Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Rambling Thoughts on the Ammo Situation

We are now about 8 months into the biggest and longest guns and ammunition buying panic ("Banic") that I can remember, and I've been following these things since the '80s.

Yesterday on Facebook, ammunition manufacturer Hornady posted a link to this statement on ammo and component availability. Additionally, they linked to this list of the ammo and components that they will be producing for the remainder of 2013.

So, I offer the following thoughts and observations. Please pardon the rambling.

First, if this hasn't brought home to you the necessity of keeping a significant supply of ammunition on hand for your firearms, I don't know what will.  The reelection of Barack Obama and the Sandy Hook school shooting, with the ensuing push for gun control by (primarily) the Democrats and their propaganda arm, AKA the mainstream media, has caused a panic the likes of which nobody has seen. As observed by Bob Owens back in December, the American public's response was to buy up every firearm of military utility designed in the past century, and the ammo to feed them. If the Dems' goal had been to cause the American populace to arm for war, they couldn't have done better.

If you're concerned that buying online or paying for guns or ammo with a credit card will land you on a list, join the rest of us already there. Frankly, if you're not on a list, you've been slacking in speaking up in defense of the rights that both major parties have been so eager to trample upon. If you can't find ammo locally or at a gun show, there's a good chance you can find it online. The website gunbot.net will help you find ammo in stock.

I am starting to see some kinds of ammo come back in stock, e.g, 9mm, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39, etc. .22 rimfire remains in short supply with only expensive, match grade stuff remaining in stock for more than a few hours.

.22 rimfire is essentially a commodity, and IMO, what we're seeing with the.22 LR shortage is a feedback loop. I.e., more people own .22s than any other gun, but they've been used to being able to pick up a box or two whenever they want to go shooting. Now, people are buying .22 LR any time they see it in stock somewhere, even if they don't plan on shooting it immediately. This in turn furthers the shortage. We've seen the same effect with other commodities like gasoline.

12 gauge birdshot seems to have been readily available even during the Banic, but slugs and buckshot have been scarce. Birdshot/trap loads are relatively cheap, and with some ingenuity can be remade into ammo more suitable for defense or hunting medium game. (Also Google "cut shells" and "wax slugs," neither of which are ideal but under certain circumstances may become necessary.)

As supplies catch up with demand I'd urge you to lay in a good stock of ammo for your most important guns. If you can afford it you should have enough ammo so that you can go out and practice even if you can't buy ammo that day. So, having 500 or more rounds per gun on hand at any given time is far from unreasonable.

I've seen online that many preppers prefer to keep only guns in common calibers, thinking that they would be most easily available if the SHTF. This panic has given the lie to that train of thought. The most popular calibers -- 9mm, .38, .223, etc. -- were the first to disappear from shelves. If you think about it, this makes sense. Thus, even if your primary guns are a 9mm Glock and a 5.56mm AR15, you should have guns in other calibers in case you need to fall back on them. Over consolidation in calibers limits your options for resupply.

One caliber that has remained available has been 7.62x54R, as used in Russian surplus Mosin-Nagant rifles. Most Americans regard Mosins as crude but they are solid, dependable rifles capable of good accuracy, and available even now at low cost.

Likewise, if your primary handgun is a semiauto, there are a wide variety of police surplus revolvers in .38 Special and .357 Magnum available at moderate cost. A well maintained wheelgun is still a formidable arm even in this day of semiautos, and is not dependent on the quality of ammo for reliable functioning.

Reloaders haven't been immune to the effects of the panic. The supply of primers became tight months ago. Not only are reloaders buying them up, I suspect that a lot of production that would normally go to the reloading market is instead going into commercially loaded ammo. Aside from primers, projectiles have been in short supply. It's going to be time for me to get into bullet casting.

A serious prepper should have on hand guns suitable for reloading with scrounged or self-fabricated components. Older large bore cartridges have an advantage in this regards because they can more effectively use cast, non-expanding bullets, and may even be able to efficiently use black powder. For example, the .44 Special and .45 Colt were originally loaded with black powder. The .44 Magnum case is the same as the .44 Special, lengthened by 1/10". Large bore rifle rounds like .444 Marlin and .45-70 (originally a BP cartridge) can be reloaded with it. Even in 2013, a competent man armed with a lever action carbine and a single action revolver is not someone to be trifled with.

Speaking of black powder, it's one area that's been relatively unscathed by the panic. However, at a couple times I noticed that Cabela's had their Remington 1858 percussion revolvers and round balls on back order. A black powder revolver would be far from my first choice in 2013 for a defensive gun but it beats any non-firearm for defense. They were effective weapons in the 19th Century and remain so today, especially given the advances in metallurgy. They  provide a way to practice your marksmanship without cutting into your supplies of modern ammunition, and in extremis ammunition can be fabricated from scratch (with percussion caps being the most difficult).

Likewise, airguns have flown under the panic radar. Modern high quality airguns offer a way to practice marksmanship at low cost, the ammo is low cost and low volume, and many of them are powerful enough for small game and varmint control. These are not the BB guns we all used as kids. A good primer on what air rifle to buy is available here, on Arfcom.

A nice bonus is that in most states, airguns and black powder guns can be obtained with no paperwork or background check, on a cash and carry basis.

So, what's my point? I guess what I'm trying to get across is that if you're serious about remaining an armed citizen, you need to:

(a) Maintain a good supply of ammunition during "normal" times. By "good supply" I mean one that will allow you to go out and practice even if commercial supplies are short.

(b) Do not over consolidate. Rather, keep guns in a few different calibers, including some that are less common, in case you need to resupply during the next panic or extended shortage.

(c) Look into reloading and stocking up on components when they are available.

(d) Look beyond modern firearms to those that are considered obsolete, because having something like a black powder revolver and/or precision airgun as part of your armory increases your ability to be self reliant.

As for myself, I'd been stocking up for awhile before the panic hit, so I was in good shape ammo-wise. I was caught short when it came to reloading components and dies for a couple calibers I want to reload. Additionally, I need to get setup for bullet casting. As funds and supplies permit I plan to rectify these gaps in my preps.


Anonymous said...

Yet another good article sir :)

Before the frenzy I always had it in my mind to pick up a couple of boxes of ammo every payday. I had an okay stock on hand but I'd burn through them like crazy on the weekends. Never got the chance to resupply before the banic hit. Needless to say my live fire practice has dropped tremendously. Would very much like to see store shelves and my stock filled up again.

Trapped in NY said...

As far as Shotgun ammo goes, chronic back problems convinced me to give up 12 ga. quite awhile back. Accordingly, I switched to 20 ga. My back is quite happy with the decrease in recoil.
As for supplies, I've had no problems getting #3 buck, or slugs for my shotties. And it should be noted that I even live in the "Not So Democratic Peoples Republik of New York City" (unfortunately for me).

I've also had no problems with getting .30-30 ammo (yes, living here I own a Lever Action Appalchian Assault Rifle). However, getting .22 LR has been somewhat more problematic.
Such is the nature of life in the Big (Rotten) Apple