Thanks to COVID-19 and other mayhem in the US, ammunition supply is dropping while prices are rising. Our neighbours to the south have it particularly bad, but it’s increasingly noticeable here in Canada. Now, a report on Vista Outdoors puts it in perspective. According to Fox Business, Vista says it’s a whole year behind on ammo orders, with a billion-dollar backlog to fill.
It’s no surprise. The US has seen month after month of record-setting panic buying. Millions of Americans bought guns and ammunition as a fearful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following weeks of social unrest and then the controversy around the election boosted firearms sales further. With Joe Biden seemingly winning the presidency, his promises of increased gun control have increased sales to the point where the US is seeing ammo shortages everywhere.
On top of that, COVID-19 disrupted the firearms and ammunition supply chain, and the industry just can’t keep up. Factory ammo and reloading components are sold out, or see sky-high prices. Here in Canada, with much of our ammo sourced from the US, there are noticeable shortages at many retailers as well. Prices are higher, and Euro-sourced ammunition comprises a higher percentage of shelf space all the time. Despite the shortages here, Americans are so desperate for more ammo that they’re constantly trying to buy from Canadian sources. Some Canadian retailers added banners on their websites advising US customers to take their business elsewhere.
When will it end? Probably not anytime soon. In fact, shortages might get worse, before they get better. US-based conglomerate Vista Outdoors says its sales are backlogged for a year, and it’s a billion dollars behind on its sales. Its Q3 financial report said Vista’s shooting sports sales (mostly ammo) gained 29 percent year-over-year when compared to 2019’s Q3 numbers, to $380M US. Consumers are in buy-buy-buy mode, but Vista’s running out of product to sell.
Vista controls Federal, CCI and Alliant Powder, Speer, RCBS and other companies involved with ammo and reloading. Recently, it also purchased Remington’s ammunition manufacturing business. Vista also controls Bushnell, Weaver, Tasco, and Butler Creek (Vista owned Savage, but sold it off a while back). Not only will Vista’s backlog affect the ammo market, it’s also likely to affect optics and firearms accessories availability.
What should you do?
Last summer, we told readers it’s time to stock up on ammunition, with prices and availability probably as good as they’ll be for a while. Things haven’t improved since then. Euro-sourced ammo shouldn’t be as much of a problem in 2021, but if you want US-manufactured ammunition or components, buy now if you can.
But, you might not want to stop there. Optics and other parts might be hard to find for a while, too. We’re not advocating some massive panic buy, but with Black Friday sales starting any day now, it’s a good time to make sure you’ve got your shooting supplies and accessories lined up for next year.