Just because there’s an ammo shortage doesn’t mean we’re all out of luck.
If you look hard enough you can find an upside to anything. Sure, sometimes you have to look really, really hard and add in a dash of cockeyed optimism, but it’s almost always possible to find something good in a bad situation.
With the current difficulties involved in locating ammo or components, it might seem like it’s impossible that a problem like that would have any kind of silver lining but, believe it or not, I’ve noticed a few.
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These points might not necessarily be something the rest of the world consider to be positives, but most of us died-in-the-wool cartridge geeks out there have actually observed what we consider to be improvements in the shooting world since everybody started to get low on ammo.
One of the first things a shortage of loaded ammo on shelves is inevitably going to bring about is a whole new army of handloaders. If a person can’t buy what they need, they’ll start to make it themselves, right?
If it wasn’t for the recent shortage of common ammo, a lot of these new handloaders would probably never have given rolling their own a try, and I’m of the opinion that every shooter should at least own and know how to use handloading equipment.
If it never becomes an all-consuming hobby, that’s fine, but learning to handload opens up a brand new understanding for the shooter and can lead to a brand new level of performance, accuracy and enjoyment for many. If the ammo shortage is what pushed you to finally go out and buy a press, then give yourself a pat on the back — you made a great decision.
The second silver lining of the ammo shortage is that it seems to have eroded the dominance of a few cartridges that were, frankly, kind of making the pistol shooting world a bit boring.
The 9mm Parabellum, 40 S&W and 45 Auto are all useful cartridges in their own right, but they get a little old, don’t they? When the supply of these very popular rounds began to run low and prices for them went sky high, a lot of people realized that components for other less popular rounds like the 10mm Auto or 357 Sig weren’t so expensive by comparison.
In fact, they were a lot cheaper for a long while. Pretty soon other cartridges like the 38 Super began to make sense again, too, because they could be loaded as cheap as or cheaper than the ubiquitous 9mm. The breath of fresh air that the ammo shortage let into the semi-auto pistol world is definitely a welcome one, at least to a geek like me.
Now that we’re in what would seem to be the last throes of the shortage, about the only thing still missing from shelves is 22 Long Rifle ammo. This makes sense, because traditionally 22LR has a very low profit margin for ammo companies, and they’re not really set up to manufacture for the current high demand.
Now, I’m a fan of the 22LR just like everybody else out there, but I can’t help but think that the massive, cheap supply of 22 ammo we’ve enjoyed up until now has made us a little lazy in terms of expanding our cartridge horizons.
There used to be a whole litany of centerfire cartridges out there that closely mimicked the performance of the 22LR, but they were all more or less killed off by the dominance of the rimfire. Now that rimfire ammo is the only thing that’s really hard to get a hold of, a lot of folks are digging out their 22 Hornets, 218 Bees, 256 Winchesters and 25-20s.
All of these rounds offer superior ballistics to the 22LR and can now be handloaded cheaper than 22LR can be purchased, so why not give them a try? Just the other day I took out my Winchester 1892 chambered for the 32-20 and drummed up some loads for it. I can reuse the brass of this low pressure cartridge almost indefinitely, so that really doesn’t enter into the cost.
The 32-20 only requires about 4grs of pistol powder per shot, meaning that a pound of Win231 will last many a summer. I only had to shell out $25 for a box of 500 78gr lead cast bullets at the local gun show.
For this small investment, I’ll get a whole lot of ammo that outperforms the 22LR in terms of muzzle energy and wind drift in the gopher fields, and I get to shoot it out of one of the coolest guns ever built by Winchester.
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Now, if all these points don’t cheer you up then bear in mind that the good old days will return in one form or another sometime. I doubt 9mm or 22LR will ever be as affordable as they once were, but that’s life. Someday the industry will catch up and all that ammo you’ve been waiting on will pop up again.
In the meantime, try to see the bright side. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but it’s also oftentimes a gateway to a lot of new experiences that are well worth the journey.