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Monday, November 30, 2015

.22 Rimfire update

Courtesy of Brownell's newsletter-

The .22 Ammo Situation - We've received questions lately on something we've all been wondering about: Why is .22 rimfire ammo still "scarcer'n hen's teeth"? The shortage of centerfire stuff ended a while ago, so what's up?

Here's the scoop from some of our industry friends who are really plugged into the ammunition business. It's not as bad as it was. Rimfire ammo IS making its way onto store shelves, but demand is still sky high, so it zooms off those shelves almost instantly, usually with a limit on the number of boxes you can have.

Premium brands of .22 LR are sticking around longer in stores because customers who were willing to pay high prices just to get any .22 ammo have slowed down their buying. But the less-expensive ammo - the "buy a brick and plink all Saturday afternoon" stuff - still gets gobbled up as soon as it hits a shelf.

The biggest issue is, unlike centerfire ammo, rimfire is produced on dedicated machinery that can only load rimfire. Centerfire machines can load many different cartridges, so if there's a big shortage of .308 Winchester, the ammo factory can switch a bunch of machines over to it and ramp up supply much faster. That's why calibers that were in short supply in 2013 and 2014, like 9mm or .223 or .45 ACP, came back a lot faster.

Rimfire is a whole other ball of wax because of the way the cases are primed. It's really, really expensive and takes a long time to set up new rimfire production machinery - so costly that manufacturers can't spend the time and money to do it unless they're absolutely sure higher demand is here to stay, so the .22 LR production capacity in the U.S. isn't going to expand much any time soon. As long as demand for less-expensive rimfire ammo remains so strong, it will continue to be hard to get. Our guys tell me supply will probably stay very tight right through 2016. Wish I had better news - as soon as I do, you'll be the first to know!


tsquared said...

In Atlanta 22LR is almost unobtanium. It does pop up once in a while but is quickly snapped up. I can jump in my truck and drive 40 minutes out of Atlanta in almost every direction and it is on the shelves at the LGS's. The problem is that it is over half the cost of 9mm.

I travel with work. I always check out the LGS wherever I am working. I have found 22LR and other hard to get shooting supplies in other parts of the country.

Old NFO said...

Tony- I've done the same, including buying 1000 rounds out of the back of a jewelry store! :-)