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Area ammo dealers running out of bullets


Customers anxious to buy ammunition started lining up in front of the Gander Mountain store on State Route 3 at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

A shipment finally arrived at noon, and shoppers immediately snapped up all the boxes of .223-caliber cartridges.

It was a scene that has played out at a number of Gander Mountain stores recently, said spokesman Jess Myers.

Sales of guns and ammunition—and not just the type used in semi-automatic rifles—have spiked sharply both locally and nationwide. The Gander Mountain store in Spotsylvania County has had to limit customers to 10 boxes each per visit. At the Walmart in Central Park, the restrictions are even tighter—three boxes each.

Curt Sebastian, manager of SSG Tactical in Westwood Office Park, said the increase in demand was triggered by President Obama’s re-election and his push for stronger gun control measures after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Americans bought a five-year supply of guns, magazines and ammunition in a two-month period,” Sebastian said.

Manufacturers simply haven’t been able to pump out enough to keep pace with demand.

“Magpul, one of the most popular magazine manufacturers for AR-15s, among others, has 1 million back orders per type of magazine that it makes,” said Sebastian.

Magpul uses .223 Remington ammunition in its magazines, but all types are going “like hotcakes,” Sebastian said. He’s been especially amazed at the sale of .22-caliber cartridges, which are one of the few that are accepted by a large variety of rifles and pistols.

“I’ve never seen people hoard .22 ammunition the way they are now,” he said. “The only thing I can chalk it up to is high-capacity magazine bans and how the .22 is—or was—a very cheap caliber to buy.”

SSG Tactical has thousands of rounds of ammunition on back order, and Sebastian said he’s heard rumors that it may take five or six months for supply to get back to normal.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that there has been a run on ammunition. It happened after 9/11 and after Obama was elected to his first term as president, said Steve Clark, owner of Clark Brothers in Warrenton.

He said there’s a shortage of “quite a few” types of ammunition at his gun shop, including types used for hunting and range shooting as well as generic ammo.

Not only are there more people who want to buy these items, but they are buying more than they need, he said.

“It will take a while to get caught up,” Clark said. “It might take a couple of months, but at some point you satisfy one person who is buying more ammo than they need, and he stops buying, and then the next person gets caught up.”

Chris Hansohn, chief operating officer of Hansohn Brothers LLC in Culpeper, said that people are buying ammunition now because they aren’t sure what’s going to happen to the proposed gun control legislation. During Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, he demanded that Congress vote on his proposals.

Hansohn Brothers has sold out of all the common types of ammunition that it carries and only has a few boxes of unusual types left, Chris Hansohn said.

“Normally, this is not a problem. I can have an order filled in a few days,” he said.

Hansohn said he isn’t sure when he’ll be getting more in stock, and hasn’t submitted any back orders.

“I’ll just wait until it becomes available later in the year,” he said, “depending on how things go in Washington.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407