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Ted Peck: Ammo 'dump' offers protection from price spike

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Ted Peck
August 4, 2013

My first conscious thought this morning was about ammunition.

Moments before I was dreaming about hunting. Details of the hunt had dissipated by the time rational thought took command of higher mental functions, but counting bullets isn't like counting sheep.

Ammunition has become a real concern to Americans lately. It has been in short supply for about 10 months now, in essentially every common caliber. Most amazing is the shortage of .22 ammo.

The .22 rimfire is America's most popular caliber. We use it for small game, plinking at cans and other targets. Unlike centerfire cartridges, .22s can't be reloaded.

They used to be cheap, in the neighborhood of a penny per round. A “brick” of 500 rounds used to cost about eight bucks.

Nowadays retailers limit purchase to just 100 rounds at a ridiculous price of about eight bucks. This is a clear illustration of supply and demand.

The last time I had a chance to buy 100 rounds of .22 long-rifle ammunition for eight bucks I didn't “pull the trigger.” Rational thought trumped panic buying. I have enough .22 ammo at home to last at least 10 years, maybe 20.

If one of you Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives guys is reading this, please finish the column before you put on your ninja suit and run for the black helicopter to raid my compound. I only have about 1,000 rounds of .22 ammunition—just over two bricks.

If the 2013 hunting season is like the 2012 season I will shoot four squirrels and maybe a half-dozen rabbits.

We may never see the days of a “penny a pull” for .22 shells again. Ammunition manufacturers are working around the clock producing more bullets. Supply will eventually catch up with demand, and the price will drop.

I used to hunt doves with a .410 shotgun. The .410—or .22 rifle—is the traditional first firearm owned by millions of Americans. If a young person in your life has completed mandatory hunter safety training and is ready for that first gun, you might want to consider giving them a 12-gauge shotgun. Ammo for that little .410 averages an outrageous $15 for a 25-round box!

This financial revelation caused a flashback to Christmas 1960 when I ripped through pretty paper to find a cardboard box marked “Sears folding chair.”

My Dad had an unusual sense of humor. A folding chair would be a practical gift since I spent so many childhood hours forced to sit in a corner.

But this box contained a used single-shot 20-gauge shotgun! Sixty-two years later, that Christmas is still the best one of my life.

Plastic-hulled shotgun shells were a new item. A smaller box under that tree contained 25 green Remington No. 6 shot shells.

Law back then did not require a hunter safety course. Dad had his own curriculum. When I satisfied his requirements, I was allowed to take three of those green shells and go hunting by myself.

Dad kept the remaining shells locked up in a closet. When I brought home a rabbit, squirrel or pheasant he would give me two more shells.

I'll never forget the day when Dad said the closet door would remain unlocked, and I could take all the shells I wanted to carry. A brand new box of Remingtons was on the shelf.

Doves, ducks and a pheasant or two will be on the dinner table in the months ahead. It usually takes me about 40 shells to kill a 15-bird limit of doves. Accuracy on waterfowl and upland game is considerably better.

Two hundred shotgun rounds should be more than enough for the 2013-14 hunting season.

Ammunition? Not a problem.

Time for another cup of coffee and pondering more pressing issues—like where to go fishing this afternoon.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc.



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