COVID-19 brought a sleuth of problems into the year for everyone in 2020 and many of those problems are currently still ongoing. As people withdrew from highways and their offices, many started to spend more time alone and isolated at home. That clearly got a lot of people thinking about their safety since 2020, as a whole, shattered all firearms sales records in American history (we’ll see what happens in 2021). So today we’ll be explaining why ammunition has increased up to 800% from pre-COVID prices.

COVID-19, Civil Unrest, and Price Gouging

gun store lines 2020

With an increasing amount of first-time gun owners, we began to see a shortage in ammunition as early as May of 2020. By then, quarantining had already become the new normal just as long lines everywhere did. Due to social distancing, all stores could only allow so many customers inside at a given time — so taking a trip to your local gun store went from being an errand to a half or even full day commitment.

While there were already many people that took advantage of the BLM movement to riot and loot stores… What radically changed the U.S. ammunition market was the death of George Floyd which sparked major civil unrest across the nation for multiple months. Americans got a flashback to the LA Burning Riots of 1992 after officers were acquitted from charges of police brutality. In an attempt to not relive the past in 2020, many stores boarded up in preparation for nearby BLM protests as news of destroyed businesses flooded the news cycles during that time.

Suffice to say, regardless of ethnic background, By July of 2020, Americans had cleaned out gun stores and their inventories across the country. Basic economic rules of supply and demand could suggest that initially, dealers increased ammunition prices to slow down sales. But with decreasing supply, the value of ammo was constantly growing throughout the past year. Of course, there were some stores and private sellers preying on first-time gun owners who don’t know any better and have never bought ammo before through price gouging. Firearms alike were and are continually being sold in certain parts of the country at two or three times the normal price. By December of 2020 it wasn’t odd to see 9mm going for 80 cents to a dollar per round. For reference, pre-COVID pricing would have been 15 to 17 cents per round. 

Reloading Components

reloading components

The national ammunition shortage has also severely affected reloading. If you thought reloading your ammo was a solution you wouldn’t be wrong, but good luck finding components to reload. While reloading tools are still widely available online, their prices have also increased. We won’t go into too much detail in this area, but if you’re able to gather and buy up the tools and components needed to reload your own ammo that would be an extremely viable option to weather these tough times. Though, we’ll tell you right now that the hardest components to buy are primers and projectiles. 

Global Copper Market

copper market shortage

Speaking of reloading components, do you know what projectiles (bullets) are made out of? Most bullets are made of lead alloys encased in copper plated or steel jackets. It’s a precious metal and the global copper market is in short supply of that as well. Demand for copper had largely stayed the same during COVID but the output of copper from miners in South America had been drastically reduced due to the pandemic. Copper is heavily used in batteries, semiconductors, and a variety of other electronic components which are also in high demand today. With the increasing cost of copper and miners left to play catch up for current and future demand, we don’t expect to see the cost of ammunition come back down anytime soon.

If you got into stocks and the metal futures market recently you can also check out the International Copper Study Group’s market forecast for 2020-2021.

At this point in February 2021, it wouldn’t be odd to see reloaded 9mm sell for $1.25/round or more and 5.56/.223 sell for up to $2.00/round depending on cartridge type. With ammo prices being what they are today, it isn’t stopping anyone from still buying or stocking up. So another way to look at this situation is if increased value hasn’t staved off demand, what incentive do sellers have to decrease price? Short answer: none.  

If you’re looking for a way to bide your time until the market does return to more stable conditions, building an 80% firearm in preparation for that would be a great start and we have everything you’d need to complete a build!