Guns & Ammo Panic

About a month ago, I wrote about my trip to the local Academy to pick up some ammunition. On Friday, I decided to swing by there again to pick up a little more. I’ve been trying to keep an inventory on what we have in stock, and bone up on everything in anticipation of Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest, which is less than two weeks away now! Thanks to my friend Mark, I’m now very well stocked on .22lr. We have enough .45 to last us a bit. We’re good enough on rifle ammo right now. We don’t have much 9mm, but we don’t shoot much 9mm, so it doesn’t matter much. We are running a little low on our revolver calibers. Revolver ammunition has not been behind the counter like the higher-demand cartridges, but I figured that I’d pick up some .223 or 9mm while I was in the store, just for good measure. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a line of people going in the front door. That was weird. When I stepped into the store, I saw a few people at the customer service counter buying ammo. It didn’t look as crowded as it had been on my previous visit in February, so I stepped toward it to see what ammo they had available.

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The pile looked a little slimmer than it had last time, but obviously, they did have a small selection of ammo for auto-loading rifles and pistols. Just then, a store employee addressed me and asked if I wanted to buy ammo. When I affirmed this, he motioned and instructed me to get to the back of the line.

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I couldn’t get the front of the line in scope, but this is close to it. See the lady in the black heels toward the back there? She’s not at the back of the line. The line turns the corner there between the clothing section in the middle and the shelves on the other side. Please note the position of the heeled lady in this next shot:

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She seemed like a nice enough lady when I spoke with her. She was after .38 Special for her carry gun, and she would not find any there. It was pretty obvious to me that there was not enough ammunition for everyone in line. I didn’t bother getting in line, but caught these pictures to share here.

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I don’t know why that guy was wearing a support belt, but he didn’t look too thrilled about having his picture taken. A cute little blonde employee approached me and asked if I got some good pictures. I told her that I thought I did. I chatted with her for a few minutes and expressed that when I had been in only a few weeks earlier, that the situation was far better than this. She said that this was the worst that she has seen it and that it seems to be getting progressively worse all the time. Here’s a picture from the shelves where the line turned around the corner toward the front of the store, where the ammo was being doled out:

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When I made it back to the regular ammo shelf, I found no .38 Special and no .357 Magnum. The nice lady in the black heels was there, searching for the same. There were also a couple of younger guys staring at the shelf in disbelief. They had 10mm, .38 Short Colt, and .41 Magnum on the shelf. There was one box of .44 Special in aluminum cases. There were several brands of .44 Magnum, but it was all the heavy hollow-points that sell for forty bucks for a box of twenty-five rounds – not exactly what you want to make into a day at the range. We discussed whether you could shoot .38 Colt out of a .38 Special or .357 Magnum. One of the guys assured me that it would work fine, but I decided not to chance it. I left the store without product, but not empty handed. I was glad to have been there ready with my camera to document the situation. On my way out of the store, I walked along a man in camouflaged pants and a beard who was inspecting the contents of his shopping bag. I recognized him as being one of the patrons at the front of the line.

“Did you have to get here early to get in line?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he smiled, “well, I was actually a little late for me. I only got here at 7:25.”

The store opens at 8:00.

“Really?” I asked him, “What time do you usually get here then?”

“Well, I try to be here at about 4:30 or 5:00,” he explained.

“That early?” I inquired.

“Yup,” he confirmed, “There are a few people who get here at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Same ones every time. They’re the ones who get all the guns. Of course, the store has their seven-day limit thing, but other than that, you can count on seeing those same people.”

Chills down my spine. As we parted ways, I told him to take care. Teen Bot had a field trip at the museum that we all went on later that morning. That evening, Jennifer and I went to our favorite indoor gun range. We had their classic and delicious onion burgers at their cafe, and I stood at their ammo counter for a while. I picked up a box of .38 Special and a box of .357 Magnum, both in FMJ from Federal’s American Eagle label. I also picked up a box of .38 +p Gold Dots for Jennifer’s Nana. The three boxes cost me something in the way of $84.00 after tax. Five years ago, the same selection would have cost half of that. Not only is ammunition in high demand. The store section of the same range used to keep their handgun displays packed full. They have probably forty or so display cabinets that used to be filled with thirty or forty guns each. This i what they look like now:

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What you see there is a selection of nine lonely handguns where there used to be a hundred, consistently. I thought that the insanity would be fading by now. I thought wrong. It just seems to be picking up pace. People are paying $50 for PMags that sold for less than $20 six months ago. They’re buying up $800 AR15s for $3,000 a pop. My sister-in-law is thinking of selling her XD9 Subcompact at current market value to put towards a defensive handgun and a race gun after the panic dies down. To be perfectly honest, if someone had some nice lever-actions in .22lr, .357 Magnum, and .30-30, I’d probably consider trading for my Star15 Dissipator, a few mags, and ammo. These are interesting times we live in, to be sure. We must remember that this is an unsustainable bubble. The AWB will not pass and the market will be flooded with excess guns and ammo, and then there will be a lovely recession in pricing on these goods as they flow out from where the hoarders currently have them. Keep your congresscritters on speed-dial and ride this thing out the best you can, and do be careful!

16 thoughts on “Guns & Ammo Panic

  1. We’ve had our guns for about two years, a 9mm and a .45. We only have one box of ammo for each and we’ve been trying to buy some more. We’ve also been looking at buying something for our kids to learn on, but the selection is pitiful. And getting into the range is not an easy thing to do recently. We’ve just been waiting for friends to have some time to go out to their land to get some practice in. Although, we need some more ammo for that. I never touched a gun until I was an adult, and I would have laughed at some one if they told me I would enjoy shooting one. Living where I do now, I feel like we need more ammo, and I do somewhat understand the panic people are feeling. I am hoping to go to a gun show to see if they have some, since my brother bought a bunch in Texas at a show.

    • I’m glad you’re one of us now! We’re remarkably new to the gun scene in the grand scheme of things. What part of the country do you live in anyway?

      • I live in Oklahoma City. Its not Chicago, but when I lived in Edmond, I made fun of the “gang problems”, not knowing what it was really like. I’ve been choked by someone at our mailbox, there was a 9 month period where drive bys happened every day, I’ve been shot at, I’ve had a girl show up on my porch bleeding because she’d been hit by a gun, and I’ve had to run my kids inside because people were outside chasing each other with guns. I know what meth smells like when its cooking. Not really something I wanted to know. That’s pretty much everywhere now, though.

        • Oh my gosh – we’re practically neighbors! The Okc metro is weird like that. There are spots where the crime rate is terrible. There are other places where it’s nonexistant. I don’t even know how many days we left our BMW convertible in the driveway overnight with the top down back when we had it. I hope you’ll get settled in a better part of town very soon!

  2. And yes, we are moving, hopefully this weekend. I really would rather we were buying a farm, but we aren’t quite there yet.

  3. Best of luck to you on your ammo hunt, Gina! Mrs.Alien and I managed to pick up three boxes of 9mm (50-rounds) for about $20 each at a local gun show a couple of weeks ago, but you need to know what a reasonable price is before going in. The three boxes we found were at two different booths, and we passed up one massive booth with piles and piles of ammo, mainly cuz the guy had a 200-round brick of .22lr priced at something like $225. For some *strange* reason he hadn’t sold any all weekend.

    Another tip, get there EARLY. Several hours prior to opening on the first day, if possible. Yup. Wait in line. The three boxes we bought were not the last the vendors had, but after only about 7 or 8 hours of the gun show being open, they were down to about four boxes left after we bought ours. For all I know, the next guy wandering past the table bought out everything (darn budgets….I woulda bought them both out if I’d had the cash!). From what I recall pre-panic, 50 rounds of target 9mm should run in the vicinity of $20, and a 100 round brick of .22lr was going for about $8 at Wallyworld. Sorry, we don’t have a .45, so I can’t vouch for prices there, but I want to say they were somewhere around $.60-$.75 per round. Hollow points will run about the same price as a regular box, but for 20 rounds instead of 50.

    Again, good luck, and welcome to the shooting world!

  4. You think it’s bad? Try being a mom and pop gun shop! We’re in East Tennessee. My entire job is to surf the internet looking for deals to send to our customers.

    We opened the week of Sandy Hook and within 5 days, had access to NOTHING. No guns, no ammo, no magazines.

    If we hadn’t started dealing directly with the manufacturers, we’d have had to shut our doors the same month we opened them.

    We’ve distanced our shop from the rest of the competition because we focus on “pre-panic pricing” as often as possible (our 30rd AR and AK magazines are $20/ea – stainless steel or zytel).

    Colorado even passed their high capacity magazine ban today.

    These are strange, strange times we’re living in!

    • Yikes! No thank you, but my heart goes out to you anyway. I hope this serves to plant your business so that you’ve got momentum after the bubble breaks. Also, do you ship magazines to Oklahoma? 😉

  5. I found ammo, thanks to gunbot! I had mostly been looking at cheaperthandirt, sgammo and a few other places I knew about. I just ordered several boxes, hopefully the budget will allow for more soon. I am way more excited about ordering the ammo than I should be. :)

  6. Was out the range earlier this week. Took my new fiance to shoot for the first time in her life. (BTW, she is now hooked and wants to go back. Going to make a Redneck out of her yet.) You’re right, the cases are nearly empty and the prices are up. Fortunately, I had been routinely stocking up ammo over the past year or so and have around 15,000 put back. Don’t know when this panic is going to slow down. About all I’m shooting right now is .22LR since that is the cheapest and I’ve got about 4,000 rounds of it.

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