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The Roving Sportsman… Where Has All the Ammo Gone?

OK, I’ll reveal my age a bit by telling you that there is a Peter, Paul and Mary song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” that has been ringing in my head as I have been putting my thoughts together about this article. It is stuck there and it keeps going through my brain over and over, sort of like the question “Where has all the ammo gone.”

If you have any interest whatever in hunting or shooting these days, you have, no doubt, been asking that same question for some time now. It really began early last year and there seems to be no apparent end in sight. Shelves normally housing ammunition in just about every store you go into are either bare, or host only a few boxes of various ammunition – most of which are oddball calibers or off-brands you would not normally purchase. So what is behind this shortage?

Conspiracy theories abound in today’s news media and run rampant in the various social medias. The most common one is that the U S Government is buying up all the ammo they can and thus little is available to the general public – you and me. Not true. The truth lays behind the meteoric rise in recent firearms sales across the country, and here are some eye-popping statistics that support that notion.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the major keeper of statistics regarding firearm sales. According to their records, in the year 2020, 40 percent of the gun sales were for first-time gun buyers, totaling 8.4 million new gun owners in the United States in 2020. As shown in the data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 21 million background checks related to the sale of firearms were conducted in 2020 – a 60 percent increase over the previous year. It may also be interesting to note that firearms ownership is increasingly diverse as sales among women accounted for 40 percent of all sales, and purchase by African Americans increased by 56 percent compared to 2019. So far, in 2021, the numbers of firearms sales are on track to set another record – above the figures recorded for 2020. So, how is this related to the lack of ammunition of store shelves?

Understandably, and generally speaking, store owners tend to “hold back” some ammunition so that they can sell a box or two to someone who is also purchasing a firearm. If they have more than required for their firearms purchasers, it goes on the shelf – which is, unfortunately, very little at this time.

To get a perhaps clearer picture of what is going on with the ammunition industry, I would recommend that you go to and watch a video of Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal, CCI, Speer and Remington explaining the current state of the industry. There are more than a dozen other videos on YouTube that will, hopefully, help you understand what is going on.

I am afraid we all need to just be patient. Firearm sales do not appear to be slowing and are forecast to be robust. Thus, for the foreseeable future, ammunition will be slow to be placed back on shelves.

In the meanwhile, here is something to consider as an alternative. When have you last done an inventory of the ammunition you currently have? Do you have any ammunition that goes to a firearm that you no longer own? Or do you have more ammunition of a particular handgun or rifle caliber or shotgun gauge than you will need in the foreseeable future?

Consider doing some swapping. Gather whatever you have that you really don’t need and contact your hunting or shooting friends. Perhaps they need some of what you have and you can swap them for something that they have that you are looking for. It may be the surest and quickest way to obtain what you want but can’t find at any of the local retailers. Good Luck!

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