Ammunition shortages have plagued gun owners since early 2020. Fueled by an increase in gun ownership and lack of supply, prices have risen. And in some cases, ammunition has felt nearly impossible to find.
Why Has Ammo Become So Expensive?
It’s not one single thing that’s driven up the cost of ammunition. It’s everything. This includes:
- Raw Materials
What kind of raw materials are the manufactures struggling to source? Basic components including lead, brass, and primers have become hard to find. But the most challenging of materials has been a basic ingredient in bullets — copper.
Because copper is used in the manufacturing of so many different products, including the semiconductors used to make chips for electric cars, the availability and cost of this material has seen drastic increases.
Properly Store Your Ammunition to Protect Your Investment
According to a recent Forbes article by Aaron Smith, bulk 9mm ammo was such a high commodity that rounds rose by as much as 500% during peak pricing. A box of .22 rounds jumped from $7 to $20. And a box of .45 rounds increased from $15 to a range of $50 and $60.
While a gun without ammunition is arguably less effective than a baseball bat or frying pan, loading a weapon has become an investment.
Properly storing ammunition is essential to protecting (and potentially extending) its shelf life. Because the last thing you want is to shell out some serious coin for a lot of bulk ammo, only to discover it has corroded and become unusable a few months or years later.
What is an Ammo Safe?
It’s not uncommon for gun owners to simply plop their ammo collection on the top of their gun safe and call it a day. Unfortunately, if ammo is not stored in the proper environmental conditions, it can quickly corrode and become unusable.
An ammo safe is a secure, locked box that protects ammunition from theft and moisture. The best ammo safes also promote a healthy environment for ammunition.
In the same way you would store precious metals, ammunition should be kept in a space that is:
Both high heat and moisture are the biggest dangers to your ammunition. The best ammo safes are outfitted with a dehumidifier. Furthermore, they are properly installed to ensure the safe is level and secured to the ground so they can’t be tipped over.
How to Check the Moisture Level of Your Ammo Safe
In addition to a dehumidifier, it’s important to do your own due diligence to ensure your ammo safe maintains a healthy environment. One of the best ways to do so is with a hygrometer — an instrument that measures the amount of water in the air.
You can use the figure information provided by a hydrometer to calculate the dewpoint within your ammo safe. (This is the online dew point calculator our Master Gun Safe Technician uses.) We recommend that you keep your dewpoint as low as possible.
How to Build a Private Ammunition Depot in 3 Easy Steps
Traditionally, an ammunition depot is a military storage facility where bulk ammo is stored and distributed. Many gun owners are interested in creating a personal ammunition depot to supply their own gun collection.
Creating your own ammo reserve allows you to save money by buying ammo in bulk and helps ensure when there are runs on the supply chain you aren’t as impacted.
1. Take Stock of Your Gun Collection
Start by taking stock of your current gun collection. What ammunition does each firearm require? How many rounds can it hold? And, how often do you want and/or need to shoot it?
2. Create Secure Storage for Your Ammunition
There are two primary ways to store bulk ammunition:
- In an Ammunition Safe
- In a Vault
The best option for you will be determined by two primary factors: cost and space.
The end-all to be-all in creating an ammunition depot in your home is a vault. Traditionally built within your home, these large, secured rooms provide a substantial amount of secured storage.
Ammunition safes are an ideal alternative for those who don’t have space to build and/or install a vault room. Ammo safes can be installed in any location where you would install a gun safe.
Whether you choose to build a vault room or install ammo safes, the key is to make sure the space stays dry and cool. Additionally, we recommend placing a Black Powder Danger Sticker on the outside of your gun safe or ammo safe. Not only can this help alert any authorized personnel to the ammunition inside, it can help dissuade thieves from trying to access your safe with a torch.
3. Start Building Your Supply
Here’s the fun part — buying ammo. For most customers, they don’t just run out and buy any ammo they can find. Rather, they pick and choose good deals that come their way.
The Beauty of Buying Ammo Locally
There are a variety of benefits to buying ammo from your local gun shop — some that fall into the ‘feel good category, some that are practical, and others that help protect your freedoms. When all is said and done — we believe in shopping local. Let’s break down the benefits of buying ammunition from your local gun shop.
- Shopping local helps keep money in your community, which supports local jobs and community infrastructure. (Feel Good)
- Buying your ammunition locally can often offer a better price point than buying ammunition online. (Practical)
- Buying ammunition from your local gun shop allows you to get it right away, without waiting. (Practical)
- Purchasing ammo locally helps keep gun shops in your community, which in turn keeps those dedicated to protect your right to bear arms. (Protects Your Freedom)
- Shopping local gives you the opportunity to get feedback from shop keepers and other customers as to the quality of ammo and tips on how to pick the right loads for better performance. (Practical)
4 Ways to Discover ‘Where to Buy Ammunition Near Me’
There are a variety of ways to discover the best place to buy ammunition locally.
1. Follow Local Gun Stores on Social Media
Local gun shops frequently use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to alert customers to new specials and shipments. Following them can give you the inside scoop on sales and inventory.
2. If a Local Gun Ship Has a Newsletter, Sign Up!
If you’ve signed up for our email newsletter, you know first hand that being a subscriber can offer some serious perks like exclusive pre-sale access. While not every local gun shop has a newsletter, we’d recommend signing up for those who do.
3. Google ‘Where to Buy Ammunition Near Me’
One of the easiest ways to find an ammunition retail location near you is to google “(your location) + gun store” or “where to buy ammunition near me”. While this won’t always tell you where to buy ammunition right away, it can help you discover good local gun stores to frequent.
4. Local Gun Shows
Alright, let’s call a spade a spade. You aren’t likely to get a discount on ammunition at a gun show. But what a gun show is often good for (other than the obvious ogling of firearms), is buying ‘reloads’ in bulk.
Should I Reload My Own Ammo?
Dollar for dollar (or in many cases cent for cent), reloads are almost always less. So for some, reloading their own ammunition is purely about cost. However, reloading your own ammunition can be time-intensive.
Why do serious shooters who have plenty of money choose to reload their own ammunition? Quality control.
When you’re making your own reloads, you can achieve a more accurate and consistent round. Furthermore, you can tailor the bullet based on your need and personal preference to deliver:
- Decreased speed for softer recoil
- Increased speed for greater range
Should I Buy Manufacturer ‘Reloads’?
There are companies that specialize in reloads. These bullets are known as manufacture reloads. If you choose to buy manufacturer reloads, it’s important to pay attention to the company’s track record.
Ask fellow gun owners who have used the ammunition about their experience. And, test the ammunition in a low-stakes environment, like during a practice shoot, before relying on it.
Where to Buy Ammo Online & Is This a Good Idea?
Some gun owners report that they have found ‘deals’ online for ammo. We’ve also heard the occasional rumor of potential tax savings.
However, in our experience, buying ammo online should be done with caution. We’ve been seeing the cost of ammo on online to be higher than in many retail shops.
Furthermore, ammunition falls under special shipping policies, due to the fact that it has an explosive inside. (If you’ve purchased ammunition online you may have seen a ‘ORM-D’ (Other Regulated Materials–Domestic) sticker on the box, which signifies it contains a hazardous material.) Because of this designation, making a return for any reason can be quite the hassle.
That being said, if online is your only option, we recommend sticking with major retailers like Cabela's, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Brownells.
Rumor had it that Vista Outdoor would be starting an ammo subscription service directly from the manufacturer. While there were no hints that subscribers would enjoy discounted ammunition, the intent was the subscription service would help subscribers better guarantee their own personal supply.
As of December 6, 2021, Vista Outdoors is not offering subscriptions through its website. But this could change any day.