American Rifleman | Keefe Report: On the Front Lines of the Ammo Shortage
In case you haven’t noticed, the major ammunition shortage has extended well into 2021. My friend Jason Vanderbrink, who is also President of Federal Premium Ammunition, CCI-Speer, and Remington Ammunition, has come this far and has taken time out to further address the concerns of his customers.
In a previous video, Jason received 13,000 comments. In this latest article, he covers some of the issues raised by these consumers.
His primary concern was the safety of thousands of his employees in Minnesota, Arkansas, and Idaho. Just so you know, the Remington Arkansas plant – which has suffered from previous bad managers – is producing more and more ammunition every day under its new ownership and management. As Vanderbrink’s friendly competitor Jason Hornady pointed out, a man who runs a ball press can get sick or quarantined and not send the machine home.
One of the symptoms of the surge in demand has been that people looking for defensive ammunition have replaced defensive ammunition with hunting ammunition when they could not find it. Keep in mind that there are an estimated 7 million new shooters adding more demand to an already strained supply chain.
Hunting license sales have also increased this year which is great for the future. The problem occurs when no buckshot is available. Heavy loads of goose or the next best thing at the gun shop are bought by people who are not hunters. Then hunters cannot find what they need and get angry. It’s a simple substitution. Can’t get what you want? They’re buying the next best product, which led to a severe shortage of center fire rifles and shotshell ammunition last fall.
Primers are on everyone’s lips these days, and I’ve personally seen friends who usually buy a few here or there and stock up on literally tens of thousands. Enough has been accumulated that I think Federal might be tempted to buy something back from him. He likely has several lifetime primers in his store that are safely and properly stored, but each one he has purchased is one less on the market.
What you need to know about primers is that they are only made in four locations in the United States: Federal in Minnesota, CCI in Idaho, Remington in Arkansas, and Winchester in Mississippi. As the demand for loaded ammunition increases, the primers used for hand loading by consumers will be passed through the factories that manufacture loaded ammunition. And the primer capacity cannot simply be increased. As Jason points out, when Federal fuses are needed for loaded ammunition, they cannot be rerouted to hand loaders.
Jason also mentions adding a new factory that is neither inexpensive nor easy. We’ve been to most of the major munitions factories on American Rifleman Television and as soon as we get our COVID vaccines we’ll be heading to Remington, Arkansas. I thought this would be a great opportunity to actually show you how ammunition is made. Each company does it just a little differently, but our previous visits to Federal Premium, Winchester, and Hornady can give you a feel for not only what it’s about, but also why it’s not easy to just build a new facility.
Jason called the workers and products at Federal, CCI, and Remington factories and other American ammunition manufacturers “the heart of American manufacturing.” And these people work their hearts out. Take a few minutes to see what these men and women are doing every day to produce the best ammunition possible – and as much as they can.