I just got back from the range and am in the right mindset to write this week’s analysis newsletter. After all, I ended up paying a dollar a round for a box of 9mm, and I’m really feeling the effects of the ammo shortage.
If you’ve been having a hard time finding ammo recently—and by recently, I mean for about a year—you may be wondering when things are going to get back to normal. Well, I set out to try and answer that question with my reporting this week. Unfortunately, for those looking to stock up at reasonable prices once again, the reality is the ammo supply won’t be back in stock anytime soon.
Manufacturers, including Winchester and Hornady, as well as retailers, including Lucky Gunner, told me the same story. Their backorders stretch out for more than two years. More ammo is being made and at a faster pace than last year. That supply is still making it through to retailers. But demand is higher than ever, and everything that comes in the back door goes right out the front door.
Why not just open more factories? Well, it’s difficult for a mature manufacturing industry like ammo making, which includes several companies more than 150 years old, to just expand production by more than 30 percent in a year. That would require building new factories, which, in turn, require huge capital expenditures and a year or more to get into production. These companies have lived through a dozen or more spikes in the last 40 years, and they’ve seen companies go bust after betting big on demand leveling out higher than it actually did after the surge subsided.
With this surge being driven more by first-time gun owners than previous surges, you could argue manufacturers are being too cautious. But it’s easy to say that when you’re not the one who is putting your business on the line, I suppose.
My decision to buy a 50 round box of 9mm for 50 freaking dollars was driven largely by the impulsive decision not to use up another box of my modest stockpile. The last two times I went to the range, they didn’t even have a single both of 9mm to buy. So, I saw they had some, and I jumped on the opportunity even though I resisted the urge a few weeks back when I saw some 9mm at a local store for the same price. I’m not alone in giving in to this impulse either. And most people go way further than overpaying for just one box.
That brings me to Friday’s member-exclusive story.
“Nobody wants just a box. They want a case.”
That’s what Jason Hornady, vice president of the ammunition company that bears his surname, told me was part of the reason why demand for ammo has gone so far beyond supply for so long. And why it’s likely to stay that way for literally years to come.
He’s not alone in his assessment. Brandon Wexler, the owner of Wex Gunworks in Delray Beach, Florida, said he’s noticed ammo hoarding become more and more common over the past year.
“They want to bulk up their supply. And it’s almost like it’s a psychological thing where ‘Oh, wasn’t available last year. So, everything I see, I’m going to buy whether I use or not.’” Wexler told The Reload. “And I think because of fear, it created ammo hoarders. I truly do.”
Ammo hoarding is far from the only factor driving the now-year-long shortage. And it isn’t the only factor driving the years-long backlog that makes the shortage likely to drag on just as long. The shortage is driven by much more than just ammo hoarding, as The Reload reported on Friday.
But anyone living in America in 2021 should understand the vicious shortage-hoarding-shortage cycle by now. We saw it happen with toilet paper and hand sanitizer as the pandemic lockdowns set in. We saw it again just last week when hackers managed to shut down the Colonial Pipeline, and people began filing up any container they could get their hands on. Hell, people are even hoarding ketchup packets now.
Of course, ammo makes that list too. It’s relatively inexpensive to buy in bulk and has a nearly unlimited shelf life, so the lure to stockpile is strong. And that is definitely perpetuating the shortage. Trying to produce enough ammo for the demand associated with millions of new gun owners is hard enough. Coupled with the increasing tendency for people to hoard ammo, it becomes completely unmanageable.
Dissenting NRA board member Phillip Journey is back in the news again this week. He’s trying to raise $100,000 by next Tuesday to file an appeal to the dismissal of the NRA’s bankruptcy case.
This may seem odd at first glance since he is the board member who spoke up about LaPierre and other NRA leadership failing to inform the board about the bankruptcy before filing it. But Journey’s plan is to appeal the case in hopes of getting a trustee appointed to displace LaPierre and company. Then he wants the group to be reorganized under the watch of a committee made up of NRA members.
This is a long shot. Experts told me after the case was dismissed that an appeal is unlikely to succeed.
But it may be Journey’s best remaining chance to wrestle control of the group from LaPierre before a New York judge decides whether to grant state attorney general Letitia James’s (D.) request to shut it down. And the more the NRA does to clean up its issues with self-dealing and the diversion of members’ money for personal expenses, the more likely it is to survive that dissolution attempt. There have been some reforms to this point, but most of the major figures accused of wrongdoing are still in charge of the organization. The removal of top executives and board members coupled with reform to the group’s oversight policies would likely signal to the judge that it is not necessary to shutter the NRA.
This could all be accomplished internally without intervention from the bankruptcy court. However, there has been little appetite for anything close to the removal of LaPierre by the board thus far. Journey, Rocky Marshall, and Owen Mills are the only active board members who have done anything to try and oust LaPierre. About 40 percent of the board didn’t bother to show up to the emergency meetings. And the rest of the board members who did show up to the emergency meeting voted in favor of retroactively approving the bankruptcy and even allowing the current leadership to refile if they lost. Which, of course, they did.
I reached out to dozens of board members this week, and only two responded. Neither wanted to comment at all on the bankruptcy being dismissed. So, if any of the previous supporters of LaPierre and the bankruptcy have changed their minds, they aren’t speaking up about it at this point.
If the NRA does go away or if it continues to be handicapped by its legal drama, other gun-rights groups are likely to fill the void. The NRA is massive and more powerful than many critics on the right like to argue (although much less powerful than many critics on the left seem to think). So, if the group is diminished or dissolved, it will be a hard road for the gun-rights movement in the years between its demise and the rise of its predecessor.
Either way, it’s good to keep an eye out for what may be coming down the line. That’s where the United States Concealed Carry Association’s new Super PAC comes into play. The group, which has nearly 600,000 paying members, launched its first serious foray into politics this month. It is big enough that its entry could be significant even though the chairman of the PAC told me the goal isn’t to replace the NRA but to “complement” it.
But this group is brand new and wouldn’t share any information on their budget or even their fundraising goals to this point. It also had an embarrassing misstep this week when it accidentally linked to the House version of the Firearms Safety Act, which is a gun-control bill, instead of the Senate version they actually support, which would provide tax breaks for people who take gun-safety classes or buy gun safes. It’s a minor screw-up, but it does show how far the group has to go.
I say “involving guns” here because, while the court struck down a warrantless seizure of a Rhode Island man’s guns, this was a Fourth Amendment case. It didn’t directly deal with the Second Amendment at all.
But it’s still interesting because of the details of the case and the ruling. Essentially, police took the man’s guns after he had a mental health episode and was taken for evaluation at the hospital. He claimed he only agreed to go to the hospital, from which he was released that same night after the evaluation, if police agreed not to take his guns. Instead, the police entered his home without his permission and seized his firearms.
This situation, of course, sounds quite a lot like the situations where recently created “red flag” laws often come into play. And that’s the aspect that makes it particularly interesting if you want to try and read into the implications of the ruling for gun rights.
The Court ruled the search and seizure was a violation of the Fourth Amendment and disagreed with Rhode Island’s argument that a “community caretaking” exception applied. While the Court acknowledged the “community caretaking” exception exists for warrantless searches of impounded and abandoned cars under certain circumstances, it said the standard must be higher for entering someone’s home.
The unanimous opinion did not reference “red flag” laws, but Justice Samuel Alito noted the obvious connection.
“This case also implicates another body of law that petitioner glossed over: the so-called ‘red flag’ laws that some states are now enacting,” he wrote in a concurrence. “These laws enable the police to seize guns pursuant to a court order to prevent their use for suicide or the infliction of harm on innocent persons. They typically specify the standard that must be met and the procedures that must be followed before firearms may be seized.”
So, we’ll have to wait and see when the Court may take up a “red flag” case.
Back at the Range With My Problematic Sig P365
So, here’s why I blew that $50 on a box of 9mm. As you may recall from last week, I recently swapped out the striker assembly in my Sig Sauer P365 to see if that would solve the problem I was having with light-primer strikes. Being your humble servant, I figured I should actually test the thing out and report back how it went. Even if it meant I had to pay way too much to do so.
I’m happy to report the gun ran clean for all 50 rounds. No hiccups at all.
And it shot like a dream. Just as I remember. The trigger is nice for a sub-compact. The sights are clear and easy to pick up. The grip is fantastic. It’s incredibly compact, but it packs an incredible 12 rounds in the extended magazine.
Compare that to the eight rounds the Springfield XDS I currently carry can hold, and it’s not hard to see the appeal.
I hadn’t shot it in a while, and so I had a bit of flinch there in the first dozen rounds before I got used to shooting the little pistol again. But, as you can see, if you look from left to right, my groups got tighter as I went through those outrageously expensive 50 rounds. Not a bad day at the range.
Of course, I have to put a couple hundred rounds through this thing without issues before I trust it enough to make the switch to carrying it every day. At these prices, and with the projected length of this shortage, who knows how long that could take.
We broke 3,700 free newsletter subscribers and 330 paid subscribers this week, which is a significant gain over last week. The Reload is progressing nicely, but we still have a ways to go to get to sustainability. Please share every story you think is valuable with your friends and loved ones and spread the word to help get The Reload in front of more eyeballs.
We won’t survive without your support, and we won’t grow further without your help. You guys are what’s going to make or break this publication. But that makes me happy because I’ve already seen how amazing many of you are!
That’s it for this week. I’ll talk to you guys again soon!