The year is 2024, and it seems ammo prices have gone through the roof yet again. For gun owners across America, a trip to the local gun shop or sporting goods store reveals sticker shock at the sky-high prices for bullets and shells.

Anyone who enjoys a day at the range or needs to restock for hunting season is feeling the pinch in their wallet. While ammo prices are often volatile and subject to spikes, the steady upward trend over the last few years is worrying for many.

Vista Outdoor Announces Price Hikes for January 2024

Vista Outdoor, a parent company to many firearms businesses, recently announced price hikes set to take effect on January 1, 2024. According to the company, “an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder” has created a need for increased ammunition prices. Prices are set to increase for products from companies like Remington, Federal, CCI, and Speer.

Source: Vista Outdoor

The increases will impact various types of ammunition. Unless customers cancel their orders, Vista Outdoor will reprice “existing and future orders shipped on or after January 1, 2024, to the new prices,” according to Nelson’s letter. Updated price lists will be released in the coming weeks.

Confirmation of Price Increase

Brett Nelson, Vice President of Sales for Vista Outdoor’s Sporting Products division, confirmed the price increase was necessary to offset rising production costs. This has mostly been credited to the current world events and key suppliers who have been faced with unprecedented demand for gunpowder. Shortage of the commodity is global.

Source: Unsplash/ Jay Rembert

This has seen a substantial increase in price. Nelson echoed these sentiments. As a result, Vista has opted to increase prices to offset the deficit. Prices will rise between 1 to 7 percent for shotshell, rifles, handguns, and .22 caliber ammunition. Primers will increase by 5 percent, and Alliant Powder prices will jump 10 percent, though supply will be limited.

Reasons Behind the Price Increase

There are several factors contributing to the sharp rise in ammunition prices, according to Vista Outdoor. Supply and demand due to increased global conflicts and political tensions, the demand for ammunition has skyrocketed while the supply of raw materials has declined. Gunpowder, in particular, is in short supply.

Source: Flickr/nomadsoul1

This imbalance between supply and demand has driven costs up substantially for manufacturers. Vista Outdoor cites “an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder” as a primary driver of the price hikes.

Across-the-Board Price Increase

Across the ammunition industry, prices are skyrocketing. Vista Outdoor, a major supplier of ammunition and gunpowder, recently announced substantial price increases set to go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Source: Unsplash/Timothy Dykes

The price increases will impact Vista Outdoor’s various brands like Remington, CCI, Federal, and Speer..22 caliber and .17 caliber rimfire ammunition will increase 1-5%, and primers will go up 5%. Powder from Alliant Powder will see the largest increase at 10%, though supplies will still be limited.

Companies Affected by Price Increase

The increase in ammunition prices will impact many major manufacturers and brands under the Vista Outdoor umbrella. Companies like Remington, Alliant Powder, CCI, Federal, SEVI-Shot, and Speer have all announced price hikes ranging from 1 to 10 percent, depending on the product. According to Vista Outdoor, “an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder” has created a need for increased costs.

Source: Shutterstock

The Minnesota-based firm’s corporate overview boasts “41 renowned brands that design, manufacture, and market sporting and outdoor products.”

Specific Price Increases by Type

Vista Outdoor’s letter outlined some hefty price increases for ammunition in 2024 due to a shortage of gunpowder. Specific types of ammo will see varying spikes in cost.

Source: usplash/J Irby

Shotshell: Also known as shotgun shells, prices for shotshell ammunition are set to rise between 1 to 7 percent.

Rifle: Rifle cartridge costs will also swell between 1 to 7 percent. The increases will impact popular calibers such as .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield.

Handgun: Handgun ammunition, including rounds for pistols and revolvers, will jump 1 to 5 percent. This encompasses common self-defense and target loads like 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.

.22LR and .22 Short: Two of the most popular and inexpensive rimfire calibers, the .22 Long Rifle and .22 short, will also cost 1 to 5 percent more.

Primers: Primers, the caps that ignite gunpowder and fire a bullet, are set to increase by 5 percent across the board.

Limited Availability of Alliant Powder

The increased demand and limited supply have created the perfect storm for price hikes in the ammunition industry. Vista Outdoors’ letter cited “unprecedented demand and an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder” as the reasons for the increases.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In turn, Vista Outdoors is passing those costs onto consumers to maintain their profit margins. Unless customers cancel orders, the new prices will apply to all orders placed on or after January 1, 2024. Price lists with the specific increases for each product line will be released in the coming weeks, according to the letter.

The Powder Math

When broken down, the cost of a single 9mm round gunpowder only makes up about 7% of the total price. At roughly $0.035 per round, a 10% increase in powder would only raise the cost by $0.0035. However, when put into consideration the sheer volume of ammunition sold, especially for popular handgun and rifle calibers, even a small percentage increase in one component can translate into big profits.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While the latest announcement from Vista Outdoor is disappointing, ammunition price increases are inevitable over time. However, when prices for components like gunpowder skyrocket due to geopolitical events and supply chain issues, it places a larger burden on shooting sports enthusiasts.

Repricing Existing and Future Orders

The increases will go into effect on January 1, 2024, for both existing and future orders. The price of ammunition has been rising over time, but the COVID-19 pandemic also caused notable price spikes as supply chains struggled to keep up with demand.

Source: Unsplash/ Jay Rembert

Vista Outdoor’s brands, like Remington, CCI, Federal, and Speer, are all popular suppliers of ammunition for civilian and military use. With a portfolio of 41 brands that produce sporting and outdoor goods, Vista Outdoor has significant influence over the ammunition market.

Timing of New Price Lists

According to Vista Outdoor, the parent company of many well-known ammunition producers, new price lists for their products will be released in the coming weeks.

Source: Unsplash/ Clint Patterson

In a letter to customers in December, Brett Nelson, Vice President of Sales for Sporting Products, stated, “Due to world events, our suppliers have notified us of unprecedented demand for and an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder, and thus has increased our prices substantially.”

Historical Context of Ammunition Price Increases

For decades, the cost of ammunition has gradually risen due to inflation and increasing costs of materials and production. However, there have been notable spikes during times of conflict or uncertainty around the world.

Source: Unsplash/ Joe

For example, during the early 1990s, prices climbed due to the Gulf War. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain issues and increased demand, driving ammunition costs up significantly. According to Vista Outdoor, current “world events” have created a huge demand for ammunition and gunpowder that suppliers are struggling to meet.

Global Events Impacting Demand

Global events have significantly impacted ammunition demand and prices, according to Vista Outdoor. The company cites “world events” as contributing to “an anticipated global shortage of gunpowder” and the need to raise prices to offset increased costs from suppliers. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to a surge in demand for ammunition as the Ukrainian military sought to defend itself.

Source: Unsplash/ Thomas Ashlock

Vista Outdoor donated 1 million rounds of ammunition to support Ukraine. Ongoing conflicts between Israel and Hamas, as well as other tensions in the Middle East, have also fueled higher demand for ammo.

NATO Allies Stockpiling

In early 2023, Reuters reported that NATO was forced to increase their ammunition supplies following an audit that revealed Europe would “run out of ammunition in days” if engaged in direct conflict with Russia.

Source: Unsplash/Daniel

The unnamed NATO diplomat who disclosed this information highlighted the seriousness of the situation, implying NATO forces would be quickly overwhelmed without sufficient ammunition to sustain operations. Such shortages are not limited to NATO countries.

Vista Outdoor’s Support for Ukraine

Vista Outdoor has pledged substantial support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country in 2022. In March of that year, Vista Outdoor announced a donation of 1 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine, stating, “Supporting the relief effort is a crucial element of the global response, and we are proud to do our part.”

Source: Shutterstock

The company said the donation “underscores how critical the Second Amendment is in America and highlights the importance of the ability of American Manufacturers to supply our allies with ammunition.”

Price Hikes Passed on to Consumers

With costs rising for raw materials and components, ammunition companies have no choice but to increase prices for their finished goods. The higher costs of ammunition may discourage some from recreational target practice or hunting.

Source: Shutterstock

With tighter budgets, people may cut back on range time or pass up hunting permits and licenses. This could negatively impact outdoor sporting goods retailers who sell firearms, ammo and hunting gear.