Grasping for security: gun sales spike again – but what about ammunition?

In March, gun sales soared to the highest monthly figure ever recorded in the USA – and that was only sales that involved a background check.  Most private, face-to-face sales weren’t included in the total.  I’d be interested to know how much traffic Armslist and similar Web sites, not to mention local gun shows, generated from people in the same city or area, seeking to buy used firearms from one another.  I’m willing to bet it was heavy.

It seems that April was also a very busy gun-buying month.

Gun sales in April spiked by more than 70 percent from the previous year, with the purchase of more than 1.7 million firearms as concerns related to the novel coronavirus continued, recently released statistics show.

An estimated 1,797,910 guns were sold in April 2020 – a 71.3 percent increase from April 2019. March saw an even higher surge in sales, with 2,583,238 firearms sold – or 85.3 percent more than the previous year, according to data released late Monday by Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting.

SAAF data also indicated a surge in handgun over long-gun purchases, a group spokesperson said.

Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers, said the NSSF had reached similar figures, though slightly lower at 69.1 percent … he said the numbers showed, “the strongest April on record.”

“This shows us there is continued appetite among Americans to be able to provide for their own safety during times of uncertainty. These are buyers who have witnessed their governments empty prisons… Police departments are stretched beyond capacity in many cases. Law-abiding Americans recognize this and exercising their right to own a gun and defend themselves and their loved ones.”

. . .

Fears gun shops would be closed and that economic downturn would lead to high crime and safety concerns have helped fuel the run on firearms.

Oliva previously [said] that during a time of extreme uncertainty, “Americans want to know they can provide for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones.”

“Our rights don’t end during a pandemic,” he said. “In fact, the need for responsible and law-abiding adults to exercise their rights is magnified.”

There’s more at the link.

I have no problem at all with people wanting to ensure their own and their family’s safety, and buying a firearm to help with that process.  As Samuel Colt, inventor of the first successful revolver, famously declaimed:

Be not afraid of any man,
No matter what your size.
When danger threatens, call on me,
And I will equalize.

However, I am concerned about a few issues.  First is that many people turned to handguns for defense, rather than long guns (i.e. rifles or shotguns).  This is entirely understandable, as a handgun can be concealed and carried more easily than a long gun.  However, handguns are much more difficult to shoot accurately than long guns.  They require more training, and then need regular practice to keep that training fresh in one’s mind and reflexes.  I wonder how many of those who’ve just bought handguns will bother to get any training at all, let alone advanced training?  How many will willingly spend the money it’ll take to buy ammunition for regular practice?  Relatively few, I suspect – and therein lies the potential for more problems in future.

I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with firearms, and accustomed to handling them.  Please, friends, encourage the new firearm owners among your acquaintances to get training and ongoing practice with their weapons.  We’ll all be safer if they do.  Remember, firing wildly to deter a criminal may have the desired effect – but every bullet fired has to end up somewhere.  Hopefully, it won’t be in the body of an innocent bystander!  Training and practice can help to ensure that.

As for regular practice in the ongoing ammo drought . . . that ‘s another thorny issue.  I don’t think the supply of ammunition will return to normal for at least two to three years (judging by the length of time it took to recover from the previous ammo drought).  My favorite online ammunition vendor, SGAmmo, said this in their latest e-mail flyer:

As mentioned in my recent newsletters a lot has changed in the ammo business over the past few months as the Covid-19 outbreak created the largest rush to purchase ammo in all of history. This has greatly reduced supply stockpiles and driven prices up substantially from the 12 year bottom they hit in 2019 and early 2020. Here at SGAmmo [we] were holding huge investments in ammunition inventories which have helped us keep better than average availability but our stockpiles are really running thin, especially in 9mm, 45 Auto, 223 / 5.56, 300 Blackout, and 12 gauge buckshot, additionally 7.62×39, 308 Win, 22LR as well as many other popular calibers are not looking good either. Getting resupplied from the factories has also not been going well due to extremely high demand in the dealer market as retailers and distributors have all put in huge orders at the same time in an attempt to restock, effectively wiping out supply and buying up all 2020 future production of key calibers from the major factories. This new level of demand has led most factories to raise prices, eliminate ‘special deals’ which are key to keeping prices attractive, and allocate stock in very limited amounts.  Many factories have also reworked their process in attempt to protect their staff from COVID19 which has reduced their capacity substantially, so in general less ammo is being made today. I’d love to stay positive but realistically there are dark times ahead for the ammunition supply chain.

All is not dark as far as training and practice are concerned.  Interim, low-cost solutions are available.  Again, if you have friends who are new to firearms ownership, please recommend that they consider them.  If you have a decent ammo stash of your own, you might consider giving some to new shooters among your friends, to help them grow accustomed to their firearms.  I’ve set aside a few hundred rounds for that purpose.

In closing, I can only repeat the warning I gave last week (scroll down to the end of that article to read it).  I believe the likelihood of increased crime and violence is trending much higher, thanks to economic disruption, the release of many criminals to reduce COVID-19 infections in prison, and other factors.  We should all be on the alert, and ready to defend ourselves if necessary.  We should also be unwilling to give up our firearms, the most effective means of personal defense available to us – no matter what liberal and/or progressive politicians may demand or dictate.  That’s worth remembering in the November 2020 elections, and voting accordingly.



  1. Yep, here we go again… I've got enough to last a while, and enough to spare some if folks need it for training.

  2. This slow motion disaster is likely to cause many people to think that future disasters will be similar. The media coverage for a few weeks before lockdown orders caused those with "a lick of sense" to gather supplies. Even now, trips to the supermarket are permissible, and what is on the shelves now satisfies the needs of most people. For most things, if the exact item that a customer wants isn't there, a reasonable substitute is usually available.

    While long lines have appeared at gun shops in many places, most people who wanted to buy firearms during the pandemic have been able to do so. If the Smith & Wesson revolver they wanted was out of stock, they could buy a Ruger, and vice versa. If they couldn't buy a Mossberg shotgun, they could buy a Remington, etc. This will be the "lesson" they remember.

    For the next disaster, however, one that may not accompanied with a heads-up in the media for a month, a week, or even a day, wannabe firearm owners in states with waiting periods will be SOL, and governors and mayors may be even more aggressive in trying to shut down firearms purchases altogether.

  3. I've been getting into reloading. I think I may have to also think about casting my own bullets.

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