The Ammo Drought Explained With Math

Despite claims to the contrary, the lack of ammunition on your dealer’s shelf is not a government conspiracy. Some simple math demonstrates how a slight uptick in demand can quickly exhaust available supply.

Consider .22LR ammunition. The industry as a whole (all manufacturers combined) is currently setup to produce about 4,200,000,000 (4.2 Billion) rounds of .22 LR ammunition annually. That is the current production rate of all manufacturers running all their machines at full capacity. Without taking the time and large financial risk of purchasing additional, expensive equipment, not to mention the additional needed shop space and trained personnel to run it, there is nothing these manufacturers can do to produce more.

This adds up to a maximum 11.5 million rounds of .22LR per day, which is 23,000 bricks (500 rounds) of .22LR production per day.

There are 80 million gun owners in the States, a figure widely reported by and agreed upon by multiple sources. If 0.03 percent of them (24,000 people) decide to each buy one brick of .22 on any given day, that is a demand for 24,000 bricks, exceeding the entire maximum U.S. production of .22LR by 1,000 bricks on that day.

If 0.5 percent of the American gun owning public (400,000 people) simultaneously decides they each want to buy two bricks of .22LR, the entire maximum U.S. production of .22LR is immediately backlogged for five weeks. Any additional demand has to be supplied by currently available stocks from dealers, distributors or elsewhere. When those stocked items are exhausted, dealer shelves go bare.

Lesson learned. Ammunition retains (and possibly increases) value, stores easily, keeps for a long time. When it’s available, buy it cheap and stack it deep. Waiting until you need some, only to find the shelves bare, is never a good idea.

Gunsmith’s Creed:

You can have it cheap, you can have it fast, and you can have it right… and you can only have two of them for any given project.

Understand why the part is shaped, positioned and attached as it is, and what its purpose is before it’s removed. This will make correct re-assembly easier to remember.

There is no art in mechanics except simplicity of design. If there’s a knob, notch or unknown gizmo, it does have a purpose. Figure out what it is as you go, so when all the parts are in a pile there is no mystery about them to worry about later.

There is no such thing as drop-in parts.

Read more in our September 2013 issue. Back issues are available.

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