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South Carolina buyers and sellers seeing sustained surge in ammo demand

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - If you’re looking for ammo, you’ve got competition.

FBI NICS Firearm Background Check data shows through April 2021 is outpacing 2020 for firearm background checks completed.

2020 was a record-breaking year nationally and at the state level for checks completed.

Buyers and sellers of ammo in South Carolina say rounds have been harder to find, and more expensive.

Brad Amick owns Amick’s Guns in West Columbia and pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic crippling supply chains, social anxiety over the last year, and concern over gun regulations from the Biden administration.

“No different than the toilet paper shortages, everybody goes into full prepper mode, starts buying as much as they can. At the same time, you have the pandemic where supply chains were kind of broken because of shutdowns, and supply and demand just got obscene,” he said.

Amick said purchasing rounds is costing up to 30% more, but a surge in new gun owners is keeping it flying off the shelves.

“We can’t keep it. If we post a social media post that we’ve got ammo it’ll be gone that afternoon,” he said.

To help manage supply and handle the demand, Amick said his training business Carolina Tactical Training will be installing a gunfire simulator to help provide training without needing live rounds.

He said the simulator should be operational in the next month.

Jarrett Rifles Office Manager Matt Osteen echoed Amick’s thoughts on the cause of the demand. Jarrett Rifles is a Jackson, SC based company that produces rifles and ammunition.

“It truly brought a lot of people into this industry that may have been on the fence about firearms,” he said.

Osteen said company leadership has had to get creative with sourcing the necessary materials.

“You saw a lot of panic buying, people going out on the market and people buying huge lots of primers, and then what you saw was price gouging. Lots and lots and lots of people selling on various websites that previously you were able to get fairly decent, reasonable deals on,” he said.

Osteen said the company has worked to absorb some rising costs without passing it onto the consumer, but he said absorbing all the cost would not be sustainable.

He said the company has increased its production of ammo and will produce an estimated 50,000 rounds this year. He said that expansion is partly driven by demand and partly driven by a conscious expansion by the company.

Former Rising Waters Duck Hunting Club President Randall Donley said finding hunting ammunition in recent years had been growing more difficult, and finding ammo has had to require more planning.

He said expects hunting ammo to become even more scarce in the fall once the season begins. In the meantime, he said hunters will have to bear the expenses.

“If you want to play, you’re going to have to pay,” he said.

Amick said he expects the demand to stay high for the foreseeable future given concern over federal actions on gun regulations.

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