World without Ammo

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The empty ammo box… a familiar sight, as buyers have stripped the entire supply chain.

If you’ve been trying to buy ammunition lately, you know what we mean. This chart, prepared by the blogger/FFL Traction Control, tells the whole sad tale. American ammo stocks are at 7% or lower, and rifles are in the 20% region. But it’s actually worse than that for the most popular calibers of ammo, which are simply unavailable. Your dealer has none in stock because he can’t get it, and he can’t get it because his distributor can’t get it either, and the distributor can’t het it because big suppliers have put cash on the barrelhead for more than the whole year’s projected production. Manufacturers are in turn limited by several factors, including availability of components and raw materials. Also, if they ramp up in what is certainly a panic-buying bubble, they could wind up with a lot of excess inventory when the bubble pops.

The only way this level of production could be consumed, not stockpiled, is if we were in a shooting civil war. In that unlikely occurrence, ammo deliveries would stop and the factories would again be stuck with unsold and unsalable product.

You can see two discontinuities in the stock line -- one at the election, and one after the Newtown murders.

You can see two discontinuities in the stock line — one after the election, and one after the Newtown murders.

But for the time being buyers are stockpiling and hoarding, and so short supplies will continue as long as Democrats, media, and urban politicians continue to press radical disarmament. (And radical is indeed the word. Senator Feinstein’s bill includes a national handgun ban, and the rest of the bansters’ eternal wish list).

This poses a particularly sharp problem for users like ranges, training facilities, and police departments that require a steady supply of ammunition for operations and who depend on just-in-time sources of supply. Those sources are at the point of failure, or beyond, in the sight of unprecedented demand. If you shoot a lot, you have to be aware of this situation, and you’re probably shooting less in order

An economist would tell you what will happen next: prices will rise sharply. At some point, profit-taking, even by people who have no hope of replacing the cartridges in the new market, will draw the hoarded supply back into commerce. That’s because a large number of the hoarders are not planning to shoot the ammunition but are either speculators or simply stockpiling for an unpleasant future. The knowledge that a new equilibrium is likely to be established at a new, higher, price is just going to drive more speculators.

On the other hand, something like the Feinstein bill could pass, and the house-to-house searches begin. That is unlikely to end well.