Everyone wants to know in one sentence why there has been a primer shortage over the last 18 months or so. Unfortunately, the reality is there are numerous reasons why they have become nearly extinct in reloading outlets.
Although, a few of the main reasons will be condensed into a few (over-simplified to some) explanations in this post. So, here is where folks begin finding points to argue.
Loaded Ammunition = Primer Shortage?
This is by far the biggest reason that we as reloaders are not seeing any primers on the shelves. The same companies that manufacture primers also manufacture loaded ammo, typically. The profit margin is much higher on loaded ammo than it is on components, and the shelves that usually house all the loaded ammunition are still quite empty.
Therefore, companies that manufacture primers/ammo are going to allocate their own primers to making their own ammo. So, until you see ammunition readily available for all calibers (it’s okay to laugh at that), we aren’t going to see primers and other components readily available either.
Raw Materials/Supply Chain Issues
Lots of companies are struggling to get the raw material necessary to manufacture primers/ammo, and the pandemic crippled supply lines long enough to put the entire country way behind on manufacturing.
Manufacturers can only create product so fast, regardless of how determined they are to speed things up. If they can’t get the material needed to produce their final product though, there is absolutely nothing they can do to work around that.
Panic Buying/New Shooters
This one has already been covered by so many people, including myself, but I still get asked the question more frequently than I care to admit. Ultimately, people are still buying everything that hits the shelf in most cases.
So, until people are willing to say no to some of the prices people are asking, the ammo is not going to come back and neither are the components. However, some things are slowly but surely coming back in full force! It is just going to take a long time to get caught up on everything.
Now, I am going to be blunt when I say that I don’t have a way to physically prove what I am about to type, so I honestly probably shouldn’t be posting this. Not like anybody else fact checks anything before assuming it’s truth on the internet.
This was information that I received verbally from a reliable source in the industry, but I did NOT see it on paper. So, I can’t say that I verified it.
Anyway, it became apparent to me that powder manufacturers are only legally allowed to produce a finite amount of powder per year. Once they hit that number, they cannot make any more powder until the next calendar year.
Consequently, ammo manufacturers can literally only make so much ammo until they hit their powder allotment and they cannot produce any more ammo until they can begin receiving powder from their next contract.
Assuming this is true, that would explain why we are seeing such a large push for manufacturing small caliber cartridges both in pistol and rifle. Notice how there is all kinds of 223/5.56 hitting the shelf, but a significantly smaller number of medium/large class rifle cartridges getting produced. Not to mention how close we are to Fall hunting season!
Of course, when you can sell 223 for $0.80+ per round for ball ammo, there is a lot of money to be made there and the quality control doesn’t have to be spectacular to produce an acceptable product.
Again, this is something I can’t prove with physical documentation. So some of this is simply marketing theory, but I wanted to pass along the information so people can quit blaming the aliens on the moon for causing the ammo and primer shortage.
What Comes After A Primer Shortage?
You have already seen a lot of consequences that become apparent when there is any kind of shortage (think toilet paper). The world and our economy are both trying to catch up from the aftermath of 2020 and it isn’t going to happen quickly.
As long as you aren’t completely removed from society, you will see that every industry is struggling right now with supply and demand. Particularly, getting enough supply to fill the demand for employees right now. There are more jobs available across the USA right now than ever before and nobody wants to work. That makes it hard to get production back where it needs to be.
Ultimately, things are slowly coming back, but not nearly as fast as we need them to. The more able-bodied people we get back to work, contributing to society, and getting things back on track, the quicker we will see some normality come back to our lives. This includes primers hitting the shelves.
How You Can Help!
There is actually something you can do. If you know someone who is trying to get into shooting, handloading, hunting, etc., be there to help them out. Don’t dry up your personal supply obviously, but help out a friend if they need a leg up.
Deer season is coming up and some folks will not have the ammo they need. Yes, they should have thought ahead, but ammo has been scarce for nearly 18 months now. Lots of people are brand new to this game and haven’t had time to prepare like the rest of us. We don’t want to push people away! We want this culture and community to grow!
Therefore, if you can loan equipment, supplies, ammo, knowledge, etc. to someone who is trying to take their kid youth hunting this season, consider it!
Primers are going to come back! So are ammo, bullets, brass, powder, toilet paper, and your favorite cereal. In the mean time, if you have supplies to spare or can simply offer advice to those seeking it, please take the time and have the heart to do so.
Stay Risen and God Bless!
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