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September 23, 2007

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The High Cost of Ammo

Bought any ammo lately? If you have, you’ve no doubt gone into sticker shock. What’s going on?

“We’re seeing unprecedented levels in the costs of raw materials,” says Sean Dwyer, Remington vice president of ammunition. “Lead, copper and zinc are at record highs. And the costs run up so quickly, it’s impossible to forecast.”

When I talked to Dwyer, he noted the company had been burdened with millions of dollars in additional costs, which, he says, “makes it tough to run a profitable business.”

Part of the problem is fierce global competition for raw materials. “It’s simply the law of supply and demand,” he says. “Global demand for metal in China and India is impacting the market here. We have more competition for a common resource.”

Though demand is no doubt the dominant driving factor, another component is a finite amount of smelting capacity. That limits the amount of finished product, which, in turn, drives up the price.

You might expect the higher cost of factory ammo would spur a resurgence in handloading, but that hasn’t happened. Why? “First, relatively speaking, ammo costs less than it did twenty-five years ago, and it is certainly a bargain when you consider the other costs involved in enjoying the shooting sports. Second, time is a more important commodity, and it’s harder to find,” Dwyer says.

True, but there’s another factor at work. The price of reloading components has shot up as well, reducing the incentive to load your own.

Though Dwyer believes customers are accepting on-going price increases (however grudgingly), Remington has noted that some customers have balked at the higher-priced stuff. “We’re repackaging some of the higher-priced items to help our consumers,” says Tim Tucker, Remington centerfire and rimfire product manager. “For example, a new five-pack of turkey ammo—instead of the ten-pack—should help reduce sticker shock.”

Well, maybe. It’s the classic American answer to a problem—let’s repackage it! This I know: the guys at my gun club who are sighting in for deer season are sure griping about the cost of a box of .270s. And some have decided to shoot less. And that’s a loss for us all.

Slaton White



I've noticed some of the manufacturers are offering rebates on selected ammo. Why not just lower the price and do away with the paperwork (and related costs) and just save your customers some money or do an instant rebate at the store? Much less chance of fraud and costs are reduced because the info is coming from limited sources.

Same thing with rebates from the gun makers. If you are gonna give me $30.00 off a new gun, that's great, but again, why go through all the paperwork? Just have an instant rebate @ the store and have the dealers send the paperwork in. Much less chance for fraud that way.


Ditos on the instant rebates. I have great disdain for mail-in rebates.


One simple reason to have mail in rebates: most people never send them in. Therefore, no money from the company's coffers goes out. The people that put in the effort to get the rebate feel good about it while the others feel they got a good deal from the company even though they didn't follow through.


OrangeEnt wrote:
One simple reason to have mail in rebates: most people never send them in. Therefore, no money from the company's coffers goes out. The people that put in the effort to get the rebate feel good about it while the others feel they got a good deal from the company even though they didn't follow through.

I agree most people don't send the rebates in. But many people send in more than they are allowed by having the checks sent to different addresses. That and the fact you still have to contract companies to handle the rebates whether it's 5 or 5000 rebate forms costs money, not to mention the advertising and marketing development costs.

It would still be cheaper to just do an instant rebate or lower the price.


I got started in trap shooting for the first time this past summer and thought I would re-start my reloading of shotgun shells so I could enjoy the sport more. The cost of components is really not competitive with some of the sales I've come across, especially around dove season, so I haven't gotten back into reloading. I still save all my shells and expect to do some reloading later this year. Metal costs are a two edged sword. If you invest in them in the stock market you're happy to see the cost go up but then you have the other side of the coin where you have to live with the high cost when it affects you - cost of plumbing materials as well as shooting components. I still shoot - rifle, pistol and shotgun - as much as I can but just not as much as I would like.

Black Rifle Addict

Question; if it is a supply and demand thing why are prices not slowly increasing instead of spiking overnight? More political BS for profit.
By the way, less then 20% of rebates are returned by consumers according to the stats.


Dear Addict,
the reason "promotional shotshells" are so cheap is that the hulls aren't reloadable and most people just leave the hulls in the field or range. One by-product of reloading is that you police up your hulls. I think it is really a shame to go to a public range and see the waste of spent shells on the ground. Most private ranges require picking up spent cartridges and shotshell hulls. Beside its very rewarding to hit your target or game with your own loads. Still reloading for rifle is cheaper than buying premium ammo and you can find that custom load that performs best for your particlar rifle. Some clubs pool resources for buying componants in bulk saving the haz-mat fees and shipping in volume. When prices go up for any commodity, purchase prices have to go immediately to replentish stock at higher prices. Economics 101.


I find it peculiar that this article, even amidst all the accounting jargon, fails to recognize that reloading is still cheaper. One simple rule of cost accounting is that upfront capital expenditures (i.e. the press, dies, scales, micrometer and etc.) are all sunk costs and should not be included in any decision making -- that being whether to buy or reload. This is to say that those costs are incurred in order to reload anything and should not be factored into the cost/bullet. This being the case, reloading is still less expensive than buying factory ammunition, even in spite of increased prices in the consumables such as powder, brass, primers, and bullets. This benefit can be more greatly seen in very expensive factory loads such as those used when hunting African game. I am currently working on loads for my .270. I am loading premium Barnes TXS bullets and can do so for about $20 per box. Not only am I loading a superior round but I am also doing so for the cost of the least expensive .270 ammo sold over the counter.

And just in case someone wants to factor in the cost of equipment, I contend that over a lifetime (assuming prices of ammo will continue to increase) one could recover the full cost of equipment in a matter of 20-30 years depending, of course, on the amount of reloading done and the margin that is saved in reloading versus buying.

Just something to consider!