10 Alternative Calibers to Consider During the Current Ammo Shortage

You'll have a slightly better chance finding these loads than the more popular rounds.

This ammo shortage is frustrating to say the least. Most guns and ammo are hard to get these days and we sort of know what's causing it, and that's the worst part. Much like the shorter-lived toilet paper shortage at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ammo shortage is the result of a cycle of panic buying and stockpiling, which is causing distributors to run dry and items remain sold out.

My gun shop has a sign of things not to ask about, and the second one prohibits queries about whether or not they can order a Glock. No, they cannot.

Consequently, anyone who isn't hoarding or panic buying is still snapping up as many boxes of popular calibers as they can whenever they see them available—rifle ammo, handgun ammo, and even some shotgun ammo—despite unnaturally high prices, just to have something to take to the range.

That all goes for reloaders and reloading components, too. Reloading supplies that can't be made at home or reused, like primers, are also really tough to find.

Have you seen those memes with like five rounds of ammo being sold in a dimebag? Yeah, it's pretty much that bad. And, ammo prices are sky high. Even Winchester "white box" is going for premium ammo prices.

This is all further exacerbated by the many millions of Americans who became new gun owners in 2020, all of whom are now buying tens of millions of rounds now for plinking, concealed carry, and home defense. And by now, people who became first time gun owners in the beginning of 2020 have bought two or three more.

Folks are buying them for fear of impending civil unrest and disasters, both natural and man-made, wanting to have a stockpile if SHTF. The recent events in Texas and the Capitol Riot at the very end of the Trump presidency haven't helped this any.

People are also hoarding ammo in preparation for potential new and restrictive gun and ammunition legislation dangling like the Sword of Damocles with Democrats currently helming the Executive and Legislative branches. With laws in discussion that could require background checks for ammo purchases, it's no wonder big box stores can keep ammunition on the shelves.

With ammunition factories running at full bore, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight, though hopefully the spinning up of the Remington ammo plant, now owned by Vista Outdoor (which also owns CCI) and run by Federal Ammunition, will help alleviate the shortage a bit, because even unpopular calibers are starting to be hard to find.

Here are a few ammo suggestions that you might want to consider in lieu of 9mm ammo and .223 Remington that you might actually be able to find in your gun store, local Walmart, or Cabela's.

Rimfire Alternatives

It seems ammo companies are doing a pretty good job of keeping up with rimfire ammo demand, for the most part. While .22LR isn't as tough to find as it was during the Obama-era ammo shortage, availability is sporadic and prices are high.

But if you can find rimfire alternatives, it's best to leave the centerfires at home for range sessions for now. If you're striking out finding .22LR, you should have better luck with .17 HMR and .22 Magnum, if you have a firearm chambered for either.

Revolver Calibers

When it comes to handgun calibers, it seems 9mm ammo and other semi-auto food is really tough to find at reasonable prices for range practice, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, and some other common revolver calibers are a bit easier to come by in many parts of the country. I've also had good luck with .44 Special and .44 Magnum here and there.

It might be time to break out the wheelguns and give the semi-autos a rest. FMJ ammo is also a little easier to come by than hollow points or other self-defense rounds.

Bigger and Smaller Bangs

Most popular self-defense calibers, like 9mm, are what people are gobbling up, but smaller rounds like the .380 ACP are easier to find, and more powerful semi-auto rounds, like 10mm Auto are available too if you aren't picky about the exact load, though pricing fluctuates and they can be expensive. Ammo prices are also crazy, and if it wasn't cheap in 2019, it sure ain't gonna be cheap now.

While .45 ACP is hit or miss, but still easier to come by than 9mm. If you happen to have a .40 S&W in your safe, you might have better luck when scanning the gun shop shelves as well.