Sport shooters and hunters have seen ammunition prices skyrocket over the last year, and it’s about to get worse thanks to the Biden administration’s recent actions.
The White House’s newly-announced sanctions against Russian firearms and ammunition manufacturers are part of the U.S. response to the poisoning and imprisonment of Aleksey Navalny, a sharp critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Stephen Gutowski, the firearms reporter who founded The Reload, said the sanctions are coming at a terrible moment for U.S. shooters. The American ammunition market is in the middle of a product drought thanks to panic buying and hoarding. Store shelves are bare and prices have gone up from around 20 cents per round to 60 or 70 cents, depending on the caliber.
“It’s inevitable at this point, supply is going to decrease and prices are going to increase due to the president’s actions,” he said.
The way the sanctions are structured, new import permits for Russian ammo will be denied. Companies that currently have import permits will not have their permits renewed when they expire. The result will be no more Russian ammunition available for American shooters.
“In two years, there won’t be any Russian-made ammo in the United States. Starting Sept. 7, when the sanctions kick in, the amount will slow, and that will create an immediate demand for this ammunition,” he said.
That makes the already tight ammunition market worse, as American makers struggle to get up to capacity.
“If you remove the Russian supply, it’s going to increase how long it take for store shelves to be stocked again,” Gutowski said.
Russian companies make some unique rounds for Russian guns, like the 7.62mm bullet for AK-47 rifles, and the 9X18 mm round for Makarov pistols. Russians also make vast quantities of ammunition for popular American guns, and they make it cheaply, according to Gutowski.
“Russian-made ammunition is very common in the United States,” Gutowski said.
JR Hoell, secretary for the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, suspects the real cause for sanctions has nothing to do with Russian politics and is instead an ill-fated attempt to stifle Second Amendment rights by choking the market.
“It makes it look like he’s doing something, but he’s really appeasing the radical left while creating a mad rush on firearms and ammunition,” Hoell said.
Gutowski’s heard similar sentiments from many gun owners and activists who believe sanctions have more to do with a domestic political attempt to restrict guns than any foreign policy aims. He said the ammo companies targeted by the sanctions have little to do with the Russian government. Those suspicions are fueled by the fact that the Biden administration is allowing Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed, a much more important asset to Putin.
“I’ve seen people question the (official) reason,” Gutowski said.
The National Rifle Association isn’t happy about the move, calling it the “newest overreach by President Biden on his crusade against law-abiding American gun owners.
“NRA is reviewing all political, legislative, and legal options to fight this new policy,” the organization said in a statement.
Gun and ammo buyers have already seen their shopping options dwindle with Walmart getting out of the ammunition market. Hoell blames Biden for what he expects will be another round of panic buying, leading to more shortages.
“Every time someone clamps down on firearms or ammunition, sales skyrocket,” Hoell said. “Personally, I think it’s going to impact the 2022 elections.”
People can still buy ammunition, but the prices are high and the dissatisfaction will increase, Hoell said. He said the sanctions are just another radical-left attempt to restrict gun freedoms.
“At some level, there will be a backlash and it will show up at the ballot box,” Hoell said.