Why ammo is getting so expensive

By | April 27, 2013

Why is ammo so hard to getAmmo prices have skyrocketed. Not only due to extreme consumer demand and an industry ill-prepared to answer it, but also because our weakening dollar means that buying the base commodities necessary to build ammo  will continue to cost more.

Commodities are bought on an open market. A dollar’s worth of copper in one year is not the same as a dollar’s worth of copper in another. As the Federal Reserve continues to pump dollar after dollar into the economy, each dollar is able to buy a much smaller amount of copper, nickel, lead, tin… All components in the making of ammunition.

There are four major components in a cartridge ,the actual name of the “round” put into a rifle or pistol:  the bullet, the case or casing, the primer and the powder.

The bullet is the projectile – that which flies from the barrel at incredible speed. The bullet is typically made from lead, many times with a copper or brass jacket and it may include a core material of steel or other material.

The case or casing is the part of the cartridge that holds the components together and is what is expelled from the gun after firing. In the U.S.A. the vast majority of cartridge cases are made from brass with a smaller number made from nickel.

Copper is used as a jacket on many bullets and is a component in the manufacturing of brass. Nickel, an alternative for case material,  mainly comes from the mining and processing of pentlandite which comes from Ontario, Canada.

As of today, Nickel is about 10% more expensive than brass, but the the possible copper shortage soon coming may change that equation quickly.

Bullets are mainly lead-core. Lead is a commodity, priced and bought at market prices. As the dollar gets weaker, lead gets more expensive – as do all the components.

The EPA has put severe restrictions around lead. What used to be a cheap and highly-available material is becoming expensive and onerous to get.

To make matters worse, some are saying that we are already at the “copper peak” and supply will only get more difficult from here:

We’re running out of soft metals! In scientific circles, this is called “Peak Copper” and “Peak Minerals.” This is when what were easy to extract metals become fewer, and we phase to expensive and smaller returns on energy expended to get those metals. -The Daily Caller

Short-term, incredible consumer demand is to blame. Some are shooters stuffing shelves so that they never have to deal with this again. Others are profiteers buying every round they can get, upcharging and reselling it. Some are simply buying the ammo as barter currency. If things get ugly, ammo will likely be in much higher demand than an inedible, mainly useless, shiny metal. Only if people agree on gold as a medium of exchange will it be worth anything. Otherwise, food, whiskey, guns and ammo may be what become most valuable.

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3 thoughts on “Why ammo is getting so expensive

  1. carter

    Interesting article, of course they had to end it with a plug to buy gold.

  2. Jay Dee

    Minor technical details. Brass cases are nickel plated, not a nickel alloy. Also, steel cases are finding increasing acceptance.

  3. Rex Crouch

    Unethical contracting in DHS is another reason. In addition to the 1.6 billion round IDIQ contract, DHS has also been conducting individual purchases of tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition they have no need for. Some examples are .22 cal long and 7.62 X 31. If anyone thinks civil law enforcement has a Bonafide Need (technical term in federal contracting) for squirrel guns and Russian weapons, you are living in a delusion. In addition to these ammunition purchases for guns they don’t own, DHS is using J&As to purchases ten million rounds per contract on sole-source (aka NO BIDS) contracts. If you think what is happening is harmless and to blame on Americans, you’re wrong.

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