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How tight is the gun-and-ammo situation?

I haven’t been in the market for either firearms or ammo (other than .22 plinking supplies) in quite a while. I know that the more hysterical reports about the government “ordering companies to stop selling ammo to ‘civilians'” are … well, just that. Hysterical.

But in your experience, how tight is the market actually getting out there? Here’s a report from last week saying Ruger is so backlogged they’ve temporarily stopped taking orders. And even a casual look at local store shelves tells me ammo is in short supply.

But that’s pretty anecdotal. What are you seeing and experiencing, if you don’t mind me asking?


BTW, the “Rise of the Prepper” link in that article is pretty interesting, too.


  1. 12bitphoto
    12bitphoto March 29, 2012 10:17 am

    Stopped by Cabela’s in Austin yesterday to look at Glocks. The pickings were slim and they had nothing in 9mm. The guy behind the counter told me Glock is backlogged and not shipping.

    Expensive ammo is readily available so far as I can tell, but the cheaper stuff at Walmart is frequently out of stock. At Cabela’s there were a lot of empty spaces on the ammo shelves.

  2. Claire
    Claire March 29, 2012 10:28 am

    Thanks for the report, 12bitphoto. Sounds like 1994 all over again …

  3. Richard
    Richard March 29, 2012 10:35 am

    Generally speaking I can get whatever I want in ammo but I don’t buy much. My normal purchases by standard caliber are;
    9mm fmj 500 rds every e months qtr
    9mm jhp 100 rds/qtr
    762×39 100 rds/qtr
    308 Winchester 100 rds/qtr
    20 GA 50 rds/qtr
    22LR 500 rds/qtr
    Reloading supplies have been plentiful but I only do reloads a couple times a year to keep up the practice.

    I have however seen shortages in handguns and some rifles. New models even seem to get the ipad effect. But I have also seen a hell of a lot more people making their first purchase. Especially women. I don’t think people are generally sheeple like many on this site like to think. We just all have different levels of BS we’re willing to take from Congress critters. How else could you explain the popularity of the books and movie in the hunger games trilogy?

  4. howard
    howard March 29, 2012 11:32 am

    Have had some problem getting primers in Anchorage Ak, at least the preferred brand. Other components in reasonable supply but not necessarily preferred bullet choices. We are talking .38 and .44 primarily. Plenty of common caliber ammo on the store shelf in our local small town but no one is carrying reloading supplies any more.

  5. "lee n. field"
    "lee n. field" March 29, 2012 11:35 am

    In rural flyover Ill-i-noise, at this point I’m not actually seeing any supply problem. Shelves are normally well stocked. I buy at Wally World and the local farm store.

    Prices are up, but they’re up for everything.

    Most of my actual shooting is done with handloads and hand cast bullets. I’ll be looking to get some more primers and powder, sometime soon.

  6. Ellendra
    Ellendra March 29, 2012 11:36 am

    This may be anecdotal, but at the Gander Mountain nearest me, there has been a line at the gun counter almost non-stop ever since the day Wi passed it’s concealed carry law.

  7. EN
    EN March 29, 2012 11:41 am

    The new gun market is tough. Around here the 9 mm and .45 are king and all three gun stores have .40 S&W in Glocks, but not much else. My son was trying to find a new Ruger Scout and the guy behind the counter told him it took ten months to get his but of course even that sounds hopeful now. This “Temple” sell a lot of Kimbers, I mean A LOT, and they can’t get them. They did have a fair amount of “black guns” for sale, M&Ps in ARs and a bunch of Saigas in various calibers. In talking with the owner he said they’re now getting guns in “batches”. One week they’ll get a dozen Glocks and the next a dozen XDs, but mostly in .40 or 9 mm… and out the door they go. I don’t have much trouble with ammo these days. If you hit my Walmart late on Wednesday evening (ammo comes in on Wednesday Afternoon) they are stocked up with everything. By Sunday night it’s all gone.

    The one thing that’s become very popular is used guns. The problem is they are selling, meaning there’s not really any “deals” to be had. All in all it’s not bad, but obviously there’s a lot of guns being sold.

  8. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth March 29, 2012 11:42 am

    Alaska is often behind the curve, both leading and trailing, and for a while now it seems to have been a little schizophrenic. My standard for how bad times are is tied to ammo components. During the worst days I can recall, when you could find any primers at all, they wouldn’t sell you more than 100 at a time (and most reloaders buy in thousand quantities), and the prices on those were simply outlandish. Same with powder–again, when you could find any at all.

    That’s not where we’re at, as of a couple weeks ago when I did a quick scan up in Soldotna. In the warehouse store (analogous to Costco but much more local-feeling), most primer types were represented by at least one manufacturer and the prices were simply high-side “Alaska prices”; you could buy the 1000-count boxes. A fair range of powders (appropriate to a store that doesn’t specialize in reloading) was in evidence too, both one- and five-pound canisters, and again, spendy but not stupid. For my reloading needs (not that specialized) it is workable.

    Basically, it seemed like, if you set aside the artificially inflated cost of metals, the political cost inflation for ammo seemed to be stable and under the peaks that I’ve seen before.

    I don’t know so much about guns. I don’t feel like I’ve had a very good sense of appropriate price and fluctuations on the available universe of models out there, for a while. It certainly does seem like the universe of models is very healthy and growing, but honestly very little of it impresses me. (Were I to rebuild my basic battery again, there is very little I’d do differently. 🙂

  9. Claire
    Claire March 29, 2012 11:52 am

    Interesting reports. I didn’t even think to ask about reloading components. But some of what you’re saying also sounds like 1994 (Brady, ugly-gun ban) all over again.

    I tend not to believe the worst reports about Obama, as you probably know. But if he does get re-elected, I really do fear what he and his non-elected minions will do to gun rights. Elected Dems may not be politically stupid enough to go along if they have any memory at all. But these days a balky Congress isn’t much of an impediment. And of course, there’s always the good old tactic of sneaking one deadly passage into a 2,000-page, must-pass bill that none of those “representatives” can be bothered to read.

  10. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth March 29, 2012 11:57 am

    Sadly, I also must add that what gets to me even more than the pricing, these days, is the attitude of most of the available suppliers, who appear to be little more than living manifestations of NRA Action Alerts and product glossy sheets. I have not found a one in the town I live in that I will voluntarily give my business to; instead I’ll drive 80 miles up the road to patronize one of two places that will actually have a lucid conversation with me, and seem interested in my business.

    This is a big deal with me. If trying to ship components directly to an address in Alaska weren’t so heavily burdened with The Stupid (read: it’s just not possible for non-dealers, despite what the flacks try to tell you), I’d be tempted to just do that, but the truth is I want some sense of connection with “my local guy” too, and it’s depressing that I can only get that by taking a half-day to feel like the qualifications for “basic human being” have been met.

  11. Claire
    Claire March 29, 2012 12:05 pm

    So what kind of thing do those NRA and “glossy” product guys actually say, Kevin? Hm … you might have a blog entry in that, if you haven’t done one already.

  12. ILTim
    ILTim March 29, 2012 1:01 pm

    Ammo availability seems good around here (north central IL), I checked walmart for the first time ever and they have some bare spots but every major caliber is available in some loading.

    Local gun shops are flush with pallets of 9mm, 45, .223, and more. Midway and CheaperThanDirt seem to have good stocks. I’ve bought from all the above in the past six weeks.

    The gun cabinets are pretty light in most shops, but there is one gun superstore an hour away that has (I don’t kid) at least SIX of every current production gun in existence. I wanted to look at the newish SP101 4.2″, and they have (12) twelve of that particular variation. I bought a S&W BodyGuard 380, there were about five more that I could see in the case.

  13. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 29, 2012 1:03 pm

    Locally supply seems to be okay, if you are not very particular about specific loads or brands of ammo. If you are particular you have to shop around a little, but it’s not to difficult. Yep, prices are up. For firearms, economy models are pretty much seldom on the shelf. Part is they are what everyone can afford, other is the 3 local gunstrores are kind of snobbish and only stock what they like, regardless of what the customer might want/need.

  14. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth March 29, 2012 1:06 pm

    Good point, Claire. It probably is worth writing a more structured piece about. If we can ever get past the currently-intensely-frustrating baby-who-screams-when-your-head-so-much-as-breaks-the-plane-of-direct-eye-contact (all day, and all night, it seems), I do have lots of plans for Rifleman Savant.

    (Sorry. Lack of sleep talking there. My younger daughter is a total doll when she wants to be, and to be fair it’s really only my wife, three-year-old daughter and I who get held hostage during the other times. I know, welcome to parenthood, but dang. 🙂

    As far as a quick answer to your question, it’s like having a conversation with someone without actually talking. With the character here in town who should have the most to gain by reaching out to newbies in actual call-and-response dialogue, it’s as though he goes out of his way to speak only in impenetrable talking points: you can just HEAR HIS TONE which sounds just like the ACT NOW! lines written in ALL CAPS in the interminable parade of ACTION ALERT! SEND MONEY NOW! letters that contain ONE SENTENCE PER PARAGRAPH, with a DRAMATIC BREAK in between each one. They don’t exactly invite a response. I’ve watched him do it, and I’ve even privately accosted one poor newbie after listening to an anti-Obama tirade in classic nonsequitur response to a legitimate question about a first gun for a lady.

    Now sometimes, a character like that will nonetheless address someone who is already knowledgeable, differently. I’ve seen the type that knows he doesn’t have to depend on new business, and simply treats his workday as an extended meeting of the good ol’ boys club, and perhaps that is true of the guy I’m speaking of here, if you fit precisely enough into his “plumbing fixtures and all things tacticool” universe. I don’t, and he won’t leave the meme long enough to figure out that I probably know far more about the topics I’m asking him about than he does. Really, he’s just a jerk–but he’s not all that anomalous.

    There’s more than that. Lots more. A lot of it is the depressing sense that some of these folks are simply not interested in talking. I have more than once done the friendly-join-in on an existing conversation between counter jockey and customer, and the instant–the very instant–that I break out of the NRA mold and suggest that even some of the problems we have (I’m usually very gentle when doing this) do not have solutions within the “enforce the laws we got” mantra, or hidden within the numbers of statistics, or even by appealing to politicians in the first place, the counter guy starts to get one of those “if you’re not with us, you’re agin’ us” looks and the conversation is effectively over. (Of more heartening interest, that response is far less reliable with the customer than it is with the counter jockey.)

    Anyway, it gets my gorge up. At a time when we should be doing everything we can to reach out to the humanity in those who are different than we are, there’s entirely too many Walter Mitty yahoos manning the front line, and at least here, I’ve had to work to avoid them.

    Yeah, that was a quick “Kevin answer”. 🙂 I suspect I’ll be chewing on this for a while now.

  15. ILTim
    ILTim March 29, 2012 1:24 pm

    I just logged into Midway, and all the ammo in my wishlists has DROPPED in price in the past few days. About fifty cents to a buck a box cheaper, across the board.

  16. Allen
    Allen March 29, 2012 2:48 pm

    Attended gun show last Saturday. Place was crowded (bumper to bumper and some of us have big bumpers). Compared to the same show last fall there were fewer handguns, no SKS or Mosin but 2 setups with plenty of ammo. Spam can of 440 rounds 7.62 x 54R was $100, and plenty of name brand in all common calibers . Reload supplies seemed adequate. Factory magazines are up $3 at same vendor as last fall, but supply was very good (Ruger, Glock in particular). More people selling black rifles, but seemed like the selection was smaller.

  17. M
    M March 29, 2012 3:22 pm

    Prices up, although we did have a great sale recently in which we purchased the last brick of .22 @ the sale price savings of 40% off.

    Reloading primers – out since 5 months ago.

    At a recent gun show, an individual we know said they love Re-election year of any stripe – sales go way up. Of course the line of almost 100 out of the door for paid entry @ 8am was a new experience he had never seen.

    (Southern Illinois)

  18. clark
    clark March 29, 2012 3:30 pm

    In my part of the Midwest, last time I looked not too long ago, the shelves which were kind of bare at times were stocked Full in the many places which sell ammo.

    The last gun show I went to had more women walking, looking and buying than ever. They made it hard to concentrate.

  19. The Freeholder
    The Freeholder March 29, 2012 5:41 pm

    I can’t speak to the situation in gun stores; haven’t been in one for a while. (Need to remedy that soon.) At the last several shows I’ve been to, all common calibers have been plentiful, with things like 9mm, .45 ACP, 5.45 and both sorts of 7.62 plentiful in case lots as well. But at the last couple I noted the price has jumped a bit, and at the last one I noticed that the number of ammo-only vendors seems to have dropped. That could simply be an anomaly, though.

    I’ve also noticed that battle rifle analogues and pistols are selling extremely well, while any sort of hunting gun can hardly be given away. I’ve also noticed a number of “storage food” vendors showing up all of a sudden. And as clarke noted, lots of women, and they aren’t doing the “good sport” thing–they’ve in there handling and buying.

    Reloading supplies seem to be in good supply also, but that will dry up fast if people think ammo is going to get short. Something else to stock up on, I suppose.

    I suspect the herd is getting nervous, and with good reason.

  20. Hanza
    Hanza March 29, 2012 8:21 pm

    I usually buy ammo from Cheaper Than Dirt but my last purchase was last year so can’t speak on availability now.

    Don’t reload so have no knowledge about supplies for that activity.

    I have been on a waiting list for a Kimber Solo for MONTHS and the dealer has no idea when any will be available.

  21. Mic
    Mic March 29, 2012 8:28 pm

    When I first started really getting serious around 2008 it was very tight. Now that I have been doing it a while and built up a nice little private network of suppliers and friends for stuff and have a better handle of where to look for everything they can’t supply everything works just fine. No problem getting anything I need, sometimes at even at really good prices.

  22. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack March 30, 2012 7:28 am

    Some things just seem to be unobtainable. I’ve been looking for a new Marlin 39A and a particular Marlin 336 since forever and none is available. Certain Ruger models are impossible to find and Kimbers flash through my local gunshop like lightning. Gunshows are painfully packed.

    To get a real feel for ammo one must consider – in comparison – how cheap it was just 5 years ago. The main reason it’s so available is the high price, supply and demand.

    All this is driven, IMHO, by how little the people trust the government. Angst is in the wind.

  23. Brian K. Anderson
    Brian K. Anderson March 30, 2012 8:40 am

    My local gun shops seem to be pretty well stocked. I haven’t had any problems buying ammo, and one shop in particular seems stuffed to the rafters with guns.

  24. Chem
    Chem March 30, 2012 3:19 pm

    Kansas seems pretty normal.

    Ammo: I have been to about 4 Wal-Marts in this area, where one is short on one caliber, another has some.
    Firearms: Semi-auto rifles are very obtainable but shorter than they have been
    Ordering: starting to get backlogged, I think this is retailers and speculators (not making a judgement call on the practice just being descriptive) stocking up and manufacturers getting ready for an anticipated surge.

  25. Finn
    Finn March 31, 2012 7:51 am

    If I go to CTD they’re frequently out of guns and ammunition. Local retailers don’t seem to be experiencing any shortages of either although I heard a local gun store owner lamenting the fact that they were having trouble getting guns, but their shelves weren’t empty by any stretch.

  26. EN
    EN March 31, 2012 12:33 pm

    Talked with my gun store owner today about this. His take was a little different. The supply isn’t the problem, the demand is. He’s been in business 28 years and says he’s never seen anything like this. Guns come and are gone within a day. He’s already hired two extra full time employees in a tiny little store that used to be run by him and his wife, plus a daughter and a friend working part time. In the only days we used to go down there for social reasons, just to check things out and BS. He had 4 stools set up at the counter and on a Saturday morning it wasn’t uncommon to see every stool filled with an old fat ass, drinking coffee and talking guns. He’s removed the stools. If EN personally was a manufacturer of guns or ammo I’d be very nervous about ratcheting up production since the demand probably won’t last beyond the elections.

  27. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews March 31, 2012 1:50 pm

    Just one more datapoint — tried to get a price on a new Buckmark and none of the distributors had them in stock (granted, I’m looking for a specific model).

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