The past year proved to be another banner one for the ammunition industry. While driven partly by on-going fears of pending firearms bans and the related reaction by buyers to "stock-up," the impressive sales were primarily driven by Y2K concerns.
The predictions of massive unrest at the beginning of 2000 prompted gunowners to stock-up on ammunition. Many manufacturers worked around the clock to meet the demand. Virtually all major ammunition makers were back-ordered on .223, .308, 9mm, .45 ACP and .40 "ball" ammunition, especially during the last months of 1999.
One ammunition source told Shooting Industry that even the government was "stocking-up," which contributed to the scarcity of ball ammunition on dealer's shelves during November and December.
Will this glut of ammunition sitting on the garage shelves' of gun owners affect the industry in 2000? Yes -- and no -- according to the experts.
Will It Continue?
Tens of thousands of people who normally would not have bought ammunition in any quantity did so in 1999. Now, that ammunition may be sold off at gun shows and to friends, effectively "robbing" business from local retailers for a short while. Much of that ammunition might simply remain on garage shelves quietly awaiting the next "disaster."
Will you sell cases of ball ammunition in the early months of 2000? Probably not. Will the sales of premium, personal-defense, hunting and specialty ammunition continue unabated? Industry experts say yes.
So, while there will be a dip in sales in early 2000, experts predict another "hot" year of ammunition sales.
Ammo Trends 2000
A lot of small ammunition companies have entered the business in the past few years. From lightweight, high-velocity personal-defense ammunition with exotic bullet designs, to heavy-weight, cast-lead hunting loads for black powder rifles, these "boutique" makers cater to niche markets, often selling directly to the end-user. Of course, there also seems to be a steady stream of these small companies leaving the market. The ability of the small makers to cater to the needs of a limited number of buyers has been noticed by the major manufacturers and many of them have crossed over into this unusual market.
One has only to examine the selections available from Winchester, Federal, Remington, Black Hills and others to see that anything -- from ancient, long-forgotten cowboy loads and lead-bulleted, heavy-hunting ammunition to ultra-high performance loads -- are available over the counter these days.
Another trend in the industry is the combining of technology by two or more players in the ammunition game to create a product that, alone, neither could manage. Barnes and Federal, for instance, offer an astounding line of performance hunting ammunition. Winchester and Nosler now offer a superlative line of hunting ammunition that brings Nosler's expertise in bullet making to the table. Look to PMC and Sierra for a combination that delivers knock-out blows in the varmint market. While the smaller custom loaders have made it a routine to use bullets from the big makers, this trend by the "big three" is new and growing.
Factory ammunition can answer any need your customer might have -- either real or imagined. Savvy dealers are preparing for another year of healthy ammunition sales.
Waco Williams, owner of Mission Armory in San Diego, Calif., has been quoted before in Shooting Industry for good reason. His small retail store in an industrial area of San Diego does a surprising amount of business in "specialty" ammunition. Williams and his staff make good use of their limited display space, offering walk-in clients a wide cross-section of surplus, premium, personal defense, lead-bulleted and archaic loads.
"I don't have the shelf space behind the counter to stock what I'd like to," said Williams. "A simple matter of necessity made me put the ammo on tables on the sales floor, keeping it within reach of our customers. Almost immediately, I noticed ammo sales increasing as customers noticed the wide range of inventory, odd calibers and unusual case-lots available. They reached right out for it!"
Waco continues to offer this cross-section "at hand" for his customers but warns dealers to be prepared for some opened and torn boxes as customers rummage through the displays on the tables.
"I confess, I don't understand why a customer will open a box of ammo, look at a round inside, then replace the now opened box and take a new one from just below it, leaving the torn one. I swear, it's made me prematurely gray," he laughs. "I generally offer the torn boxes at a discount. But the payoff is worth the occasional missing end flap!"
What's Out There
These are the good old days for ammunition buyers -- both retail and wholesale. The ball ammunition industry is usually a price-point affair, with all the major players competing for shelf space with their own version of a "white label" brand. Luckily, the hunting, premium and specialty lines don't seem to suffer from that same malaise. While a dealer has to offer a discount line of basic plinking and target ammunition, the real money is in selling premium ammunition, especially to the non-reloader, hunter and personal-defense buyer.
To gain an idea of the wide range of innovation in ammunition available to you and your customers, Shooting Industry polled a cross-section of makers to see what's new for 2000. While unarguably incomplete, it provides a snapshot of the innovation available in over-the-counter ammunition.
This maker of a cross-section of quality ammunition imported from Mexico offers several interesting loads. The one generating the most interest is a 45 ACP High Power load using a 117-grain metal alloy bullet at 1,450 fps. Fans of high-velocity, lightweight bullets will surely want this one.
Another innovation is their 12 gauge "mini-shotshells." The overall length is only 1.5 inches and generates corresponding low recoil. They are available in birdshot, buckshot and a slug load. Just perfect for cowboy shooters.
Aguila's introduction of the .22 caliber Colibri round brings a 20-grain .22 round powered solely by the Eley primer mix. At short to medium ranges, it's a dandy target round for "garage" plinking or makes short work of varmints around the farm.
Black Hills Ammunition
Jeff and Christy Hoffman, owners of Black Hills, continue to take advantage of their company's ability to react quickly to the changing marketplace. For one of the "big three" ammunition makers to gear-up and offer a new load or caliber might take months of marketing research, tests and evaluation, load development, and cooperation between many different departments within their companies.
At Black Hills, from the time Jeff Hoffman decides to do something different until the ammunition is sitting on a shelf ready to ship can be just the matter of a couple of meetings and they are off and running.
Black Hills has taken advantage of this by offering a new .32 H&R Magnum load featuring a Hornady 85-grain XPT hollowpoint at 1,100 fps. This popular round refuses to die and is all too often ignored by the big makers. Hoffman's line of cowboy loads continues to grow and encompasses virtually all the standard (and non-standard) loads an aspiring cowboy might need.
An interesting load from CCI is a .40 S&W Blazer aluminum cased shot load. This round is loaded with #9 shot and gives excellent pattern density at close ranges. New to this Blazer shotshell ammunition line is the .45 Colt shotshell. The line is ideal for short-range pest and varmint control.
Federal Cartridge Co.
Federal's hunting loads using the Barnes XLC Coated X-Bullet will be offered in standard hunting calibers like .270 and 30-'06. The Barnes bullet is 100 percent copper and designed for deep penetration with virtual 100 percent weight retention.
Look for a unique and exciting personal defense handgun load from Federal. The unique ammunition looks and feeds like full-metal case ball ammunition, yet expands like gang-busters on the target. Its thin, pre-scored jacket shape is maintained by a filler of soft-plastic material.
Once the projectile strikes the target, the jacket gives, expanding like high-performance conventional ammunition but without losing jacket material.
Preliminary tests show consistent expansion through all the standard test media, without the problems associated with hollowpoints filling up with material and failing to expand. It's cutting-edge technology, indeed. Additionally, it can be perceived as being "politically correct" ammunition by the liberal media due to the lack of a "nasty" hollowpoint.
Federal's new cowboy loads in .45-70 and paper 12-gauge are selling as fast as they are made in that strong market.
PMC continues to offer their cowboy line and has combined with Sierra to make a "knock-'em-dead" varmint load in .223 and .22-250. With 3,300 fps from the .223 and 3,725 from the .22-250, this 50-grain bullet is proving to be explosive in the field.
Remington Arms Co.
Remington is expecting a lot of excitement from the introduction of its electronic ignition EtronX Rifle System.
The rifle's ammunition, with electronic primer, is available in .22-250 Remington and .220 Swift in the 50-grain Hornady V-Max polymer-tipped bullet, plus .243 Win. in the 90-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. Look for more offerings as the rifle gains the attention of your customers.
Following the introduction of the Ultra Mag ammunition line last year, Remington is adding two new .300 Ultra Mag rounds: a 200-grain Nosler Partition bullet and 180-grain Swift Scirocco. In addition, there's the new .338 Ultra Mag. 250-grain Swift A-Frame hunting round -- to complement the new Model 700 .338 Ultra Mag.
Remington also is taming the felt recoil of slug guns with the introduction of a 20-gauge copper solid sabot slug load. Reportedly, the slug delivers 100 percent weight retention while achieving 2x controlled expansion.
Look for the addition of three new calibers to the Nitrex line of precision rifle ammunition from Speer. The 7mm STW, the .260 Remington and the 7mm-08 Remington will use the Speer Grand-Slam bullet technology.
Also new from Speer is lawman RHT (Reduced Hazard Training) ammunition. It was developed for range operators who must or want to maintain a totally lead-free environment. It's available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 Auto.
Big news from Winchester is a new line of AA sporting clays loads, which a source from Winchester says "will be even more reloadable than the standard double-A loads." More reloadable than double-A's? That's big news for all those skeet, clay and trap shooters.
Winchester has also developed a new Supreme Partition Gold shotgun slug load. The 12-gauge .50-caliber slug weighs in at 385 grains and is nestled in a sabot. The whole package leaves the barrel at an astounding 1,900 fps and should be just the ticket for hunting and police applications. Quite an innovation.
Look for new loads in Winchester's non-toxic line, mostly geared for police and military and a line of .223 and .22-250 varmint loads value-priced but with exceptional performance.
Borrowing an idea from Federal, Winchester is packaging their exceptional SXT Personal Protection ammunition in see-through packaging.
The Better Sale
Customers are often sorely uninformed about the kind of performance available from today's premium ammunition. Take your "price-point" customer who is normally shopping for inexpensive ammunition and gently conduct some "in-store" education concerning the many advantages of the slightly higher ammunition. Increased accuracy, reliability and performance means a happier customer and increased profit margins for your store.
AMMO 2000 3D Ammunition & Bullets 401 A-Square Co. Inc. 402 American Ammunition 403 Aquila 404 Barnes Bullets 405 Berger Bullets 406 Bismuth Cartridge Co. 407 Black Hills Ammunition 408 CCI 409 Cor-Bon 410 Corbin Inc. 411 Dakota Arms 412 Dynamit Nobel RWS 413 Federal Cartridge Corp. 414 Fiocchi of America 415 Ft. Worth Firearms 416 Glaser Safety Slug Inc. 417 Hansen Cartridge Co. 418 Hornady Mfg. Co. 419 K.B.I. Inc. 420 Lazzeroni Arms 421 Lightfield 422 Mag Safe 423 PMC Ammunition 424 Pro Load Ammunition 425 Remington Arms Co. 426 Speer 427 Triton Cartridge 428 Weatherby Inc. 429 Winchester/Olin Corp. 430 Wolf/Sporting Supplies 431 Zero Ammunition Co. 432
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|Date:||Jan 1, 2000|
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