LR they could find.
Since this is an election year gun and ammo sales promise to be on the rise. In fact, those sales could skyrocket depending on which candidate wins. But as we get closer to the election and another ammo rush ensues, the question remains the same: what came first, the chicken of panic or the egg of quantity shortages? Are manufacturers really churning out enough ammo right now or are the sales limits many stores continue to enforce simply keeping more ammo on the shelves? There are a number of angles to this and there seems to be a grain of truth to each of them. So much so it seems unlikely any one answer is correct on its own.
Questions aside, maybe this is a good time to take stock of your ammo situation. Rather than freaking out later when you realize you don’t actually have any ammo to shoot without hitting your local gun store, maybe you should be building a stockpile today. Yes it does take time to build up a truly impressive ammo pile, but you’ll never get there if you don’t start now. How do you do it? Prioritize calibers and get to it, one box at a time.