New Ammo, Better Availability

The ammunition market has bounced back with high stock levels and high-performance offerings.

New Ammo, Better Availability

These are exciting times in the ammunition sector of the shooting sports industry. There has never been such a wide variety of ammunition for all types of firearms than there is right now. 

Truly, these are historic times on the ammo front, which means that this is the best time ever to be in the ammunition selling business. The operative question of any shop is just how much do you want to capitalize on current trends? And there are several trends happening simultaneously. 

For the budget-conscious and/or high-volume clientele, shooter-grade ammunition is seeing availability and price levels finally approaching pre-covid rates. 

This is big news because it has been years since shooter-grade rounds for the 9mmP, for example, have retailed out at less than 30 cents a round. And .223 Rem./5.56mm NATO ammo is going out the door at many places for under 50 cents a pop.

But that’s not where the big news is. The big breakthroughs have been in high-performance, high-tech ammunition and in retro types of ammo. And this is not simply companies offering specialty loads accompanied by some slick marketing or fancy packaging. This is the real stuff.

There’s been a bevy of new high-tech, high-performance cartridges introduced in recent years that take full advantage of all that can be achieved with computerized designs and manufacturing capabilities. And that makes the overall picture even brighter. 

Simultaneously, there is renewed interest in classic older cartridges like the .44 Magnum, .30-30 Winchester and .45/70 Govt., as well as some new cartridges intended specifically for use in lever-action rifles. The focus here is everything from hunting to home defense.

We’re talking about the Creedmoor designated rounds, as well as the Precision Rifle Cartridges on one hand, or rimmed variants of vintage rounds. Think 360 Buckhammer. 400 Legend and 22 ARC, just to name three recent examples that span from high-performance, long-range, to meat-getting rounds for hunting in the woods or to be handy for home defense in lieu of, or in addition to, handguns and shotguns.

There is a significant number of gun owners who opt not to get into the AR world, but who want a handy repeater for social applications. That’s where the lever-action rifles chambered for cartridges like the .44 Magnum come into the picture.

But there also have been changes in hunting regulations in many states that now allow for the use of straight-walled cartridges for big game hunting – states that before limited such hunting to muzzleloaders, shotguns or bows.

With all of the promotion going on for the new cartridges as well as high-performance ammo for established rounds, it is wise to take advantage of the buzz such hype creates. It also is a time to think about a secondary focus on selling rifles specifically designed for the new long-for-diameter, long-range bullets.

Essentially, the new high-performance rifle cartridges are designed for bullets that require faster rifling twist to stabilize the long bullets than had been customary with traditional cartridges that, for the most part, used shorter-for-bore-diameter bullets. If customers want to hop aboard the long-range bandwagon, they will need new rifles to shoot the new cartridges, or at least will have to re-barrel existing rifles.

This, of course, assumes there also will be sales of scopes and all of the other accessories that go with any complete rifle rig. This is a whole new world opening up, which brings with it sales possibilities never before imagined.

It really doesn’t get any better than this.

In addition to the high-performance, long-range ammo, there are specialty loads for things like defense, and then there is the recent tungsten breakthrough that has revolutionized the possibilities for hunting waterfowl and wild turkeys with smaller-gauge guns.

Many of the millions of people who became new gun owners over the past few years simply want to have a gun handy, just in case. Many have not become frequent shooters and they know little of things like ballistics and terminal bullet performance.

That market segment is prime for the special ammunition that manufacturers have introduced specifically for personal and home defense – ammo that works great in the kinds of guns typically used for this application.

Although it retails at a higher per-round price than shooter-grade ammo, it really doesn’t matter that much to that particular kind of customer because a single box, in their minds, hopefully will last a lifetime – with luck, they hope not to need to use it at all.

For such clientele, there is a cross-selling opportunity. Sell a higher volume of shooter-grade ammo for practice, along with the serious defensive ammo. It happens to be a very great kind of customer service that the customer likely might not have considered on his or her own.

Back on the hunting front, tungsten shot, which is heavier than lead, is now used in a number of ways – both by itself or with other materials like steel and bismuth. What this means is that smaller sizes of shot can have the same effect at range as larger lead shot did traditionally.

Translate this into being able to use a .410 bore gun with No. 9 Tungsten Super Shot for wild turkeys at distance. Or, with the introduction of the 3-inch 28-gauge shotshell recently, it means that waterfowlers now can use a small, fast gun on ducks.

These are hunting opportunities that simply did not exist before. And they presuppose the acquisition of a new gun to shoot the new ammo.

Traditionally, it was the gun that triggered ammo sales. But now, in many cases, it is the ammo performance that triggers the purchase of a new gun. Doesn’t matter what the reason, added sales are added sales.

From a selling perspective, there is one common denominator among all of the high-performance, high-tech ammo: Customers likely are not going to buy high-performance ammo in bulk. But since there is no logical reason to use such ammo for high-volume target shooting, plinking or casual blasting, there is sales potential to the really serious shooters and hunters among the store’s client base.

Think ammo. Think sales.


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