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Cheaper Than Dirt: Why The Hate?

Sometimes they have deals, but why is there so much hate around Cheaper Than Dirt? We highlight a couple of the reasons through the years.

Whenever the site Cheaper Than Dirt is mentioned, you’ll typically get reactions of slight interest in their occasional good deals, or one of intense hatred

While they do have decent deals from time to time, is the hatred really warranted? 

We’ve scoured the dark corners of the internet and ventured into the depths of firearms forums to see if our experiences lined up with other gun owners when it came to Cheaper Than Dirt.

And to see if hating on them was just the cool thing to do, or if there was actual reasoning behind it. As it turns out, there actually are legitimate reasons for all the hate!

popcorn eating

Grab some popcorn, sit back, and read on to find out just why you too should fly into a rage the next time someone mentions a great deal on Cheaper Than Dirt (CTD), and arm yourself with an insta-reply of high-quality haterade. 

***UPDATE*** As of 3-17-2020, CTD is still at its old game of charging huge prices during times of emergency buying.

Corvid-19 is here and while most of the nation is running out of ammo to buy, CTD is here for you charging upwards of $1 or more per round for cheap bulk ammo.

Normally, this ammo sells for around 20 to 28 cents per round.

Table of Contents


Where To Start?

Getting the more vanilla stuff out of the way, there has always been lots of complaints about CTD and their customer service. 

Or lack of any. Being a fairly large retailer, it’s somewhat understandable that they would have some upset customers since some people just can’t be pleased. 

angry customer

When it comes to CTD, there seems to be a pattern of poor customer service, ranging from stories of wrong items being sent and excruciatingly long back and forths with the customer service department to get products returned and charges refunded.

Some people may take that risk anyway, though, when they see something at a price that just can’t be beat.

Is That It?

Generic complaints about wrong items being delivered and delayed refunds doesn’t seem too bad, honestly. 

Even Amazon is bound to send the wrong item every so often. But just having poor customer service isn’t what has earned CTD its title as one of the most disliked firearms retailers. 

To understand how this all started, we have to go back a few years.

While many people started developing their dislike of CTD after the Sandy Hook incident, CTD actually started their shenanigans even earlier, all the way back to when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008.

On November 5, 2008, the day after the election, there were lots of nervous gun owners in America, worried about possible firearms legislation and gun-grabbing by the politicians.

Because of this, there was a huge run on firearms and accessories. It was also at this time that CTD decided the smart thing to do would be to raise the prices on all their products. 

Of course, some people will argue that this is just an issue of supply and demand rather than any sort of price-gouging or shady business practices.

It’s not hard to see both sides of the issue, with gun owners trying to buy firearms before any potential new laws are enacted, and firearms retailers trying to capitalize on the increased demand as a result of dreaded anti-gun legislation.

All of us when there is a legal change in the works

Regardless of the reasoning, it still left a bad taste in many people’s mouths.

The Tipping Point

Fast forward a few years to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and, in addition to the shooting itself and everything else that was happening as a result of the shooting, CTD managed to bring additional controversy to the situation with the same sales tactics they had used after election night a few years earlier. 

Just as with the election of Barak Obama, CTD capitalized on the reaction of gun owners following the Sandy Hook shooting.

With many of us anticipating anti-gun laws being rushed through the state and local legislatures in the wake of the tragedy as knee-jerk reactions by politicians everywhere. 

Once again, the argument that CTD was simply following supply and demand popped up.

However, there was one significant difference this time around: many customers who had managed to place orders with CTD shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting were notified that their orders had been canceled because the items were “out of stock”.

Not long after getting the cancellation emails, customers found the same items were then listed back on the site as being “in stock” at new, much higher prices.

It’s one thing to raise prices in response to increased demand, but it’s another completely to claim an item is out of stock so you can re-list it at a higher price to capitalize on that demand. 

To add insult to injury, CTD also made an announcement that they were suspending future online sales of firearms, even though firearms accessories would continue to be sold (at the newly inflated prices). 

CTD later clarified their statement to note that it was because their systems could not handle all of the new orders that they were suspending online sales of firearms, not because of any anti-gun sentiment. 

If you believe that, I also have a bridge to sell you.

Ah yes, the classic 30 round mag. For $100 (Source: CheaperThanDirt.com screencap from 2012)

It’s worth noting that the price increases at CTD were so egregious and the backlash so severe, that even Magpul came out with a statement to let everyone know that they did not support the behavior of retailers in outrageous markups of their products, though Magpul chose not to name any specific retailers in their statement. 

Wonder who they must be talking about…

But Wait, There’s More!

During “Freedom Week” at the end of March of 2019, Californians were blessed by the patron saint of the Second Amendment, Judge Roger Benitez, and had the right to purchase “high-capacity” magazines (standard-capacity for those of you living in free states) briefly reinstated. 

Most, if not all, retailers were hit with a flood of pent-up demand from those of us behind enemy lines. 

buy buy buy
California Gun Owners face March 2019, colorized

It was slow going at first, as everyone was caught off guard, including retailers, and so only a few were willing to take the risk to start selling magazines to California. 

As the days went on, more and more retailers decided that the ruling did in fact allow “high-capacity” magazines to be sold to Californians. 

However, there were a couple of hold-outs, one of which was CTD. 

They maintained their stance of not shipping to California, until the very last few days of Freedom Week, when magazine stock was at its lowest, and once again, prices at their highest.

After Freedom Week, CTD quickly returned to its standard policy of basically shipping nothing firearms-related to California. 

Honorable Roger Benitez
Judge Roger Benitez, the patron saint of the Second Amendment. MySouthernTactical

Annnd They Are Still Doing It, Corvid-19

Just in case you were wondering if they are still at it, the answer is “of course they are”.

ctd hate prices 3-17
Cheaper Than Dirt Prices 3-17-2020

Here we have bulk ammo, cheap Winchester White Box .223, steel-cased TulAmmo 9mm, Winchester White Box 5.56, Sellier & Bellot 5.56, Winchester White Box 9mm, and TulAmmo .223 all for 3 to 5 times their normal price.

TulAmmo 9mm is normally 14 cents a round, but CTD is asking for almost 70 cents per round — a 5x increase in price.

Winchester White Box .223 is generally 36 cents per round — but here it is at CTD for 70 cents a round.

This is representative of all of the ammo Cheaper Than Dirt has for sale right now during the Corvid-19 state of emergency.



And there you have it! All you need to know to justify your seat on the anti-CTD bandwagon! 

Of course, you may be aware of other instances where CTD may have been on the side of possibly shady business practice, or you might have had nothing but good experience with them! 

Either way, it’s your money, and you’re always welcome to shop at their site if you’d like!

Whoever you decide to buy from, just make sure at the end of the day, you get lots of shiny new range toys and ammo to feed them, and lots of time to pew pew! If you’re interested in some great places to buy guns, ammo, and more — take a look at the Best Online Gun Stores.

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30 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris Bacon

    Customer service?

    I purchased a couple of big ticket items from them a x-price, and my credit card came out with charges much higher.

    I contacted CTD and found that AFTER they sold the items to me, they raised the prices and charged my credit card almost $400 more than my order.

    May 20, 2022 1:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    They suck . They gouge on shipping like at an unbelievable rate . Even if the price is right on an item or two , you’ll pay through the nose on what they wanna charge you for shipping . I won’t buy from them .

    March 3, 2022 9:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Yep they might as well get their stuff from China cause I’m not buying from them ever again. Other retailers did increase due to supply and demand but not as much as CTD. Almost double for a stag arms 556 rifle vs elsewhere, forget these jokers, even when things get back to normal.

    November 12, 2020 10:04 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Wish I had done my research earlier... kinda. Academy sells 7.62×39 for 25 cents a round, CTD sells them for roughly 50 cents a round. However, CTD has always had it in stock while Academy is currently out of stock... So I'm not terribly upset about it, I'd rather be out a few bucks and have the ammo. But ammo is all that I would trust buying from CTD.

    October 29, 2020 11:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I don’t like cheaper than dirt because they get my orders wrong and don’t include the product or get the wrong product. Have long wait times and customer experience.

    October 13, 2020 1:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    jeb brewster

    I can’t stand CTD. I hope everyone will jus stop ordering from them like a smart person would, and let the free market system take them out. Anyone who buys from them is part of the problem in my mind.

    October 8, 2020 6:11 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ford Tech

      CTD is the cancer of the firearms industry. Never have i or will i buy from them, i stick to academy for ammo needs.

      October 11, 2020 9:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Eaker

    CTD finally got the gun I wanted in stock. Tried to buy it and was told it wasn't in stock. The next day they miraculously got it in again, but this time it was over $1,100 more. Unethical and shady place. They won't receive a dime of my money ever again.

    August 11, 2020 11:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Adam s.

    Cheaper than dirt should rename themselves to Dirtbags. They're Currently selling a box of 50 rounds of 9mm Tula steel ammo for $39.97 and they have the audacity to write " our low price of " right next to it. I hope the gun community boycotts them once and for all when things go back to normal and ammo is readily accessible.

    July 25, 2020 12:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Ok. Don’t buy it. Get you a bag of rocks to throw

    July 17, 2020 2:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    While it would truly be unethical (and illegal) to pretextually cancel orders just to relist at a higher price, there is nothing wrong with charging prices that the market will bear. Ammo is in short supply, and for those who have the luxury of waiting around for the prices to come down, or waiting in line for a better deal, that's great for them. But for those who need ammo (or any scarce product) RIGHT NOW, they should have the option to pay for that. It's why price "gouging" (a complete misnomer) is not a bad thing. No one is putting a gun to anyone's head and making them buy at premium prices.

    July 16, 2020 12:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      jeb brewster

      I disagree, govt entities can put price caps on such things like alcohol prices, and that’s because they wouldn’t sell as much of it and get their little tax from it if they didn’t because ppl wouldn’t buy as much then. So yeah I get it no ones “forcing“ ppl to pay these prices but Guess what they are.... consuming is consuming regardless of the productS or goods.

      October 8, 2020 6:17 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I ordered 8 boxes of 9 mm ammo at 10.89 a box on 6/22/20. Saw the order in my account. I noticed the price of the ammo went up to 19.89 a box the next day. For 2 days my order showed in my account, but not shipped. Then it was gone from my account on 6/24/20. Not in my history. The live chat person brennen said there was no history of my order. So I guess I have to reorder. Only now that ammo is 19.89 a box! I called customer service and she told me she saw my order but it did not go thru, but didn't know why. She said they could not honor the original price even tho we don't know why it didn't go thru and I would have to pay 19.89 a box. If it was my mistake, ok, I get that, but we don't know what happened.
    That's wrong.
    I may have to pay more than 10.89 a box this time, but it won't be from Cheaper than dirt. Ever.

    June 24, 2020 2:14 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You are probably not going to bother with a lawsuit over $72, but with enough people having similar experiences, they could be at risk of a class action lawsuit. You had a contract with them and they breached it.

      July 16, 2020 12:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      And that is why you take a "screenshot" of your order just before and just after you place the order. The details will be there even if the merchant is unscrupulous.

      December 19, 2020 9:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    If you're unhappy with a seller's price, don't buy!! See - that was easy.

    April 24, 2020 6:58 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Please tell me that high prices isnt the only thing you got from this article.

      August 28, 2020 11:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    One more thing.....if you think CTD is gouging then don't buy from them. Unless you in Law Enforcement or the Military, ammo is not an essential item so legally it's not price gouging.
    CTD is taking advantage of stupid people plain and simple.
    This Covid panic will blow over so remember which retailers charged 2-10 times the going rate and don't buy from them ever again.

    April 20, 2020 6:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I will never understand buying up excessive ammo because of Covid-19. Will Covid Zombies be attacking us..........are these idiots going to shoot people trying to steal their hoards of toilet paper? Since I retired from the USAF after 30 years, I have noticed that so many gun owners are paranoid about Democrats and the overturning of the 2nd amendment, which will NEVER happen. Grow up people!
    I only buy 45, 9mm, and 380 ammo by the case.......if I get down to 250 rds I'll order another case. I also like to have at least 2500 rds of 22LR.
    If all gun owners had enough discipline to do this then panic buying wouldn't happen.

    April 20, 2020 6:36 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Well, this comment certainly didn’t age well.

      August 15, 2020 9:45 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        No, it's still fully accurate. Keep enough on hand to ride out the panic buying times. During those times you'll have to really limit your target shooting but you'll have enough on hand for whatever comes your way.

        September 2, 2020 2:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    P.S. I also decided to let the companies of the ammo which I had purchased the price at which it was being sold. I don't know if they really care, but heck if I was selling something to someone only to find out they were marking it up 300%, I might not cut them a good deal anymore.

    March 28, 2020 10:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I purchased a bunch of overpriced 9mm from Cheaper Than Dirt three weeks ago. I also purchased a pistol I was looking for locally, but couldn't find it. When I made the purchase, I was under the impression that my purchases were instock. But after I was done with the payment, CTD informed me that it would be two weeks before the order would be processed. At this point, I was understanding. When I received an email lecturing me on how I should have been prepared if I was a boy scout and that I could only expect really crappy shipping times and higher prices, was when I started having doubts about this company. A couple days later they titled the top of their page with shipping times being delayed for up to 21 days. I immediately tried to cancel my order. Nothing was ever mentioned about these long delays, as I thought I was making a purchase on an item which was in stock. The ignored my request and a few more days past and then they said my ammo would ship out that day or the following day. According to their website, my product hasn't shipped. I wrote them about this fact and they ignored it then wrote back to inform me that my many different orders were going to be shipped yesterday. Low and behold, nothing on the website shows that my items have changed beyond the "Not-Shipped" status.
    Mind you, after that insulting email about "Those of us who learned to uphold certain values (obviously not accountability, loyalty or honesty) as boy scouts". I decided to do some homework on this operation. I was dismayed to find that they are so disliked, but now I can completely empathize as to why this is the case.

    I decided since they were not being honest about how they were doing business and that I was just getting excuses and what seemed like a rip- off, I contacted both my credit cards and pursued a chargeback. I also decided that since this business would likely continue this sort of crap with other people that maybe the Attorney General's Office of Texas would like to know about their price gouging during a national emergency. From what I read, this is illegal and states are actively pursuing businesses who are using this national emergency to scam customers.

    March 28, 2020 9:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I ordered mine march 14th and same thing with me bud

      March 30, 2020 8:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      That's pretty terrible service, and you might even give them some leeway, given the current circumstances, but I have ordered from Primary Arms and Palmetto State Armory during this same time period, and they have fulfilled orders within days. Remarkable service and prices from both, and I highly recommend them.

      July 16, 2020 12:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Cunty McShitterman

    Watching them price Tula 7.62x39 at $1.30 per round is enough for me to never use them for the rest of eternity. Seriously, screw those asshats

    March 17, 2020 7:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Ctd lol so whack!

    February 26, 2020 12:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    I've done business with CTD a few times and never had a problem. Of course, I've never bought a firearm from them either. Back in the day, I used to walk into their retail store in Fort Worth which seemed more like an army surplus store. Google tells me they have closed their retail locations and now operate entirely online. I had not heard about the "tipping point" incident but agree that those practices are not acceptable. Hate to say it, but those kind of shady business practices are ubiquitous in the gun industry. It subjectively appears to me that every online retailer (except for Midway, Brownells, and a handful of others) engages in some questionable practices. I well remember $50 Thermold ("Thermelt") magazines and $100 Colt magazines back in the dark days following the Clinton ban in 1994. The vendors at gun shows are worse. You had better know exactly what you want and how to identify forgeries or you will get skinned alive. I'm glad to hear people are fighting back.

    February 25, 2020 8:36 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I used CTD once recently, they sent me a cracked Apex trigger for my SD40VE, I was told I could exchange it and when I received the new trigger in the mail it was the SAME broken trigger, repackaged in a ziplock baggie. Fortunately their customer service department made quick work of providing a full refund and asked me to just throw away the broken trigger.
    I stick with Midway USA, DVOR, and Wing Tactical for accessories now.

    February 25, 2020 5:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    For me, I stay with Midway USA or Brownells. I have used them for years with no problems.

    February 25, 2020 9:21 am
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