What will happen in the Ammunition Market in 2021?

2020’s uncertainties boosted ammunition demand to record levels. Going forward, the question within the trade is “how long is current demand sustainable?”.  To help provide insights, Southwick Associates polled the market.  

In April 2021, we surveyed hunters, recreational shooters, and firearm owners and found 72% had purchased ammunition within the past 12 months. Based on more than 1,800 responses, their feedback includes: 

  • Out of stock issues in 2020 and continuing into 2021 have caused 50% of hunters and target shooters to cancel or reduce the amount of target shooting and hunting activities they normally would have engaged in: 
    • In 2020, four out of five encountered out of stock issues when trying to purchase ammunition. 
    • Three-fourths tried to purchase ammunition during the first quarter of 2021 but encountered out of stock situations. 
  • Expect ammunition demand to remain high:  
    • Nearly 2/3 indicate their current ammunition inventory is lower than they would prefer (64%). 
    • When asked how much more ammunition they would like to have on hand, 43% reported much more while 38% reported a little more. 17% were satisfied with the amounts they had on hand. 
  • When asked why they desire more ammunition, responses include: 
    • Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age. 
    • Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%) 
    • Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%) 
    • Wanting to participate in hunting and target shooting more often (26%). This was more common among younger consumers. 

When will demand soften? Certainly, at some point it will. However, the frenzied purchasing often feeds further increases in demand. Considering ammunition manufacturers still have significant backorders, and considering we do not see demand softening at least through the second quarter of 2021, the ammunition shortages should at least continue through the second quarter of 2021 and for most of the year.