Monday, March 4, 2013

Ammo notes from last weekend's gun show

Don Dickinson spent last weekend (March 2 and 3) working at a friend's reloading booth at the gun show at the South Atlanta Expo Center. Most of Don's gun show note this week concentrates on ammunition supply:
As far as I could tell, there was no .22LR ammo being offered anywhere at the show except for one dealer who had a small supply of Eley target ammo priced at $.30-.40 per round. So, the early minor increase in high priced supply of plinking and premium .22LR ammo caused by some private sales of personal stocks seems to have dried up. Now people who have .22LR seem to be hanging on to it at current price points. I cannot say what that point is for standard and premium .22LR ammo because there is simply none moving right now at gun shows at any price. 
In center fire pistol ammo the pattern follows that of the formerly ubiquitous .22LR. The hardest to find center fire pistol ammo is also the formerly most common 9mm Parabellum or as it is sometimes called 9mm Luger. Before the show opened I saw one ammo dealer who had about 10,000 rounds of it. That was soon gone. Numerous customers showed up at our booth wanting components such as 9mm bullets and brass, or small pistol primers of which we had none.

All other calibers of ammo that I checked were available in quantities of hundreds to a few thousand at the start of the show but by noon Sunday the tables of the largest ammo dealer had large gaps in the previously filled space.

Previously common pistol caliber ammo such as .38 Special. .357 Mag. and .45 ACP were available in amounts of hundreds to a few thousands but at prices that ranged from $.60 to $.90 per round.

There was .223/5.56 ammo available in box to case lots but priced a $1.00 to $1.50 per round. Prices seemed to be about the same for .308 and .30-06 where it was available at all.

The Commie calibers seemed to be available in quantities of several thousand but at much higher prices than the old normal.

The only pistol caliber bullets the dealer I was working with had in quantity were 165 gr. .40 S&W FMJ. By noon on Sunday, these were down to less than 2K available. He had .224 and .308 caliber bullets and brass available in great quantities.

The only type of primers absent from the show were small pistol primers. All other primers were available in 5K cases at prices 50-100% higher than the old normal. Powder to load anything was available at about 10% more than the old normal though some specific types are gone.

Just about any type of gun you could want was available and prices seemed to have dropped off slightly from the highs of 3-4 weeks ago. There is still a noticeable absence of highly accurate rifles and those very few that were available were priced at 100% or more of the old normal.

Overall, ammo and ammunition loading components are now much harder to find at all in specific high demand calibers, especially .22LR and 9mm.

Ammunition and component buyers seem to fall in two categories, those seeking one or two hundred rounds and those seeking multiple thousands of rounds. The second category is overwhelming dominated by active duty soldiers and veterans. There was one mother and three wives of deployed soldiers who came in with lists and went away with components necessary to load tens of thousands of rounds. Two soldiers came in and bought much more. I know of only three civilians who have stocked up in the quantities that many soldiers and veterans have found necessary. I think having been in a fire fight concentrates the mind on the horror of running out of ammo.
Don suspects we may be seeing a permanent or at least a long term shift in the price and availability of ammo. I'm not fully convinced. Yet.

We kicked around some ammo data points in the first half of last week's show. We'll update with our latest observations again on Friday.

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