The Great Ammunition Shortage

By Home Defense Gun Staffer Mike S.ammunition shortage

It has been called the “Great Ammunition Shortage of 2013”, spurred on by fears of governmental gun control and panic-buying, shooters have been unable to find common ammunition with which to train. When it comes to shooting, the only way you can improve is with practice. Compounding this difficulty is that shooting is a deteriorating skill; the longer you wait between practice sessions, the more your accuracy will suffer.

In the past, most shooting authorities recommended practicing with less expensive 22 lr ammunition. However, inexpensive rimfire ammunition such as this has been difficult to find as well. The primary reason being is that most of the companies who produce it have shifted their attention to centerfire ammunition and reloading components.

The dilemma for the average shooter has been to find alternative methods with which to train when ammunition becomes scarce or simply unaffordable. Luckily there are a few low cost methods that you can use to supplement your training.

Dry firinglaserlyte shotgun trainer

The least expensive method is dry-firing. This uses your existing firearm in conjunction with dummy rounds or snap caps. All you need to do is load your firearm with these inert practice cartridges and you can practice trigger control, breath control, sight alignment, sight picture, malfunction drills and magazine changes. Additionally you get the benefit of gaining familiarity with your firearm so handling it can become second nature.

A number of companies such as laserammo and laserlyte make more expensive devices to use in conjunction with your dry fire training that emit a visible laser which indicate where the shot would have impacted. A host of different companies offer interactive software that can act as a timer to give real-time feedback on your practice sessions.

Pellet guns

Some of the old standbys to practicing your shooting are airguns and pellet guns. These are rifles and handguns that outwardly resemble cartridge firearms but instead fire a pellet or bb by means of compressed air in the form of a manual pump or compressed canister of CO2. They do not offer the recoil of a real firearm, but are of a benefit in that they actually fire a projectile so the shooter can see how he is performing. Some companies offer conversion kits to fire these pellets in real firearms.

Air soft

Similar to the pellet or BB gun is the air soft gun. Numerous companies offer replicas of existing firearms that fire in a similar manner to traditional air guns with the exception that they fire a plastic pellet instead of a metallic one.

There is no limit on the amount of money that you can spend on an air soft gun. Cheap versions of spring powered pistols can be had for as little as $12 and full on replicas of real firearms including up to 90% of real firearm parts and the capability of full automatic fire can be had for several hundreds. The added benefit of training with air soft is that force on force scenarios can be enacted to replicate a real world gunfight with safety glasses being the only extra piece of equipment needed.


In a similar vein are paintball guns, like air soft and pellet training they reinforce the basic shooting principles with a bit more real-world input to force on force training than air soft can offer. Paintball pellets actually sting when hit by them.

Paintball can be a more expensive hobby than air soft as more protective gear is required for the participants such as face shields, padded clothing and ear protection. The controls on most paintball guns are not similar to real firearms, so the “manual of arms” aspect comes up short as well.

Alternative calibers

When 223 Remington/ 5.56 NATO, 9mm, 45 ACP or 40 S&W is in short supply there is often other types of ammunition taking up space on the shelf such as 38 Special, 22 Magnum, 5.45X39mm, 45 GAP, or other non-mainstream rounds. Sometimes it can make sense to procure another firearm in one of these calibers just to take advantage of cheap trigger time.

In the case of surplus ammunition such as 5.45X39 a number of AR15 manufacturers make complete upper receivers and magazines for this round that a shooter can use on their existing AR15. Companies such as Thompson Center Arms (a division of Smith & Wesson) make interchangeable barrels for their firearms as well so a shooter can change from 30-30 Winchester to 38 Special in a matter of minutes.

The “Great Ammunition Shortage of 2013” seems to be showing signs of easing up as we go into 2014. However, should another shortfall take place in 2014, you should now be armed with a few options to keep your shooting skills honed.

Let us know in the comments what you do to reduce ammo costs.

Photo credit – Arthurrh

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