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September 03, 2007

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Brother, Can You Spare a Round?

In West Virginia this past week, I was informed by some of my fellow shooters that there is a surplus-ammo shortage. All types, all kinds. If it's military, no one's got it. I hadn't heard this before, and was about to ascribe it to Mountain State paranoia, when lo and behold, on one of the legitimate Internet news outlets, is an item about police departments being unable to get ammo, and having to suspend, or limit firearms training.

The cause for the shortage was cited as our armed forces' unending need for small arms ammunition. I'd heard last year about Army and Marine snipers having to unlink 7.62 machine gun belts to feed their rifles, because the Lake City match ammo for which those rifles are designed had long dried up. But apparently it goes beyond this. In 2001, the armed forces asked for 426 million rounds of small arms ammo. In 2006, the figure had climbed to 1.65 billion rounds.

But even this might not explain the shortage. Could it be:

a) the skyrocketing costs of brass, copper, and lead?

b) Hillary?

c) Chuckie?

d) the U.N.?

I've also heard, although I can't confirm it, that the NYPD has altered its tactical doctrine to compensate for the shortage. Officers with pistols are now prohibited from firing more than 50 rounds at a suspect. If the suspect is firing back, the limit is extended to 75 rounds. Limits for officers armed with MP-5s are, of course, higher.

If anyone knows anything definite about the shortage, let the rest of us know.


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Dave, for what it's worth, here is the way I see it. I am a firm beleiver in buying ammo or components on a regular basis, even if I do not have an immediate need. Hopefully that makes me a stocker and not a hoarder. With a little luck, I should be able to weather this shortage. So:
1. Do not panic and start buying everything at once.
2. There is a war on. If I have to shoot a little less to help support the troops, so be it.
3. There are lots of new domestic security agencies, armed sky marshalls, etc. that should practice more than I do.
4. Winchester recently shifted production of 22 ammo to a new plant and they are having problems getting the bugs out.
5. Foreign ammo producers have never heard of enviromental controls. Controling lead emissions in China is not a big deal. It is here in the states. It might be easier to open a new oil refinery than a new small arms plant.
6. If you don't reload, learn how.
7. Use reduced loads for practice in centerfires. Get that 22 that matches your centerfires and use it.
8. Pray for the good people of New York. They need all the help they can get.


Ammo shortages in war time isn't new. I recall being in high school in the mid-60's domestic shotgun ammo dried up. I hunted one season with Czech shotgun shells.

Present reasons: Don't think cost is a factor. I believe USA has limited production abilities. There's not all than many ammo manufacturing plants presently.

I can't help snicker over the shock of this situation. Very few Americans act or even believe we're in a world war. Bush Administration made the horrible mistake of never mobilizing the population to a war footing. Congress certainly doesn't believe we're in a war, and Congress is representative of the people.

Buddy Hinton

I just want to say having gone to a gun show in West Virginia a few years ago, I found myself in a room full of the most disgusting people in my experience. It was the closest I had come face to face with the Klan, the Aryan Nations, and most ubiquitous of all, unreconstructed Neo-Confederates. There were so many nitwits in their camo outfits, bandoleers, shaved heads, creepy tattoos and lack of front teeth that it was obvious to me they should have gun shows with dental conventions in the same building at the same time.

The friend who dragged me there was after a Streetsweeper. So off we went through the crowd, many of whom carried assault weapons over their shoulders and handguns in hand with price tags dangling from them, selling to anyone with cash no questions asked. The crowd at the Streetsweeper booth was large, after all, what could be more gunfun than a semi automatic shotgun that fires a dozen 12 gauge shells through a big rolling drum as fast as you can pull the trigger? Big-Big-gun-gun fun-fun!

My pal, a wannabe bounty hunter who looked the part, had no trouble finding full automatic switch kits, and even someone selling silencers. There was also more hate Clinton, Schumer, Brady and Liberals bumper stickers than at a GOP convention. More than anything, these shows are meeting places for the most violent contingent of the extreme Right-wing and gang culture in this country.

To be fair, I must say that most of the big busy booths were run by sporting goods manufacturers and their local distributors. They make enough money day to day selling their guns and ammo that they could easily stop pandering to these Right-wing extremists and pull out of gun shows all together.

Dr. Ralph

ATK which runs the Lake City Ammunition Plant along with several others blames the shortage on our friends in blue, not the war. Lake City alone manufactures 1.5 billion rounds a year and U.S. troops training and fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan use only 1 billion. They claim that the infamous shoot out in Los Angeles where two body armor clad idiots with full auto weapons nearly decimated a city block caused a reaction that has yet to slow down. Now every local yokel cop needs assault rifles and plenty of time on the range. 9/11 caused a quantum leap in this thinking and demand is up 40% in just the last year. Blame the militarization of law enforcement....

LT Robert Lyon, USN

As a military member currently serving in Iraq I can say that our folks are using a lot of ammo. We are also showing great results. It's a price to pay to be sure, but the results on the ground here are amazing. We are getting bad guys every day.
Thanks for everyones support. We also see that here every day. I hope the price of ammo goes down before I get back, but if not please save a few boxes for me.


Lt. Lyon,
God Bless you and all the troops on the front line.

Black Rifle Addict

It's a false increase in demand to raise the price. Oil companies started this Billion dollar profit war and now every company wants a piece of it.

Joe Novak

Part of it is that we are no longer the leading buyer of lead and brass: China is. Increased demand on their part means that they can demand higher prices from us.


The Chinese are using the lead to add to their paint for the cheaply made toys that are shipped to the U.S. to potentially poison our kids and grandkids.

But the toys are cheap to buy @ Walmart!!!!


Lo and behold the major news outlets failed to do their journalistic due diligence again.


Props to Dr. Ralph for reading to the bottom of the article and not using the sound byte.

Come on Dave, your better than this.

Aaron Pape

shooting is getting too expensive for me. I love to shoot my 44 mag, but i just can't afford to keep shooting it.


Dave where were ya at in the great state of West Virginia? If ever in the Northern Panhandle or around Morgantown I'd love to buy ya a beer and shoot the bull.

Buddy, sorry to hear about your experience in West Virginia, but the people you met were probably from Ohio, they just can't stay on their side of the river. just kidding

As for the price of ammo, I have noticed that many police departments (even some in pretty small counties in WV) have insisted on beginning SWAT teams. Are there enough of these to really effect the situation I don't know....but I'm sure it doesn't help. Anyways, it is called surplus ammo, you get it if the men and women who make their money using it don't need it.

Rc Helleberg

Dave, our police depts. here in Nebraska don't seem to have any shortage of ammo or reloading supplies. I know an officer, here in my home town, and they reload their ammo for most of their practice at the range , except, for the dept issued ammo that they qualify with. Guess the ammo shortage is an area thing instead of nation wide.

JA Demko

Airguns continue to provide a relatively inexpensive way to practice marksmanship skills.

Will Becker

It's not a big problem yet.the cost of everything is up.Don't panic.


I concur with the demand being the cause of local law enforcement - not the war. Locally, the police department in our little town has gone overboard. We have a population of 15,000 (has been this way for 25 years - flatline census - no growth). However, our police force has grown from 30 sworn officers to 42. We now have a SWAT team with the latest equipment that makes the big town next door(pop. 300,000) jealous. I remember the consuming debate 25 years ago when we went from 5 marked cruisers to 6. Today we have 10 cruisers, a police van, a motorcycle, a SWAT van, and a command post vehicle. And every cop on the force is armed to the teeth.

No change in population for 25 years.

No change in crime. (Typcial small town stuff - drunks, punks, shop lifters and a murder every 10 years or so.)

The war is not using up the ammo - the police forces are stockpiling and the local politicians are afraid of coming across as weak on law enforcement.


Got a buddy of mine in Fort Worth who owns The Perfect Shot. He's had a diffucult time finding bullets and brass for at least a year. He loads a bunch of .223 (about 20,000 rounds a month), and has started purchasing bullets from Hornady(SST)due to the lack availibility from other manufactureres. Prices for ammo will most assuredly rise.

Rumor has it that the Chinese are getting everything they can get their hands on.

Tom OB

The shortage of current ammo is
caused by the Iraq War...
Marc Jamison was to make some Newton Brass by last June...he got a huge order for military brass & the Newton brass was put on the backburner due to the exigency of making lots of brass for the military taking up their work.
Best Regards,

Blue Ox

Why would NYPD go and try to limit the number of rounds fired by police? If you are a cop, and the bad guy is firing at you, it's your job to do whatever it takes to stop him. Because who knows how many others could be wounded or killed. So what happens when the officer reaches the limit of allowable shots? The perpetrator is still firing! What do you do, throw your keys at him? It just don't make any sense.

Trae B.

well im mainly a bow hunter but i like to hunt small game and i have noticed that the price of shells have went up steadly over the years.right now it is not that bad of a problem for me but im scared that after awhile when my younguns start hunting that it will cost to much for them.I think the whole world should turn around and restart like it was back in my younger years.

Blue Ox

And kudos to all the troops, too!!


To Mark-1,

I'm sorry Sir you detested your visit to a West Virginia gun show. I don't know where you went but I can assure that not all West Virginians are like that. I am not a wealthy man but I have class and never act like that at a gun show. One thing I can say, WV has the lowest crime rate in the nation.

BTW, I would have liked to met you Mr. Petzal. I like your sense of humor.



The one factor I have not seen mentioned is- the loss of MANUFACTURING CAPACITY. In previous wars whole industries were converted to assist in the production of military goods. Today those factories have moved off shore. NAFTA and other government regs. have stripped our country of our ability to produce manufactured goods. We have not perserved our basic industries and we will pay for it in the future. However I cannot believe that there is anyone in DC who will change their politically correct stance to bring back the base manufacturing we need to defend ourselves. Bombs soften the territory up but it is ground troops that secure the territory. They need ammo and other manufactured supplies we no longer have the capability to produce.
DON"T EVER VOTE FOR AN INCUMBENT. they got us where we are and don't care

N. Wright

Something tells me you cam across this blog by chance and you've never even heard of The Gun Nut. Furthermore- I'm afraid your post has nothing to do with the latest post by Petzal but that the word "gun" conjured up an idea in your head of what you "think" you know the word to mean.

Perhaps your memoirs belong someplace else, as you are sadly mistaken what the life of a sportsman is and what the word "gun" really means.



Mark-1, Not every gun show in the nation is like the one you went to. I have only been to 2 or 3 but my experience was quite different but maybe that is becuase I am from Indiana, the greatest state in the union.

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