“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.
And it’s something that Hornady said has afflicted everyone to some degree.
“Well, how many boxes would you buy normally? I mean, a year and a half ago, if I said, ‘Hey, let’s go get some ammo.’ You’re going to buy for your .223 or your .308. How many would you buy? Two, maybe three? Nobody buys two or three boxes anymore. Now they buy cases.”
He gave a specific example from over the winter.
“I was out hunting in December, and I ended up in the truck with this kid who had no clue who I was,” Hornady said. “And he was asking me what kind of ammo I shoot. Of course, I’m shooting Hornady, and he said, ‘Me too.’ Then he said, ‘In June, I went and bought a case of ammo for every caliber I own. Yeah, it cost me three grand, and my wife was pissed, but now she thinks I’m a genius because it almost doubled in price.'”
He said it shows “consumers are buying differently than they ever have before.”
Wexler said it would probably be hard for many people to break out of the cycle of stockpiling until supply comes back again.
“The ammo wasn’t there for a year,” he said. “So, if it becomes available, their fear is that it’ll be gone again. So, why not stock up on anything I can?”
And, of course, the supply coming back again will be limited to some degree by people continuing to hoard.
It seems the snake will continue to eat its own tail for the foreseeable future.