STAUNTON, Va. — For five months, ammunition at Nuckols Gun Works in Staunton has been flying off the shelves.
“It doesn’t matter what brand, make or model,” said owner Chris Kincheloe.
Kincheloe believes that the shortage, which has most affected handgun and .22-caliber ammunition, can be traced back to the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, which killed 20 children and six school staff. Gun control measures put forth by President Barack Obama following the mass killing have spurred ammo sales, he believes.
Whatever the reason, ammunition is hard to come by, and no relief is on the immediate horizon. Kincheloe said a recent letter from a manufacturer said the shortage will probably continue for another six months before production can catch up with demand.
Throw in the election of Obama — always a threat to gun enthusiasts, whether real or perceived — and the past six months have been the “busiest the industry has ever seen,” Kincheloe said.
But ammunition, or lack of it, has been a theme that persists many months after last year’s election and shooting. Kincheloe said ammunition prices have gone up 15 percent in the last three months and 75 percent during the past five years. Still, demand is outpacing supply.
Back in the day when ammunition was plentiful, distributors used to deliver it by the case, Kincheloe said. These days, shipments come by the box.
“Basically, the shipment I get lasts the day I get them,” Kincheloe said.
The ammunition shortage is so bad that Kincheloe restricts purchases to one box per customer. If not, he said a single customer would most likely “buy every one of them.”
At the Gun Shack in Verona, owner Andy Coffman said 9 mm, .38 and .22 caliber ammunition have been the hardest to keep in stock.
“For some reason, everybody’s hoarding the .22,” he noted. “I’ve never had this issue before with the .22”
Coffman said he’s been able to keep some .44 and .45 caliber ammunition in stock.
As for the overall demand on ammunition, he said, “It’s crazy.”
However, Coffman, unlike Nuckols Gun Works, doesn’t restrict ammunition purchases.
“Money is money,” he said.
At Dominion Outdoors in Fishersville, which has 10,000 square feet of space, co-owner Kevin Harris said he’s receiving plenty of ammunition shipments.
“We’re getting a lot of ammo. It’s just not staying,” Harris said.
He said his store has hundreds of standing orders, meaning ammo leaves the store as soon as he gets it. “The demand is greater than we can put on the shelves,” he said. “It’s coming and going out the door.”
Harris said not only is .22 ammo and handgun ammunition hard to come by, even hunting ammunition will come up short this fall. Harris said he recently ordered about 60 boxes of .30-30 ammunition to begin stocking up for the hunting season. Hunters, who are not known for heavy purchases of ammunition, quickly snatched up the ammo several months ahead of the hunting season.
“Which just blew my mind,” Harris said.
Alas, the ammo shortage isn’t being felt everywhere. Chief Jim Williams, of the Staunton Police Department, said he ran into an ammunition shortfall several years ago when wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were going full throttle.
“We learned to order it far enough in advance,” he said. “We’re actually OK.”
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