Is Another Ammo Shortage On the Horizon?

We have seen ammo shortages in the past. Lots of them, in fact. There isn’t really one specific thing that causes an ammo shortage. It can be anything from a lack of materials, shipping issues, wars, or mass panic. Lately, mass panic is the cause of a lot of our shortages. If I had a crystal ball and could see when these things were going to happen, I could have made a lot of money over the years. During the Assault Weapons Ban back during the Clinton years, a 30-round AR mag was triple the price they are now.

Shooting an AK-47
When an ammo shortage happens, it can happen fast. This causes issues for those who want to train on a regular basis.

But we don’t have crystal balls, at least any that work. And we continue to go through this cycle of low ammo/high prices, to more ammo/lower prices, and then boom. It’s all gone. And when ammo disappears, it goes faster than toilet paper. That’s like Jimmy John’s speed of disappearing.

Growing up, my grandmother liked to hide things in her closet, kind of like how some hide things under their mattress. I always thought it was probably because she grew up in a time when simple things were not easy to find and even harder to keep. This is how I feel about ammo. I buy it to practice with but can’t ever make myself shoot as much as I should. I end up stashing it away for a rainy day.

Do we cause our own ammo shortages?

In its simplest form, an ammo shortage is a lack of ammo available to sell or buy. Like anything else, when there are more buyers than sellers, prices go up. During a war, the government starts contracting ammo from just about everyone that can make it. This causes a shortage of how much ammo is available for local stores and because of this, the price goes up. Other things outside of the gun industry can also affect available supplies for ammunition production. This can cause prices to rise and once they go up, they never come back down all the way.

Ammo, 5.56 NATO Green Tip
We often cause our own ammo shortages because we “panic buy” instead of buying smaller amounts on a steady basis.

I think most of our ammo shortages, however, do not come from a lack of supplies or wars around the world. They come from us. Every day people who decide things are looking a little shaky, so we go out and buy some extra ammo—like ammo cans full of ammo. And when others see people walking out of the store with all the ammo, they decide they better buy some too. This process repeats, over and over, until the store runs out of ammo. And then everyone else who was refusing to believe there is an ammo shortage decides to buy ammo. How many times have you made an ammo run after hearing ammo is “flying” off the shelf?

Is there a solution?

We do the same thing with other items. We did it with gas after the 9/11 attacks. We did it with COVID multiple times and never did learn our lesson. Some items became short because they came from China and we stopped all imports. And then during the Christmas holidays, we had thousands of shipping containers full of products just hanging out off our coast. But we didn’t have people to work, because we had paid everyone to stay home and not work.

So, is there something else can we do besides buy items when we think they are going to run out?

9mm ammo.
Buying ammo can be somewhat like a savings account. Keep adding some over time and when you need it, you have it. Don’t wait until it’s hard to find and then go looking for cases of it.

One thing we can do is buy ammo at a steady pace, over time. I’m not going to say only buy what you need at the time when it comes to self-defense. We have proven how fast items can disappear from the shelf, so we need to stock up and be prepared. But if we do this too fast, we create the shortage we are trying to prepare for. Buying slowly over time, however, can help us prepare and not cause a panic. We shouldn’t wait until we think ammo is vanishing to go buy ammo. That’s when we should be able to step back and wait for things to level out.

The Perfect Storm

With many of our ammo shortages, we can pinpoint what happened and what caused the shortage. Other times we don’t really know. But if you keep up with current news and see the unraveling of world events, there could be another great ammo shortage on the horizon. A looming crisis with another country is not uncommon, but several at the same time is. We are supporting a war in Ukraine, trading jabs with Iran, and preparing for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. It feels like the list goes on and on.

Ammo can with ammo
There is nothing wrong with storing up some ammo. But buying it over time when there are no shortages works much better than waiting until ammo is hard to find.

On top of foreign issues simmering in the oven, we also have the ATF and other parts of the government determined to burn up the second amendment. Our President even said he would ban high-capacity mags “come hell or high water.” I hope I’m wrong, but it feels like we are hearing the thunder before we see the storm. If we do face a shortage of ammunition, having enough to save and continue our practice on the range should not suffer. Ammo can be stored for long periods of time, so develop a formula that allows for regular purchases, practice, and storage.


There is nothing wrong with buying ammo to save, and it could help control those sudden fire-sell moments if everyone purchased their ammo consistently over time. If we wait until we’re afraid of shortages and then try buying in bulk, we only add fuel to the fire.

The larger issue at heart is the growing group of people who view firearms, magazines, and ammo as a danger to the public instead of the dangerous people who wish to break the law. Blame is shifted from the real problem to the gun industry because it helps fit their agenda. Don’t wait until the buzz about empty shelves is running rampant to buy ammo. Buy a little now, a little tomorrow, and create a plan that allows regular training on the range while saving enough for that rainy day.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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