The 2013 Ammo Forecast

If you live in an urban area, you probably experienced a scene much like this photo the last time you went to purchase ammo.

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you… those ammo shelves really have been picked clean.

Beginning in late 2012, consumer demand for ammunition hit historic levels in the US. Retailers and manufacturers simply weren’t prepared for the spike and the result has been a rash of nationwide shortages and panic-buying.

Or, as Hornady Manufacturing puts it:

“The current political climate has caused extremely high demand on all shooting industry products, including ours. Empty retail shelves, long backorders, and exaggerated price increases on online auction sites — all fueled by rumors and conjecture — have amplified concerns about the availability of ammunition and firearms-related items.”

Is there really an ammo shortage?

Yes and no. The truth is that most ammo manufacturers are operating at or above normal production volumes. Military and law enforcement ammunition purchases have remained consistent.

Manufacturer output simply can’t meet insatiable consumer demand. Fearing harsh new gun laws and ammo taxes, many gun owners have developed a stockpiling mentality when it comes to ammunition, which has lead to empty shelves and panic-buying.

From USA Today:

Wastler says certain types of .22 shells are “non-existent” in his store, and that others, like 9 mm, and .40 and .45 caliber are “very, very short.” So are replacements parts for guns, he says.

So, despite above average production levels, demand is outpacing supply by a long shot. So, if the question is: When will this shortage end?

The answer must be: When the public stops panicking.

Forecast: Partly Cloudy with Clearing Skies Ahead

By all estimates, the demand for ammo will eventually level off, but when manufacturers and retailers will recover is still hazy at best.


Since ammunition manufacturers are producing at 100% capacity and distributors are selling what they get as soon as they get it, that means that distributors are continuously adding new orders to the queue. And the queue continues to grow, since orders aren’t being filled fast enough.

All of the major ammunition companies in the US say the same thing — their facilities are running at full capacity to meet demand. You can bet they are, because this is certainly going to be a banner year for the ammunition industry.

Still, most experts predict spot shortages in nearly all popular calibers through the rest of 2013, and certainly throughout income tax refund season. Responding to such a sudden run-up in consumer demand will take time. Manufacturers have to catch up, distributors have alter buying habits, and the retail sector has to restock…

The good news is that, barring any further panics, experts predict that conditions will improve steadily throughout 2013 and be back to normal by the year’s end.

Action steps

  • Keep enough ammo on-hand for your home-defense needs.
  • Shop rurally, ammo shortages are heaviest in metropolitan areas.
  • Wait for better conditions to buy in bulk.

Like any other panic, the ammo crisis of 2013 too shall pass. And when it does, ammunition shelves will once again be well-stocked. More than likely, prices will come down off of the extreme highs.

Conclusion: Don’t buy in a panic.

If you’re ammunition supplies are so low that you are concerned about your ability to defend your family in a home invasion scenario, then by all means stand in line for a few boxes of necessary ammo. If not, this is not an advantageous time to fill your bunker in case of a SHTF apocalypse.

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