An Open Letter to 22LR Buyers and Seekers
Hello, This letter is for you Mr. and Mrs. American looking to buy .22LR ammunition. Finally, it’s also for you Mrs ammo reseller who makes daily trips to all of your area Wal Marts and sporting goods stores looking for 22LR at retail price. You get home and put it immediately for sale on Gunbroker, Armslist or at your local gun show at a 200-300% markup.
As I’m sure most people reading this already know, 22LR ammunition is harder to find at retail price than virgin unicorn blood right now. The popular marksmanship program, Appleseed, even has a revised course of fire now that requires fewer rounds of ammo due to the “22 shortage”.
If you think the ammo companies are making less rimfire ammo right now, you’re mistaken. A quick search of AmmoSeek.com shows dozens of websites with thousands, or even tens of thousands, of rounds in stock. LuckyGunner.com shows the same thing. All of those sites are getting and selling new stock daily.
However, instead of being less than $0.05 per round like it should be, the cheapest available is $0.13 per round + shipping, with many sites getting closer to $0.20/round.
I understand that supply and demand drive our nation’s market prices, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, what we are seeing with 22LR is artificial demand being created by a handful of ammo sellers looking to make a quick buck by capitalizing on gun owners’ fears. Fears that these sellers are helping to create.
The “demand” is created when these sellers buy all of the 22LR at retail price from chain stores. These chain stores are the largest retailers of 22LR in the country. This creates the illusion that the ammo is scarce. When people think something is scarce, they feel they need to buy it even more so than normal. This is where the so called “demand” is coming from. Now, I do understand that there is a real demand increase due to market conditions that include tons of new gun owners in the last year as well as fear of future availability of ammo. However, we’ve already seen the centerfire ammo market more or less rebound in most areas of the country from the 2013 ammo panic, but the rimfire market seems to be getting worse. Why is this?
It’s pretty simple actually. It’s very economical for someone to walk into a department store and buy those three 550 round boxes of 22LR. It costs them less than $75 out of pocket. If they bring a friend or spouse along, they can probably clean out an ammo department’s daily shipment, even despite purchase limits. It’s much harder for your average joe off the street to do this with centerfire ammo. The retail cost is too high to purchase large amounts on a daily basis for most people. However, due to the low retail cost of rimfire, they can buy it all.
Then Johnny America comes along on Sunday morning with his two kids in tow to get some ammo for a range trip. “Huh, no 22. Must be some sort of shortage. I guess I better order some online. I know its expensive, but if this shortage continues I may not be able to purchase it for a while.”
This behavior also forces legitimate, smaller gun shops and online retailers to jack their prices up. If they didn’t, the resellers would simply clean them out and make a profit off of their good nature.
A group of people who have never met each other, who probably know nothing of the microeconomics principles at play, have created an unintended monopoly on 22LR, inflating the price of a commonly available commodity by controlling its availability to the general public on a national scale.
I hope others join me in pledging to purchase no more 22LR ammo at “panic prices”. Retail priced ammo is out there if you look. I also hope resellers looking to make a few bucks will reconsider their purchases.