Ammo shortage hits UK

Ammo shelves across the United States have been empty for months and now the shortage is affecting the UK, as our exclusive survey reveals.

An informal survey conducted by Gun Trade News has revealed a major ammunition shortage across the UK. When asked if they thought there was an ammunition shortage, an overwhelming 85% of respondents to the survey conducted at the start of July said “Yes” and 15% more said “Maybe”. The respondents included several well-known retailers, distributors and manufacturers.

One major retailer told us: “We have seen a lot of challenges across the spectrum, compounded by uncertainty in the sector, which makes ordering more difficult.” Another reported: “We are unable to get lightweight cartridges—especially in smaller gauges.” This seemed to be confirmed by a third who told us simply: “There’s a lack of .17 HMR.”

While there are clearly shortages across the board, rifle ammunition is the hardest hit with 80% of respondents noticing rifle ammunition shortages; 40% had noticed shotgun cartridge shortages and 21% a lack of airgun pellets.

One major manufacturer agreed that the shortages were affecting all types of ammunition and told us: “The main causes are increase in demand in the US and global shortages of raw materials due to COVID-19 and consequent production restrictions.”

Even more alarmingly, several respondents told us it would be a long time and possibly into next year before things started to get back to normal: “Gamebore cannot get powder to make Velocities for the foreseeable future,” one retailer told us, while another said: “Eley can’t get components to make 2in .410 until next year…”

A clay-shooting ground told us: “Express couldn’t get components to make some cartridges, Eley can’t get components to make 2in .410 until next year and we have had issues getting hold of JSB/Air Arms pellets (seems to have them again now), CCI .22 ammo has been on back order for a few weeks. Hornady .223 bullet heads have been on back order for months along with reloading powder.”

One immediate impact of the shortage has been higher prices for the customer, with one cartridge specialist telling us: “[The] first price increase [was] in March 2021 and today more have been announced with immediate effect and we suspect that there will be a further increase later in the coming season.”

Gamebore told GTN: “The ammunition shortages we are seeing have been ongoing in the USA for 18 months, spreading throughout Europe over the past six months and now reaching the UK as everything has reopened and we approach the game season.

“The cartridge industry, much like every other industry, has been impacted by ongoing global shortages of raw materials, plus severe shipping delays. This has resulted in shortages of some of our key components, eg steel shot, cases, wads and powder.

“Despite this, our factory has maintained the same production volumes as usual throughout this time. However, a significant rise in demand for our product has resulted in some longer than usual wait times for certain products in our range. Every effort is being made to maintain steady availability of our key products throughout the upcoming game season and beyond.” 


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