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Primer Shortage-Reality or Not


Tequila Shooter

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We can all agree that to us, the consumer, there is really a primer shortage.  Well I started thinking of this and the reasons why.  Now I’m not going to throw out any conspiracy theories, I’m just going to list some of the reasons given and my thoughts.  I’m open to other thoughts or reasons, but I personally haven’t read any that explained a whole lot.

 

1.  Gun sales are up. - that explains the lack of guns and maybe to some extent ammunition.

2. Hoarding - at the beginning of this shortage I would agree, but now there’s nothing to buy so hoarding only applies to those that have primers already. You can’t buy up what’s not available.

3.  Manufacturers make more profit from completed ammunition sales then from reloading supplies -  I don’t disagree with that statement.  So if the primers are going to production of completed ammunition why is there an ammunition shortage as well.

4.  COVID-19 - this seems to become the excuse for so many things.  I’m not here to debate the realities and impact of COVID-19, I think we can all agree that we have all seen an impact on our way of life.  Let’s dive into this a little further though.  In the U.S. there are only three main producers of primers and one of them has been on a financial roller coaster.  Now producing primers has many restrictions and rules that must be followed for worker safety and the safety of the surrounding area.  The workers have to be well trained and the amount of workers in the assembly is limited.  There are strict building and ventilation requirements placed on the manufacturers again for the safety of the workers and the surrounding area.  The industry has claimed that they are producing as fast as they can, well even with everything mentioned above I can see where production would be down, say even by 50%.  So where is that 50% going?

5.  Military Contracts - yes government contracts take priority.  Law Enforcement, Federal Agencies, and the Military have and should have first priority.  But think about it, for the last 4+ years there has been no major war, so other than normal training requirements the demand isn’t there.  The inventories should be stable and at or close to the high limits.  I’ve asked friends that serve some military, some LEO, and none have said that they’ve been seen a shortage of government procured ammunition.

 

There may be other talking points and reasons that I haven’t listed here, but these seem to be the main ones that are talked about.  If I were in the conspiracy theory game then I’d say that this is a way to get the guns out of the hands of Americans.  You can own all the guns you want, but you won’t be able to buy the ammunition or components to make your own, leaving you a useless gun, call it gun control by proxy.  This is not a political post nor is this post to start any political discussion, everyone has the right to their own political views, and there is a place for them, just not here.  

 

So, what am I and others missing?  Why is there a shortage on so many fronts (completed ammunition and primers)?  I hope that someone can open my eyes and give facts, not just personal feelings, as to why almost a year later we’re still facing such a huge shortage.

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2 hours ago, Tequila Shooter said:

 This is not a political post nor is this post to start any political discussion, everyone has the right to their own political views, and there is a place for them, just not here.  


Since I am to follow this guideline-I am unable to contribute to this thread.

 

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Supply and demand, based largely off of politics and especially the coming political catastrophe for gun owners.

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We’ve been through this before and it’s worked itself out, think 2008. Supply and demand. Huge demand all at once and not nearly enough supply or manufacturing capacity. 

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20 minutes ago, Yul Lose said:

We’ve been through this before and it’s worked itself out, think 2008. Supply and demand. Huge demand all at once and not nearly enough supply or manufacturing capacity. 

 

From what I’ve been reading that shortage ended because of imported primers restocking the market, which won’t happen this time.  

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5 minutes ago, Tequila Shooter said:

 

From what I’ve been reading that shortage ended because of imported primers restocking the market, which won’t happen this time.  

 

Why not?

 

This too shall pass.

 

 

I really hope you're not calling those that were prepared for this hoarders. 

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Don't forget the employees that got Covid or are afraid to go to work because of their fear of it. I don't think it's a way to get our guns, I think it's the perfect storm. Covid, riots and 5 million new gunowners that bought a boatload of ammo and to some degree people hoarding.

 

We'll get out of this like we always do. This one just might take longer. MHO

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July 2019 they had 20% rebates on primers. They couldn't get rid of them. I had never saw that in over 50 years. Supply & demand. Got some cheap then.

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1 hour ago, Rye Miles #13621 said:

Don't forget the employees that got Covid or are afraid to go to work because of their fear of it. I don't think it's a way to get our guns, I think it's the perfect storm. Covid, riots and 5 million new gunowners that bought a boatload of ammo and to some degree people hoarding.

 

We'll get out of this like we always do. This one just might take longer. MHO

 

I think it's this.  The virus, riots, and a mess of new gun owners. 

 

I'd add that at the beginning of the Pandemic there were shortages of a number of products, paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, even chicken stock, canned goods, and other things.  Couldn't even get a number of canned drinks due to a shortage in the aluminum sheet used to make cans.  This is the same time folks started buying up guns, and ammo.  When ammo got into short supply, primers went next.    Yes, some folks are hoarding.  I don't know where exactly to draw the line from "being prepared" to "hoarding", but there is a point.  5,000 primers in a SHTF moment is one thing, 50k primers (at least in my opinion, yours may vary) has more than crossed the border to hoarding - even though there was a time when I shot almost twice that many per year. 

 

Hell, there's practically no way to burn through that many primers defending the homestead.  You'd have a yard piled several feet deep of rotting corpses and the stench would overwhelm.  Not to mention, if that happened, there wouldn't be any shooting sports left.

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It’s just reloaders hoarding, ammo manufacturers building ammo instead of components and suppliers/resellers holding back supplies to run up prices. Why sell a brick of primers for 30.00 when you can get 50.00. I restocked after the last draught and haven’t bought any for a while. Barring any political influence they will return. 

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There's a ton of new gun owners out there, some gun shops won't sell ammo unless you're buying a new gun from them. I do believe that the components went  to ammo manufactures first, they of course will fill government contracts before anything else. Ammo and guns are selling like crazy, I'm sure they make more money on ammo then components. It only makes sense to produce ammo and not worry about the re-loaders being short of supplies.

 

As far as hoarding goes, many of us travel and shoot all over, having only 5,000 primers on hand makes those folks nervous. I've always stocked up when the stuff is available, yes it's costly, but shooting is a large part of our lives. I'm not worried about defending my life or property with my Cowboy loads, as Doc mentioned just how many rounds do you need to defend your home? Am I a hoarder because I've made sure my wife and I have what we need to do the thing we enjoy doing? Not in my opinion. 

 

It's a cycle like any other, components will become available again, buy more when they do and don't feel the need to justify your purchase. 

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2 hours ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

Why not?

 

This too shall pass.

 

 

I really hope you're not calling those that were prepared for this hoarders. 

 

Tyrel - not at all!  Being prepared is not hoarding it makes good sense. I’ve got enough supplies stocked up to last me at least a year of shooting the same number of matches as I’ve been.   The point I was trying to make is that hoarding is one of the excuses that is being touted for the shortage, which just isn’t true.  

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To all - I’m sure it’s a cycle and they will become available again, I was only bewildered by the claims (false or not) of the reasons why there is a shortage to begin with.

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16 minutes ago, Tequila Shooter said:

 

Tyrel - not at all!  Being prepared is not hoarding it makes good sense. I’ve got enough supplies stocked up to last me at least a year of shooting the same number of matches as I’ve been.   The point I was trying to make is that hoarding is one of the excuses that is being touted for the shortage, which just isn’t true.  

Gotcha.

 

For what it's worth I don't think its hoarders as much as the supply chain disruption. The primers makers went from a surplus to a deficit in a matter of a few weeks. Supposedly we have 5 million new gun owners. And on and on.

 

You didn't answer my question though; why can't importers restock the market?

 

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I am a subcontractor to manufacturing facilities and other businesses, and I have worked in a few plants in skilled trades. The whole COVID 19 thing has them in a panic, not only for the illness itself but also for the legal ramifications if they don't take every step possible to keep it in check.  I have one client that has specialized printing presses. One of them went down which required a factory tech. The factory was five states away. The tech flew out to repair the press but the company would not admit him because the distance traveled exceeded the company COVID 19 guidelines. The press didn't get repaired until the tech was tested and passed. There are plants that will shut down at a moment's notice if they suspect a COVID 19 outbreak. The company I work for just went back to no one being in the office.

 

Having worked in plants all it takes is one or two employees out sick that know how to run a critical machine and that line is down or running at partial output.

 

For two decades just in time manufacturing has been implemented over batch manufacturing in many US companies. In batch manufacturing a huge surplus was made and stored to draw from so the supply chain was rarely impacted. With just in time manufacturing, the surplus doesn't exist. Parts are made to fill the orders as they are ordered. If something happens; tooling breaks, illness, etc, that line is down with zero product going out the door.

 

It's not a mystery to me why we don't have primers/ammo. Imagine two cars on a highway. As long as they both go the same speed (supply and demand) we have what we need. If one car goes faster by even 1 mph we either get a surplus or a shortage. So blame a change in manufacturing style and COVID 19 for this mess.

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1 hour ago, Tyrel Cody said:

Gotcha.

 

For what it's worth I don't think its hoarders as much as the supply chain disruption. The primers makers went from a surplus to a deficit in a matter of a few weeks. Supposedly we have 5 million new gun owners. And on and on.

 

You didn't answer my question though; why can't importers restock the market?

 

 

Well basically the virus is worldwide and other countries have a stricter lockdown than we do.  And as @Cholla has said the factories are scared.  Thank you Cholla for that insight, it’s what I was looking for answers for things I may be missing.  I didn’t consider legal ramifications of getting sick.

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In round numbers, 100,000,000 gun owners last year. 5,000,000 new gun owners this year.

 

So, a simple 5% increase in demand. That alone is enough to strain a commodity business.

 

Add in a 3 month total supply chain disruption earlier this year, so that effectively kills an entire quarter of the year. And the supply chain is in no way back to normal.

 

Yes, Remington... I'll accept the 25% number.

 

Imported primers? The government's in those countries also take priority over retail sales here, and those manufacturers faced the same problems above. There is little supply to import, primers or ammo. So, more stress on domestic production.

 

All of Federal's primer output is going to Federal ammo. So none not only to us at a retail level, none available for ammo re-manufacturers either... Which puts more stress and demand for ammo on manufacturers like Federal keeping the primer supply unavailable to others even longer.

 

I checked ammoseek for Black Friday and there were a few vendors with Aguila, Blazer, and a few other typical 9mm brands selling at about 20 cents a round. All gone when I went to look, I don't think stocks are being held back for profiteering (though I do think there is some profiteering going on). I do think a bit of stock was held back recently for Black Friday.

 

Also, I've noticed toilet paper is again in short supply at my usual grocery stores. That is another commodity industry running on the edge of capacity to produce.

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Many gun owners rarely shoot or maybe hit the range a few times a year. People who shoot the various gun games regularly, several a month and throw in some big matches, shoot a lot more. Those who compete a lot and are regularly seriously training go through even more ammo. If someone is loading and shooting 50,000 rounds a year and has stockpiled 2 or 3 years worth of ammo or components, I wouldn't call that hoarding. 

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Last I heard their new plant is up and running in Lonoke, AR and they're adding another 300 employees. I haven't heard any news about Anoka so we'll see. 

 

The bottom line: Vista Outdoors owns the supply market and has a 1 billion dollar backlog NOW

* With the existing gun owners having dried up supplies  plus the millions of new gun owners and the military needing ammunition & reloading supplies....

* Vista will supply ammunition to the military first,  then replenish the ammunition & reloading supplies through the distributors.  When that happens, gun owners will start gobbling up primers

Then Vista will still have a multi million backlog.  So, when will distributors start having reloading supplies - my guess is 2022 or 2023

And the prices will never be the same as they were, say 5 years ago .... there is going to be a long drought  ... unless the International primer companies where there is no shortage of primers in Europe ...starts loading and shipping the boats to the US

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vista_Outdoor

A detailed read about Vista's backlog ... https://www.gunsamerica.com/digest/vista-outdoors-announces-1-year-1-billion-ammunition-backlog/

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2 hours ago, Dubious Don #56333 said:

Vista purchased Remington's ammunition concession from the bankruptcy. Last I heard their new plant is up and running in Lonoke, AR and they're adding another 300 employees. I haven't heard any news about Anoka so we'll see. 

The Anoka, MN and Lewiston, Idaho plants are running at full capacity.  An article in the 26 November issue of the Star Tribune noted that the Remington ammunition facility was down to below 400 workers due to the bankruptcies and that at least 300 more employees will be added on including those that had been previously laid off.  The ammunition plants are trying to fill a backlog of orders worth $ 1 billion .  The article went on to say that Vista Outdoors shares have outperformed those of all Minnesota public companies due to increased demand, but it is expected that once COVID vaccines are generally available the share price will drop.   This, I believe, translates to decreased demand for ammunition, which will allow ammo and components to be more readily available.  I don't think anyone has a definitive answer as to when the supply of ammo and components will be stabilized, but it appears that Vista, at least, is doing all that it can to keep up production.

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If projections are for multiple years of increased demand, then new equipment will get purchased.

 

But if the demand will catch up in a few months, then the investment is not worth it.

 

Either way, the retail price will approach pre-covid/rioting/election pricing in no more than another six months.

 

There are two ways prices stay high IMO.

  • If long-term demand is severely under-estimated
  • If Vista basically owns the market and finds a higher price point sustainable and more profitable (Monopoly Power).

 

The second bullet is not a real problem, unless legislation was to restrict imported ammunition... Which does intrude on the request to not bring politics into this thread. So, should legislation actually get proposed, let's discuss that in another thread. There is no such legislation at this time.

 

But in this thread, Vista having potential monopoly power is in scope.

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The second bullet is not a real problem, unless legislation was to restrict imported ammunition... Which does intrude on the request to not bring politics into this thread. So, should legislation actually get proposed, let's discuss that in another thread. There is no such legislation at this time.

There is no legislation, the same with Swiss black powder and the same with Wano, now marketed by Graf and Sons and KIK,. distributed by Powder Inc before KIK stopped making BP with the last import lot in 2010.  All the international primer manufacturers have to do is connect with US distributors ... and if they had their smart socks on would be doing it now, like Graf does for Wolf ammo  ... https://www.grafs.com/wolf-ammunition-primers

http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2008/08/sources-for-wolf-russian-primers-grafs-pvi-wideners/

Word says there is no shortage of Wolf, S&B and Russian primers in Europe and Canada

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13 hours ago, Cholla said:

For two decades just in time manufacturing has been implemented over batch manufacturing in many US companies

 

Totally agree with this. Our bottom line business practices are biting back.

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I think Cholla hit the nail on the head. Just-in-time supply chains are easily disrupted. Once that happens, and a shortage is perceived, people buy more than they normally would, further exacerbating the shortage.  

 

 

 

 

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No shortage of ammo or primers on online auctions.  Sure some of this is old stock, but there is new stuff too.  Point is there is no conspiracy, it's just a lot of people have issues with simple economics when it impacts them. 

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In manufacturing, speed to market and costs of production can make or break a company. Just in time (JIT) manufacturing is a workflow methodology aimed at reducing flow times within production systems, as well as response times from suppliers and to customers.

IMHO, Vista better hire some high priced consultants that have multiple engagements doing JIT because Vista totally Blew It implementing a timely management decision impacted by demand. And to eliminate a $1 billion existing backlog with just hiring of 300 employees , unless they are skilled will impact quality production with rejects

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It might be worth noting that reloading presses are out of stock most everywhere. (Last I checked.)

Just thinking that a whole bunch more people jumping into reloading has something to do with the shortages, too.

 

Just sayin....

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4 hours ago, Hendo said:

It might be worth noting that reloading presses are out of stock most everywhere. (Last I checked.)

Just thinking that a whole bunch more people jumping into reloading has something to do with the shortages, too.

 

Just sayin....

Spell "primers." Hint: There ain't no "f" in "primers."

 

As to presses being out of stock, they are. I may soon be standing in line ordering direct from Dillon, they are backlogged a month or two; nothing they are producing is making it into distribution to retail (Internet or LGS). They are building to order and backlogged. And even then, no matter how you spell it, there ain't no "f" in "primers."

 

If Remington resumes production soon, that may take some demand off of Federal. CCI is producing ammo, LGS stocks here are limiting sales to two boxes, and selling out. Did not ask the price, not driving that far for two boxes.

 

Georgia Senate races (1/5), Presidential inauguration (1/20), vaccines (by March for general population, herd immunity by May something or other with or without vaccines)... Some "Newish Normal" will settle in by then.

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12 minutes ago, Hendo said:

OK, ya got me.

What are you on about and what did I miss?

It's a joke. There ain't no "f" in "primers." Don't read the words, listen to them. Frankly, it is  a clever language workaround that I have not yet been penalized for. Now I might be penalized for it since I admitted it. Unless the overlords recognize that it is flat out funny, no matter who you are. Then I might still get away with it.

 

What I am saying with it is that until the demand for ammo drops below the capacity for production, primers as a product will not be available at the retail level. When that time arrives, primers will go into distribution and we can buy them again.

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2 minutes ago, John Kloehr said:

It's a joke. There ain't no "f" in "primers." Don't read the words, listen to them. Frankly, it is  a clever language workaround that I have not yet been penalized for. Now I might be penalized for it since I admitted it. Unless the overlords recognize that it is flat out funny, no matter who you are. Then I might still get away with it.

 

What I am saying with it is that until the demand for ammo drops below the capacity for production, primers as a product will not be available at the retail level. When that time arrives, primers will go into distribution and we can buy them again.

Sorry, been a long day. I went back and reread my post that you quoted and was thinking "I didn't even say primers. Then I reread my post again and there wasn't any words with an "f" in them.

 

It's been a long day....

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