Ammo Shortage To Continue Until Summer 2021

Ammo makers and retailers see no end in sight for the rampant ammunition shortage, estimating that the supply won’t rebound before summer 2021. 

Hit by an unexpected pandemic and civil unrest, ammo companies have struggled to keep pace with surging demands for popular home defense and concealed carry calibers.

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular pistol calibers are increasingly difficult to find.

Coupled with lockdowns and temporary closures of factories, manufacturers have been forced to run at lower capacity despite ballooning sales.

Lucky Gunner CEO Jake Felde said these measures alongside increased demand impacted the supply chain. Ultimately, this led to less product on the shelf. 

Just because someone works behind a gun store counter they’re not automatically experts. Do ask questions but take what is said with a grain of salt.
The days when ammo was plenty.

While it would be nice to see ammo levels return to normal soon, Felde and others said the shortage will likely continue. 

“Unless demand falls rapidly, we don’t envision a scenario where supply catches up before summer 2021, at the earliest,” Felde told Pew Pew Tactical. 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported a massive influx of new gun owners in 2020 totaling 6.2 million. New shooters purchasing guns and ammunition caused a significant drop in supply.

Though the industry braced for a run on firearms due to the presidential election, the continued lack of rounds was surprising.

Firearms Sales NSSF 2020
What customers are buying and why, according to retailers. (Photo: NSSF)

Vista Outdoor — parent company to ammo brands like Federal and Speer, in addition to newly acquired Remington — reported a year’s worth of backlog on ammunition orders. 

“Consumer demand continues to outpace our ability to supply,” Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz said during the Nov. 5 investor’s call. 

Vista reported the 2020 ammunition orders totaled over $1 billion in sales in what the company termed “unprecedented.”

Critical Components Unavailable

In addition to spikes in demand and crippled manufacturing, the industry is also seeing a lack of critical components, like primers.

Lucky Gunner’s Felde said a lack of primers has had the greatest impact on small ammo makers and reloaders.

Primers
A lack of primers makes it more difficult for ammo makers to keep up.

“That shortage is sidelining a lot of smaller boutique manufacturers. They may have projectiles, brass, and powder on hand but no primers,” Felde explained.

“That creates a situation where they can’t produce any cartridges, and their machines sit idle while demand for ammo rages on, creating frustration for everybody involved.”

Retailers and Distributors Struggling to Keep Up

Retailers and distributors are also feeling the crunch as they fight to stock rounds for customers. 

Dave Kiwacka of BarnuaL said wholesale distributors expect the high sales volume to continue until mid-2021.

The key to normalizing sales lies with new gun owners. Once new shooters stock up and the political dust settles, supply should return to normal. 

“If things calm down socially and politically, we may get to finally see what that new normal level of supply and demand looks like,” Kiwacka explained. 

Until then, it’s all about the hunt.

“Consumers will need to check with local shops and online sites at least daily. Most of the time, when we see a live posting for ammo, it’s gone in minutes.”

Lucky Gunner Banner
The banner currently sitting on Lucky Gunner’s homepage.

Brownells, a lead retailer for firearms, parts, and ammo experienced high volume sales that led to empty online shelves. An article from Pew Pew Tactical in July noted only 2% of handgun models and 3% of rifle models in stock.

The retailer said it’s fighting to restock but current demand makes it tough to keep up. 

“Brownells is constantly trying to get more ammo, but demand is so high for certain cartridges they sell out very quickly once they hit the website,” Roy Hill of Brownells told Pew Pew Tactical.

“I would suggest checking websites, like Brownells.com frequently for the specific cartridges you’re looking for. A few times a day, hit a website and see if anything has come back into stock.”

Hill also added that handgun ammo tends to sell faster than rifle ammo, so consumers might want to focus their search on rifle cartridges. 

Popular 5.56 and .223 Ammo
You might have better luck with rifle rounds.

Conclusion

With the shortage looming until summer 2021, gun owners should continue to stay diligent and check online sites daily for ammo deals and availability. In short, don’t sleep on any ammunition that pops up. It won’t last long. 

Popular Ammo Calibers & Brands
Sweet, sweet ammo.

We’ve got a few more newsworthy articles regarding COVID and its impact on the industry. Check out Gun Sales Pre and Post COVID as well as how Pandemics & Riots Drive New Gun Owners to Overwhelm Training Classes

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68 Leave a Reply

  • Terry White

    I went to his website right after reading this. The only 2 9mm types actually in stock are prices at $1.65 a round and $2.00 a round.
    Looks like the person understanding what is happening is also gouging the hell out of his own ammo sales.

    1 day ago
  • Mark B Roath

    After reading the article, who or whom makes primers?

    5 days ago
  • Jerry M Eastman

    What "High sales volume?" There is nothing on the shelves to sell! That's the misleading part of every one of these articles.

    You simply can't sell, ammo that's not on the shelf!

    1 week ago
  • Bruse Wayne

    Summer 2021 seems pretty optimistic. I am thinking the shortage will last till summer 2022 at a minimum, most likely summer 2023 if the antigunners lose in the 2022 midterms. Longer than that if they don't.

    1 week ago
  • Greg Bara

    The manufacturers of ammo and reloading components have always fallen short of meeting demand. Their claims of unanticipated demand due to the coronavirus are not believable because they have never met demand in past election years even when demand predictably increases. They are always short of demand. Every good company and industry knows, based on past experience, when demand for their products will increase. Nobody is that stupid. These companies lie when they say they had no idea that demand would increase because they always say that. They think we are ignorant enough to believe this every time they tell it to us. Perhaps the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Trade Commission should investigate monopolistic practices and anti-trust violations! I no longer trust these manufacturers!

    1 week ago
  • Joshua

    So the government's ridiculous decisions on gun bands and new laws have nothing to do with this

    1 week ago
  • Casey Murphy

    Bought a new Glock 21 at sportsman's warehouse today. Offered up 2 boxes of blazers. $29 each. Outrageous. That stuff was under $20 a box last year. Did get some primers there a few week's back. Just waiting for powder now.

    2 weeks ago
  • Beau

    Every country has primers but the usa

    2 weeks ago
  • Sean

    This is a manufactured shortage which soon will combine with gun control. They can produce 1 billion rounds a month. No way Americans have been buying 1 million rounds a month for over a year. I’m not buying it.

    2 weeks ago
    • Tim

      Except for the primers. That's the supply chain bottleneck. Like the article said, lots of ammo manufacturers have loads of bullets, brass, and powder lying around with machines un-used while they wait for more primers to come in. Now that Federal bought out Remington's ammo factories after Remington went bankrupt, hopefully they'll be able to start pumping out lots of primers.

      2 weeks ago
    • Mike Gay

      Sean, civilians bought about 10 Billion rounds in 2012 and that's not far from 1 billion per month.

      2 weeks ago
      • Casey Murphy

        Yeah. Something is up. I think it's a little more then just new gun owners consuming. I heard powder wasn't being allowed on shore? Boat's could not unload due to the pandemic shit. Most powder is made overseas.

        2 weeks ago
  • Brian Greene

    Why does every article I read, rap up with " if you see it buy it "? We need to hear a rational
    voice that just encourages restraint. If we cut back on plinking, prices fall.

    3 weeks ago
    • Schlomo

      It's not plinking that is causing prices to soar - it's caused by hoarders stockpiling thousands of rounds and scalpers buying it out the second it hits the sales floor and then marking it up. The end result is, we get raped.

      7 minutes ago
  • Rex t. Dog

    I think the ammo crunch is ever so slightly getting better...overpriced ammo is staying on the shelf, many gun owners have managed to acquire enough ammo to move themselves out of the panic buying zone, and supply seems to be up just a tick...example: we show up and get in line at big box sports store 25 minutes before opening today and bought 2 boxes each .38 special and .380...2 hrs later at a different store found some .22lr and .22wmr...this particular chain has a 2 box limit, and as un-american as that sounds, I absolutely believe the limits are helping, in a couple of different ways...

    3 weeks ago
    • Brian Greene

      No one loves to shoot more than I, but why devote so much time ,energy and passion into hoarding. Let's wait this out. Dry fire, buy a better quality holster, read and read some more. Support your choice of gun rights group. And finally when you shoot ,make every round count and not worry about round count.

      3 weeks ago
  • John. Donkey

    I think summer of 2022 is a more realistic best case scenario. At least for finding ammo at semi-reasonable prices.

    1 month ago
  • HDrider3089

    We just had a gun show here in Fort Worth and as I walked it I was very thankful that I did not need ammo. The only thing I was a bit light on was 380 and I was able to trade a couple of boxes of 38s I didn't need to a friend who had quite a bit of 380 on hand

    2 months ago
    • ftw

      thanks for the update on fort worth

      1 month ago
  • Ron

    While I need ammo, I refuse to pay these prices. If we stop buying, prices will fall; its supply and demand. Please help stop this pricing frenzy!

    2 months ago
    • Joker

      I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but it doesn't work that way. Nobody's sorry you won't buy-they will.
      You're too late for the party and because you didn't prepare you WILL pay stupid prices-or you won't be getting any.
      Tough, ain't it?

      3 weeks ago
      • Sean

        If they ban 5.56 “assault weapons” 5.56 and 2.223 will be worth much more than the .80 cents a round asked now. Nothing else uses 5.56 except ARs.

        2 weeks ago
        • Ryan

          The Mini 14, Ruger Ranch, The kel-tech folder, etc

          1 week ago
  • Roger Bosco

    We need ammo to cull the population of deer, rabbits and other game animals and vermin every year. Otherwise there is a population explosion which begs for disease and increase of predators such as coyotes. As well, livestock and crops suffer. Auto -deer accidents will increase. This is in addition to the suburbanites feeding deer and other animals every winter.

    I wish that at least Shotgun ammo would hit the shelves at a reasonable price.

    Beware of the new administration which aims at passing insane anti gun legislation.

    2 months ago
    • Scott

      We actually need more predators in North America. In our nations early ignorance of ecological systems, settlers decimated the predator populations which by nature’s own culling system had every species in a nice comfortable zone of population. We need to try to approach that pre-settlement predator level for our national forests and wilderness lands.

      1 month ago
  • Jeffrey

    I read somewhere a few months back that in addition to the COVID, the civil unrest, and the new administration there are materials that come from China. Those materials are more expensive than ever. The article stated we may never return what we all remember as normal because of the tariffs on these materials. Didn't see that anywhere here. Is there any truth to that?

    3 months ago
  • David

    Where did you get all your pictures from?

    3 months ago
  • Mr. Eman

    saying the shortage of ammunition is due to all the new gun/ammo buyers is a little short sighted. Yes they are part of the surge in buying, but some long time gun owners are also adding to the demand and i have seen others taking advantage of the high prices buy selling off there OLD inventory. I have heard of individuals instead of having a large pantry instead having a ROOM full of ammo, reloading supplies, body armor, guns and gun parts prepping for a war. Little joe thinks he will disarm America. Instead he will start a war. Goliath was beheaded by David with a slingshot and we have millions of Davids and he is NO Goliath.

    3 months ago
    • El Duderino

      Does the crunch of that tinfoil hat ever get annoying?

      3 months ago
      • Mr. Myxpyx

        "Does the crunch of that tinfoil hat ever get annoying?" No, but the drones can't see my body heat while I'm wearing it.

        1 month ago
  • JQP

    I should start a guns/ammo retailing business/site that simply takes a customer's order, gives him a number, and delivers the product in the order it was received. This simple innovation would put me past the retards that run the retail industry and make me rich.

    Why should customers have to stand next to each other in the store (or virtually), braced to fight for the stock when it hits the shelves? We've had the technology to simply take peoples orders and serve them in the order they were received for centuries, but this is too much for firearm/ammo retailers.

    4 months ago
    • Mike

      This is a great idea. I have wondered that myself a few times.

      3 months ago
    • Alex

      Best argument I have heard in a long time. I completely agree. Some of these gun shops, and even the bigger outlets are in the stone age.

      3 weeks ago
  • Hugh G. Rection

    This is what happens when idiots jump on the bandwagon. What pisses me off is that not one year ago, many of the same people who are buying guns in record numbers were those Karens who said 'nobody needs assault weapons, think of the children', etc. When you think about it, little has actually changed. Before, they thought nobody should have gun, now they think nobody else should have guns. They STILL think only people they approve of should have guns or ammo they also approve of...more specifically, themselves. You know when all of this blows over, they'll be right back to supporting gun bans. Most Americans are never more than one major news story away from doing a 180 on any particular issue. As usual, they'll change their minds only after the damage has already been done.

    4 months ago
  • pissed off

    OKAY, SUPPLY IS BAD BUT WHAT BURNS MY ASS IS THE PRICES THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE CHARGING A BOX OF 50 9MM ROUNDS AT $60.00. SOMETHING AT I PURCHASED FOT $12.00 BEFORE, making A PROFIT, ONETHING
    SCREWING OVER PEOPLE IS ANOTHER.

    4 months ago
    • MaGuff

      That’s how capitalism works. Funny how everyone preaches how capitalism is the best thing ever until it affects them personally.

      2 months ago
  • Gene

    An often overlooked issue regarding supply and demand is "just in time" supply chain. Stock piling raw materials and finished product for either sales to individual customers or manufacturers costs money (sometime lots). Facilities, utilities, personnel, insurance, additional administrative costs things large quantities of powers/primers, security, loss through damage, lost/stolen, pilferage. That is far from a completely comprehensive list, but you get the idea.

    Additionally, COVID is not just an U.S. issue, worldwide manufacture and production of raw materials are adversely affected. Transportation chain is slower. Shipment via ship are delayed for offloading once at the destination. Likewise for overland shipment.

    I have on good authority that two of the multiple issues affecting commercial ammo supplies and primers for those who reload is lack of the raw materials to make the actual primer material that goes into the primer cup. The other is where is the highest profit margin item -- selling primers or loaded ammo? The answer is obvious

    4 months ago
  • Chad

    Its starting to feel like a conspiracy is afoot. Isn't there ammo outside the US that can be imported?

    4 months ago
    • Sonny

      There's no conspiracy. Do you understand the simple principle of supply and demand. Or is that a conspiracy also?

      4 months ago
      • Johnny Johnson

        Yes. It is the "conspiracy" that has caused the "supply and demand" problem.. I think most people that has been awake to what's going on in the US, would agree...

        4 months ago
    • Schlomo

      Was there a conspiracy on toilet paper last year?

      No.

      We couldn't wipe our bums because of one reason: IDIOTS PANIC BUYING AND HOARDING.

      18 seconds ago
  • Jim

    Your last comment is part of the reason for the shortage. " In short, don’t sleep on any ammunition that pops up. It won’t last long." Hoarding!

    4 months ago
    • Matt

      Exactly! Panic buying just makes this shortage last longer

      2 months ago
  • John Binford.

    Agreed. Price is also an issue, ammo won’t be cheap. Mfrs need to increase prices to reflec5 demand...people hoard when ammo is cheap.
    Contrary to 70 million deplorables, the revolution is NOT imminent and cities are NOT being looted by hordes of indigents.

    4 months ago
    • Sonny

      Exactly. I doubt the vast majority of the Murican public could find the energy to drag themselves from their couches to do much more than whine about imagined evils.

      4 months ago
  • Gary Banlich

    You may want to caution your readers about delivery related ammo theft. I'm not talking about a delivery stolen from your front porch, but deliveries stolen by FedEx and in some cases UPS or USPS. I recently had an empty box delivered by FedEx. The outer packaging was obviously ripped open and the inner box containing 500 rds of 308 was taken along with the invoice. All that was left was the packing material and the box was re-taped. Also the delivery person dropped the package off with no signature required. As I observed on the video, he was holding the package like a box of Kleenex. 500 rds. of ammo weighs close to thirty lbs. I have never received ammo with no signature required. I returned home within 15 minutes after watching the delivery on my door cam. I immediately reported the theft to FedEX. They requested invoices, photos, etc. as if they were going to investigate. They were just covering their ass to make sure I wasn't filing a false claim. Every package I have received from FedEx (non ammo or firearm related) has been damaged. I have returned several packages due to freight damage. Half the time the lazy ass would leave the package in front of my garage rather than on the porch. FedEx hires contract employees all year around and I question background checks, if any. In the future if you order anything of value, request a signature upon delivery, which didn't work for me and DO NOT USE FEDEX!

    4 months ago
    • John Binford

      Must be a rough neighborhood. I’ve had ammo delivered w/o signature for years and recently a bit of 9mm and .45 w/o problems.
      But it could well be that signature required will help in that the driver now knows the track starts with him...the package wasn’t loaded on the truck damaged!

      4 months ago
    • Scott Kayel

      I had a very similar experience .Ordered 8 boxes of ammo in may 2020.Fedex handed me a box weighing less than a pound. when I tried to question the weight he all but ran back to his truck .The ripped and re-taped box contained one box!
      I called the company and they offered a refund. I said I would like the ammo, so they agreed and the next day I received the unwanted refund.
      It was out of stock of course. 10 days later it was back at twice the price.
      This was one of 3 experiences I had .My advice is to buy the insurance and pray.

      4 months ago
    • Pat

      My experience with FedEx "signature required" delivery was very bad. I ordered 4# of pistol powder to be delivered to my place of employment. The item tracking showed it being delivered, but nobody saw a delivery made. Our parts guy went to the business across the street and located the item, and was told the delivery guy just came in and dropped it off. Being a hazmat item, I suspect there may have been a law violated since it was supposed to be signed for by someone 18 or more years old. What really gets me is that later that day the tracking showed I had signed for the delivery! FedEx has their "Virtual Agent" or something like that, basically makes it hard if not impossible to talk to a live person. It is as if they don't care how bad their delivery people are.

      3 months ago
    • Hambone

      Must be one of the 13% delivering to your home.

      1 week ago
  • Captain Moroni

    Best things I did in 2020
    Bought a .22lr kit for my Glock and AR.
    Dug up the Russian girls

    4 months ago
  • Andrew

    There is another issue in play that was not covered in the article - Political Risk.

    If the Democratic Party prevails in the Georgia run-offs, and assuming nothing changes with the Presidential Election, Democrats will have both houses of Congress and the White House. If so, and if Senate Democrats abandon the legislative filibuster, as they are likely to do, expect the party and the anti-gun lobby to go after ammunition as a back door to 2A infringement. Any tactic to try to dry up supply and make it harder/more expensive to purchase ammunition is on the table. Prices only will increase.

    4 months ago
    • JQP

      The easy way for the bad guys to back-door the 2A is to simply have the gov't buy up all the ammo. They kinda beta-tested this during Hussein's term. If past experience is any guide, the ammo industry will be fine with this; they increase capacity at a negligible rate no matter how high demand goes.

      4 months ago
  • Pete

    You may not shoot 5,000 rounds but ammo will have incredible value in a barter/trade situation. There's no such thing as too much ammo - especially if you got bulk on the cheap.

    4 months ago
    • Jon

      I got lots for cheap, but I know way too many people convinced they need 1000s of rounds to defend themselves. More likely that most Americans that just recently bought guns would accidentally shoot their own foot before hitting a target. I have been to the range and to too many tactical classes lately to be convinced otherwise. Look at all the holes in the floors, ceilings and wall and you will agree. Most people need a functioning gun and 10 rounds of ammo and will be fine.

      4 months ago
      • Tommy M

        Yes, but that is exactly why you need to put thousands of rounds down range to be proficient with those 10 rounds of self defense ammo.
        Shooting is a perishable skill that you need to practice weekly, and many new shooters don't want to use the little bit of ammo they have to practice.
        If you are serious about practice and training, 1000 rounds is not that much to have on hand, so it sucks out there for new folks who werent stocked up already to get that practice. At least there's dry fire training technology out there.

        4 months ago
        • SeanM

          Tommy you are 100 percent correct. It take practice practice and more practice to get to the level some are at where 1 15 rd mag is plant for really any situation. So I do recommend new owners take a class and get to a range on the regular and become accurate with you carry weapon before they run around with it open or concealed.

          4 months ago
          • Don

            It is near impossible to buy enough triple priced ammo to get decent practice. I haven't been able to buy 9mm ammo since March. Paying triple price just isn't practical. But I can't even find triple priced ammo to buy. We have one gun store and a Walmart locally. Walmart no longer sells pistol ammo or 5.56mm. I've been able to buy some .22 LR, and that is all I shoot anymore.

            4 months ago
          • Chris

            I stocked up on ammo early , but before I even got a reloading set up, I stocked reloading components. Not enough for the whole Biden administration, but enough to get through 2022. I hope by fall 2022 , more primers come on line. Between the bullshit ca ammo background checks and shortages every few years , reloading is the way to go. Always have 10k of 22lr. Just loaded my first 9mm this week and they were great!

            4 months ago
        • JQP

          Dry-firing is enough to preserve shooting skills.

          4 months ago
          • MaGuff

            I bought laser snap caps and targets to stay sharp. Only thing missing is the bang and recoil. Modern problems require modern solutions.

            2 months ago
    • SeanM

      Well some shoot that much. I probably put 10,000 rounds or more down range a year. Mostly cheap bulk fly stuff but I also spend and get extra of my carry ammo and do some practice with it as well so I stay familiar with the higher recoil. Personally I recommend anyone who wishes to carry daily get out and shoot til ur comfortable with and accurate with your edc..

      4 months ago
  • Jon

    If people didn’t overreact about a “Civil War” and freak out all the other crazies out there might still be some ammo. Remember if there is a civil war you won’t be shooting 5,000 rounds.

    4 months ago
    • MikeinMontana

      No.....I might not be shooting 5K rounds but, I may be able to trade 3K of that 5K for food
      and medicine.

      4 months ago
      • David Satchell

        Are you really going to give live ammo to someone? That's like giving money to a thief or terrorist to not hurt you.

        4 months ago
        • Jeff

          No, actually it's not.....at all. It's called the 'Barter System.'

          4 months ago
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