One of the encouraging things about the recent high demand for firearms, along with the addition of millions of new gun owners, is that popular culture has promoted a positive change in who is viewed as the “average firearm owner.” On the flip side, one of the repercussions of this phenomenon is trying to find ammo. I want to share some of the websites my own family uses to look for ammo and reloading supplies.
Local vs. Online
Where you buy your ammo when demand is high is more about availability than anything. I sympathize with the person who never owned a gun, or never had to purchase ammo until recently. It’s discouraging. As a gun owner, you should look for local and online sources, or at least understand what local options are potentially available.
A local gun shop might not realize there is a customer demand for a particular caliber of ammunition, thus they don’t stock it. Take the time to get to know your small FFL dealers and gun shops who might have the ability to order ammo. Local chain stores like Fleet Farm stock a continual selection of ammo, even when the shelves at our local big box store have been bare for months. Patronize those places that make good choices for the consumer—like preventing would-be hoarders from buying every available box of ammo on the shelves.
Online sources are going to be your best bet for finding in-stock items. The ability to set up alerts to notify you when the product you are looking for is back in stock is invaluable. If you monitor your notifications, you can often luck out finding ammo. It takes diligence, but it’s doable.
Alerts and In-stocks
A few places that we have had great luck finding in stock ammo are pretty big names in the outdoor world. The trick is staying on top of notifications and checking frequently.
Ammoseek — Ammoseek is one of the BEST ways to find your ammo. Set up e-mail alerts, and stay on top of them. The downside is that when demand is extremely high, it might be sold out by the time you see it.
Factory Ammo/Reloading Supplies
Brownells, MidwayUSA, Bass Pro, Cabelas—these are all great places to set up in-stock alerts. The downside is you might only have seconds to hop on the website from the time a product is listed, because demand and the sheer number of people using this option are so high.
Powder Valley, Midsouth, Graf & Sons: These are good places to set up notifications for reloading supplies. They are great businesses that support the shooting sports and reloaders and are smaller than some of the big names, but great to work with.
Think Outside the Box
Don't forget to look at the unconventional places. We’ve seen ammo at yard sales, pawn shops, and message boards and forums.
GunBroker is another place to find ammo, although it is common to see sellers capitalizing on limited supplies with higher prices. However, this is a good place to find oddball calibers and loads.
Reloading vs. Factory Ammo
Reloading components are one way that you can re-use your cases /hulls and reload ammo for rifle, pistol, or shotgun. Cost-wise, this is an investment. It means doing some detailed research and working with care, precision and proper information. But if you buy in times where supplies are not scarce, you’ll be much better positioned to have your home defense, plinking, hunting, or competition ammo in times of scarcity.
With effort and a plan, you can still find ammo when demand is high. But take the time when demand is low to invest in “precious metals” that don't seem to devalue. My favorite story about purchasing ammo in times of low demand was 1999, when a big box store was selling .22 LR on clearance. We were in the middle of a military move from Virginia to Arizona, and towing a car behind a moving truck. We stopped for breaks at that big box store as we drove, because the parking lots could accommodate our large vehicles. We would get a snack, check the clearance rack, and get back on the road. It left us with enough .22 that our three sons and 20+ years of plinking were happy for our effort.