Ammunition – What is Going On?
By Bren Brown, President
Today, I did something I don’t do very often. In six years, I’ve only done it a handful of times. I believe in free speech, so I tolerate a lot on our social media pages. I feel like clients who decide to “throw down” on there just show people who they are and it in no way reflects on our business.
But, I was tested.
You can say and feel a lot of things, but when you call out character, then we will have to part ways. I’m not above reproach, but I will tell you outright calling our company liars will be a sure way to get the boot. Sometimes I have a thick skin, and other days amidst a flurry of concerns, my patience is tried and fails. I remind everyone that our page is our building, our business, our clients, and our staff and when you are continually hateful, then we don’t need that kind of negativity in our lives.
Enter the continual ammunition argument of 2020.
I blogged back at the beginning of 2020 about the great ammo shortage. I tried to explain what was happening with the shortage, pricing, etc. All of that remains true, and the update isn’t much more encouraging. We have branched into other types of ammo out of pure necessity for supply. It has driven our costs up. What you, the consumer, needs to understand is that inventory in this industry, the firearms industry, doesn’t work like inventory in any other sector (that we know of). We have a direct buy from manufacturers, buy groups, and distributors. Some manufacturers do not use distributors or use them very little, other manufacturers use only distributors and you cannot buy directly. Yes, it’s complicated.
We have grown in the industry and are growing as a company, so we get to buy in all ways. However, that said, we do not have the buying power of big-box retailers who have hundreds of locations across the United States. It’s just that simple. A lot of the big box stores are big enough that they can circumvent the entire system and broker deals directly at deep discounts. However, none of them focus solely on shooting sports. They have varied income streams, where we pride ourselves on being the experts on all things firearms. We also have a very expensive range to keep. The massive amounts of capital required to keep our buildings safe and top-notch for you is real. Not complaining one bit, but laying out some facts.
If you have been shopping around, you know that ammo rolls into each outlet in the area randomly and in mostly small quantities. The big-box retailers have been completely out at times we have been stocked and vice versa (only on the sales floor—range, classes, and firearms purchases have been covered by us from the beginning, never out). We could put one full-time person on price checking everyone out there. We don’t have time for that. We are busy with our heads down trying to do the best we can do for you. 24/7 period. We don’t play the comparison game. Often times we are faced with bringing in ammo that is different from our core selection and pricing, in an effort to provide a solution for our clients by putting something on the ammo shelf. We price fairly based on our buying and our goal has been to never be out. Minus a two-hour window on one day in the MO location, we have kept Kansas City full stocked in most calibers at the range, classes, and for new firearm purchases. Never out. We are working to get our new Omaha location back in the game. It’s more than one person full-time searching and negotiating. It’s been stressful and exhausting, and very rewarding. These professionals that work at Frontier Justice take all of this very seriously and they are human. Words matter. Being beat up on pricing and being out of stock on the sales floor is a constant strain.
A few of you are a source of light in the dark. On our ammo posts, there are a few of you that have come to our aid and seem to understand Economics. You support local and smaller companies and you realize there won’t be a nice range if we cannot sell with some margin on the sales floor.
Your words matter! Lawrence Compton and Hondo Tamez, I don’t know you personally, but I do want to know you. And, we are gifting you a box of ammo in response to your most recent defense of us on social media—clearly, the two of you get it. Direct message us which store is closest to you and what ammo means the most to you right now.
Now, onto the state of the union. Most of the ammunition vendors we use are saying it is AT LEAST 6-9 months before things return to normal for all the reasons in my original ammo blog. Buying ammo that is available on the sales floor does not back it up further. If you need ammo, do not feel like you are contributing to some sort of deficit. The deficit will continue whether you buy or not. And, the scarcity is not going to improve for that time period. Likely it will be a full year or more. Secondly, pricing will likely not improve in that time period either. We have already explained why. However, here is a concrete sample of what we are talking about.
We bought six 200 round packs of Winchester .45 ACP from a distributor in October 2020 at $66.43 per box.
Yesterday, we again bought six 200 round packs of Winchester .45 ACP from the same distributor at $98.29 per box.
48% increase in 49 days!
Don’t blame Winchester. We will leave the distributor nameless. But, if they are the only ones with the product we need for our stores to work, then it is our dilemma. Remember, we are a range and a retailer. We do education and classes. We need ammo for all things. We cannot run out. Like you, we must buy it when we can.
Lastly, fear-mongering is NEVER our marketing approach. Never. But, facts are facts, and a Biden administration looms. Do we think they will take firearms? Flat out, no. But, we do know they can complicate the sale of firearms and we expect complications in the years ahead if this administration comes to power. We are preparing and we need you to understand that if you are in support of the Second Amendment you also need to get your head around a changing market.
Thank you to each of you for your loyal following and being in the Frontier Justice tribe. It’s a bit of defense this morning, but please don’t ever question our honesty and integrity. We pride ourselves on doing the right thing. Faith, Family, and Freedom are our guides, always.
Stay safe out there!