As recently as a month ago, it was very difficult to buy ammunition in many mainstream calibers including 9 mm, .22 LR and .223. When retailers were able to obtain supplies, they sold out almost immediately. Stores took to stocking supplies of these calibers up front rather than back in the gun section because it sold out so quickly it wasn’t even worth going to the trouble to put it on the shelves.
I’ve monitored the shortage by visiting two retailers near me, one a statewide chain of sporting goods stores, and the other, a mom-and-pop gunsmith and firearms store. During the height of the shortage, neither were able to stock AR-15s consistently. The shelves of the chain store never missed a beat on shotguns, but so-called “assault rifles” in all varieties became scarce. In January and February, pistols were occasionally in short supply too. At one point, the shelves at the chain store were more than half empty. Manufacturers and suppliers just could not keep up with the demand.
I visited both stores around lunchtime today, hours after the chain store received its Monday shipment of ammunition. The store opens at 8 am, and in months past, if you showed up after about 8:30 am to get in line on a shipment day, you would not be able to buy any ammunition in those mainstream calibers. The early birds would have bought it all up, even with the one box per caliber per person per day rationing in full force.
But about three weeks ago I happened by the chain store at about 9 pm and decided to see if they had any ammo in the impacted calibers in stock. They had plenty, and they had lifted the rationing from one box per caliber per person to two.
Today, the chain store had a wide variety of ammunition, all of the mainstream calibers and several brands and types of each. So I picked up some CCI Mini-Mag. They also had about half a dozen AR and other so-called “assault weapons” back in the racks, including one with a red dot sight that looked inviting. All rack spaces were filled. The weapons no longer seem to be flying off the shelves as they were just a few weeks ago. Prices have come back down as well. The gunsmith store was always packed during the height of the shortage, and buyers were often in the store literally waiting to see if someone would come in to sell the type of firearm they were in the market for. Today, that store was as quiet as could be.
Rationing is still in force, but the amount you can buy in one visit has doubled and the supply issues seem to be going away. So it’s becoming a good time to stock up on ammo if you need to.