The Reasons Behind Ammunition Shortages

Ammunition Shortages

There is always a lot of talk about why ammunition shortages occur on the commercial market. Political and conspiratorial noise often surrounds talk about shortages. The truth is probably a little less clandestine, but it is multifaceted and far from a singular answer. I predict we will see dramatic shortages again, so I thought I would explain my reasoning.

Military Conflict

War and preparation for war engulf the world. The Ukraine conflict lumbers on and shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Governments worldwide are sending all their old ammunition to Ukraine, so they will need to refill their inventory, and they will be buying vast restocks for years to come. The Israel/Palestine situation will drive similar demand, and in the background sits the U.S./China “cold war.” United States Military procurement will always trump civilian supply because they buy in volume, and it can be multi-year deals.

Panic Buying

Of course, the above situations make civilians nervous. Add to that the polarized political landscape magnified by social media, and you have a veritable stampede for civilian ammunition sales (mainly in the U.S.).

Raw Materials and Components

We still haven’t returned to normal since COVID. Raw materials and components are far more expensive and sometimes unavailable. 12 gauge is becoming challenging to source in high volumes because of propellant, and even the internal wad is becoming a problem. Politics and war have affected some of the raw material supply, and some are just significantly backlogged since everything stopped for COVID. Logistics costs are double or triple pre-covid prices, and many carriers won’t even ship hazardous cargo as they have enough work with standard items.

Shotgun Catridge Diagram

Production Capability

Most producers run a pretty lean operation. They can’t afford to stockpile for rainy days because old ammunition loses value, especially for military supplies. They want new ammunition made to maximize shelf life. The manufacturers cannot just turn up numbers overnight. They may need to invest in new lines, extra factories, and more skilled workers. None of that is quick or easy. They may not even wish to if they believe high demand is temporary because nothing lasts forever.

Is There Going to be an Ammunition Shortage?

Do I bring any good news about potential ammunition shortages? Yes, if you have good, trusted connections, you will still find products. Some of the bigger players took steps to mitigate the above factors, so hopefully, things will not get as bad as they’ve been in the past.


  1. One man’s “panic buying” is another man’s “sensible purchase.”

    Running out of toilet paper is a mere inconvenience, not a life-threatening predicament, so buying extra TP because there’s snow in the forecast when you already have 100 double-rolls in the house is “panic” buying.

    However, the only times you ever can have too much ammunition is when you’re drowning or on fire. So when you walk into the gun store and find the shelves that normally are brimming with ammo are 2/3rds empty, buying whatever they have that you can shoot isn’t “panic buying,” it’s “preparedness enhancement.”

    You think there aren’t people alive today in the Ukraine who regret not having bought more ammunition when it was available?


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