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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.