Are you enjoying the brief window of ammunition availability? Well, we hate to say it, but the shortages might be back very soon, as in less than two weeks. Yep, creepy Joe has struck again, this time in the form of a Russian ammunition ban. This sanction is set to take place on September 7th, with the last of the details to be outlined then. However, with only two major Russian manufacturers in play, it is likely going to include everything from the country, even if it names both companies by name. Heck, even if it only includes one, the U.S. is going to feel at least a 50-percent drop in availability of the inexpensive steel-cased stuff that we love to dump at the range. This is going to affect every shooter in the U.S.–even if you don’t use steel ammo.
Russia Import Ban: What We Know
We won’t harp on the details of the sanction, but if you need to catch up all the info can be found at the State Department Fact Sheet. Long story short, Russia poisoned anti-corruption activist Aleksey Navalny, so our government punished the state by a sanction on one of the country’s smallest exports, ammunition. Creative gun control, anyone?
The sanction remains if effect for at least 12 months. It will lift only if Russia jumps through some major hoops, including allowing UN inspectors to check if Russia possesses chemical or biological weapons. Yeah, I’m sure Putin will get right on board with that one come next September. So in actuality, it sounds a lot more like “Just two weeks to flatten the curve.”
Back to our story–if you’re reading this and you’re saying “who cares, I don’t shoot that Russian junk,” you might want to revisit that attitude. Do you know why Winchester “White Box” and American Eagle cost so little? Well, their only real competitor comes via Russian steel-cased ammo.
With that out of the picture it only needs to be a few dollars less than the companies’ premium loads to be “the cheap stuff.” Sadly, with raw material prices going through the roof it’s a move that they must make simply to stay afloat. The good news is that you probably won’t have to pay those prices for a while. But good luck finding any. All of the frugal steel shooters just entered your competition pool. They like to pick up whatever is cheapest, and now that includes your favorite brass-cased plinking round.
Can’t Reload Around This Shortage
Well, you’ll just reload then, right? More bad news–components have been in a worse shortage than loaded ammo this year, especially primers. That’s only going to get worse as potentially millions of gun owners will now be trying to gather supplies. This is also going to apply to tools as well. Each of these new reloaders is going to need a press and set of dies at the very least. So I hope you got yours already. Compounding the matter, this sanction will likely include the import of Russian primers as well. This eliminates the small beacon of hope that we once had at ending this sub-shortage. The final nail in the coffin is that American ammo companies are going to have to ramp up production to make up the ammunition market gap, leaving even fewer primers available for consumer sales.
Maybe you’re not even a gun owner and you just like to go to rental ranges. Or maybe you take a course from time to time. Well, what do you think the preferred range fodder is for most firearms instruction businesses? Bingo. Let’s use my personal company as an example. I’d like to tell you that we hold a unique business model, but I’d be a liar. We run things just about the same as everyone else.
Renaissance Firearms Instruction digests pallets of this Slavic gun food each year. We run at least 500 rounds in every two-hour AR-15 and Historic Military Firearms Shoot. Swapping from steel to the lowest price brass cased ammo brings ammunition costs up 105-percent in the current market. Who’s going to pay that? Yup, you, the shooter. Oh, and not just the shooters in those particular courses, shooters across the board. Because thousands of certificates were already sold this year, and that expense needs to be recovered at all costs. Otherwise, there might not be a Renaissance Firearms Instruction next year.
Hitting Us Where it Hurts
“At this point (until Sept 7th) we really do not know exactly how deeply this will affect the importers of Russian ammo,” said President Charles Brown, MKS Supply, an importer of Barnaul ammo. “Russian steel case makes up about 35% of all ammo sold, because of its affordable prices compared to Brass cased (ammo), now there will be a shortage of not only 7.62×39 but 5.56, .308, .300 blackout, .30-06 and most common pistol calibers too. This will put further demand on an already tight market and force prices even higher than they are already.
“We understand that this order is up for review/renewal in 12 months, but I suspect there will be some legal actions taken because as we all know these ‘sanctions’ have nothing to do with the poisoning and everything to do with hurting legitimate American businesses,” Brown continued. “MKS will be drastically hurt, as we are one of the largest importers of Russian ammo, as will the American sportsman’s ability to find and buy affordable sporting ammo”
As of now, all current Form 6s (import permits) are valid, but it is unclear as to how long each U.S. firm has until theirs expires. It’s almost a moot point if you think about it though, as most shooters are going to try to grab at least a year’s supply when it goes blip for a split second at online retailers. I want to say Russia is going to cringe and do everything that the Biden administration wants to get the U.S. market back, but it’s not like Russia can’t find another market.
Given that this damage control came in the form of U.S.-dealt punishment, nothing is stopping them from arming our enemies just to keep their manufacturers afloat, I mean why wouldn’t they? Perhaps for that reason alone every single American needs to get active on this matter. Make the usual calls, send the usual emails and keep your eyes open my friends.