By Mike Keleher
I want Guns Save Life readers to know I am always diligent and out there shopping for ammo on their behalf…well maybe not so much for your behalf…but I am always out there looking for best prices and availability on ammo, and I am here to tell you ammunition is back on the shelves at levels I have not seen in at least three years.
In the last three weeks, I have been in a Scheels, a Cabelas, a Bass Pro, a Sportsmans Warehouse, a Rural King, four or five local gun shops and even a few Walmart’s who still stock ammo. You might think that is a lot of gun stores in three weeks, but, well, you know-retired guy. I got time.
At first, I wasn’t really noticing the volume on the shelf. What I noticed, was the presence of primers for reloading. Primers to me are the canary in the coal mine. During the most recent ammo famine/Biden election/Covid days- everyone bought up tons of ammo, (especially .22 LR for no known reason-really that is your prepper round?) When the 9mm and .223 ammo prices went sky high and were then hard to find, (remember seeing a $50 box of 9mm), all of the reloading components disappeared next. Even shotgun shells were in short supply, and I wondered how some people were going to weather the hunting season last year as steel shot was nearly impossible to find. 20 ga and .410 were just gone.
Primers used to run $35 for a box of 1000 in the “good old days.” They flat disappeared three years ago. Manufacturers told us all available primers were being routed into loaded ammo production lines. At one piratical gun show a year ago I ran into a benevolent trader offering a single box of only 90 primers (they were at least 30 years old) for a dollar a primer!
Well kids, primers are back on the shelves. Big ones, little ones, all of them. Since my Adventure Wife does not read my articles, I am at liberty to share with you I picked up about 3,500 of them in the last three weeks. I was at a Sportsmans Warehouse Saturday and bought “a bunch” and they were half the price I paid at Scheels two weeks ago.
Even better, Sportsmans Warehouse had a limit in their website of only two boxes (100 each) per customer, and I was prepared for that just to get more primers, but the kid behind the register…I mean the astute and learned gentleman, said “Well some people will only sell you a couple boxes, but how many do you want? I’ll sell you all you need.” Employee of the year in my eyes!
State of the Ammo Nation.
9mm training ammo is still running about $17-$20 a box. (Remember $9 a box for the last couple of decades?) .223 has come down this summer from about $17-$20 a box of 20 to average of about $12-$14. I got some Federal 5.56mm in 20 round boxes from Rural King last week on a $9 flyer special. Let’s just say I purchased “an undisclosed amount” at that price!
Shotgun shells seem to be flush on everybody’s shelves right now, even hard to get 20 gauge, but the price is still running high. With fall in front of us “cheap” Dove and Trap loads should be well below $10 a box, but they are not. Even buying Gun Club type loads in full case lots are still over $10 a box. The best bargain I have seen anywhere is the 100 pack 12 ga boxes at Walmart for $34- this comes out to $8.50 a box. The problem of course at Walmart is getting someone to wait on you at the sporting goods counter.
I had to walk all the way from the sporting goods area in a large Walmart, back to the front of the store on a Friday night, to find a human who could communicate with another human employee to meet me back at the back of the store to sell me some ammo. I tried calling the store itself-only the computer answered, but to be fair it would ring through to the sporting department phone which could keep me company while it rang and rang.
Kid finally showed up- He was quite familiar. I had seen him standing around the registers in the front of the store when I got up there to ask for help. I asked Kid to ring me up two 100 packs of 12 gauge, which he did, then asked if there would be anything else. I said no I was done shopping and asked, “Are you walking back up to the front of the store now?” and he said, “Yes I am. ” So I quite naturally asked, “Do you mind carrying these two heavy boxes of shells up there with you? I mean as long as you are going that way.” He did not see the efficiency and practical nature of my query, I guess.
I have seen a recent post stating shotgun powders are no longer made in America after Dupont moved to Canada and then sold out. Supposedly bulk shotgun powders are now only made in Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine hasn’t exported any in the last two years… how easy is it for Russia to clamp down on powder sales at this point? I can’t prove all of this is true, but I would stock up now on shotgun shells now you may need for the next couple of years. Russia has been buying/borrowing weapons from China, Syria and even North Korea as they go through their own stockpiles. Furthermore, Russia isn’t exactly happy with the U.S. right now, and for good reason! I mean “C’mon man” you pay out all that money to fund candidates in the U.S. and what do you get for it in return after you invade one measly country?
Even more important-buy your ammo and reloading components now while the shelves are fat. Having sat out two recent ammo shortages/droughts related to anticipated election of Hillary Clinton and then Joe Biden/Covid I think I can pretty confidently predict there is going to be another run-on ammo which coincides with this next election cycle which really gets going in November- one year before the election. Who knows who will be standing for election by then even at the state level- I’d vote for a fairly smart housecat over anyone currently in office, but people are going to be afraid the government will be coming for their guns…and, well, yeah…turns out they are!
Stock up now. It is not the cheapest prices, but it is certainly the largest bulk on shelf state we have seen in 3 years. Remember I’ll still be out there shopping for ya…