For more than 50 years now, SARCO, Inc., has provided high-quality firearm parts, kits, and parts for esoteric, hard-to-find platforms and military surplus guns. We also sell outdoor hear, military collectibles, ammo, hunting and shooting accessories, and much more.
The past three years in particular have been a roller coaster ride, but fortunately, we’ve weathered it and we’re looking forward to a return to normalcy in (hopefully) the near future.
Here’s what we’ve learned and how it applies to our model.
The Ammo Crisis
One of the most poignant and stalling issues of the last three years - and one which is still ongoing - is the ammo crisis.
We’ve had our share of ammo crises before, in 2008 and 2016. Only a few years back it was hard to find .22LR anywhere and many shops were rationing sales to a brick-per-purchase (or less) where it was even available.
But none of that stacks up to the current ammo crisis, which is the worst one we’ve seen in recent memory. Now, not only rimfire ammo, but target shotshells and popular cartridges like .223 and 9mm are in short supply, where you can even get them.
As far as we (or anyone) can tell, there is no single culprit for this crisis. Naturally, the fear of new legislation spurs panic buying, which straps demand, but that alone is not responsible for these shortages.
Beyond panic buying, the past three years have seen unbelievable growth among new gun owners (see below). Each new gun owner added to the pool of existing gun owners adds more demand to a supply infrastructure that is not built to scale well to changes.
That is, ammunition manufacturers have their equipment set up to load so much, at a set rate, and not to fluctuate easily. Some cartridges, like rimfire ammo, cannot be loaded on equipment that can theoretically produce a range of centerfire cartridges, complicating matters even more.
So there’s that. There’s also the fact that the pandemic messed up everything, economically, across the board, making the supply chain issues worse than these random shutdowns incurred.
That also taxed the supply of ammo in the country. Prices increased, and shortages followed.
But there’s more. Currently there are restrictions on importing ammo from certain countries, like Russia and China. Since we can’t bring in new TulAmmo, for instance, the current stock suffers, and prices go up.
Ammunition manufacturers, already struggling to meet supply, are meeting new competition for raw materials in other industries.
Think about it. One single 9mm cartridge contains lead, copper and zinc, and often even traces of rarer materials like barium in the primers. These are expensive, hard to produce, and worst of all, in high demand.
Lead is used in batteries, cable sheathing, pigments, weights and weight belts, and in many other areas. Copper is even worse. Copper is used widely in construction, plumbing, and even in industrial applications (such as in heat exchangers). Worst of all, copper is widely used as electrical conductors. There is stiff demand for copper in the electrical sector, which, especially in recent years, has raised prices and increased scarcity.
Copper alone is used in bullet jackets as well as in brass, and so, as the prices of constituent materials have risen, so too has the price of ammo.
Surges in New Gun Ownership
The record-breaking surges in new gun ownership has also contributed to the raise in prices of ammo, firearms, and parts, and have increased scarcity as well.
In 2020 and 2021 alone, rises in gun sales surpassed the previous year by 10 million. Since 2020, about 15 million new gun owners have joined the pool.
This increases demand for firearms and parts as well as ammunition. For our part (and no doubt speaking on behalf of countless other gun shops across the country) we’ve seen sales soar through 2020 and 2021, and in part through 2022.
Only recently have things started to cool off, making it seem as though business is slow by comparison. And in a way, it is, but at least for our sakes, and for the sake of our customers, a return to business as usual is not always such a bad thing.
Though we’re no longer awash in panic buying, ammo is returning to the shelves, as are guns and parts that were, just a few years ago, so hard to find.
Trust Our Model, We’ve Been Doing It Right Since 1959
These are things we simply have to take in stride, as uncomfortable as they are. Come ammo crisis or none, we will continue to supply firearms and parts as well as ammo to our customers, just as we have done now for well over 50 years.
Laws, prices, and availability may change, but one thing does not. When you need an odd caliber or a hard-to-find firearm part, SARCO, Inc., is, without fail, the place to find it.