‘Seems like the World Has Gone Mad’: Ammo Shortages Rise Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Ammo is flying off the shelves in stores around the country.

Are we about to see another ammo shortage?

The shortages between 2008 and 2013 left many gun owners struggling to find the most popular calibers, and some are worried the coronavirus outbreak will spur a return to scarcity.

Social media is full of reports of empty shelves, and some local reporting in Waco, Texas, confirms these accounts. The Academy and Cabela’s sporting goods stores have been more-or-less cleaned out of handgun ammunition and most 5.56/.223. Academy has already limited customers to three ammunition items per store visit.

The Cabela’s in Waco, Texas, had sold out of most pistol ammunition, but still had a variety of rifle ammunition available. The author was also able to find one 1,000-piece box of 9mm bullets for reloading.
Only high-powered hunting rifle cartridges remained at the Academy sporting goods store in Waco, Texas.

The problem appears to be even worse in states heavily affected by the virus, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Reporters spoke with gun shop owners and customers in the greater-LA area, who all noted the uptick in gun and ammo sales.

“Politicians and anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns,” a customer named John Gore told the LA Times. “But right now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision themselves.”

Many customers expressed versions of the adage, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

“It’s not like an active panic, more a preoccupation with making sure everyone is adequately prepared, myself and family and friends,” first-time gun purchaser Anna Carreras told the LA Times. “Better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it.”

“You got to be protected for all sorts of stuff,” gun shop employee David Stone reiterated. “Seems like the world has gone mad.”

Their fear isn’t unwarranted. The city of Champaign, Illinois, passed a resolution that allows city officials to ban firearms if it deems the action necessary. Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen has said she has no plans to use her newfound power, but mayors of major U.S. cities have tried in the past to ban guns in the wake of disasters.

SEE ALSO: Coronavirus Masks – Surgical – N95 – Explained- Prepping 101

There’s also evidence to suggest that the run on ammo has been percolating for longer than the last few days. Ammo.com reported in a press release on March 17 that it’s seen a dramatic rise in sales since the pandemic hit American shores.

When compared to the 11 days before February 23 (February 12 to 22), in the 11 days after (February 23 to March 4), Ammo.com’s number of transactions increased 68% overall. Since March 4, the company has seen a 276% increase in sales.

When comparing 22 days worth of sales from February 23, 2020, through March 15, with sales from February 1, 2020, through February 22, their analysis found:

  • 309% increase in revenue
  • 78% increase in conversion rate
  • 222% increase in transactions
  • 77% increase in site traffic
  • 27% increase in average order

“We know certain things impact ammo sales, mostly political events or economic instability when people feel their rights may end up infringed, but this is our first experience with a virus leading to such a boost in sales,” Alex Horsman, the marketing manager at Ammo.com, said of the surge. “A lot of our customers like to be prepared. And for many of them, it’s not just facemasks and TheraFlu. It’s knowing that no matter what happens, they can keep themselves and their families safe.”

The largest sales volume has come from Texas, Florida, and Georgia, but Vermont, Delaware, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Louisiana have seen the highest uptick in sales.

Ammo.com provided a list of calibers that have been especially popular:

  • 40 Cal (S&W) ammo: 645%
  • 223 ammo: 563%
  • 7.62×39 ammo: 386%
  • 12 gauge shotgun shells: 368%
  • 9mm ammo: 308%
  • 5.56×45 ammo: 296%
  • 45 Auto (ACP) ammo: 272%
  • 22 Long Rifle (LR) ammo: 263%
  • 380 ACP (Auto) ammo: 212%
  • 308 Winchester ammo: 106%

The anti-gun lobby also chimed in with their take on the shortage. They worry that the increased gun and ammo sales will result in more accidental deaths of children.

“The unintended consequence of these panic-induced purchases in response to the Covid-19 pandemic could be a tragic increase of preventable gun deaths for the loved ones these individuals are trying to protect,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement Monday.

Only time will tell whether gun manufacturers are capable of staying on top of this most recent run on ammo, but for now gun owners not already stocked up might consider purchasing a few boxes from their local GunsAmerica dealer. Click HERE to buy ammo on GunsAmerica.

Note: This post has been updated with the most recent data from Ammo.com.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***  

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Jr23 April 2, 2020, 8:45 pm

    Noticed in most of real young kids shot when they found a gun
    Seems to most often the moms ex gang banger boyfriend or felon husband o relative. And several women having weapon in backseat she’d the kids sit
    And today’s schools who will not let gun safety be taught.
    As for Bloomberg group he had to modify from mayors since so many were
    Getting incited or convicted of corruption of domestic abuse

  • Lopaka Kanaka March 22, 2020, 1:45 pm

    Yes, the best thing for anyone is to roll your own ammunition. It’s a small investment to purchase the loading equipment but, it’s a lot of savings.
    In the sate of California they have made it almost impossible to purchase any ammunition from
    local retail outlets. You need a license, finger prints, a back ground check like you are
    purchasing a gun. And you need to wait 10 days to pick up your purchase if all goes well. I have purchase my
    supplies and have them delivered to my mail box or door step. I don’t purchase retail ammunition any more. I reload 38 Special, 38 Super, 357 Magnum, 400 Cor-Bon, 40 Super, 44 Special, 44 Magnum, 45 ACP, and 460 Rowland. I have carbine’s and lever action rifles to go with my calibers.

  • Andrew N. March 21, 2020, 2:26 pm

    Just a few comments: For all the “experts” out there- Judging by sales numbers, apparently the 40 S&W isn’t dead after all, and I’m guessing that the people in States that aren’t buying as much already had a decent supply on hand. Personally, I reload for everything I shoot except for 22 LR, a “hobby” I recommend to everyone, especially those in places like The People’s Republik of California. California has outlawed ammo by mail, but not components…yet. Me? I’m stocked up for the next three apocalypses, having lived through two of the scariest times for gun owners, the Obama elections. Remember to VOTE in 2020, we need another 4 years of sanity.

  • Matt March 20, 2020, 3:46 pm

    Just a suggestion. Why don’t all of you learn how to cast and handload your own ammo. I’ve been doing it for about 5 years and haven’t needed to buy any ammo. cases last many reloadings. I can shoot for a fraction, very small one, less than the bought ammo. My .308 loads with cast and Hi Tek coating are 1 1/2″ typical at 100 yards, best was four in a ragged hole and fifth making it a one inch group. My pistol loads compare in performance with off the shelf premium loads. And because of the Hi Tek no lead in the barrel. I do occasionally buy off the shelf jacketed when I run into a deal. But why not take the inconvenience of a shortage off the radar. Roll your own.

  • walt March 20, 2020, 12:21 pm

    I’m a LEO and I don’t know who these politicians think is going to enforce unconstitutional infringements on citizen’s right to defend themselves and their families. Nobody I work with will take someone’s gun rights unless they are threatening YOU or us. You have an obligation to defend yourselves and your community. I am right there with you. I hope you are stocked up, and locked and loaded. Pray this thing passes soon.

    • Mr Shifter March 20, 2020, 7:06 pm

      Thanks for your service Walt….and for supporting our rights to bear arms….

  • Michael Keim March 20, 2020, 12:11 pm

    The time to buy ammo and guns is before a crisis. Buy a case of what you need when it goes on sale. It won’t spoil so get it ahead of time

  • basement52 March 20, 2020, 10:06 am

    As mentioned above, there are many homes, with young children and loaded guns. Many of these owners are unfamiliar or at least unpracticed with the new weapons they just bought,their kids have never been taught gun safety, and have no place to safely store these weapons. This is a disaster waiting to happen and we know most of these new owners will never get the training they need. I am not begrudging their right to keep and bear, but with this right comes responsibility.

  • Riverwolf March 20, 2020, 9:40 am

    For all these Einstein Liberals that cannot understand why everyone is buying guns and ammo. I will explain it. They turn all the criminals lose to supposedly protect them from the virus. Turn them lose with no money, no place to go, no way of finding a job. Shut businesses down and unemploy those that have a job, and then announce the Police won’t come unless someone is bleeding. Perfect, create a desperate situation for those folks and expect them to behave, and instill fear in everyone else. Then don’t expect everyone to try and protect themselves, their families, and their property. It takes a special kind of stupid to not understand all of this.

  • Kevin Baxter March 20, 2020, 9:11 am

    Silly people. How many have so soon forgotten the bitter years under Obama when ammo was unavailable?
    I was fine then because I had been saving for years, so I even had my personal stash of 22s. Since Obozo has left office, and things had returned to near normal, I have restocked, so I will be fine, at least under most likely scenarios.
    Buy when you can, not when you must.

  • Granddadted March 20, 2020, 9:07 am

    Let’s help each other out, and not price gouge. My Sunday school teacher came by yesterday and told me that Rural King was out of 9mm and 22LR. I gave him two boxes of my 9mm and 100 rounds of 22lr. I stocked up a long time ago and wanted him to feel safer. He just recently bought a pistol and hasn’t had time (or money) to stock up on ammo.

    • JGW March 20, 2020, 9:47 am

      Agreed. I gave a good friend of mine some .38spl yesterday as she only had the 5 rounds in her snub nose. I offered to loan her a semi auto and a fully loaded mags but she declined as she’s more comfortable with the revolver. She asked how much for the ammo and I simply said consider it a gift. She was so appreciative.

  • Slim March 20, 2020, 8:25 am

    This B.S. always happens around election time as I’m sure real shooters even if their not fans of the 22LR. cartridge heard of the extreme shortages a few years back and now and for since basically everyone like this page stopped rewriting the same articles and of course then and only then the panic went away and stock is now back to normal as it has been till this B.S. virus started spreading. And funny thing is the .40 caliber buys as that and the 10mm round are my favorites and lots of cheap people always say theyd rather have the smaller 9mm and get two extra rounds and I always laugh since if you can’t hit them with 15 then doubt the extra two is really going to matter! Plus I carry back up mags for each of my guns and carry both a G20TSF and a back up G22 so the couple of extra rounds I hope to never need. Seems like a lot of people talk trash about the .40 caliber round and are secretly at home stocking up. I’m just glad I have an okay amount of ammo for my current needs but like pretty much everyone can agree with I fewl I can never have to much ammo and also feel like I never really have enough no matter how many rounds I may have all at the same time.

    • Randy VanderLeest March 20, 2020, 5:17 pm

      Your comment about 9mm vs. .40 capacity went straight to bs when you said; “Plus I carry back up mags for each of my guns and carry both a G20TSF and a back up G22 so the couple of extra rounds I hope to never need.”

      • Ken March 22, 2020, 1:37 pm

        Haven’t you ever heard of magazines failing?

  • Dr Motown March 20, 2020, 7:56 am

    Best time to get prepared is before the next emergency….never let your stock get lower than the minimum that you’ve determined

  • Dr. Strangelove March 20, 2020, 7:51 am

    I stocked up after the last shortage. Maybe I’ll sell some.

  • Tevin Bennett March 20, 2020, 7:06 am

    I was thinking about getting a 1911 .38 super and a rifle or a shotgun for my primary. Any suggestions?

    • KimberproSS March 20, 2020, 10:19 am

      Times like these are where unpopular calibers/gauges will cause you a problem of availability. Buy a 9 mm or 45 acp and 12 ga. If it is a rifle, .223/5.56 or a 308 win.

      • srsquidizen March 20, 2020, 12:17 pm

        I wouldn’t say necessarily. Some of the oddball calibers may stay on the shelves longer. I’d tell somebody looking if you can find a Makarov buy it. There’s still plenty of 9 Mak ammo at non-gouge prices and there probably will be for a long time because nobody’s panic buying it–except maybe a few morons who think it’s the same as 9mm Luger. I’ve got plenty right now for my P64 and CZ 82 or I’d be buying some.

        Even .45 Colt and .410 are not flying off shelves so fast. A Judge might be a good choice for some of these 1st timers looking for a handgun. Shoots a variety of ammo and like all swing-out cylinder wheel guns the basic operation, as well as absolutely safe handing of it, are a little simpler than a semi-auto.

  • ed March 20, 2020, 6:45 am

    40 Cal (S&W) ammo: 645%

    Surprisingly it seems to be the most popular of all the ammo.

  • J M March 19, 2020, 6:53 pm

    I just backordered off Cabela’s cuz Walmart and my local gun store were both out of .223 and 5.56

    • Nick Ball March 21, 2020, 11:08 am

      Walmart doesn’t sell handgun ammo or 5.56/223 or 7.62×39 any more following the shooting at one of their stores last year, so you can’t read anything into them not having it on the shelves.

      I have a good ammo stock and a wide variety of firearms, so shortages will not affect me, but when you see how quickly so many people turn into “animals” when there’s any time of tragedy, Hurricane Katrina springs to mind, it’s not hard to see why some are feeling vulnerable and feeling the need to exercise their 2A rights more fully. We already have people almost ready to kill over bottled water and toilet paper, so one can only imagine how bad it would be if we ever have to face a real crisis with desperate shortages of food etc.

  • Will Drider March 18, 2020, 12:26 pm

    More Everytown bullshit! “Kids have been spent thousands of hours/days/years in their homes where firearms are present” long before the WuFlu hit our shores. They never see any reason for a loaded gun. Responsible gun owners Carry, select appropriate “placement” and Secure storage for firearms that are not filling an active role.

  • Ricky B. March 17, 2020, 3:39 pm

    Yeah my favorite small family owned ammo supplier based out of Oklahoma, sgammo.com, has a big red banner on their main page that says they are currently not accepting new orders… First time I’ve seen that, those folks have always been super reliable and usually has the best prices you’ll find.

    • Jordan Michaels March 18, 2020, 9:52 am

      Crazy stuff. I’d expect prices to rise in the next few weeks. We’ll see if this ends up just being a blip or if it causes long-term shortages.

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