Ammunition seemed to disappear from shelves without a trace the past couple years, but comments from an official at Winchester Ammunition indicate the curtain is finally coming down on the vanishing act. John Fisher, CEO of Olin Corporation—the parent company of the ammo manufacturer—indicated (during a company earnings call last week) firearm enthusiasts are easing up on ammunition purchases.
“Winchester did experience a slowdown in commercial ammunition demand after the presidential election, which we expect to continue into 2017,” he said. Some retailers increased their inventory prior to November’s voting, and repeat orders are understandably lethargic until surplus stock starts to dwindle.
Purchase limits at big box retailers were common during the shortages, and .22 LR ammunition could evaporate overnight in some areas. To address the situation—one undoubtedly also accelerated by the number of new gun owners—manufacturers expanded.
Vista Outdoor, for example, announced in November 2016 that Federal Premium will be adding 50 new positions to its Minnesota plant in the next two years and spending $33.9 million to improve and increase operations. Similar news surfaced earlier in the year, but this time it was the company’s Lewiston, ID, facility growing significantly.
Eighty four new jobs were created in Lonoke, AR, last year when Remington’s cartridge facility there also grew to meet the record-setting demand. SIG Sauer added optics, suppressors and ammo to its lineup in 2015, but in 2016 sales for its defensive cartridges were brisk enough that it opened a plant in Jackson, AR, where 50 employees are on the payroll.
The shortage gave rise to dozens of small, boutique companies, usually producing specialized or remanufactured ammo, but there was also the arrival of companies like Aguila. With decades of experience in producing quality ammo, Aguila's plant is running full steam in Texas.