Since the pandemic hit the U.S. many industry have been hit hard. Unemployment rate went sky rocketing by 20 plus percent within days as businesses shut down. Fortunately, the gun industry has been a frenzy, the psychological effects of “panic buying” has been taking place rapidly. If you’re in the guns and ammo business, this first tier were raking in the sales.
Businesses that sell accessories like holsters and mags were also getting sales in the second and third wave of panic buying. The demand was so extreme that many guns and ammo were out of stock at brick and mortar stores and online within weeks. But, that still did not stop the demand from seasoned preppers to the gun newbies on the search to buy.
Below is a Google Trend chart highlighting guns, ammo, holsters and concealed carry. Never mind the numbers they are just normalized to give you an idea of the interest online that people were searching. See the three spikes, these were the waves of online searches.
For those of us in the gun industry, overall for some has been a blessing and some not. Unfortunately, when the demands are high, chances are the inventory will be depleted. Many gun shops and online stores will be on back order status. Covering everything that’s happening in the gun industry is beyond the scope of this article.
Ammo will always outsells firearms when panic strikes and the demand will keep on going into 2021. Going physically from store to store may not be ideal. But, if you’re blessed to have great connections with a brick and mortar store. The advice is to get your ammo when the shipment arrives.
Here are some thoughts of the most demand pistol ammo.
9mm – These will be hit or miss, at the stores usually a miss. .380 ACP – This popular personal defense round is definitely in short supply. This caliber is second only to the 9mm in scarcity. Prices will average anywhere from .50 cents to $1.00 per round. .40 S&W – Since the FBI dropped the 40s for the 9mm, local PD agency followed suit. You would think these 40s would be more available, not as much as we’d like them to be. .45 ACP – Panic buying has struck all calibers, but the .45s may be the caliber to be more available than other popular calibers. .38 Special – Its hit or miss with this great simple personal defense revolver.
Long gun calibers like 12 Gauge, .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, etc.. Just like the popular pistol cals they are in short suppy as well.
“We started to see demand pick up in October 2019,” said Hornady Vice President Jason Hornady. “When Walmart made the announcement that they were getting out of the market for most ammo, the consumer shifted to places where we were strong.”
The prospect of anti-gun legislation in Virginia stirred up additional demand, and that surge only grew as we entered a presidential election year. The COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest of 2020 threw gasoline on that fire.
“It happened on March 14,” Hornady added. “The month of March was the biggest our company has ever seen. We shipped more in that month than we did the first year I worked here.”
Hornady has kept what many would consider to be excessive inventory on hand in recent years. During the spring of 2020, that inventory was quickly wiped-out. “We will have three years of orders by the end of 2020,” Hornady said.
“It’s kinda crazy,” founder and owner of Black Hills Ammunition, Jeff Hoffman, told Guns & Ammo. Hoffman credits the uncertainty of the pandemic with the surge in demand. “Americans got concerned that desperate people would do desperate things, and they wanted to protect what they had,” Hoffman added.
Despite that demand, Black Hills Ammunition has been able to keep production consistent. Like Hornady, Black Hills maintained a healthy product inventory that helped keep them up and running.
“We’ve suffered some minor setbacks trying to protect our people, but for the most part we are still running full-out and working overtime,” Hoffman said.
Vista Outdoors is one of the few publicly traded ammunition manufacturers in the U.S., which means that real numbers are available to help quantify the surge in demand. Vista Outdoors owns brands including Federal, CCI, Speer — and now Remington. In a November 2020 earnings call, Vista reported a 29 percent increase in sales compared to the same quarter in the prior year. That percentage would be higher if the company had the capacity to produce more product. Vista told its investors that it had an ammunition backlog in excess of a billion dollars.
“This is unprecedented for our company,” Vista Outdoors CEO Chris Metz said. “With demand far outstripping supply, and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing.”
Grind Hard Ammo
If you didn’t know the first three manufactures don’t sell direct to consumers. Grind Hard Ammo sells direct to consumers.
“It got crazy in March. Then the riots started, and it went through the roof. With that demand came additional challenges. We had dramatic decreases in production due to a lack of components. We were out of components for 2 weeks. We had to scramble to find product from other sources, and those were way more expensive than normal. We went from paying around $16 for 1,000 primers to paying over $100.”
Grind Hard Ammo is a small company that just invested $20 million to expand its capacity, including an entire new facility. Weiss added, “I can sell every round I can make. The bottleneck is the components. So long as they have the supplies they need, Grind Hard’s machines are running 24/7. Even with the capacity that we invested in we will still be max’d-out.”
Weiss indicated that the shortage is not due to a lack of supply, but unprecedented demand. “If someone who usually buys two boxes of 9mm sees a case, they’re going to buy it because they don’t know when they’ll find it again,” Weiss said. “That creates a shortage. One of our cartridge-case suppliers pumps out 800,000 loaded rounds of 5.56 a day, and they are back ordered until June 2022.”
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