Ammunition shortages spark Internet bullet market


WEST PALM BEACH, FL, May 17, 2013 — Thanks to ammunition shortages caused by high demand, the best place to buy bullets may be online.

Since President Obama’s election, gun sales have soared. Gun owners, concerned that the President is moving to outlaw weapons sales, purchased guns at high rates, and that already-high number increased after the Connecticut school shooting reinvigorated calls for gun control.

Gun owners have also increased the number of bullets they are buying, concerned about restrictions on the amounts and types of ammunition they will be able to buy.

This run on ammunition has led to a nationwide shortage, despite increased production by manufacturers.

According to a spokesman for Gander Mountain retailers, which sell ammunition, stores now open with lines of people waiting to purchase ammunition. Shelves are generally empty by the end of the day, especially for the most popular calibers like 9-mm., .22, .45 or .223. One Gander clerk noted, “The ammunition is gone from the shelves as soon as we stock it. Really, that fast.”

Because of limited supply, many retailers have restricted the number of boxes of ammunition customers can purchase at a time. Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods limit customers to three boxes per day, and Cabela’s limits customers to ten-a-day.

Manufactuers have increased production but cannot keep up with demand. According to ammunition manufacturer Hornady, they have increased production to “full capacity” but still are unable to meet demand. A statement from Hornady blamed the run on ammunition on “rumors and conjecture” which have “amplified concerns about the availability of ammunition and firearms-related items.”

Remington, another manufacturer, noted, “Remington is in a large backorder position at this time.” Spokeswoman Jessica Kallam further explained, “We are at full capacity with a majority of categories of ammunition. We are continuing to look at how to increase capacity and supplying ammo products to the various channels of distribution/sales that we support.”

The limited supplies are not only causing angst among gun owners looking for bullets, but it is impacting gun-related industries. The Delray Beach Shooting Center, for example, says fewer people are coming to the range because of the ammunition shortages, and students for shooting classes now must bring their own ammunition. Other shooting centers around the country echo similar concerns, saying people are reluctant to use their ammunition.

With manufacturers running at full capacity and retailers still coming up short, what is a gun enthusiast to do?

Never fear, the Internet is here.

Several young entrepreneurs have started a business of selling ammunition online. Craigslist and other sites are full of slightly marked up ammunition for sale, in various calibers. These individuals order directly from retailers online when possible and send minimum-wage employees to local stores to purchase as soon as they open. They collect as much ammunition as possible and sell it, where else, but on the Internet.

Of course, buyers who resort to Internet sales will have to pay a premium. Right now, private online sales run only a few dollars higher per box than retail sales, but those prices are likely to increase if shortages continue.

Says Brent Smith, a South Florida Craigslist retailer, “You have got to make a buck somewhere, right? The free market is as American as the Second Amendment.”

Is he worried that officials will shut down the unregulated trade in ammunition?

“No…they can’t stop the Internet. And if they do, I’ll go to gun shows and sell it out of the back of my car in the parking lot. I’ll still make money. It’s the American way.”


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Lisa M. Ruth
Lisa M. Ruth is Editor-in-Chief of CDN. In addition to her editing and leadership duties, she also writes on international events, intelligence, and other topics. She has worked with CDN as a journalist since 2009. Lisa is also President of CTC International Group, Inc., a research and analysis firm in South Florida, providing actionable intelligence to decisionmakers. She started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service. She holds an MA in international relations from the University of Virginia, and a BA in international relations from George Mason University. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Horses Healing Hearts, and is involved with several other charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and AYSO.