Bulk ammo for sale at pre-panic prices, eh!

go north, the rush is on

Source: Flickr via simonov

Source: Flickr via simonov

A classic Onion article explains that “Perky ‘Canada’ Has Own Government, Laws“. And now, it appears, Canada also has something else: ammunition for sale, and lots of it.

In perusing this Reddit thread on the ammo shortage, I was surprised to learn that Canadian Reddit users aren’t have any problems buying bulk ammo of any type, at only slightly elevated prices. User linuxbman reports that for 22LR, he’s “paying $20-$25 for a box of 500.” Another user urges fellow Canadians, “don’t mention the 1600 round crates of 5.56 for $449 that we have available everywhere.”

It’s not just on Reddit — Canadian users in this RugerForum.net thread all report that ammo abounds in the 51st state. User Trinimon: “We got lots of ammo up here. There’s no big shortage of .223, 45ACP, 9mm, .40SW, .22LR etc. Lots of Chinese Norinco surplus .223 but also a fair bit of AE, WOLF and S&B as well. We still can get Russian surplus 7.62×39.”

So what gives? Why does Canada not have a raging ammo shortage? I’ve done a little research, looking at various Canadian ammo sites, and it turns out that it’s hard to get ammo across the border. So Canada is its own, isolated market, which mean that the US panic buying doesn’t really affect the Canucks.

There are apparently logistical and regulatory reasons for Canada’s isolation. Many Canadian ammo sites have notices to the effect that shipping ammo from Canada to the US is prohibitively expensive, and it doesn’t make sense to do it unless you’re really buying bulk — like 1 million rounds or more. And if you’re importing that much ammo, then you have to go through a lot of ATF scrutiny. But even if you just drive up to Canada and buy some for your personal use, it still looks like there’s an ATF form to fill out in order to get it into the US legally. So getting ammo into the US from Canada is a lot harder than just camping out at the local Wal-Mart and waiting for a new shipment of 22LR to come in, which is why Americans are doing the latter and not the former.

My personal theory is that, barring another panic-sparking event, ammo will eventually get very cheap again, at least online. Hoarders who are sitting on monstrously large ammo stashes are going to decide at some point to unload some of it in one of the various online venues for buying/selling/trading guns and ammo, and at that point the floodgates will open and supply will rush into the market. Wal-Mart shoppers are still going to pay list for ammo when this happens, but those of us buying in peer-to-peer venues are going to see prices go through the floor. I base this speculation on what has happened with AR-15s in recent months: if you’re dying to pay list, you can buy an AR at a gun store, but if you buy via classified or auction you can get a big discount.

A final note: one thing that the Canadian ammo non-shortage makes clear, as if it needed any further clarification after Pat Cascio’s excellent piece, is that the current US ammo shortage is driven solely by US supply/demand dynamics, and not by a nefarious government plot to buy up all the ammo.

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