Conspiracy theories aside, the nation's ammunition supply pipeline is beginning to ring less hollow with a smattering of additional calibers and bullet weights now clattering their way into gun shops.
Today while visiting Gander Mountain's Mentor, Ohio store I inquired as to whether a large squad of shooters were waiting when the doors opened at 9 a.m.
This particular Gander Mountain store – as does the Dick's Sporting Goods store up the street – receive its weekly ammunition shipment late on Mondays. The ammo is then cataloged and placed on shelves for sale beginning Tuesday morning.
Shooters would squeeze themselves in sardine-can fashion an hour or so before the store opened, each person anxious to rush to the back of the business in an effort to secure the maximum amount of ammunition Gander Mountain allows a person to buy in a day.
Only thing was today there was no crowd, no Black Friday-style rush to the handgun counter to snap up whatever ammunition was available. And there hasn't been a crush of this kind in three or four weeks, a sales associate said.
Thus, the clerk went on to add, an easing in ammunition availability is being seen. A trickle now but an easing still the same.
Maybe not for everything, either, but at least for some of the more popular handgun calibers. And even some hunting rifle calibers, too.
Another indicator that a relaxing in the ammunition supply chain is underway also was seen Tuesday but at Fin, Feather and Fur Outfitter's Middleburg Heights, Ohio store.
This firm owns three stores, including the main one in Ashland, Ohio, often rumored to be the largest seller of firearms in Ohio.
In any event, the Middleberg Heights store pretty much had it all: From such less popular rounds as the .222 Remington and .257 Roberts-Plus P to a goodly supply of popular bullet weights in .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester and 7mm Remington Magnum.
Ditto for pistol calibers as well. Among them being the .25 Auto, .32 Auto, as well as .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 Auto.
Oh, and along with such rare birds as the .45 GAP and the the .327 Federal Magnum.
As for prices, some boxes were priced more than those being offered through the well-known Internet-based Able Ammunition while other calibers and bullet weight classes were marked less, or else within pennies of each other.
The same went for availability. While Fin, Feather and Fur had a number of caliber/bullet weight combinations on its shelves these pairings were listed as being “out of stock” on Able's web site.
Now comes the kicker.
Regardless of gun store visited or Internet site accessed, absent was much of anything in the way of 22-caliber rimfire ammunition.
About the only thing Fin, Feather and Fur carried of note were 500-round “bricks” of Federal standard velocity .22-caliber rimfire ammo and each selling for about $50. That's about the going rate on the Internet.
So is there a lesson in any of this?
Likely, yes. The lesson learned is that hording benefits no one in either cost or availability for starters.
Secondly, responsible hunters mulling checking zero on their deer rifles or slug shotguns must be mindful they'll likely need more than just one box of ammo to get the job done and still have a few cartridges left for the actual hunt.
Now about those .22s., I mentioned to the Gander Mountain sales clerk that my supply of squirrel-hunting ammunition is in good shape.
However, if I ever have to start from ground zero I'd think long and hard about buying a rifle in.17-Hornady, the caliber when even during the darkest of the ammo shortage days always appeared on gun shop shelves.
Either that or else go with one of the new precession air rifles.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn