Archive for the 'Ammunition' Category



Winchester Lands $50 Million Ammunition Contract With DHS

BY Herschel Smith
1 month ago

Mississippi Business Journal:

Winchester Ammunition, which has manufacturing facilities in Oxford, has won a five-year contract to produce ammunition for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Olin Corp. and its Winchester division have been awarded a contract worth up to $50 million to produce ammunition at its Winchester Centerfire Operations in Oxford for two DHS agencies.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s wide-ranging border security and law enforcement missions require a significant amount of firepower, particularly for training. I’m pleased that Mississippi will be able to fill that need,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who serves on the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Homeland Security Department.

The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract calls for the procurement of 40 caliber Smith & Wesson training ammunition, with a maximum dollar value of $50 million.  The ammunition is intended for use by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for field-level training.

Most of the DHS uses .40 ammunition right now.  At $50 million and around 50 cents per round (that’s high priced and I can find it for less), that’s at least a total of 100 million rounds for range days.  With 20,000 field agents in Border Patrol, this amounts to 5000 rounds per agent.  They don’t need that many rounds to stay qualified with their firearm.

I wouldn’t begrudge the expenditure except that the Border Patrol doesn’t usually discharge their weapons (Brian Terry fired bean bags), and the Border Patrol has been turned into a giant nanny for aiding and assisting illegal immigration.

And the more Winchester makes for the federal government, the more that drives prices up for me and busies Winchester employees working for the government.

The Fully Loaded Ammunition Cartridge

BY Herschel Smith
3 months ago

Thus far, as loyal readers, you have been blessed to partake in the following.

High Magazine Clips And The Shoulder Thing That Goes Up

High Ammo Clips

Automatic Bullets In Rapid Fire Magazine Clips

And last but certainly not least, Duck Hunting With Bullets.  I am now proud to offer you the following.

A fully loaded ammunition cartridge was left unattended on a picnic bench and would have remained there if a local resident had not brought it to the attention of the gun advocates as they were departing for home.

The “fully loaded ammunition cartridge.”  You’re welcome.

UPDATE: David Codrea has thoughts on this article as well.

Followup On Closing Of Lead Smelter Plant

BY Herschel Smith
11 months ago

We discussed the closing the last lead smelter plant in the U.S. about one month ago.

I have a number of comments concerning this closure.  First of all, the company also states that the $100 million project is “too financially risky.”  And that’s the crux of the issue.  Folks, $100 million just isn’t that much for large scale production in any industry in America.  My bet is that the company believes that it could very well spend $100 million and then continue to be denied the right to manufacture ammunition due to the fact that people writing rulings in the federal register are calling the shots.  You know what I’ve said about the federal Leviathan.  Oftentimes, their standard is a moving target.

Second, I question the degree to which the company is committed to the manufacture of ammunition components.  Power companies who have to fight the EPA on a regular basis simply do what they must.  Of course, power is regulated, but the market for ammunition won’t be going away.

Third, regardless of where you turn (and I include myself in that category), there is vast under-reporting on this.  We have all discussed it, but there is a paucity of good information.  I would like to know the degree to which this will affect the production, availability and price of ammunition in the U.S.?  But in order to know that, one would have to know such things as: (1) what percentage of lead in ammunition comes from this plant as opposed to overseas (including processing of the raw ore), (2) how much lead is used in ammunition in the U.S. civilian market every year, (3) what will the cost be of shipping the raw ore overseas for manufacture, and (4) are there any plans to construct and operate another plant?

This kind of knowledge requires real reporting, and that’s something I only sometimes have the time or resources to do.  Having said that, while this plant may not have been able to meet current EPA standards, it’s a sad day.  I suspect that the EPA hasn’t targeted this plant because of its role in the manufacture of ammunition.  Rather, the EPA targets all productive, money-making industry for onerous regulations, written inside the beltway by armies of lawyers, without regard for the practical affect of said regulations.  It’s governance by federal register, and it’s one thing that makes this so sad.

I still believe that there is under-reporting on this issue.  Emily Miller addresses the issue (via Glenn), concluding that it will have minimal impact.  Becket Adams with The Blaze also recently wrote on this issue, similarly concluding that:

“More than 80 percent of all lead produced in the U.S. is used in either motive batteries to start vehicles, or in stationary batteries for backup power,” the company states on its website. “In the U.S., the recycle rate of these batteries is approximately 98 percent, making lead-based batteries the most highly recycled consumer product. These batteries are recycled at secondary lead smelters. We own such a smelter in southern Missouri.”

Adams also cites Bob Owens who isn’t concerned.  So be it.  I am not “up in arms” as Emily Miller warned.  But I still think that there is under-reporting on this issue, and the questions I asked earlier in large measure still haven’t been addressed.

The issue for me isn’t what is going to happen in the short term and the best of circumstances while there are plenty of automobile batteries that contain lead, or while the flow of lead from foreign countries is still high because shipping lanes are open and countries want to do business with us.

Unlike the ammunition rush of a year ago, I can now find 5.56 mm cartridges for 50 cents per round.  What happens if our armed forces is sent on another adventure and signs another huge contract for ammunition?  The question for me is what happens in the long term in situations of national duress or conditions in a potential future market a decade from now.  I want a scholarly paper on this.  I want to see good, in-depth reporting, and I’m still waiting.

Ammunition Availability: Last Lead Smelter Closes In U.S.

BY Herschel Smith
12 months ago

I had wanted to wait for further developments and data to comment on this, but such may not be forthcoming.  AmmoLand and many other venues reported on this.

In December, the final primary lead smelter in the United States will close.  The lead smelter, located in Herculaneum, Missouri, and owned and operated by the Doe Run Company, has existed in the same location since 1892.

The Herculaneum smelter is currently the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore that is mined nearby in Missouri’s extensive lead deposits, giving the smelter its “primary” designation.  The lead bullion produced in Herculaneum is then sold to lead product producers, including ammunition manufactures for use in conventional ammunition components such as projectiles, projectile cores, and primers.  Several “secondary” smelters, where lead is recycled from products such as lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components, still operate in the United States.

Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard.  Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.

Whatever the EPA’s motivation when creating the new lead air quality standard, increasingly restrictive regulation of lead is likely to affect the production and cost of traditional ammunition.  Just this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will ban lead ammunition for all hunting in California.  The Center for Biological Diversity has tried multiple times to get similar regulations at the federal level by trying, and repeatedly failing, to get the EPA to regulate conventional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

At this time, it’s unclear if Doe Run or another company will open a new lead smelter in the United States that can meet the more stringent lead air quality standards by using more modern smelting methods.

What is clear is that after the Herculaneum smelter closes its doors in December, entirely domestic manufacture of conventional ammunition, from raw ore to finished cartridge, will be impossible.

Steve Johnson at The Firearm Blog cites the owners as saying “The EPA’s new clean air rules would require a $100 million dollar investment in new equipment.  As such, the Doe Run Company has decided to close the site.”  Steve also includes some informative graphs of lead production by country.

I have a number of comments concerning this closure.  First of all, the company also states that the $100 million project is “too financially risky.”  And that’s the crux of the issue.  Folks, $100 million just isn’t that much for large scale production in any industry in America.  My bet is that the company believes that it could very well spend $100 million and then continue to be denied the right to manufacture ammunition due to the fact that people writing rulings in the federal register are calling the shots.  You know what I’ve said about the federal Leviathan.  Oftentimes, their standard is a moving target.

Second, I question the degree to which the company is committed to the manufacture of ammunition components.  Power companies who have to fight the EPA on a regular basis simply do what they must.  Of course, power is regulated, but the market for ammunition won’t be going away.

Third, regardless of where you turn (and I include myself in that category), there is vast under-reporting on this.  We have all discussed it, but there is a paucity of good information.  I would like to know the degree to which this will affect the production, availability and price of ammunition in the U.S.?  But in order to know that, one would have to know such things as: (1) what percentage of lead in ammunition comes from this plant as opposed to overseas (including processing of the raw ore), (2) how much lead is used in ammunition in the U.S. civilian market every year, (3) what will the cost be of shipping the raw ore overseas for manufacture, and (4) are there any plans to construct and operate another plant?

This kind of knowledge requires real reporting, and that’s something I only sometimes have the time or resources to do.  Having said that, while this plant may not have been able to meet current EPA standards, it’s a sad day.  I suspect that the EPA hasn’t targeted this plant because of its role in the manufacture of ammunition.  Rather, the EPA targets all productive, money-making industry for onerous regulations, written inside the beltway by armies of lawyers, without regard for the practical affect of said regulations.  It’s governance by federal register, and it’s one thing that makes this so sad.

I was on an outing to assess ammunition availability this weekend, and I have noticed that the great ammunition shock of late 2012 and 2013 has been ameliorated.  In fact, I have continued to shoot and also continued to purchase, but I haven’t built my stockpile the way I had intended.  It’s too easy to become lazy, in part because I can pretty much find what I want now, and for fairly reasonable prices.

But becoming lazy is something we mustn’t do.  TTAG mirrors my own fears.

As I said, this was the final lead production facility in the United States. Its location was one of the prime reasons that the Lake City arsenal and other ammunition manufacturers have established themselves nearby, to keep shipping costs down. But with the lead no longer flowing, the next most viable source will be China and require substantially more money to truck overseas for production.

This will also be a big headache for range facilities, since some of them use the reclaimed lead from the dirt berms to pay the bills. There are companies in the United States that will actually pay the range to come in and refurbish their berms, giving them a percentage of the money they make selling the reclaimed lead back to this smelting facility. MCB Quantico operates their ranges this way, closing down once every four years for a re-fit that pays for a lot of the ranges’ services. Now that they will need to ship that lead overseas before it is processed, that will make the whole business more expensive and might drive up range fees.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of ammunition jumps as well. Heck, this might even kick off a second ammo shortage if things go badly.

Steel ammunition won’t do.  Folks can argue all day long about “soft steel” to replace copper and steel core to replace lead.  But the fact that Eastern Bloc ammunition was made that way is why you can pick up some Mosin Nagants and Mosin carbines and drop a round into the end of the barrel and listen as it drops to the chamber without getting caught on any rifling all the way down.  Steel wears out rifling and (steel casings instead of brass) ruins the action.

Be diligent and continue to build your armory.  I have gotten lazy – a mistake I don’t intend to repeat.

Study Links Rifle Ammunition To Wild Fires

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 1 month ago

Or so they say:

A study by the U.S. Forest Service has concluded rifle ammunition may be to blame for wildfires across the west.

The Forest Service commissioned a research team based in Montana to investigate the link between fires and rifle ammunition, after several reports cited Utah wildfires caused by bullets during 2012.

The study started last year with the first test run in September. Scientists tested 16 different bullets composed of steel, copper and lead, totaling 469 rounds fired.

“We designed an apparatus that consisted of a steel deflector plate and a box at the bottom called a ‘collector box’ that we could fill with various materials that could be tested for ignition,” said research forester Mark Finney.

They found once certain bullets fragmented, they would ignite the moss in the collector box.

“The bullet by itself isn’t very hot until it strikes something very solid,” Finney said. “The process of deforming it….is what heats it up.”

Finney said this test is the first to provide proof rifle ammunition could be the cause of fires. So far, the team has only tested bullets in a controlled environment, which emulated dry conditions.

7NEWS Reporter Lindsey Sablan asked Finney if the research being done may one day have an affect on shooters on federal land. Finney said he was not responsible for policy change but said “I would hope people would just consider ignitions from target shootings as one possibility to watch out for.”

In June of this summer, the Bureau of Land Management in Utah banned “steel-core or steel-jacketed bullets” along with exploding targets and tracer bullets. Colorado BLM Director of Communications Steven Hall said they “certainly took a look at it.” He went on to say they chose not to impose an outright ban this summer because, “we have different situation and conditions in Colorado.”

The full report is found here.  It seems to me that they focused very heavily on steel core ammunition, which most shooters don’t shoot down the barrels of finer weapons (I understand the Eastern Bloc ammunition shot from Mosin Nagants is different, and I also know that we can purchase green tip ammunition for AR-15s, which I wouldn’t shoot for target practice anyway).

Nonetheless, I read some of the report, but I noticed that of the four authors, not a single one is a registered professional engineer, and so the work lacks a PE seal.  Thus, I see no reason whatsoever to read any further or lend any credibility to the report.

You can do with it what you want.

Bad Day At Allen Arms

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

So my second son Joseph is in town from Austin, Texas.  I took him and my daughter Devon to the shooting range at Allen Arms in Greenville, S.C. on Monday (we were in Greenville visiting other family).  I had previously purchased an M1 Carbine at Allen Arms, had free range passes and figured I would use them.  I could have gone to a new range near there named Sharpshooters, but chose instead to go back where I got the rifle.

As I thought about which of my guns to shoot, I decided to carry guns that used .38, .357 magnum, .45 and .30 Carbine.  I had left my ammunition in the truck because if you don’t purchase and use their ammunition they charge a fee.  As I walked towards the store I found myself wondering, “They won’t have .30 Carbine FMJ any more than Sharpshooters (who doesn’t charge an ammunition fee), Hyatt Gun Shop (Charlotte), Shooter’s Express (Belmont, N.C., who also doesn’t charge an ammunition fee), or Firepower (Matthews, N.C., who doesn’t charge an ammunition fee either).  Surely they won’t be so stupid as to charge me for shooting my own ammunition if they don’t have it to buy.”

I get in there and ask about .30 Carbine ammunition and they claim they have it.  They trot out .30 Carbine personal defense ammunition (you know, the $1.50 per round stuff).  I respond that I’ll use my own since no one in their right mind sends personal defense ammunition down range for target practice.

We shoot knowing that I will have an ammunition fee, and enjoyed the day, but come out to the ammunition fee times three, or $15 total.  I pay it, along with the other costs, but again I say to them that I just don’t understand why they would charge me an ammunition fee if they don’t sell range ammunition.

The guy behind the counter then began to get snarky with me and said they did have it.  I responded, “That’s like saying I want to shoot .45, and the only thing you sell is Gold Dot .45, and since I am unwilling to send Gold Dots down range you’re going to charge me an ammunition fee.”  He responded, “But that’s all we have.”  To which I pointed out that he made my point for me.  They didn’t have FMJ or MC ammunition, which is why I shot my own.  I went in prepared for an ammunition fee while they sell my spent brass (however silly I think such a rule is).  I wasn’t prepared for being told I had to send personal defense ammunition down range or be charged extra.

He said “Well, that’s the store’s policy.”  I pointed out to him that they are going to have to deal with issues like that if they want to compete with Sharpshooter’s, after which he got really testy and I figured that it made no sense to continue the idiotic conversation.

Needless to say, this was all very off-putting for Joseph, who made comparisons of Allen Arms with Red’s in Austin, Texas.  So be it.  There’s a new range starting up in Simpsonville, S.C., and Sharpshooter’s has surely taken customers away from Allen Arms.  The old guard will learn to compete or they will go out of business.  Either way, I hope Allen Arms enjoys my $15.  It’s the last of my money they will see.  They lost a valuable customer on Monday.

This Contract Is Not Taking Ammunition Away From Civilians

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

My last article on ammunition availability erupted in a flurry of controversial comments, and I’m not trying to repeat that here, but I’m glad to report that my local gun shop is now selling 5.56 mm ammunition (PMC) for nearly 50 cents per round, approximately what it was going for prior to the run on ammunition.  I can also find handgun ammunition (of any caliber) for the same prices I could before the run.  So this article confuses me a little.  But I wanted to call out one quote in particular.

Federal Premium Ammunition, a large manufacturer in Minnesota, said Homeland Security’s contract makes up a very small percentage of its total output and any talk about the federal government restricting availability is “false” and “baseless.”

“This contract is not taking ammunition away from civilians,” states a message on its website. “The current increase in demand is attributed to the civilian market.”

This denial is just wrong.  It may in fact be correct to say that the federal orders have had little effect on the market (a denial I also question because I think the effect is more than trivial), but to say that federal sales are “not taking away from civilians” is the baseless claim here.

Any assembly line tooled for making ammunition for federal agencies could be one that is tooled for making ammunition for civilians.  It’s simple.  If they weren’t selling to the federal government, they would have more to sell to us.

Demand For Ammunition Is Up, So Why Aren’t Prices?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

It isn’t common that an unbiased, informative report comes from NPR, but hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time.

Sales of guns and ammunition rose after President Obama took office in 2008, and they went through the roof starting late last year, when a school shooting led to a push for new gun control measures. That’s led to a prolonged ammunition shortage, even with manufacturers running at full capacity.

A gun owner in Florida told me he has had a hard time finding .380 ammo for a small handgun for the past six months. Customers at Bob’s Little Sport Shop in southern New Jersey told me it’s hard to find ammo for some rifles and for the popular 9 mm. Even .22 rounds, the small ones, have been hard to come by.

An economics textbook would say this shouldn’t happen. It would say that Bob Viden, who has run the shop for almost 50 years, should respond to the increase in demand by raising prices. And some stores and online sellers have done just that. But, Viden told me, “We don’t want to do that. We want to be fair.”

Apparently so do some of the best-known ammo sources across the country. At the sporting goods store Cabela’s and at Wal-Mart, shelves are empty but prices are mostly flat. During my conversations at Bob’s Little Sport Shop, the word “fair” came up about two-dozen times. Or, as one customer put it, “There’s no reason to make a profit off of our misfortune.”

To a traditional economist, a shortage is evidence prices are too low. But Viden predicts if he raises his prices, his customers won’t come back because they’ll think he ripped them off.

“Traditional economic theory doesn’t really have room for fairness perceptions,” Margaret Campbell, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told me. But about 30 years ago, she says, “people started noticing that there were these kind of quirks.”

In a famous study, the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and two colleagues found that people’s ideas of fairness are so strong that, even if it makes short-term sense to raise prices during a shortage, many retailers don’t. Campbell says that’s because when prices go up, consumers actually care about the reason behind the increase — the retailer’s motive.

“If a consumer sees a price go up in an unexpected fashion, they want to know, ‘Why? Why has it gone up?’ ” she says.

There are lots of reasons consumers approve of (if the price the store is paying for the goods has increased, for example). But research has consistently shown that a sudden increase in demand is not one of them. So rather than raise prices, Bob’s Little Sport Shop and other stores are rationing ammo in order to keep their customers’ loyalty.

You’d better believe it.  As I’ve said before a number of times in my posts on ammunition, availability is more difficult, but with the right attention and time, and checking back again with the stores from which I purchase, it can be found.  A few months ago I noticed a slight increase in prices for handgun ammunition when I find it, but I’ve also noticed that it’s back down now.  I can usually find .38, .40 and .45 for around 45-50 cents per round or a little lower.  .357 magnum is just a little higher.  .30 carbine is still difficult to find, and I have to work at it.

5.56 mm ammunition was reaching a dollar per round, but that has trailed off to around 75 cents per round, and I expect it to go lower.  The stores around me (and you know exactly who you are) who were selling 5.56 mm ammunition for four dollars per round now have customers who are royally pissed off (and I noticed that you have backed way off on your prices now).  You reap what you sow.  I’ll keep increasing my stockpile of 5.56, but not by purchasing from you.

I always see .270 ammunition everywhere I go, all of the time (perhaps showing the wisdom of .270 owners), and .308 is still a little pricey if it can be found at all.  But the main point is that the store owner above knows how his bread gets buttered.  He wants customers in the future, not just a small fortune now.  And he also has a sense of “fairness.”  Maybe that’s something gun control advocates just can’t understand.

UPDATE: David’s brief observations are on point.

Are You Stockpiling Ammunition?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Ammo_Update 002

Are you stockpiling ammunition?  You need to be.  Remember – the police are doing it.  As an update on the ammunition shortage, I see it getting slightly better, but not much.  If one cannot order in bulk because you don’t happen to have a spare $500 or $1000 sitting around the house, you have to purchase in small quantities (50 rounds here, 100 rounds there, out of every paycheck).

Destruction Of Expended Cartridge Brass

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

David Codrea hasn’t let this issue go, and that’s a good thing.  Like a bulldog with a bone.  First, read his predecessor article.  Next, read the followup article.  He has a DoD memorandum, and apparently without even going for a FOIA request.  At any rate, the Department of Defense claims that they will continue to make expended brass cartridges available for public sale, and then there is this (for me) money quote.

The memorandum includes an “Implementing Guidance” attachment stating “DoD will dispose of ESACC as quickly and effectively as practical, and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and DoD guidance.”

A PAO developed this response to David, and the memorandum was developed by a JAG.  It has legalese all over it.  The problem is that this isn’t what the law says.  It doesn’t require the DoD to continue to make expended brass available.  It requires that no money be spent on its destruction.  None.

Furthermore, the bit about compliance with regulations and guidance is obfuscatory pandering.  Rehearse for a moment, shall we?  Laws are passed by Congress.  Regulations are written by armies of lawyers sitting inside the beltway who are tasked with applying the laws.  Regulations are not laws.  Regulations in fact are challenged, often successfully.  Guidance is even farther down the food chain than regulations.

Congress passed a law that requires that no monies be used for destruction of expended brass.  What regulations and guidance have to say about the law is irrelevant.

Read it all at Examiner and come to your own conclusions.  But here is the final word for me.  I don’t want to hear another damn thing about how police in America cannot find ammunition.  I don’t care if they ever have another round to carry.


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