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Discussion Starter #1
(A little something I wrote the other day, after I got to thinking about the whole 'can't find ammunition' thing. Feel free to comment, add, criticize...)

Ammo and the 'Supply Chain'
by Dana Charbonneau

Why can't I get ammo? Why are the shelves empty?

Ok. First, it's not some conspiracy. (Hope that doesn't disappoint anyone.)

What it is, is a lesson on the complexity, and the fragility of the 'supply chain' - the entire system of getting goods to the consumer.

Within that supply chain are many different parts, from raw materials, through refinement and production, to packaging and distribution.

And in this day of pandemic, and 14 day quarantines, and shut-downs, there are a lot of 'weak links' in the chain.

Consider the simple loaded cartridge. Comes in boxes of 20, or 25, or 50. Or 'bulk packs.' How many steps does it take to make those cartridges and get them to your local gun shop?

 If you reload, or even if you've just 'been around guns for a long time' you know that the cartridge or round is comprised of a case (shell), primer, powder charge and bullet or shot load. (If it's a shotgun shell, toss a wad in there too.)

Each of these components has to be made from multiple things in turn.

Brass is easy - copper and zinc, both abundant. Plastic cases, made from oil. We have plenty of that too. Bullets or shot, mainly copper and lead. Gunpowder, common ingredients.

Ok so far, BUT, suppose the copper mine has to shut down for a few weeks because of infection? Or the lead mine? Or the plastics plant? How about the chemical plant where they make priming compound and gunpowder?

 Any of these can slow down the chain.



None of the above? Okay, let's visit the bullet manufacturers. They have materials, and their machine is busy churning out 9mm hollow points and 30 caliber 150 grain bullets and 6.5 Creedmoor brass etc. etc. And then they reset the machine to produce a different weight/caliber bullet.

Hold on, where's Frank? Frank is the guy who sets up the machine to produce one kind of bullet or another. It's a skill he's learned over the years. Sorry, Frank's school-age kids are home because of the disease, and his wife Sally is pulling long shifts as a nurse at the hospital. 

Lucky for us Jimmy also knows how to re-set the machines, but he's not as fast as Frank. Relax, eventually he'll get that unit producing 140 grain 6.5's. And eventually those 180 grain bullets you like for your 300 magnum.

Meanwhile Billy, who sets up the brass drawing unit, is likewise grounded for two weeks because he went to a barbeque and someone there was sick. That million-case run of 308 brass will be delayed a bit…

Fred, who sets up the giant reloading press, is out for a week, so his apprentice, Rhonda, is struggling to get it set up to run 270's with the 130 grain bullets that were made two weeks ago. Except Bob the ballistics guy hasn't signed off on this current batch yet, because the powder charge needs to be tweaked…

Hey, the news is not all bad! We just finished a big run of 7mm magnum rounds. (Finally!) But, ummm, we don't have boxes to put them in. The cardboard box plant is running on a skeleton crew because so many workers are home sick or waiting for test results. Also, pulp slated for cardboard production has been shifted to TP.

Okay, we have six pallets of ammo ready to go to the distributor, and the trucking company informs us that they're running a few days behind schedule. You're going hunting this weekend? Hmmm…
 

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This is a great point. But there is more to it.

- We are experiencing spiking consumer demand following increasing consumer demand.
Most all business have issues meeting increasing demand.

- Some business may be reticent to rapidly increase production capacity for fear demand will fall off.
Two issues here.
1 Panic buying over shortages - often ends eventually. Consider toilet paper. There was a a cascading shortage as supplies went low in stores people desperately tried harder than ever to get it. But eventually its just becomes obvious to people that they have enough.
2 And conditions may simply change and people will not want as much ammo if they start to feel more secure.

-Shortages ARE profitable for producers. Im not saying they create the shortages intentionally. But rather they arent going to take any sort of risks to end a shortage. Because they are making a lot of money either way. Basically this encourages deliberate and careful growth in in the face of extreme demand.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Good video from the head of ammo-makers CCI/Remington/Federal.

 

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Just read an article indicating that the Remington ammo plant, which has been closed for quite a while should be opening any time now under new management. This will put several hundred people back to work and go a long way toward fixing the perceived shortages of ammo.

The article also mentioned one other thing - a shortage of the cardboard boxes (I'm guessing they're treated to be fire-retardant?) which are approved for shipping live ammunition. (See the OP ;-) )
 

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