Monday, January 22, 2007

The cost of living...

Has just risen several percent per hundred rounds recently. For those who don't shoot on a regular basis, I'm talking about the price of ammo.

Ammo prices have been going up rather dramatically for the last several years. At first it was theorized that it was the war in Iraq, then was the rise in oil prices, then it was the Chinese buying up all the raw materials and now some say it's an actual decrease in supply because of the UN Convention on Small Arms.

Here's a concrete example. Military surplus 7.62x51 NATO, which is the standard .30 round for rifles like the M1A/M-14, the G3/HK-91 and the FN-FAL, has went from around $135/1000 3-4 years ago to as much as $300/1000 today--if you can find any worth buying. The Portuguese is long gone, South African is almost gone (there is a rumor that AIM has some), there was some Pakistani for a very short while, and there is some 70s Indian that's supposed to be decent. (There is also some of the 90s Indian still floating around, if you're brave enough to shoot it.) You can buy new commercial ammo loaded to the NATO spec, but expect to pay $500-600/1000.

There are also rumors that 7.62x54R and 8mm are getting short, although I can't confirm that by just browsing web sites. 7.62x39, in short supply a year ago, is now readily available in my area, but at around $200/1000 for good stuff (Barnaul).

At first I thought all of this was a result of various dealers trying to "scare" the price up, I don't believe that any longer. While I suspect that there is some truth to all of the explanations for the price increases, the bottom line is ammo is going up, and it isn't just the milsurp--it's all of it. Internet discussion boards have noted over the last few days that Wal-mart has went up on ammo around 17%.

For those who reload, the cost of components has risen as much or more. Trust me, I just bought some last weekend. A pound of Winchester 296 powder was $22. Last year it was $18. I'm afraid to price primers....

The bottom line is that ammo is going up fast, and it would be prudent to lay in some additional supplies. It may go back down in the future, but is it prudent to bet on that?

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