Fruitless & Pointless

Follow me on this one.

Let’s assume that all your life you’ve been a plinker-and-handgun kinda guy, whereby you own a handgun for protection, and inherited a .22 rifle from yer Dad… and that’s pretty much it.  (Don’t laugh, I know they’re out there.)

But with all the crap that’s been going down recently, you decide that you should get a centerfire rifle… just because.  Or maybe one of your old classmates invited you to join him on a pig- or deer hunting trip somewhere, you get my drift.  Whatever the reason, you need a rifle.

The problem is that you are a little broke [insert Biden reason here]  and your budget will not stretch to anything that costs more than a grand — and much lower would be even better.

Forget any of those AR-15 “assault rifle” things — they’re so far out of reach you may as well look for a ray-gun.  In fact, most rifles now cost so much that the job seems impossible.  Unless you lower your sights [sic]  and get a second-hand rifle.

You discover a place that sells many second-hand rifles — some even quite affordable.  It’s called Collector’s Firearms, and even though all your buddies warn you about their “collector’s prices”, you’re still able to find a few that will suit your needs.

Here’s one:

You ask around among your gun buddies, and yeah, that’s a decent rifle and a fine cartridge.

But you remember reading something about ammo scarcity, so you visit places like AmmoSeek to see whether you can get say, 100 rounds for practice and the hunt.  Sorry.  Only a couple of places have .300 Savage available, it’s expensive and all of them have “Limit: 1” in their conditions of sale.

So you try another rifle in a different chambering:

Once again, lovely rifle (plus a scope!) for an okay price, and the cartridge is excellent.

Except AmmoSeek shows that nobody has .257 Weatherby Mag ammo in stock.  Damn.  Oh well, on to the next choice:

Oh yeah baby, now we’re talking.  Inexpensive, highly-regarded rifle, scope included, and a hard-hitting cartridge…

…but although AmmoSeek shows quite a few people actually have the cartridge in stock, it’ll cost you about $3 / trigger-pull.  Ouch.  Maybe another gun…?

Okay, this rifle is something of an unknown quantity, and there’s no scope;  but at least it’s chambered for a common and popular cartridge, right?

…and you’re greeted with peals of mocking laughter, so to speak, as you discover that .308 Win is so popular that it’s no longer common — at almost any price.  More distressing still is that the stuff that’s remotely available and affordable is full metal jacket — not yer optimal hunting cartridge — and a typical hunting cartridge purchase situation looks like this:

I could go on and on, but I think everyone gets the point, here.

I remember writing about buying guns and ammo during the G.W. Bush presidency, and saying that “these are the good times for gunnies”… and boy, was I ever right:  guns were cheap and readily available, and you could buy ammo of any caliber by the (multiple) case load from a choice of sellers.

We live in different times now, and as much as I love the fact that more and more people are becoming first-time gun owners — the goal of the Nation of Riflemen, remember? — the result is that even I have to count the rounds when I go to the range (every other week, now, instead of weekly and even twice-weekly before).

Hell, my buddies and I used to give each other Christmas presents of 200-round bulk packs of .45 ACP;  now, you can’t afford to do that not just because of the outrageous cost, but because you need the damn ammo for your own dwindling supplies.  Without being sarky about the thing, I discovered over the past weekend that Ye Olde Ammoe Locquere  is down to about 1,800 rounds of .45 ACP FMJ, and 200 rounds of self-defense stuff.  Never mind holding off the Chinese Army (as someone once taunted me);  I couldn’t hold off a piddly Antifa riot.



  1. I remember those golden days. The Wall fell in 1989, and surplus was cheap and plentiful. Commie ammo was 7-cents a round and surplus rifles could be had for around $100. ($45 for a Mosin Nagant) If only I had the money then that I have now.

    1. @Raven …

      Even with the current ZOMG We’re all gonna DIE wuhan flu-han beer virus pandemic, 7.62x54r can still be had for ~$0.70 a round, give or take. I can’t speak to the current pricing of rifles in the Mosin Nagant series. For the time being, I’ll be hanging onto my M44 “Russian Blunderbuss”, and the 700+ rounds of ammo …

  2. For the past year almost all shooting here has been with .22. Occasionally 9mm. I even shot about 100rds of 5.56 last summer. Unless something changes in ammo availability this is unfortunately the way it will be from here on out. I keep hopin’ and lookin’.

    1. Me not worry Me have plenty of ammo 13K+ and plenty more bullets/primers/powder but on a serious note I have no time to shoot these days and then wuhan Forked it all up.

  3. A few years ago, I picked up a Mossberg MVP Varmint. Odd rifle – bolt action that takes AR magazines. I got it mostly because it shared ammo with the AR, with the theory that it would save me money by slowing me down at target practice.

    Turned out to be a pretty good idea.

    1. I have CZ 527’s in 5.56/.223 and 7.52×39 for exactly the same reason.
      Oh, those halcyon days when you could dump a 30-round mag to see if you could do it in under 8 seconds (bump firing, I could). Now, I might as well chrono every shot, use a spotter and save the brass, just cuz.

  4. Back in the way back year of 2000, around summer, the wife and I drove around on a sunny Saturday morning and hit a few garage sales. We had just moved to a new state and were also using the drive to familiarize ourselves with the area. Such as the fact that people there called them “yard sales”. Hmmm. At one yard sale they had the normal stuff up front, the clothes and old kid toys and related junk. But behind all that there was a grumpy looking man with a garage full of, well, propane, MRE’s, lanterns, propane stoves, various survival gear, multiple items of everything. I mean, who needs 5 propane Coleman camping stoves? So I ask (as I’m furiously loading up on stuff to actual use for camping), and his terse reply was that “I might have over-prepared for Y2K”.

    My brother right now is sitting on over 20k rounds of ammo. I asked about his last range trip and he couldn’t remember the last time he actually shot any of his rifles. Sooner or later these people are going realize that you can’t eat bullets (unless slow simmered for 72 hrs with gravy). Then they’ll start selling off to those of us who actually shoot. And we’ll have a surplus bonanza that you can only dream about.

    I’m dreaming, alright? Eventually this dam will burst. People who never before gave any thought to guns have been furiously stocking up. When sanity returns, they’ll have to realize they have more ammo then they’ll ever need and sell it, right? Or else their widow will. Time to start hitting some estate auctions.

    1. I’m reminded of a conversation with a buddy of mine paraphrased below…

      Buddy: “I’m stockpiling food and supplies in my basement.”
      Me: “I’ve been stockpiling guns and ammo, I can always get food.”
      Buddy: “Oh, you mean like hunting?”
      Me: “Or, I can just come over here.”

  5. While we all like to bitch about the great ammo drought, the reality is that RELOADING can solve the problem pretty much. Pick a round that is common like 308. I just did a search on Ammoseek and there were 11 hits for its brass. 30 centavos per used stuff. 70 centavos for brand new primed Winchester. If we do moderate loads can we figure 5 reloads? So quite affordable. Now all we need is some powder and bullets. Definitely gettable. With a pretty minimal outfit for 200 bucks of reloading gear we are on our way ! The whole Lee Loader concept was an inexpensive handloading outfit where you could build rounds one at a time on Saturday morning and come up with a couple of boxes of ammo. Right? So if we do a single stage press, dies, scale … well bingo.

      1. Bingo.

        On a happier note, managed to snag a Ruger LCP II in 22LR for my wife at our local Shoot Point Blank. She has petite hands and her grip strength is not what it once was. It is a very nice soft shooting little pistol.

        An outfit named TANDEMKROSS makes what they call their “Wingman” magazine bumper pad/extension for the 22 LCP. Ups round count +4. I installed two of them yesterday.

        I may have mentioned that I was an FFL in Kalifornia for near 20 years. This ain’t my first rodeo. Yes, we have 22LR in depth.

      2. The Winchester brass is primed. And ammoseek shows small rifle CCI primers are available. Gotta hunt everyday.

        1. As you said, available. As of about 11 hours after you posted that, small rifle primers are still available at 32.5 cents each.

  6. There is ONE upside: along with the unexpected legal impediments that first-time liberal gun buyers are encountering (“what do you mean I can’t get a pistol grip assault weapon today?”), the inability to buy ammo once they finally get their legal piece pushes them a little farther into our camp.

    My advice? Take them to the range and offer to front them a few magazines (they can buy the next time). We HAVE TO get these people shooting before they give up and go to something else. We have to hook them now.

  7. I dunno if things are going to get back to what they were. At least not in Ammo-land. Yesterday I actually paid $60 for a box of 500 .22lr. Why? Because its the first AVAILABLE box of .22lr I’ve seen in months. The owner of the shop (Elite guns in Pendleton OR, first class guy btw), said that they’re not anticipating the ammo situation to change for the next 6-8 years, not counting political intervention. Ammo is expected to go up 500% this summer. Now you can take that as knowledgeable insider info, or drunk at the end of the bar type ranting. But I think the ammo famine is going to be with us a while.

  8. I was going to suggest a 2nd hand lever rifle in .357 magnum. Good enough for hogs or deer at shorter ranges. Can use .38Spl, low recoil, usually shorter barrel great for home defense, usually very inexpensive, especially Rossi and Taurus. And a “cowboy gun” with wood stocks is as far from an evil Black Rifle as you can get. Then I checked prices online. Never mind.

  9. ‘not anticipating the ammo situation to change for the next 6-8 years’ Try NEVER.
    The 6-8 years is required to effectively use incrementalism – their favorite tool.
    Get back to ‘what things were’ / ‘normal’ / ‘the good old days’ etc. ? Don’t count on it.
    Something, I can imagine several scenarios, ‘else’ is going on. This ‘shortage’ has been going on for months and months with NO relief in sight and really no talk, speculation, what have you, as to cause, possible solutions, date projections etc. NOTHING !!
    The ‘cover story’, and I’ll bet pennies to stale doughnut holes, that’s what we’re being fed, says that all the ‘new converts’ and people ‘worried about our country’s future’ etc. are buying up everything in sight, hence the ‘shortage’.
    I, for one, just ain’t buyin’ it, no pun intended.
    The manufacturing capacity in this country is still formidable, ‘pandemic’ be damned.
    Manufacturers, I believe, ( it’s my conspiracy theory, so I can think whatever I want ! ) are either being bought off or threatened into, let’s call it ‘stopping or slowing down’. This provides TIME, the most important ingredient, to allow for, let’s call them ‘legal changes’ to the federal laws.
    This would certainly not be the first time that Americans have woken up one morning ( or weeks later ) to find out from the ‘news media’ that there was a bill passed late at night that might have had ‘problems’ if its passage was done ‘in the open’, say, for instance, ANOTHER salary increase for senators.
    How about a bill, that makes it illegal to manufacture certain calibers of ammunition, by a company or an ordinary ‘citizen’ for any reason at any time ( reloading, whether you like it or not, IS manufacturing so …. ). It will not be done in one fell swoop, nothing ever is, incrementalism is their friend ! It will be done one or a few calibers / gauges / mm at a time, both ammunition and firearms. But the result will be the same.
    The slow strangulation of our ammo supply as well as any source of new firearms until the sources simply no longer exists. At which point, privately owned firearms can now be viewed like stamp collections – essentially harmless. A long gun or a handgun is now simply an elaborate club or rock, respectively. This has already essentially been done with the full-auto subset.
    Yes, I know, the ‘criminals will still have theirs’ but that is ‘an acceptable situation’ if the vast majority of millions of firearms in private hands can be nullified !
    Please tell me I’m wrong and exactly how. That’s not a snarky request, it’s actually a prayer.
    By the time enough people realize how much we have been, and continue to be, lied to, by our ‘betters’, it will be FAR too late.

    1. There hasnt been political interferrence YET. Not saying its not coming but …. Stories I have heard are extraordinarily high demand, and that a primer factory closed down (less primers) and a mine in Australia providing powder components caught fire and is out of commission.

      That’s not to say a company like, I dunno, Federal, wont stop providing military caliber ammo (.308, 223, 7.62) to us all’s because the .gov promises them fat new contracts if they supply them and not us. If the .gov promised Federal twice the revenue if all manufactured mil caliber ammo went to it and not to us, Federal would forget we even existed. PMC, Winchester, etc. too. Stop imports of Privi or others and there you go.

      Ammo has always been a weak point in our 2A argument. “Have all the guns you want. We’ll just starve you out of the ability to use them.”

  10. I know you’re not a fan, Kim, but –

    Building an AR is still doable, and the parts are still available and mostly not over priced, even as the off-the-shelf rifles have nearly doubled in price. A stripped lower can be had for $50 or less; an upper about the same. The barrel will set you back ~$200, depending on what you want. For most general shooters, on the lower side of that is fine, get a QPQ/melonite finished barrel and it will outlast you without breaking the bank. The bolt carrier group can be had for just at $100 or a little more, again, depending on your preference. The rest – parts kit with fire control group, buffer and buttstock, charging handle, gas block, flash hider/compensator, come out to ~$200 or so. Free float handguard for $100 or so. A couple of hours at the kitchen table and, if you’ve never assembled an AR before, some time watching YouTube instructions, and Bingo! a new rifle. Add sights of choice, and you’re off. It’s the equal of most anything not Daniel Defense or similar bought off the shelf, and probably better than most budget rifles. And you will know your rifle, inside and out. Buy a quality (not pricy) BCG and barrel; the rest is not that critical, and cheaper is fine. Lots of perfectly fine rifles are built with cheap Anderson receivers.

    Best of all, aside from the lower receiver, there’s no 4473 or background check for any of this. And if you know a guy with a lower, well . . .

    You can chamber it an any number of cartridges; 300BLK is my new toy, and is good to go for deer (even .223 is acceptable for deer in my state, BTW, if you’re careful about the cartridge you shoot and place your shot correctly). And subsonic 300BLK suppressed (yes, that bit’s pricy) are almost – almost – Hollywood quiet. Suppressor should clear ATF approval roughly July. And you can change the caliber just by changing the barrel and (in some cases) the bolt to fit your needs without a new rifle. If you have a torque wrench and a little grease, you can change the barrel in 10-15 minutes.

    There’s a reason the AR platform is America’s Rifle.

    1. Thanks, but I have an AK already, and a fair-to-middling supply of ammo. I don’t need to walk any further down that road.

  11. Sometimes the deals fall into your lap. So last month a friend emailed me saying he had to move back to Oz to take over the family farm, as his dad passed, wanted to know if I wanted to buy his ammo and rifle. Sure I said, what do you have? Well, my nephew bought my Mini-14 and 556, so all I have left now is my AK-74 and 5.45×39 ammo. How much ammo I said? Oh about 7K rounds in those russki sardine cans and 15 mags for the rifle. I reply is cash ok? Not going to give the price, but was a very good deal even though it’s not my preferred cartridge or delivery system.

  12. We’re in a bubble.

    It’s only going to get worse and then bam! Prices will tumble. It will be a long while before it bursts.

    First, ALL COVID restrictions will have to be lifted. When will this happen? Maybe never. One thing for sure, the memories of the government restricting people’s movements will last for a long, long time.

    Second, the country will need true political stability. As long as some guy who was dubiously elected issues diktats with pen and paper and Congress refuses to properly seat members with opposing viewpoints, we do not have political stability.

    High prices are with us for the long forseeable future.

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