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Industry Secrets To Buying Ammo (What Nobody Tells You)

*updated*

boxs of handgun ammo

Until March 2020, we abundantly found ammo in stores across the nation and at online retailers. Then panic struck, and ammunition became nearly impossible to find.

Several retailers took advantage of the situation right away by gouging the prices.

The biggest offender's name rhymes with deeper than Burt.

Ahem.

Anyway. Herein lies my industry secrets—insider information about how I get ammo at the cheapest current prices possible.

In-store vs. Online —

I almost always find ammunition prices online are lower than what I see in my local store. Of course, you may have a local shop that provides a better price once you consider shipping charges, but in my experience, it's been rare.

You may want to consider supporting your local business if the cost is only a little higher. And who knows, maybe the local store will match an online price after factoring in the shipping cost. It can't hurt to ask.

Manufacturers Websites —

You would think buying directly from the manufacturer would lower the price. But, unfortunately, it doesn't work that way anymore.

For example, let's look at the prices on Federal's website. You're going to pay $28.99 for a 50-round box of full-metal-jacket, 115gr 9mm target ammo. That price works out to .58 cents a round. However, you can buy that same box of ammo for $17.99 on a third-party website.

-price on a 3rd-party site-

-price on Federal's site-

(these prices are as of the writing of this post)

I've checked the following manufacturers' websites, and I was able to find a lower price each time.

Sometimes, the shipping was a few bucks cheaper on the manufacturer's website, but not enough to offset the higher cost of the ammunition.

3rd-party websites and smaller ammunition manufacturers —

One thing that happened during the COVID ammo crisis was that people relied on small ammunition manufacturers more. Some smaller manufacturers offer “factory new” and “remanufactured” ammunition.

These smaller companies have much less overhead and, therefore, can be very competitive in pricing when they can meet the demand.

Mountain City Supply –

One word of caution when buying ammo from lesser-known companies is to consider reviews. Quality control is a huge factor when you purchase ammunition. Not only could bad ammo not fire, but it could create a dangerous situation with sloppy manufacturing.

Consider how long the company has been making ammunition and whether others have problems with the ammunition. Of course, no company's product has zero failures, but you want to do some research.

If you're hunting for ammunition, I recommend Mountain City Supply. They are the sponsor of the Concealed Carry Podcast and have fantastic prices. In addition, I've found that they usually have inventory, even when others are out.

The secret online tool —

Well, this isn't actually a secret, rather than a not-so-well-known helpful website. Check out a website called “Ammoseek” dot com.

buying ammo online

The site scrubs the internet for ammunition sales and arranges the results in an easy-to-compare roster. For example, you're able to search by criteria such as overall price per round, manufacturer, brass or steel casing, etc.

The site allows you to create a profile to receive alerts and save searches.

I have one word of caution when using the site. Sometimes Ammoseek will show a company has ammunition available at a specific price, but it's no longer in stock when you get to the website.

Conclusion:

You have to get creative if you want to buy ammo during these times.

I don't see the price of ammunition coming down soon, so you may employ a strategy of buying a few hundred rounds here and there to price average your overall supply.

Also, consider leveraging dry fire practice. Here is a list of some excellent tools available to help keep you sharp if you can't get to the range as much as you want.

Leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.

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33 Responses to Industry Secrets To Buying Ammo (What Nobody Tells You)

  1. Gary Gallet September 17, 2020 at 6:55 pm #

    All 5.56 and 9mm – “Currently Unavailable” or “Available In-Store Only.” Hope this changes soon.

    • Joshua Gillem September 18, 2020 at 7:03 am #

      Yeah the problem is you have to check it a few times per week. I was able to buy 9mm and 223 just a couple weeks ago, as well as 380 which nobody can get in stock right now. Keep checking and you’ll find it.

      Josh

  2. Ronny September 18, 2020 at 5:05 pm #

    https://www.sigsauer.com/store/ammunition.html

    • Jacob Paulsen September 18, 2020 at 5:22 pm #

      Looks like all they have is JHPs right now. About $1 per round of 9mm.

    • Ashlee September 23, 2020 at 6:08 pm #

      Hi new to guns and ammo but isn’t sig sauer a gun so if they have ammo wouldn’t it only be for their guns? Also I am on their site and see this..SIG SAUER 9MM, 115GR, JHP, BOX OF 50. 1st off what is JHP? I used to get FMJ for target and still not sure what to get for carry defense or house defense but right now focus is on learning how to shoot before I carry this 9mm and before I learn how to defend the home with this .38 special that was given to me a few years back and sat in a drawer waiting for me to get the guts to learn to shoot it. Oh and for the record when I got my 9mm last Nov a box of 115gr 50rds was like $18.00 for Winchester white box, now boxes across the board are $35.00-$90.00 a box forget it guns will keep sitting in drawer before I pay that kind of money for a box of ammo.
      Thanks Ashlee

      • Steve September 23, 2020 at 8:49 pm #

        JHP = Jacketed hollow point

        • Phil April 29, 2022 at 7:45 pm #

          That is what the government hope you will do.

      • Renaldo Fanucci September 23, 2020 at 9:01 pm #

        Your sig will function with all manufacturers ammo. Take a course at a local range from someone reputable in teaching safe gun handling so you don’t shoot yourself or someone you love. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.

      • Mark September 23, 2020 at 9:32 pm #

        JHP is jacket hollow points. Those would be the rounds you need for home defense.

      • Randy September 24, 2020 at 7:16 am #

        JHP = Jacketed Hollow Point. You would use JHP rounds for self defense rounds and FMJ for target shooting.

      • Ron October 5, 2020 at 7:02 pm #

        try to find a good 22 semiauto, many come close the same size of diff. cal. cheaper to practice with. ex. Glock 44 = Glock 19, close

      • techs October 13, 2020 at 1:13 am #

        Sig Sauer also makes ammunition — standard calibers and loadings, not just for their firearms. Note that Winchester also makes guns. . That said, I could not get their V-Crown bullets to feed reliably in my pistol. Don’t overstock until sure that your gun is happy with a particular load.

  3. Mike Steele September 23, 2020 at 6:19 pm #

    Those of us out here in left wing California are screwed as we currently can’t have ammo shipped in due the asinine background check requirements…..

  4. Kknechg September 23, 2020 at 6:28 pm #

    I orderd 5 boxes of .38 + p from federal,aprox 3 weeks ago,not here yet but i did recieve a email saying basically “we have not forgotten you” buuuttt mnfctring demand is what it is.i was able to get 5 boxes of .357 from amoscor …pretty quick.havent run them yet,really dont like to beat down on the old python( 1981 ,8″barrel) …its a treasure.got a s&w .357 airlite 4″ barrel 7shot…dont like running hot rounds through that revolver either if not necessary so .38 + p is a nice happy medium…go figure a basically outdated round is hard to find now.

  5. Frank September 23, 2020 at 6:52 pm #

    It’s still not to late to learn to make your own. Equipment is reasonable, and components can still be found.

  6. Frank Williams September 23, 2020 at 6:54 pm #

    Learn to make your own. Equipment is reasonable and components are still available.

  7. Dave September 23, 2020 at 6:57 pm #

    You did not describe why the shortfall happened and why it has not recovered.

    • Renaldo September 23, 2020 at 8:57 pm #

      With all the riots and arson and the police are outnumbered and the politicians won’t protect us people realized we are on our own and we bought guns and ammo. Lots of new buyers are panic buying to protect ourselves.

    • Tionico October 3, 2020 at 12:40 am #

      The record shows that bout five MILLION new gun wners have joined us since the first of this year. So however many rounds got sold last year, ad dfive million more. Multiple boxes for each newly purchased gun. That’s a fewtruckloads right there. Then add in the lockdowns, crime rising beause f that and so many not earning any money because of the fauz virus madness. NOW< wiht Atiffa'BLM on the rempage in a dozen or more major cities, cop shops generlally priving to be knee-banging scaridycats OR under strict ROE from their owners, the geral public are finally reawakning to the reality that WE are our own First Responders, the "security of a free state", and the hirelings have defauled and are NOT maintaining "the security of a free state", the job then fallls back on US, the only ones who REALLY care. Thus, wiht chaos and anarchy growing. tensions mounting, hints andor outright declarations of intent to use violent force to get their way, things are not looking all roses and posies these days. THAT means, ARM UP and TRAIN UP.

    • David Miranda March 19, 2022 at 8:18 am #

      Sounds like great prices

  8. Bob Davies September 24, 2020 at 2:39 pm #

    My normal supplier, Bulkammo.com, who normally carries large cases of 250 to 500 rounds of shotgun and 9mm is only offering 10-50 round boxes at 1.00 to 1.25/round. IN April i got a bunch thank god

  9. Geoff October 2, 2020 at 10:52 am #

    I load my own. I don’t buy commercial ammo. I have enough of all my calibers on hand so I’m not needing to load any right now. Powder and primers and brass on hand, but bullets are in short supply. But I really don’t need any right now.

  10. Floid October 2, 2020 at 2:43 pm #

    UNAVAILABLE,UNAVAILABLE, UNAVAILABLE that’s no secret 🙁

  11. Andrew October 2, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

    So, I’m an economist and a gun nut. One of my pet peeves is whining about “gouging”.

    Economically speaking, there is no such thing. The ultimate price is where supply meets demand. Anyone who remembers Obama’s 8 year ammo panic should remember that supply moves upward very slowly. So, some stores realize this and raise prices higher than they used to be.

    Why do they do that? Because otherwise they will run out of supply (cause a shortage). You cannot get around it. In a buying panic, demand went way up, and supply takes a very long time to match it. So, price has to go up or there will be a shortage. The places that raise price are the only places that actually have ammo in stock. Those that don’t are no doubt worried about people whining about “gouging” and this is what causes shortages.

    You can whine about it all you want, but if you don’t like the price, then don’t buy it. And if you do buy it, we know, without any doubt, that you think you’ll be better off buying it than not buying it, as no free market actor will ever make a transaction that will make them worse off.

    Oh, and that rise in prices sends signals to investors that there is profit to be made here, and that is what ultimately increases the supply.

    Don’t whine about gouging. You’re only shooting yourself in the foot, twice!

    • DB October 9, 2020 at 3:58 pm #

      Hey Andrew,
      100% agree with you. Its a shame that the gun community is so outraged by price gouging, as it exposes a form committment to economic ignorance. Also, i for one gope to never shoot my foot even once haha!
      Best,
      DB

    • Jim Griffiths January 8, 2021 at 4:55 pm #

      As an “economist” then you should know that market reaction is part of a free market economy. Negative reaction to financial actions is a market force.

  12. Hans Hull October 9, 2020 at 7:12 am #

    I empathize with those who can’t find ammo, but after the earlier panic-demics this decade, I set to paying more attention in the slack times, putting aside ammo and reloading components. Just enough to see me through times like these, so these days I don’t buy ammo but can practice at the same rate as always. I know this doesn’t help the shortage right now, but just a message to heed when this passes and many people just forget it and go back to their previous priorities.

    • DB October 9, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

      Wise words, Hans!

  13. J. Gary Robertson December 29, 2020 at 9:11 am #

    What do you do when the State restricts ammo shipments into the State?
    I have found several good ammo deals online, but have been unable to capitalize because shipments are restricted to New Jersey.

    • Joshua Gillem December 29, 2020 at 11:18 am #

      I was born and raised in New Jersey. I moved. First I made it to PA, now I’m down south.

  14. Eddie December 29, 2020 at 9:35 am #

    Old article, when you pay shipping and tax it’s still outrageous.

  15. Jim Griffiths January 8, 2021 at 4:51 pm #

    This is interesting info, except none of those companies ship ammo to California. It is legal to ship ammo here within certain constraints, but these companies choose not to.

  16. Rick Jones November 30, 2021 at 6:27 pm #

    I’ll be sure to cut out the middle man when possible. But the middle man can add in some awesome deals. So it all depends on the place.

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