Ammo shortage shows signs of easing in state

Kalamazoo, Mich. — Michigan ammunition retailers believe that supply for many rounds has caught up to a spike in demand that began in 2012, but some calibers, especially .22s, remain hard to keep in stock.

“We are starting to see more of everything, but it’s still difficult” to get certain calibers, Randy VanDam, manager of D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo, told Michigan Outdoor News. “It’s catching up. I think we’ll go through this year with some shortages again, but … it should get better again.”

Many different calibers, including .380, .22, .22 magnum, 9mm, and the popular .233/5.56 rounds for the AR-15, among others, were difficult to come by last year after a massive increase in ammo orders since 2012. Retailers believe that political talks about gun control following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., created a panic-buying scenario that carried over into 2013, though other factors also played into the shortage.

“People were buying unrealistic amounts,” VanDam said.

Smaller rounds are the least profitable for ammo manufacturers, VanDam said, and ammo makers seem to be focused on producing cartridges with a higher profit margin.

“If they can run something more profitable, they are going to run them as long as there’s demand,” he said.

VanDam said AR-15 bulk ammo and military-type rounds are “all caught up,” as are 9mm bullets, but .380s and most types of .22 ammo continue to sell very quickly, if he can get them in at all.

“Nine millimeter is pretty decent; you can find something in most of them now,” he said. “Last year a lot more was scarce.”

At On Target Guns and Gunsmithing in Kalamazoo, one of Michigan’s largest ammo retailers, owner Jeff Cramer agreed that smaller rounds remain the most difficult to order and keep in stock, and that availability for many others like 9mm, .45, .229 has improved. But, “compared to before the crisis in December 2012, ammo is still much more difficult to find,” he said.

Cramer said he could purchase “pallets and pallets” of rimfire rounds before the shortage, but now he’s limited to what he can get, which is often less than one pallet. The price for .22 rounds also has jumped considerably, and remains at around $5 for a box of 50, more than twice as much as the roughly $2 Cramer charged in 2012.

“It’s been tough,” he said.

At Knutson’s Sporting Goods in Brooklyn, owner Tom Knutson has been having better luck locating the ammunition he needs than he did last year, but still struggles to keep .22 shells and others on the shelf, he said.

“We’re finding most calibers now. We don’t have to be on a special waiting list,” he said of this year’s orders. “It’s kind of easing up somewhat.”

Knutson said he focuses less on handgun or rifle ammunition than on shotgun rounds, but even those have been more difficult to order than in the past.

“My first round of waterfowl ammunition, the distributors I go through for that were pretty low,” he said, adding that he’s not sure if his early order or an ammo shortage is to blame. “It took me six distributors to get the first order” filled,” he said.

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