.380 shortage?

Still feeling a bit under the weather, and really bored, I decided to see what I could find about the .380 auto shortage that is plaguing the ammo market over the last year or so, and why when you can find it, it’s normally outrageous. I also included some tips from the manufacturers and my own personal searching to finding .380.

My first call was to my favorite ammunition manufacturer, Winchester. Talked to some chick, who then referred me to another guy. He said part of the equipment they use to make 9mm is also used during the process of making .380 ammo. He also said the loading machines they have are running at peak capacity as it is, to fill orders as quickly as possible. In a nut shell, orders are filled based on the level of importance. DOD orders are higher placed than LE orders, which LE only distributors are higher placed than Civilian distributors. Generally, they set up the machine to do a run of a certain caliber. They do a run of say 30,000 rounds (30k is an example), then use those to fill the orders for that particular round. This is why certain calibers (i.e. 9mm, .40, .45) are so abundant on store shelves. All are common military and LE rounds. Because of that, they are more than likely to get made first since DOD and LE distributors are higher on the list. Rounds like .25, .32, .380 are primarily civilian rounds, so they are towards the bottom of the list. They have taken measures to help increase production (such as lowering Quality Control), but it’s really not a lot in the long run.

On the pricing issue, he said it’s a simple case of supply and demand. Supply is low, demand is high, and if people are willing to pay it then it’ll sell for that. Winchester can’t set what they can sell it at. They can suggest through MSRP, but have no control when the wallets come out.

I called Federal next. Much like the above, they are primarily focused on making rounds for DOD and LE (mainly 9mm, .40, .45). However, they are slowing increasing production on Civilian calibers, primarily .380 auto to “make up for the lack of that much in demand ammunition”. On the pricing, same as above. It’ll sell for whatever the market will take.

Next on the list was Remington. The guy simply said “We have maintained the level at which we manufacture .380 auto for the last several years. I can’t comment on the ammunition situation.”

The tips for finding .380 (or any civilian caliber for that matter):

  • Be ready to wait, especially if your limited to buying in person at a store. Some stores will offer to call you when what you want is in stock (say .380 in FMJ). If not, get on good terms and call every day. Most stores (especially big box stores like Wally World, Academy, Cabela’s, etc) don’t have much of an idea of what their getting and when their getting it. Find out the general time when they receive and process their ammo shipments and call then to increase your likelihood of getting what you want.
  • Buy in bulk. Ammo distributors tend to make bulk packs (500 rounds, 1000 rounds, 2000 rounds) out of civilian calibers because they can make more money that way. Find a gun buddy or two, go in together to buy a bulk pack, and split it between yourselves. You’ll save a couple bucks and get the ammo you need. Or, buy a bulk pack and sell the ammo you don’t want (keep the price fairly reasonable). You’ll make a couple of bucks, have the ammo you want, and someone else gets ammo too.
  • Be willing to make sacrifices on the brand you want. U.S. manufactured ammo in civilian calibers (.25, .32, .380) is hard to come by, as you already well-known. On the flip side, you can find a lot of the civilian caliber ammo made by foreign companies, such as Fiocchi, Seiller & Bellot, Monarch, so forth and so on.
  • Shop online. Places like luckygunner.com and cheaperthandirt.com show if they have it in stock or not, especially Lucky Gunner.
  • Check any local LE supply houses or stores. Since LE distributors are higher on the list, they are more than likely going to have what you are looking for, if they do stock any of the civilian calibers. However, the trick will be if they sell to civilians. Some do, some don’t.

Hope this helps!

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2 Responses to “.380 shortage?”

  1. Hi Jay,

    Thanks a lot for the mention! We do have .380 ammo in stock over at LuckyGunner.com. Aguila is the closest thing we’ve got currently that’s close to being American-made as it’s made in Mexico by a factory Remington originally setup: http://www.luckygunner.com/ammo-manufacturer/aguila

    Thanks,

    LuckyGunner.com

    • Howdy,

      I did business with yall once in the past, all went very smoothly, so I have no problems recommending yall to friends and here on my blog.

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