A modest attempt to answer everyone’s question

It is the question that everyone over the past 10 months has been asking. Where, oh where has all the ammo gone? Is it a government conspiracy of disarmament of gun owners? Or merely a perfect storm of supply and demand that would baffle the greatest of economists? I will gladly leave that up for interpretation, but what I can do is lay out the facts and let you, the reader, come to your own conclusion. 

Demand

We must rewind back to the beginning of the pandemic to fully understand what happened to ammo. Back in March when nobody except for doctors and robbers owned masks, ammo was plentiful, there were bullets everywhere and life was good. Then COVID showed up and things went completely off the rails. Unrest began to influence people’s decisions and with unrest comes gun purchases, with gun purchases come ammo sales. This sent demand for guns and ammo through the roof. Then in May with the death of George Floyd and the protest and counter protest that followed, Americans felt even more unrest. Which in turn caused more gun sales and more ammo sales. Following the events of this summer we saw a hurricane and fire season that affect most of the southern and western parts of the country. Which (are you getting the hang of this yet?) caused even more unrest which led to, yet again, more gun and ammo sales. Then to top it all of there was a pivotal election in November that led to even more unrest, not to mention the Capitol protest/riot that soon followed the result of the election. So here we are in March of 2021, looking at empty ammo shelves and unwilling to go shooting because we can’t buy bullets to replace the ones we shot. Simply put, demand is at an all-time high because of the unrest caused by COVID compounding on the summer protest and riots, compounding on the hurricane and fire seasons compounding on the election and subsequent protest and riots, all leading to the highest demand for guns and ammo quite possibly ever and empty shelves. But is this enough to cause such a huge ammo shortage across the board?

Economics 101 Refresher  

Well, I have already addressed the issue of demand, and I don’t know how well versed you are in economics but here is a quick refresher course. Where there is demand there must be supply, there is a little graph that looks like an X, and that’s the end of this refresher course. Big takeaway here, supply is supposed to meet demand at a certain point on the graph and there is either a shortage or a surplus if they don’t intersect at a point called equilibrium. So now that we have all relived our freshman year, let me get back to the point I was trying to make earlier.

Supply

Ammo supply (I’m not just talking about Federal, Hornady and Magtech making bullets, I am referring to the raw materials (copper, lead, etc.) needed to make the ammo) took a massive hit when the Federal Government saw it fit to shut the country down to prevent the spread of COVID. Mines were closed, refineries shuddered to a halt and shipping routes came to a standstill, all in the name of stopping the spread of the virus. Agree or disagree with what happened, it happened. So that obviously is going to impact how much ammo is going to be put onto the shelves. Now once the shutdown order was lifted every began to go back to work, except everyone making less than $600 a week (because that’s how much the government was paying to stay home). Even factories and mines that were trying to get back to work had to deal with new restrictions, such as 50% or 25% capacity inside their buildings. Couple those two together and you get this fun equation of 50% of 50%. Half the staff could show up to work but half of them took unemployment because of the lack of available jobs. Now to be clear I am not blaming anyone for not working simply looking at the situation for what it was/is. Also, most of the raw materials and chemicals needed to make ammo are manufactured overseas and those shipping routes were not operating at full capacity or taking longer because ships had to be quarantined before entering the country. I could go on, but I think you get the point, it got real damn hard to make ammo.  

Wrapping Up

Now what does all this mean for you, the reader, the person just trying to find bullets? Unfortunately, it means you are out of luck for the time being but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually everything will catch up, life will return to normal, and ammo will return to its equilibrium point on the pretty supply and demand graph. So, with all that being said, let me address the other theory on where the ammo is. The government is buying it all so we can’t have it. That’s it, no proof, just vague conspiracy that they are trying to buy all the bullets. Believe what you want but at least I offer some explanation to what is going on and some positivity that this will all be over soon. For now, try to buy ammo where you can but don’t give into the temptation of buying overpriced ammo from people looking to make a quick buck by exploiting the current market. I promise that ammo will come back at a reasonable price, it might just be a while until it does. So, hold on, stay safe, and maybe learn how to play golf, it’s a great summer activity, or maybe knitting (if you’re into that kinda thing).