Vista Outdoors Announces 1-Year, $1 Billion Ammunition Backlog

One of the biggest outdoor brands, Vista is experiencing a massive ammunition backlog.

Vista Outdoors, the parent company of ammunition brands Federal, CCI, Blazer, and Speer (among others), announced during an earnings call last week a yearlong backlog of ammunition orders worth $1 billion.

“We currently have over a year’s worth of orders for ammunition in excess of $1 billion,” CEO Chis Metz said during the Nov. 5 call, calling the backlog “unprecedented.”

“With demand far outstripping supply and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing, and this metric informs our viewpoint of what a recovery or normalization could look like,” he continued.

He added that he was providing the additional context “to convey an underlying strength and strong foundational element to our business.”

All ammunition manufacturers are feeling the squeeze of a massive spike in demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and the presidential election.

SEE ALSO: Why Ammo, Gun Shortage May Continue for Foreseeable Future

Arizona-based Ammo Incorporated reported in October that the relatively small company is facing an $80 million backlog despite operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Company CEO Fred Wagenhals named COVID, the election, and unrest as the drivers of the spike in demand in an interview with AZFamily.com.  

“The start was the pandemic that was going on. But there was always that fear of the election. Of who’s going to be elected of the next President of the United States,” Wagenhals explained. “But thirdly, I think the unrest in this country right now. And as you’ve seen in a lot of cities, the looting and the burning, and I think people are just scared.”

The ammunition shortage is driven in part by the tendency of gun owners to stockpile ammunition in uncertain times but also by the millions of new gun owners who purchased a firearm for the first time this year.

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

The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that over 17 million firearms have been purchased this year alone, shattering last year’s mark of 13.2 million guns sold. Of those 17 million, about 7 million were purchased by first-time gun owners.

It’s unclear how long the shortage will last. Presumably, manufacturers like Vista will increase capacity to meet demand and dig themselves out of their order backlog.

But ammo companies are also wary of getting burned again like they were in 2016. That year, companies ramped up capacity in expectation that Hillary Clinton would be elected, and demand would continue to grow. Instead, President Trump won, and manufacturers were left with stockpiles of ammunition and no one to sell it to.

It remains to be seen whether Joe Biden’s impending victory will encourage ammo companies to ramp up production and get ammunition back on the shelves. That Metz sees “strong demand continuing” is a good sign, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take to get back to anything resembling normal.

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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.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Lopaka Kanaka November 16, 2020, 5:42 pm

    Yes, we have a shortage of reloading brass and they are a long waiting to get them. I notice it was easy to
    find them a few months ago but now the only place I could purchase my 45 colt new reloading brass was from
    Midway USA. I searched on the web for once fired brass and there is none to be purchased. The only way is
    reload your ammunition and you will have no shortage for yourself.

  • Jim November 16, 2020, 5:10 pm

    It’s not only ammo but also components for reloading. Nobody has primers or if they do they are asking many times the normal price.

  • Ej harbet November 16, 2020, 1:55 pm

    I go by the Remington plant in Lonoke Arkansas and its not even in operation.of course its been bought by Vista after Remington became the victim of poor quality control and gun grabber lawsuits

  • Bob November 15, 2020, 3:03 pm

    Funny, I live not far from the Federal ammo plant, 2 points; 1. Federal has not brought on a bunch of “new hires” for this problem. 2. Local dealers that are only a couple miles away are also short on ammo. If anyone were interested in fixing this issue I doubt either of these things would be true.

  • JOHN T. FOX November 13, 2020, 2:31 pm

    A FEW DAYS AGO I SAW PLENTY OF AMMO ON THE SHELVES. YESTERDAY ONLY WORTHLESS WINCHESTER 9MM WAS LEFT ON THE SHELF FOR 9MM. NEARLY FULLY STOCKED SHELVES BECAME MOSTLY EMPTY IN TWO DAYS. JERSEYVILL ILLINOIS. I SAW A GUY PUT EVERY BOX OF 5.56 IN HIS CART AND HE HAD FRIENDS COMING TO BUY THE AMMO TO GET AROUND THE 3 BOX LIMIT. EVEN SHOTGUN SHELLS SECTIONS WERE AROUND HALF FULL AND HAD A ONE CASE LIMIT. PISTOL AND RIFLE AMMO WERE EACH AROUND 10% OR LESS IN STOCK. THE ONE BRAND NOT ALWAYS SOLD OUT WAS WORTHLESS WINCHESTER! REMINGTON, UMC, BLAZER, FEDERAL, TULA, WOLF ALL WERE SOLD OUT!

  • Unobtrusive November 13, 2020, 10:30 am

    Yeah, I don’t believe any of this either. It’s not even making it to the retailers. Bass Pro Shops, Buds Gun Shop, MidwayUSA, why can’t they get it? Even forgien ammo like Wolf, PPU, Red Army Standard.
    I mean, if it were getting to the shelves and then selling out, I would be more likely to believe it’s due to increased demand.

    • michael smith November 17, 2020, 3:49 pm

      Unobtrusive, Think of it as a planned food shortage used many times to starve subjects into submission. This is just my opinion, but I think it is valid.
      If you are game to fight back, think of battle field pick ups.
      I still have over a thousand rds. left, because I remember Sandy hook days, like a farmer you can’t eat your seed.

  • Hendrik Joseph Haan November 13, 2020, 7:29 am

    By the time Freddy ramps up production, it will be too late. In order to keep Hunter’s cash flow from China intact, Beto will be shutting down all firearms related industries. Just sue them like they did with Remington. Once America is disarmed, our surrender will be complete. They already are in control of Big Tech.

    • John Boutwell November 13, 2020, 10:43 am

      America will not be disarmed!

    • willy November 16, 2020, 6:34 am

      Screw that little weenie boy Beto.

    • Steve November 16, 2020, 12:42 pm

      You mean big Tech is in charge of them

    • Ej harbet November 16, 2020, 1:58 pm

      Billions of rounds in citizen hands and most of us aren’t shooting it,,,,,,,yet

    • PHIL gram November 17, 2020, 7:31 am

      You clowns that run around saying they’re going to disarm the American people have got your heads up your ass. 17 million Firearms were sold in the United States this year. All we simply have to do is stand our ground we have the largest standing army in the world heavily-armed and dedicated to the constitution in particular 2A

  • michael November 13, 2020, 7:15 am

    “manufacturers were left with stockpiles of ammunition and no one to sell it to”. What did they do with it ? Where’s it at now ? Sorry I don’t buy it. They sold it just not as fast as intended. And at price gouging rates as today. So their PROFITS were effected. They didn’t give it away.

  • Jim November 13, 2020, 3:52 am

    Don’t count on supply changing very fast. These companies love the high prices and even higher demands. They don’t want it to change too much. I’m sure there’s a happy medium in there for these manufacturers but they sure don’t want to go back to 2016-2019. They will milk this shortage for all its worth and obviously its worth Billions.

    • Russell Miller November 13, 2020, 8:43 am

      Jim
      You are correct in your comment. 5 years ago I started buying ammo by the case and even when President Trump was elected I kept up the buying by the case. My wife thought I was crazy until the pandemic, uprising and election.
      She now says I’m pretty smart for doing that.
      Tj

    • JOHN T. FOX November 13, 2020, 2:33 pm

      THIS TIME, THEY MAY USE THE MAN MADE CHINESE FLU TO SHUT DOWN AMMO PRODUCTION/SALES. WHICH MEANS NO PROFITS FOR THEM! IT WOULD BEHOOVE THEM TO RAMP UP PRODUCTION ASAP!

      • Andrew Ziolo November 13, 2020, 7:05 pm

        Respectfully, maybe not. Most of the ammo sales are probably being stocked instead of consumed by purchasers for security….Meanwhile, ramping up production is extremely costly and timely….by the time it is complete some sort of political equilibrium will probably occur crashing demand, and worse than that, most of the personal stockpiles will have to be consumed before demand recovers.

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