April 06, 2021
The shortage of pistol, rifle and even shotgun ammunition is real, and there are no signs things are going to get better anytime soon. Hunting seasons are still a few months away, but you better start looking now if you hope to have a box of your favorite hunting ammunition by the time opening day rolls around. And forget about range time—we’ve rationed ourselves to sending just a few rounds downrange in order to stay as sharp as we can without depleting our rapidly disappearing supply. With everyone grabbing every box of ammo they see in true hoarder fashion, shelves at the store may be empty, but there are still a few places you can find ammunition today. You just have to know where to look.
Your Parents’ Basement
No, this isn’t a joke. If you have older parents, or grandparents, that used to hunt but don’t anymore, they may be sitting on a trove of ammo. Sure, it’s all going to be .30-06 or .270, but there’s nothing wrong with those classic chamberings. Next time you stop by for a visit, poke around your mom and dad’s gear room. You might be surprised at what you find. Of course, hoarding ammo may be their retirement plan, so be sure to ask before pocketing a box. Either that or risk getting left out of the will.
Garage and Estate Sales
I think the cat’s out of the bag on this one, but early on during the ammo shortage I had several friends make big scores at estate sales. People liquidating homes, or going Marie Kondo, have started to figure out those dusty, old boxes of grandpa’s ammunition are actually worth something. Still, with garage sale season upon us, it might be worth rising early on Saturday mornings to make the rounds in the neighborhood. And who knows, even if you don’t discover a coveted box of 6.5 Creedmoor, you might find a rug that really ties the room together.
Mom and Pop Shops
Forget standing in line before dawn with the unwashed masses, waiting for the big-box store to unlock their doors in the hopes of buying the single box of .22LR they ration customers to. Instead, lots of gun stores and local outdoor shops are still receiving small shipments of ammo, and they’re generally more friendly in letting hunters stock up. Two stores close to me—NextGen Outfitters and Highby Outdoors—advertise on social media when they get a shipment of ammo, so keep an eye on the Facebook page of your local store. Plus, shopping near home keeps money in the community and allows these shops to keep their doors open.
While the production lines at Federal (and all the other major ammunition manufacturers), are running well past capacity, there’s a little room off to the side of the floor in Anoka that is quietly turning out highly accurate ammo for serious hunters and shooters. The Federal Custom Shop offers handloaded ammo to your specifications, using premium components, and every cartridge is hand-checked to ensure it meets Custom Shop standards. Sure, you’re going to pay for it, but for the hunt of a lifetime, it may be worth leaving it to the experts. Also, handloading custom ammo takes some time, so plan ahead, but that beats having to call every store within a 200-mile radius asking them if they have any .470 Nitro before your next buffalo hunt.
In order to meet the unprecedented demand for ammunition, several companies have launched Websites that allow hunters to buy ammo direct from the factory. Hunters can order direct from Federal Premium, but we find ourselves browsing the Norma outlet too. Another well-known secret for shopping for ammo online is the Shooter’s Pro Shop, which is the only authorized source of premium Nosler “factory second” bullets, brass and ammunition. Not only do they have ammo in-stock, much of it is heavily discounted due to minor, cosmetic imperfections. And, unlike a lot of online ammo dealers, they don’t gouge you on shipping either, offering a flat rate of $13, whether you buy one box of ammo or 100. Another site worth bookmarking is Shoot Ammo. They update their inventory daily, so what may not be there today will pop up tomorrow. And if you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll be the first to know when the round you’re looking for becomes available.