Dick Harmon: Dick Harmon: Unprecedented demand has made it hard to buy .22 bullets, other ammunition

Published: Friday, June 14 2013 4:00 p.m. MDT

“Instead of coming in and buying a couple of boxes to go shoot in an afternoon, people are coming in and buying four to six bricks of .22 shells.”

Parshall had a competitor in the business tell him of a woman in her 80s who comes in once a month when she gets her Social Security check and buys a couple of boxes of .22 shells. He asked if she shot often. “Oh, no. I just remember my dad in the years of the Depression buying bullets because he traded them for milk and eggs just like money. I buy them and put them on my food storage shelf just in case.”

Parshall says the old $15 price for a brick is now $25 to $30 — if you can get it — but he’s seen it go for $90 to $200. He says prices will come down, but like gasoline prices, once they’ve gone up, they never will come all the way back down.

How nuts is it?

Parshall cites popular gun manufacturer Ruger, which sold a half-million guns last year but shipped a half-million guns by March of this year and had orders for two million more, including Parshall's order of a couple of thousand that got canceled. Ruger couldn’t keep up with the demand.

“We saw a tidal wave of customers,” said Harrison. “Our business, up until March, had been beyond what we’ve ever had during a stretch that began last November.” Gunnies sold a myriad firearms, from concealed carry guns, tactical weapons, self-protection shotguns and high-capacity weapons to .22s. “We had days we’d come to work and the line would be out the door and into the parking lot. And that line would be solid for two or three hours.”

Parshall said if he’d sold two to three AR-15s in a week, that was a normal expectation a year ago. But one day in November 2012 he sold 20 and would have sold more if he had them.

Harrison says shoppers can get ammo if they're patient. Big retailers seem to have more success obtaining a regular flow of .22 shells.

“Other calibers are coming back and you can find the .22 shells in a few visits. It just might not be there when you want it,” said Harrison.

So, you want to plink a few cans, or sight in with targets at the range?

Good luck. The .22 shell used to be a simple thing to find.

That was yesteryear.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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