The climb back to normal for the United States and the rest of the world has begun picking up steam in recent months.
The impact of 2020 has been and will continue to have an effect through 2021 and beyond. The gun and ammunition industry has felt the aftershock as both guns and ammunition have become scarce as the start of turkey season begins.
“Hunters are the worst procrastinators,” Jeff Leonard said. “When it comes time for turkey season, they’re going to reach in their turkey and think, ‘Oh, I’ve only got two shells left.’ Then they’re going to come out and there isn’t going to be any (ammunition) is the problem this year.
“Normally, you’d never have a problem. If we ran low, we’d order more and have it here in four or five days. But you can’t get it, there’s none in the supply chain right now,” he said.
Leonard, owner of J&B Outdoors, said the clamor for guns and ammunition began last spring at the beginning stages of the pandemic. Reasons for the dramatic increase varied from fear to the opportunity for people to feed themselves and their families.
The industry was unable to keep up with the demand not just because of current gun owners, but the spike in first-time gun owners. The National Shooting Sports Federation said retailers estimated 40% of their sales in early 2020 came from those buying guns for the first time.
The shortage will hurt not just turkey hunters and their wallets, but those looking for 9mm ammo.
“Centerfire ammo, 9mm, we would normally sell for $9.99 a box,” Leonard said. “I’ve seen it being sold for $60 a box right now. Guys are normally getting a 50-round box for 10 bucks, but now they’re paying $1 to $1.25 a shot.”
The average turkey hunter uses a handful of bullets each year. But Leonard said that with the shortage, customers are purchasing two or three boxes at a time.
“Normally guys will buy one box and that would last you three years for the most part,” Leonard said. “But now they’re coming in and buying two or three boxes because they know there’s a shortage and so they’re buying it and setting it aside. It’s the toilet paper thing all over again.”
There is no light at the end of the tunnel right now. Turkey hunters will be hard-pressed to find ammunition at this point in the year.
“Before turkey season, I doubt it,” Leonard said. “With everything going on, the firearm industry is on its head right now — they just can’t keep up with demand.”