You may think that it’s a bit soon to be stocking up on shotgun shells to get ready for dove season.
I know I do. I’m not organized enough to prepare this far ahead of the Sept. 1 season opener. Usually I let the anticipation build until just before the first weekend when I buy a license, a new camo hat and a load of ammo.
At least that’s the way I’ve always done it. But always is a long time and things have changed, especially for those of us who engage in activities that involve guns and ammunition.
These days there is a real shortage of ammunition out there. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, handgun or shotgun, caliber or bore size. It’s all the same. There’s just not much out there right now and what there is doesn’t last long.
I was visiting with Joe McBride just last week, and he suggested that I might want to wander out into the store and pick up a case or two of 28 gauge and .410 cartridges. Don’t wait until August, he was saying. “We’re getting stuff in every day but most of it’s gone within an hour,” he said. “We just can’t keep ammo in stock.”
Most gun folks know that, after last November’s election and the national attention brought to semi-automatic rifles by the Connecticut school shootings, there were lines out the door of many gun retailers as people sought to purchase guns they thought were about to be banned or restricted in some way.
The sense of urgency was fanned by rumors that the federal government was trying to buy up as much rifle and pistol ammunition as possible to create a shortage.
There’s certainly a shortage of military rounds like .223 and .308, along with pistol loads like 9mm. And there’s a similar shortage of standard hunting rounds such as .22, .30-30, .270 and .30-06.
“It’s affecting many people across all corners of the country,” says Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “There’s a shortage of pretty much all calibers. It’s really consumer demand.”
Bazinet says there are indications that the crush could ease a bit over the next few months as manufacturers work around-the-clock to catch up with the retail demand. “(Manufacturers) have the components,” he says. “They are just trying to get production to match demand.”
Moving quickly when ammunition is available probably remains a hunter’s best defense against getting caught short, Bazinet says. The past 10 years have seen unprecedented growth in sales of guns and cartridges and there has been little slowdown in that upward spiral.
McBride agrees to a point. “A lot of this is because the country (retail and wholesale) is really buying hard,” he says. “There’s still a shortage and some people are afraid that it won’t be available down the road.”
Fear of new restrictions on buying and selling guns has pushed a number of gun owners to begin buying more ammunition than they would normally. “There are a lot of everyday guys who are buying all they can because they think it might be restricted.”
Simple loads like Winchester AA target loads and Remington target loads are virtually impossible to get, McBride says, but hunting ammunition is arriving and should be available for a few hours. But buyers still might want to get their bids in early, just the same.
Just to keep gun buyers happy when they make a purchase, McBride has joined a number of other retailers in limiting how many cartridges a buyer can acquire at a given time. “We’re limiting them to two boxes of ammo when they buy a gun, just so we can try to have enough on hand,” he says.
McBride also has a secret stash of ammo back in his office, standard handgun calibers and .22 rounds that he can offer buyers. “I try to keep a little bit of everything because when people buy a gun they want to shoot it, and we may not have that ammo out in stock,” he says.