Ammunition is not only hard to come by these days but it is also extremely overpriced due to the numerous surrounding factors of this whirlwind of a year. While deals can be found here and there, it seems that for the time being, we are stuck with some grossly overinflated prices when it comes to feeding our firearms. The other day a fellow staff member here at TFB came across what seemed to be a great online deal for some ammunition but upon further investigation, it turned out to look like a complete scam. So the writers here at TFB decided it would be in everyone’s best interest to put out a PSA to help everyone in the gun community avoid scams when purchasing ammunition online.
TFB PSA: Avoiding Scams When Purchasing Ammunition Online
I’m not here today to discourage anyone from taking advantage of a good deal when they see one – especially if it’s from a reputable manufacturer or a kind-hearted friend offering you a few boxes at pre-covid prices. What I’m here to do is help you spot a few red-flags that should give you at least an early warning that the deal you’re about to make isn’t a genuine one and perhaps that might save you some of your hard-earned cash from vanishing without so much as a single round to show for it.
1. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is
Your first indication that the online deal you’re about to make with someone is not kosher is going to be if it looks too good to be true. Right now that means ammunition being priced at or below pre-covid prices. A good rule of thumb is to take into account the average price of a box of 115-grain 9mm ammunition. A good way to figure out what would be considered a “too good to be true” price is to ask your local gun range what they are paying for a box of 9mm.
Since gun ranges and gun shops tend to pay bulk-price and distributor prices for ammunition, they can get it for much cheaper than the average Joe who is only buying a case or two at a time. Even so – distributors and ranges are still paying the same inflated prices we are but largely maintain the same discounts they held before prices went out of control.
I consulted a close friend of mine who works at a pretty busy gun range/gun shop and he’s told me that on average they are paying somewhere around what you could expect to pay at a big-box store for a box of ammo pre-covid. So if you’re seeing ammo for sale around the $12-$13 per box price, then you should look into the deal a bit further before committing to a deal.
2. No website, No HTTPS, NO SSL Certificate, NO Deal!
The second set of red flags you should pay attention to should be the actual online mediums through which you’re finding these deals. A strong indicator of a sour deal on the horizon is when a company doesn’t actually have a website outside of their social media. Scammers don’t want to put a lot of their own capital into the scam and websites cost a decent amount of money and time to set up. Usually, this means they’ll opt for the free option which is to set up a simple social media page and catch people that way.
Going a bit deeper into the online security aspect you can manually check the validity of a website’s security protocols by checking if their web address has an HTTPS protocol (secured) vs a standard HTTP protocol. Furthermore, you should also check to see if the website has an SSL certificate which is a way of securing data that is sent between your internet browser and the website.
If your site has forms that ask for even the most basic information, such as name, phone number, email address and home address, you should be using SSL. Any site with forms asking for user information should make sure their web forms are secure. Without an SSL certificate, these forms can be intercepted, easily.
You can check for this information usually by clicking the small lock icon directly to the left of the website address in your browser. There you can see what transfer protocol the website is using and also see if they have an SSL certificate and if it is currently valid.
3. Work outside of social media and use a credit card
By far the most common scams that I have seen so far have to do strictly with social media. Sites like Instagram and Facebook will often have people set up “shop” on the platform advertising ammunition at too good to be true prices. Potential patrons will contact these people via Direct Messages and eventually information and money are exchanged and no ammunition is sent.
The problem here is now some stranger will not only have your cash but your mailing address too. What is worse is that these direct messages on Facebook and Instagram leave you no recompense when it is revealed that the deal is a scam. Getting PayPal to get your money back is a daunting task all on its own and unless you were sent an official invoice the chances of you getting your money back will be slim to none.
Pump the brakes and use your Brain
I’m sure none of these details here are novel to anyone who has been on the internet for any sufficient amount of time. While our online tools are a great source of convenience and variety, they also expose us to the worst that humanity has to offer. So before you go diving off the deep end to keep your guns fed, be sure to slow things down a bit and think about the situation to make sure you’re not simply giving in to your deal-finding inner beast.
I would continue to keep an eye on all of the reputable manufacturers out there and stick to buying ammo from them to keep my hard-earned cash safeguarded from any sort of scams.