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UK in ammunition drought

Have you got sufficient pellets, cartridges and bullets?

cartridge belt

We’re increasingly hearing reports of an ammunition shortage (full report in Shooting Times next week). Steve Faragher, editor of Gun Trade News says : “We’re definitely seeing it among contributors, especially in rifle ammunition”.

Shooting UK spoke to Charles Bull of Just Cartridges and asked him what his experience has been. He replied: “Yes, there are already severe shortages of shotgun cartridges and we haven’t even got to the busiest time of year!

“The shortages are mainly due to European component manufacturers supplying the US in preference to the UK. The shortages include powder, cases and the supply of steel shot. Brexit is also not helping and haulage costs have rocketed as well as component costs causing a price increase in March and another one imminent in the order of 7%. There were shortages last year mainly due to the pandemic shutdowns across the EU but they have started earlier this year with many factors affecting the supply chain. For example 2½” 20 gauge cases are already hard to come by and the increase in use of steel loads in this country are going short due to a lack of propellant coming in to this country. It is a very complicated situation this year and I think it will be a case of shooters having to use what they can get rather than always getting their preferred choice of cartridge!”

Speaking to Gun Trade News, a spokesman for cartridge manufacturer Gamebore said: “The ammo shortages we are seeing have been ongoing in the US for 18 months, spreading throughout Europe over the past six months and have now reached the UK as everything has reopened and we approach the season. The cartridge industry, like many others, has been impacted by ongoing global shortages of raw materials, plus severe shipping delays.”

Gun Trade News survey

Gun Trade News carried out its own survey to see what the UK experience is.  The majority of businesses (67%) were high street retailers, with web-based retailers, distributors and manufacturers making up the further majority of respondents.

86% of respondents said that they had noticed reports of a shortage of ammunition in the UK, 14% said maybe.

When questioned on what sort of ammunition was most affected, 75% said rifle ammunition, followed by lead-free ammunition and shotgun cartridges. Airgun pellets seemed relatively unaffected by shortages.

The trade felt that shortages were most likely caused by a global shortage of raw material, with Brexit and increased demand also reducing supply.

Comments from respondents

“The only shortages I have found are in specialist and surplus ammunition, mainly some pistol rounds which could not be found, some calibres are not available due to no longer being held in stock. With the surplus ammunition the difficulties with Import and export play a part, I also think that the main suppliers are not purchasing because they are not selling as much due to the current situation and Brexit. I have changed the way I operate greatly over this period of uncertainty and have purchased more ammunition for stock for when we get up and running again.”

“Main causes are, increase in demand in the US, global shortages of raw materials due to Covid-19 (production restrictions)”

“Unable to get lightweight cartridges – especially in smaller gauges.”