Specialty Sports on Wednesday received a shipment as valuable as gold - six bricks of .22 ammunition.

By Thursday, they were gone, snapped up by ammo hungry residents.

While .22 shells are in short supply, other ammunition is making its way back to retailers shelves.

There are still shortages, retailers say, and those halcyon days when ammunition practically could be picked from trees are long gone.

Still, there were plenty of boxes of ammunition behind the counters at Specialty Sports.

"Some people say things like: 'turn the corner' with anticipation that in two months it's going to be great again," said Rich Voelker, owner of The GunOutlet in Colorado Springs. "I don't think in two months it's going to be great again, but where you used to not be able to buy anything, things are starting to show up."

Ammunition has been scarce since gun control legislation after shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and in an Aurora movie theater.

With fears of looming limitations, gun owners began buying up wads of ammo and hoarding it. Shelves at stores were empty. Closets and drawers in homes were filling up. Manufacturers are finally beginning to catch up, although prices are still high.

"It's starting to trickle in more consistently," said Desiree Guerra, a sales representative at Paradise Sales in Colorado Springs. "We've had a good stock of .223 for about a week now."

In addition to .223 rounds, Paradise was well stocked with .40, .45 and 9mm rounds, she said.

But .22 ammunition, she said, "is still not happening."

That's especially true for the popular .22 LR, (long rifle). At Paradise Wednesday, they had .22 shorts.

The supply at Bill's Gun Shop in Pueblo is still slow, "but it's picking up all the time," said owner Bill Sturtevant.

Demand is down slightly, but some of those who stocked up may well be sated, Sturtevant said.

Like everybody else, though, he's short on .22 ammunition.

"The real reason is, from what I get when I call manufacturers, there is such a huge supply shortage that while they are producing as many as they ever did, as soon as it hits the market it gets broken up into a bunch of shipments and goes everywhere," Sturtevant said. "People are buying them as fast as they come in."

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, between 10 billion and 12 billion rounds of ammunition are made in the U.S. annually. It's part of the behemoth gun business, which racks up an estimated $4.1 billion a year, the foundation says.

In Colorado, the foundation estimated the industry produces 2,676 jobs and more than $80 million in wages, according to a 2012 report.

In all, there are 300 million firearms in the country and 85 million gun owners, according to the foundation.

Nonetheless, getting ammunition from manufacturers "is very hit or miss," said Casey Brown, manager at Grand Prix Guns in Littleton. "The distributors are the ones pumping ammunition to us."

Grand Prix Guns just got a pallet of .223 ammunition. But it can be tough getting 9mm, .40 and .380.

Manufacturers, Brown said, "don't let you know when it's coming and you can't call them up and say, 'I need ammunition.' "

"There are a lot of new gun owners," he said. "When you take that into account, the manufacturers aren't pumping any more out than they did last year."

Dragon Man's, east of Colorado Springs, is a rarity. The shooting range and gun retailer Friday had three bricks of .22 ammunition and a range full of shooters.

"I've got more than 150,000 bullets in stock," said owner Mel Bernstein.

He's got so many .223 rounds, he put them on sale at $45 for 100 rounds.

"I got too much," he said.


Load comments