I’ve started shooting a fair amount again this year (as karmic balance for my pro-Obama vote, I bought a Kimber 1911 and a Springfield M1A for Kwaanza, as well as a Kahr P9 for TG); and I’m recently stunned by the price of ammo (and shooting enough that it matters).
Bulk (200 – 1,000 rounds) .308 rifle ammunition is over $1.25/round for Federal Match and well over $0.50/round for bulk military surplus (about 2x what I’m used to paying). 45ACP is $0.50 in bulk (over 2x what I’m used to paying).
Now before you get concerned that by buying 500 – 1,000 rounds at a time I’m stocking up for the Zombie wars, note that a morning’s serious practice with the handgun can use 200 rounds, and that a morning with the rifle is 50 rounds easily.
(And as a result of burning all this powder, my shooting is getting back to decent, except for my one bad pistol habit – lifting my head to see where the shot went, which pulls the rounds low.)
But I just was sent a great blog post on why ammo is so spendy and one that ought to get us all thinking about the modern economy.
…Ammo makers, too, know with fair certainty how much they’re going to sell to the wholesalers during that period, and sign contracts for the purchase of sufficient components to produce those products. They don’t typically keep large stores of components on hand, as standing inventory is expensive, so components are delivered on a “just in time” basis.
The suppliers of those components do the same thing with raw materials; again, ammunition is a stable business, which allows them to forecast with pretty good accuracy the stuff they need to make the components they sell. This pattern repeats itself on up the chain, all the way to the people who mine the stuff necessary to make a single cartridge.
Along comes a huge, sudden spike in demand. Retailers all over the country are suddenly swamped with ammunition purchases, and quickly call their suppliers to get more. The first few calls are rewarded with replacement stock, but soon the wholesaler’s shelves are bare too – their entire year allotment of ammunition is gone in just a few days.
Read the whole thing, as they say…his final paragraph is worth noting as well:
The supply chain is simply empty, all the way up to the people who mine the raw materials. It’s going to take time to replace all the links in that chain, and it’s not because of the war in Iraq/Afghanistan, The Joos, FEMA, the CIA, a secret agreement to implement gun control through ammo availability, or any other silly theory you may have heard. This is a textbook example of what happens when an inelastic supply chain, composed with scarce “just in time” inventories, meets insatiable demand. It’s not sexy or intriguing, but that’s the way it is.
You know what’s scarier? Your food comes to you the same way. Imagine what would happen if…
Or if two of the big container ports were closed for two months…