The surging nationwide demand for popular rounds of ammunition has virtually eliminated the ability to purchase them in any quantity, thereby affecting firearms training and recreational shooting across the country, as well as the supply of ammunition to the U.S. military which relies on commercial manufacturers.
“The small-arms ammunition situation in this country is currently very bad,” said John Farnam, who runs Defense Training International.
DTI provides training in defensive weapons and tactics. As one of the top handgun instructors in the world, Farnam has trained thousands of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel, as well as non-police clients.
He pointed out that such popular rounds as 9mm and .223 calibers (same as NATO 5.56mm) “are virtually unavailable in any kind of quantity.” Both of these rounds are popular for training and are the backbone of what the U.S. military uses.
“The military relies on the retail level for their supply of ammunition and even the military has a problem getting it,” Farnam said.
There are indications that the U.S. military is looking abroad for the components that make up a round.
“Ammo is in waning supply in many parts if the U.S., and [the federal] government is buying all it can get its hands on,” one gun enthusiast told WND. “I recently offered to buy $50,000 worth of once-fired 5.56×45 brass casings from an outfit here in Israel and the answer was ‘No, we have too many buyers.’ Whoa! Stock up while you can,” he warned.
Farnam said the supply of other handgun calibers such as the .45ACP are somewhat more plentiful, but gun shops are heavily rationing purchases to one or two boxes of 50 rounds per box to each person.
Farnam and others also pointed out that people who do reloads are experiencing similar shortages of the elements needed to make a cartridge.
Bullets, brass cartridges, smokeless powder and the primers – elements which comprise the full round – are also hard to find.
Brass cartridges increasingly are becoming a premium since the ingredients that comprise brass, especially copper, are in demand for other uses and are the subject of considerable thefts across the nation due to demand and the lack of supply.
Farnam said that all of these elements, especially the most complex of these components – the primer – similarly is produced by commercial enterprises and their production also is down.
The chronic shortage of components for reloads also is indicative of the limited supply available to commercial producers of bulk ammunition.
He attributes the nationwide run on ammunition to demand stemming from the concerns over limits being sought by gun-control advocates and singles out the Obama administration in particular for pushing this agenda against law-abiding gun owners.
“I have been in the firearms/ammunition distribution business since I left my agency in 1988,” one supplier said, “and I have never seen Americans this desperate to buy anything and everything associated with weapons and effective fighting. The current situation is unprecedented!”
The supplier said that gun, accessory and ammunition manufacturers are ramping up to meet the unprecedented demand but are proceeding cautiously due to the unpredictability of the outcome of current pending legislation and subsequent court decisions.
“No one wants to wake-up one morning, only to discover that he owns a warehouse full of expensive product that has suddenly become illegal,” he said. “So, none of us should expect any species of relief, any time soon!”
Farnam said the situation isn’t going to get any better.
“With the volatile international situation, militaries around the world will continue to demand, and consume, every round of small-arms ammunition that can be produced,” he said. “Jittery government agencies get the rest. We peons get what falls through the cracks!
“In the training business, we are having to moderate ammunition consumption during Courses, as students are unable to get their hands of quantities necessary to expend it at former rates,” he said. “In addition, everyone wants to retain adequate personal stashes, as it is impossible to know when, and to what degree, they can be returned to ‘normal.’”
He also referred to the recent run on ammunition purchases from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which has accumulated some 1.6 billion rounds which DHS spokesman says is for training of law-enforcement entities which come under the department.
However, rough calculations suggest that despite the training, the DHS would have something like a 24-year supply of ammunition on hand. These purchases are in addition to other law-enforcement equipment for tactical police teams.
In recent days, DHS officials, including Secretary Janet Napolitano, have refused to tell inquiring congressmen why the department needs so much ammunition and tactical equipment, given sequestration in which all U.S. government agencies are to cut back spending.
Because of DHS’ run on ammunition, sources say that it is leaving local law-enforcement agencies “high and dry” in their ability to obtain it for their own use and training.
In some locations, sheriff’s departments are issuing fewer rounds when practicing at the range.
"The concern over firearms availability and ammunition availability and potentials of gun control certainly has impacted the availability of ammunition purchased locally," a Hamilton County, Tenn., sheriff's training coordinator told Fox News.
As with private purchasers, a number of police departments and sheriff's offices are experiencing a shortage especially in .223 cal. for their AR-15s, thereby limiting training.
Farnam said that the run on supplies isn't limited to ammunition alone. It also affects virtually all varieties of firearms.
One large Midwest retailer said he's never seen such a "feeding-frenzy" and never thought such a thing were even possible.
"I've watched our entire inventory sell out over the past few weeks, and our pace of resupply doesn't come close to keeping up," he said.
In particular, he said virtually all of his Stoner-System rifles, such as AR-15s which take the .223cal, or 5.56mm round, are "now all long-gone!"
Following that were the Kalishnikovs, XCRs, SCARs, FALs, PTRs, M1As – "anything that looks 'modern military' and has a detachable box magazine that holds twenty-plus rounds.
"When those racks were empty, Ruger Mini-14s, and M1 Carbines vanished, followed by semi-auto .22 rimfire rifles!" he added.
"After rifles sold out, attention moved to handguns," he said. "First went high capacity 9mm pistols, followed by all pistols that chamber for .45ACP, then single-column 9mm concealment pistols (then) five-shot snubby revolvers in 38Spl."
He said that his major retail store is "cleaned out" of 9mm, .45ACP, .223 cal, .308 cal (7.62mm), 12-gauge slugs an 12-gauge buckshot.
"Rifle magazines are all long-gone, as are double-column pistol magazines," he said.
"If this frenzy ended tomorrow morning," he said, "it would still be at least two years before our inventory would have any chance of returning to 'normal.'"
In early March, Farnam said that his survey of major retailers with whom he is in contact and knows personally said that there are some 30-06, some 30-Carbine Gold Dot, some 7.62x54R some .45ACP Gold Dot, three 20-round boxes of 7.62x39.
Law enforcement agencies across the country apparently are rising to the crisis.
"All officers qualified with rifle or slug-shotgun are now carrying them, hot, by sling, everywhere, and on every call," he said. "Never seen anything like this!"
By "hot," he meant that in addition to having fully loaded magazines, one round is in the chamber, ready to fire.
Farnam said that such a reaction is not uncommon in this period of crisis.
"Americans, police and non-police alike, are expressing their universal unease by becoming armed, in any way they can," he said. "We are also openly frustrated with an administration that accuses honest gun-owners who have never committed any kind of crime, with or without a gun, of representing some kind of societal problem, while simultaneously doing nothing about real crimes, except soliciting their votes!"
For personal protection, Farnam has pointed to the need for private citizens to be armed, referring to historical precedent of Germany and Italy in which the citizenry was disarmed, as seen in Great Britain today where it is almost impossible to buy a firearm.
Farnam said it's best to prepare "as best we can but when you don't have it, you don't have it."
Farnam likes to find memorable comments to make his point, and quoting the Afghan poet Abdul Rahman Pazhwak, Farnam said, "When fools and folly rule the world, the end of man may come as a rude shock, but it can hardly come as a surprise."