Here we are again. Staring yet another ammo drought straight in the face. I was teaching school in 2008 when the first run on guns and ammo occurred. All of a sudden anything that went bang was in high demand. Overnight shelves and cases that held firearms and ammunition were laid to waste. Just when things had somewhat settled down, the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook knocked over a series of dominoes that led to a blight on guns and ammo that has been un-paralleled until just a few dear days ago. The locusts have devoured everything in their path, leaving only a few scattered boxes of the most oddball rounds imaginable on the shelf. Looking for a budget Modern Sporting rifle? They are sold out and due to mobility and commerce restrictions imposed by the state, you might not be able to get one for some time.
Since the events that triggered the past runs on the storehouse was a presidential election and a school shooting, not a chain of contagion, only the ammo counters of sporting goods stores were affected. I remember heading up to Tulsa for the Wannenmacher’s fall gun show. Wads of cash with rubber bands around them were being tugged out of overall bibs and people were hauling 7.62X39 and 5.56X45 out of the Tulsa Expo Center on pallet jacks and dollies. AR15’s and AK47 which were selling just days before the show in the $500-$600 range were commanding $900-$1,000-$1,100. Mid-tier rifles were commanding prices way beyond $2,000. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It just depended on which side of the counter you were standing on. In the aftermath of Sandy Hook the supplies of magazines and ammo were the hardest hit.
If you remember correctly, the general public—“John Q. Middle-of-the-Road” voter took quite a bit of sport at the expense of this vigorous commerce, both the folks buying overpriced firearms and those selling them. Television news crews descended on gun stores and gun shows highlighting the hysteria of the “gun-nuts” stocking up for the upcoming anti-gun measures sure to be signed into law in the wake of the anti-gun power swing and the tragic Sandy Hook shooting. While the results of those fears never fully materialized, the behavior pattern was set for future firearms and ammunition based commerce: feast or famine.
The Newest Run On Gun Ammunition and Necessities
As stated earlier, here we are again in this familiar territory, only this time the grocery stores cleared out just before the gun stores were hit. This time is eerily similar, yet still very different. A highly communicable virus has seized the globe’s attention and caused a seemingly involuntary spasm of the lower wallet as its chief symptom. Soft fluffy paper, ramen noodles, and staples were the first to fall as news of exposures and various governmental reactions spread. At the gun shop, the usual suspects were the first to ramp up sales. 9mm, .45ACP, .223/5.56, and 7.62X39 are for the most part no longer sitting on retailer’s shelves as I write this. Firearms that accept these rounds are also in high demand and flying off of shelves to the hands of nervous buyers. Even chambering’s like .40S&W, .38 Special, .30-30 Win that haven’t been “cool” for years are flying off of shelves as eager and anxious shoppers want something, anything to protect themselves from the looming unknown that may stretch out for years—or just a few weeks. Who knows?
Now, as then, the scarcity of ammo means two things: 1. if you can’t find ammo, you can’t shoot it. 2. If you can’t readily replenish your ammo supply, you certainly don’t want to exhaust the resources you have. These two factors alone mean that, while the gun counter might be hotter than Atlanta in August, the gun range will experience a noticeable slowdown. Only shooters who reload or have an undisclosed surplus of ammo will still venture out to the range. If you don’t have an inexhaustible supply of ammo and just want to conserve what you have, how do you still satisfy the desire to get in some trigger time, practice marksmanship, or even hunt?
Do Your Duty and Train—Shoot With Air!
I know you saw this coming. In spite of my best rhetorical attempts, this blog is nothing if not obvious for where it leads—straight to air guns! Yes, in 2008 air guns were a good answer to the shooter looking to shoot on the cheap. Today, the airgun situation is even better. More licensed one-to-one airgun replicas of popular handguns are available now than there were 12 years ago. Way more. We make replicas of many popular brands’ most common handguns that are extremely economical to shoot. Besides, have you ever heard of a panic buy on Umarex 12-gram CO2 cartridges and Hornady BBs?
Many of our replicas also feature blowback action which replicates the shooting experience as much as possible. Additionally, our replicas are available in a variety of air powered platforms: .177 caliber BB, 6mm airsoft, and some are even .43 caliber paintball. This means there’s a high likelihood that we make an air powered replica of a handgun that you may already own. Train, familiarize, practice, develop proficiency—all with air and all in your backyard or garage. No one even has to know you are turning yourself into a high-speed, low-drag shooting machine with this recipe.
Don't Bugout at the Gun Shop, Airgun Up!
In 2008 and the years that followed, powerful air rifles became a popular alternative to the common .22 caliber rimfire round that had all of a sudden became next to impossible to attain. This isn’t entirely true. Twenty-two ammo certainly was available, but for four to five times what it was selling for mere weeks before. Certain nameless retailers gouged prices right alongside the unscrupulous re-sellers who flooded local gun shows looking to triple or quadruple their “investment” in precious metals.
With insanity reigning supreme over in the firearms world, smart folks were realizing that there’s never been a panic-buy on pellets and air rifles here. What became the “prepper” movement, born out of Cold War survivalist groups and fueled afresh by the Ammo Drought of 2008 started buying traditional spring powered air rifles and actually spurred the market to develop more powerful Pre-Charged Pneumatic air rifles that could be used to harvest large game—all without gunpowder. While in 2008 these accurate, heavy-hitting PCP air rifles were in their infancy, they are quite well developed at this point.
Umarex USA still makes a wide variety of spring or gas piston-powered .177 and .22 caliber air rifles, but we’ve since debuted the Gauntlet PCP that is available in .22 and .25 calibers as well as a big bore, the .50 caliber Umarex Hammer. The PCP category is especially attractive for hunting and off-the-grid application as PCPs pack considerable power without much in the way of an audible report. They also have very manageable recoil (virtually non-existent on the lighter .177-.25 caliber rifles) and only require high compressed air and the appropriate projectile for use.
The Gauntlet is also a great option for just having a good time at the range. It has earned a solid reputation for being accurate and just a blast to shoot. The Gauntlet paired with our Hand Pump means you can shoot independently for a long time with just a few tins of pellets. Maybe even enough to replace your favorite rimfire rifle for good!
.50 Caliber Ammo and Arrows as Ammunition
Our UX Hammer, while having just been released for sale, is quite a powerhouse and certainly worthy of including in your doomsday or hunting toolbox. The Hammer shoots .50 caliber (.510”) slugs that are available in many different weights for various ideal uses. At any rate, no matter what slug you shoot from the Umarex Hammer you can expect a minimum of 500 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle (198 grain ball) to over 700 ft-lbs of energy with a 550-grain hard lead slug. Professional Hunter Steve Scott used the Hammer to take one of North America’s biggest animals, the American Bison, as well as one of Africa’s most feared dangerous game species, the Cape Buffalo. Rest assured, the Hammer is a powerful air-powered rifle that can handle just about any scenario you can imagine.
Now There’s Arrow-Shooting Air Rifles
Additionally, Umarex has recently released for sale two air archery devices, the CO2 powered AirJavelin and the Pre-Charged Pneumatic AirSaber. The AirJavelin uses an 88-gram CO2 cartridge to launch a 170-grain arrow at speeds well over 300 FPS and generating over 34 ft-lbs of energy. While not quite up to big game standards, this air archery gun is perfect for smaller game. The AirSaber, on the other hand, is a hoss. A 23” long arrow with a total weight of 376 grains will launch from the AirSaber at over 400 FPS which means way over 124 ft-lbs of energy will be traveling with that arrow as it leaves the barrel. It has also been tested on many North American large game species with outstanding results.
How long will this current drought last? No one really knows. The last drought certainly had a timeframe that had completely run its course by 2014 when the sheer perseverance of ammo and firearms manufacturers caught up with demand… and it became evident that anti-gun forces were not going to be able to push overt anti-gun laws through the legislature. If you find yourself facing the TEOTWAWKI spectrum of possible outcomes and discover that you can make some room in your life for air guns for training, airgun hunting, or whatever, check out the varied products we offer. You might be pleasantly surprised at the power of air!
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer, is the social media specialist for Umarex USA.