Where has All the Ammo Gone?

By Eric Ward

August 10, 2020

Are you not seeing any 9mm, 45acp or 5.56/223 ammo in stock?

And WHEN you do, it’s immediately selling out before you can get it?

Or are you seeing purchasing limits…

Or elevated prices?

Welcome to the great ammo shortage of 2020

l will explain what is happening…

And empower you with some tools to deal with it…

Now- before i jump into the details…

In additional to being an Arms Dealer,

I also went to LSU for Economics, 

So I will share knowledge AND experience with you about EXACTLY what’s going on…

Both from a “boots on the ground” arms dealer perspective,

And also a Classical Supply & Demand perspective.

The first thing I want to address is the topic of “Price Gouging”

Price Gouging defined by Wikipedia:

“Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. Usually, this event occurs after a demand or supply shock. Common examples include price increases of basic necessities after natural disasters.”

Many are quick to call what’s happening right now Price Gouging-

And that could not be further from the truth- dealers can’t currently even source it.

So, what is happening? 

The last great ammo shortages occurred in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama,

And then again in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Shooting.

What we are experiencing right now is about 10-12x worse, depending on who you ask.

Right now 4Ward Defense has a standing small order for $10,000 worth of ammo across 11 wholesalers…

And no one can fill it.

Even partially.

You see, this year has seen the alignment of 3 historic events cascading on top of each other:

1) The Virus Pandemic.

2) Riots and Looting in response to the murder of George Floyd.

3) An election year where democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to enact stricter gun control laws.

This has created a rare dual Supply AND Demand shock simultaneously.

Let’s take a look at the DEMAND side first to see what’s happening-

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has reported approximately 2,500,000 new gun owners in just the first half of 2020 alone.

That’s the most ever recorded in a 6 month timeframe.

This is fantastic from an industry and political perspective- 

We now have more people who really value their 2A rights-

However… there’s bad news,

They are HOOVERING up ammo.

You see- they don’t have any ammo.


They are brand new gun owners… 

And they HAVE to buy something. Anything.

Guns require ammo, hardstop.

And they are currently the buyer of absolute resort…

At any price point…

And that’s JUST the BRAND new gun owners.

What about existing gun owners?

…Ready for this? 

I just told you there were 2.5 million new gun owners, but what about ALL gun purchases right now, including those new owners?

The FBI NICS Background Check system reports that through July 2020 there have been…

22,819,271 background checks for gun purchases in America. 

That’s a FORTY-SIX PERCENT increase over same timeframe in 2019. (15,889,559)

So right now we have 2.5 million new buyers scrambling for anything…

Another 20 million guns purchased that may or may not need ammo…

On top of the 393 million guns already in America…

Among the 93 million gun owners… many of which never stopped buying ammo!

Add to this, the very real psychological issue of panic buying.

Generally, when humans sense something is readily available,

They casually buy what they need..

But when people sense something is not immediately available-

Ie; “I can’t buy as much as I can afford, and the prices are NOT a historical norm”…

Then humans have a tendency to buy everything that is immediately available,

Since they fear not being able to get it in the future.

(Think panic buying around natural disasters)

But wait, there’s MORE!…

We cannot forget that all the usual military, police, and federal level ammo orders have remained constant (or grown) ..

And these orders are generally filled first for those large customers.

All of these issues add up to Tremendous, Historic ammo demand…

Unlike anything ever seen before.

So- That’s the Demand side. 

Let’s talk Supply side now.

Obviously we need more ammo.

Lots of people want it. 

So where’s the ammo coming from? 

Let’s just make more of it, right?

First, there’s source commodities like lead, copper, and other elements that must be mined and refined.

These companies are greatly hampered by current COVID19 lockdown restrictions and cannot operate at normal capacity…

Let alone “ramp up” production. 

Obviously you can’t send a bunch of people into a hole to mine in close proximity.

Next, these source commodities must be turned into useful stuff- like:

Ingots of lead,
Copper bar stock,
Chemical Propellants (“gunpowder”)

The production of *these items in their manufacturing settings have been greatly affected by the virus lockdowns and social distancing also.

Many factory floors are densely populated places where many humans work in close proximity.

This is simply not feasible currently, and reduced crews are required.

And we haven’t. even. spoke. about the ammo *Manufacturers yet!

These manufacturers like Hornady, Winchester and Federal cannot easily source their materials because of the factors mentioned above…

But they ALSO have their OWN internal virus protocol to follow for manufacturing on their level of the game too!

You probably are starting to get the picture of the absolute chaos happening here. 

By the time the ammunition gets to the retail level,

Or even the *wholesale level…

It’s basically non-existent. 

POOF- gone instantly to the horde…

An endless line of buyers literally willing to pay whatever price is asked,

Continuing the vicious cycle.

So to summarize what’s happening-

There’s covid19 restrictions at each level of the manufacturing process,

Slowing it to almost a standstill…

While there is never-before-seen ammo demand from buyers…

-Who are all literally competing to see who can pay the most and buy it the fastest.

All of this adds up to where we are now…August 2020.

The sobering news is that we expect this until at least Nov 2020 before any demand subsides. 

God help you try and find ammo or magazines if Biden gets elected.

Any Supply side relief would come in the form of decreased covid19 restrictions- 

Who knows when that happens…

So, what can you do about all of this?

Easiest Solution- do not buy ammunition right now. 

For several months.

Yes, I know it’s insane to hear an arms dealer say that.

Welcome to 2020- the Year of Insanity. 

But.. it’s true. 

That is how we decrease demand.

Obviously, this is not pleasant for anyone to hear, 

But if you can use what you have, and not be a part of the current demand side- 

That’s the fastest way to help fix our current predicament…

And bring prices back down.

Until the .govs get their acts together and lift the (unconstitutional) lockdowns, we will not see much supply side relief.

Can’t we build more ammo plants?

Yes- but that takes time, money, and still will not fix the immediate problem for 8-12 months.

We may not even have this issue by the time the new plants come online. 

Also- the type of machines and tooling to expand production at current ammo producers- 

Or even retool a current machine to a different caliber-

Is mind boggling expensive and time consuming.

While it’s much easier for the smaller, nimbler ammo producers to tool up and expand, 

We must also realize these players are not nearly big enough to make any type of dent in the supply side to affect prices. So no real help there either.

So what if you really really need ammo and you cannot simply wait this out?

Well here’s some tips-

On your personal computer, keep a bunch of tabs open on your web browser with all the big online ammo sellers. Check out places like madisonguns dot com and kosher surplus dot com.

Refresh their inventory every hour. 

Maybe you will catch some restocks.

Additionally, check big box retailers on “ammo delivery days”, 

Finally, you can always check our website, HoustonGunsOnline.com.

We get stuff daily too …and it usually sells out the same day.

But the BEST tip I have,

To conserve ammo and still get valuable practice-

Is to Consider picking up my favorite firearms training tool- the Mantis-X10.

The Mantis-X10 is a small bluetooth enabled device you can attach to your guns’ rail to practice your dry-fire shots and trigger control,

And it works in conjunction with an App for your mobile device. High Tech Cool.

I 100% recommend it- I use it daily, and it allows you to conserve ammo while still practicing. 

Since 90% of Marksmanship can be practice with Dry Fire Techniques,

This is a HUGE advantage for shooters,

And it’s less than the price of a single private training session. 

Pick up your Mantis-X10 HERE


ammo shortage, ammo shortage 2020, ammunition
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