Ammo shortage persists; hunter concerns growing

Lake Orion, Mich. — Ammunition cabinets at sporting goods stores across the state remain conspicuously void of many of the most popular rounds. Websites advertise that they have ammo, but their inventory is severely depleted. The ammo shortage continues, and concerns grow.

“I go out and shoot at least once a month, but right now I can’t shoot at all because I can’t find ammo,” said Dean Caddick, a recreational shooter and hunter from Lake Orion in Oakland County. “The last time I was able to buy a full metal jacket (practice round) was three months ago. It’s crazy.”

Internet rumors of the government stockpiling ammo and introducing legislation to limit the purchase of ammo have stirred the pot, but the real culprit in the shortage is supply and demand, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The reality is that it’s a consumer-driven situation,” said Mike Bazinet, spokesperson for the NSSF, the trade association for the firearms industry. “For the last 36 months in a row we have seen an increase in firearms sales.

More people than ever are shooting, joining leagues. More women are buying firearms. The demographic is changing. And if you buy a new gun, you want the ammo to shoot it.

“In addition, a variety of 22LR guns are gaining popularity (especially some of the AR models). It has all come together to increase the demand.”

The shortage has hit the small mom-and-pop businesses, as well as the national retailers.

“We definitely are experiencing an ammo shortage,” said Scott Kegerreis, a manager at Cabela’s in Dundee. “We have open accounts with manufacturers and we’re waiting for their shipments. It’s not that we can’t get ammo.

We just can’t get as much as our customers want. We’ve heard manufacturers are working 24/7 to try to meet the demand.”

Winchester Ammo posted the following message on its website: “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. We appreciate your patience and like always, thank you for choosing Winchester.”

All the popular rounds have been the most challenging to find, including 22LR, .223, .30-30, .30-06, .45, .40, 9mm, and others.

So far, there has been no noticeable shortage of shotgun shells or muzzleloading supplies, short of primers.

“Primers have been a challenge,” Kegerreis said.

At Al and Bob’s Sports in Grand Rapids, management has followed suit with a lot of other retailers in limiting the amount of ammo one person may purchase.

“We’ve got orders out there. We’re waiting for the suppliers and manufacturers to fill them,” said Tom Szczepanski, the manager of Al and Bob’s. “A couple years ago if you ran out of, say, 9 millimeter you could call a supplier and get a couple cases. Now you can’t get it. What’s happening is that people are buying up all the extra ammo because they’re concerned they aren’t going to be able to get it.”

Others, Szczepanski said, are buying ammo to resell at a hefty profit.

“The (retail) price has gone up a little, but nothing significant,” he said. “We have imposed limits. If we don’t have a large inventory, we’re limiting people to one box. We’d rather make 100 people happy than just one person.”

Some hunters, like Caddick, believe the shortage could have an adverse effect on the 2013 fall hunting seasons.

“You can find slugs, but they’re starting to dry up, too,” he said. “There might be a shortage by hunting season, who knows? And if you hunt in the rifle zone it will have an impact. We have more than 600,000 deer hunters and they aren’t going to be able to practice and sight-in their guns before the season in order to hunt ethically.”

The shortage doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

“As soon as ammo and funds are available, I’m going to do what everyone else is doing and buy as much as I can,” Caddick said.

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