Under new State Department sanctions, there will be no Russian ammo or firearms coming into the US beginning on September 7th of this year. The Department of State published a fact sheet today regarding new sanctions imposed on Russia. The relevant text of the sanctions includes:
Restrictions on the permanent imports of certain Russian firearms. New and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia will be subject to a policy of denial.
Russian Ammo Goes the Way of the DoDO
Before anyone gets excited over the wording of “permanent importation”, you should know that this is a specific legal term. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean what you hope it means. In this context, “permanent importation” means to import for the purposes of use, sale, or otherwise keeping in the United States. There is no such thing as a permit to permanently import guns or ammo with carte blanche. Certain categories of FFL can import firearms and ammunition, it’s true. To do so, however, they have to file for a permit with the ATF and Department of State. Here and here are links to some ATF pages on these permits. Despite the word “permanent”, these licenses have to list the items and quantity for import.
Existing permits are, fortunately, good to go. However, these permits are still limited to the quantity listed on them. For example, an importer may have a form that got approved yesterday to import a million rounds of ammo. That permit is still good, but it is this author’s understanding that after those million are imported, there’s no more coming. According to the ATF Guidebook on Firearms Importation each incoming shipment requires a new ATF Form 6.
As mentioned previously, the new sanctions go into effect on September 7th. There is some good news, which is that the sanctions can theoretically lift after a period of 12 months. However, the sanctions will only be lifted if Russia meets certain conditions. Among these conditions are assurances in regards to no Russian use of chemical weapons, among others.
Russian Ammo – What Now?
In the meantime, importers are sure to place bulk orders to try and get as much ammo into the United States before the ban goes into effect as possible. Unfortunately, not much is likely to make it in. The ATF estimates that it takes 4-6 weeks to process an import permit, and the ban goes into effect in about 3 and a half weeks. The math isn’t terribly difficult.
When I started writing this article, 7.62×39 ammo could be found for 27cpr online (with free shipping). As I write this sentence now, the price has already spiked to 32cpr shipped, and it’s likely going higher.
Edit: As of 9:45pm Eastern Time on 8/20 the lowest price shipped I am able to find is 40cpr.
Fortunately, there are other sources of relatively inexpensive steel-cased ammo besides Russia. However, it will take time for them to tool up to fill the supply gap. It will take more time for importers to make new contacts and contracts, and even more time to start arriving in the US.
You can read the State Department’s full press release here.