Struggling To Meet The Demand!
It’s Never Been Like This!
The search for ammunition may not have reached the intensity of the exploration for Noah’s Ark, but gun dealers — and consumers — throughout the nation are tenacious in their search for ammo. When none or little can be found, many consumers have turned to reloading, resulting in a shortage in that product category, also.
The run on ammo and reloading components began in late December, sparked by anti-gun/anti-industry threats following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Consumers converged on gun dealers in vast numbers, emptying firearm displays and ammunition shelves. Millions of rounds of ammunition were sold within a short period, with manufacturers, distributors and dealers desperately trying to fill what has turned out to be the insatiable appetite of consumers.
“Most dealers who have ammo inventory are limiting the number of boxes to each guest,” reported Miles Hall, founder and president of H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, Okla., in early February. “Ranges are still very busy, as well. The guests who have already been a part of the [customer] base are enjoying the time, but ammo shortages are stressing that area, as well.”
At the end of April, dealers and ranges continued to ration ammunition.
“We are still limiting the amount of ammunition that can be purchased to ensure that there is plenty for all to shoot. Our restrictions are four boxes of all calibers, except [in some calibers it’s less],” announces the website of The Range at Lake Norman in Cornelius, N.C.
At Four Seasons Firearms in Woburn, Mass., owner Carl Ingrao says he’s never experienced this level of consumer activity in his 30-some years as a dealer.
“The closest was the 2008, middle-of-2009 surge, but nothing like the length and intensity we’re seeing now. What we have now are all these new people that have joined the shooting sports community. They’re buying up a storm,” Ingrao said.
These consumers, in search of ammunition, have swamped Four Seasons Firearms.
“People call from all over the state, and from other states, also,” Ingrao said. “So we have a two-box limit, per customer, per caliber. But, if it’s a regular customer of ours, I don’t mind giving them more than the posted limit. I also set aside 100 rounds of ammunition per gun.
That way, when a customer buys a gun from me, I can at least sell them two boxes of ammo, so they don’t walk out with a gun they can’t shoot right away.”
Ingrao, in his eagerness to bring in more ammo, purchased 50,000 rounds of what he thought was regular .308 ammunition. It turned out to be plastic training ammo manufactured for German military training.
“So, to turn lemons into lemonade, I’m marketing it as an inexpensive way to get in some practice. Customers like it. With no wind, you can hit the target at a hundred yards and get pretty decent 3- to 4-inch groups at 50 yards, so it’s great training ammo. I want to give my customers something to shoot.”
The high-demand for ammunition has resulted in some dealers charging extremely high prices. That’s a mistake, says Hall of H&H, and Richard Sprague, president of Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, Ariz.
“The rumors, via the Internet and word of mouth, are on overdrive; also price gouging on ammo and platform guns is taking a negative toll on new shooters who have joined us during the last two years,” Hall said.
“Dealers need to not take advantage of the situation with price gouging because customers will remember that. Don’t price customers out of the market with ammo just because you have limited supply,” Sprague said.
The owners of the Range at Lake Norman update their website often, informing
customers on ammunition availability and pricing. Visit www.therangeatlakenorman.com.
Making It To Ship
“Like many manufacturers in the shooting sports industry, we are experiencing an extremely high demand for our products. We are working as hard as we can to produce an increased supply of quality ammunition to meet our customers’ needs,” reads a notice on Winchester Ammunition’s website.
The message is the same from virtually every ammunition manufacturer: “We’re making it as fast as we can.”
“You have to come through our plant. It’s Friday afternoon, after a 50-hour week and we’ve got machinery running all over the place, people boxing ammo. I just walked through the warehouse and it’s empty. Everything we make is basically going on a pallet and going out the door.
We’re not making ammo to stock anymore. We’re making it to ship,” said Steve Hornady, company president.
Sales at Hornady have never been higher, Hornady says. It’s the same at Nosler.
“It has just been a rocket ride. Nosler is probably on par with everyone else in the industry. There is just a tremendous demand. It’s amazing. That’s the only word I can use for it,” said Bob Nosler, company chairman, president and CEO.
Many dealers and consumers are asking manufacturers why they can’t just make more ammunition.
“Our facilities operate 24 hours a day. We are continually making process improvements to increase our efficiency and investing in capital and personnel where we have sustained demand. We are bringing additional capacity online again this year,” reads a notice on Federal Premium’s website.
“We are making 50 percent more than we made last year,” said Jason Hornady, company vice president. “We’re telling everyone they can expect 10- to 20- percent more than last year. The reality of it is, the supply curve is nowhere close to the demand curve, and the demand curve is an F-16 headed for the sky. It’s not backing off.”
At Nosler, the company has been running 24 hours a days, five days a week for years.
“We’ve been continually adding new equipment and floor space,” Nosler said. “When a customer gives us an order, everything is coming right off the machines, going into packaging and is shipped.”
Hornady’s offerings in .40 S&W are among the company’s most-in-demand calibers.
Nosler’s .30 180-grain bullet has been one of the company’s most-popular —
and backlogged — products this year. Visit www.nosler.com.
Return To Normal
When will ammunition and reloading supplies return to “normal”?
“I don’t think any of us have a clue as to what the new normal is, because the political climate has created a huge number of new customers.
I don’t know if they’re all shooting now, but they’re all buying,” Jason Hornady said. “We’re looking at this lasting two years. Even if consumers stop buying tomorrow, it would take us six months to fill the pipeline. And all manufacturers are in exactly the same boat.”
Nosler believes the demand will begin normalizing before the end of the year.
“Right now, the supply and demand are severely out of sync, and that’s not sustainable,” Nosler said. “At some point, we’re going to go back to something similar to what we had in November and December of last year. I believe that will happen somewhere between August and September, or some time after that. I don’t see a cliff that we’re going to fall off of — I see a glide path that is a change in demand. The change in demand will synchronize with supply.”
Looking to the future, Nosler says it’s mistake for manufacturers to rely only on their present, hot-selling ammo and reloading offerings.
“I think it is extremely important to develop new products,” Nosler said. “Let’s take our .30 caliber, 180-grain Partition bullet. The way we’ve sold those over the past four months tells me that probably everyone that needs one has one. If we want to entice that customer to come back to buy more things from Nosler, I’ve got to give him a reason — and that reason is something he hasn’t seen before.”
The .223 Remington, like the Fusion MSR, is one of the most-backlogged
rounds in the U.S. Market. Visit www.fusionammo.com.
What about the rumors the U.S. government is creating ammunition shortages?
“The rumors about Department of Homeland Security taking all the ammunition aren’t true. We’re all shipping as much as we can make. There is no conspiracy. There are no black helicopters taking all the ammo,” Jason Hornady said.
By Russ Thurman
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