Vista Outdoors induced primer shortage

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Sam Summey

Single-Sixer
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Dec 24, 2009
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Flat Rock, NC
A bit of speculation on the un-availability of primers. It is my belief the Vista Outdoors President Jason Vanderbrink has created a primer shortage and has convinced/extorted Winchester and other primer sources to follow suit. The motive for this created situation is to induce/force the shooting fraternity into shooting factory ammunition. I am a retailer of reloading supplies and I have been unable to obtain primers since mid-2020. When querying my wholesalers, I am informed that they haven't seen a Winchester or Remington primer in two years, however, he has always been able to get CCI primers, but Vista Outdoors will only allow him to sell them to FFL 07 manufacturers and this situation has always existed. I inquired at another wholesaler who sells foreign made primers and I know he is selling them to one of my customers direct because HE is a shooting competitor of some minor acclaim, the wholesaler says he only sells to ammunition manufacturers (FFL 07). I am a FFL but a 01 (retailer). I pointed out to this wholesaler that by following this policy he is giving the reloading public a royal screwing. Now before everyone spouts off that there are new primer plants sprouting up all over the US and the situation is only temporary. In my opinion this only speculation; and is only a "pipe dream". If Sig Sauer, who is the alleged to have the first facility in operation, to supply primers to their own ammunition. Do you really think there will be primers for reloaders? No, they will use them in their ammunition fledgling production.
 

kmoore

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Mar 29, 2017
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Idaho
Primers and other ammo components will always go to fill ammo orders and contracts 1st and the handloading market 2nd. A member on here has or had a CCI contact who said that in Jan 2021 they would take 1.5 years to fill current ammo orders until than all primers and bullets went there 1st. I don't have any personal insight just repeating what I was told about CCI back in about Feb 2021.
Here in Idaho CCI primers have been on retail shelfs since about feb or March of 2022. Costs are sky high, from 10 to 18 bucks per 100 depending where you shop.
I have also wondered about when Remington ammo closed production, just how much of a market share they had in handloading primer sales and if that made CCI even harder to keep up.
I would understand if that was true about CCI, the unwillingness to expand CCIs production beyond adding shifts. The massive cost to enlarge a production plant would be a big gamble just based on who is the POTUS (ie hating the firearms industry or embracing it).
Again I am in no way knowing what really happened or attempting to disprove what you stated. In the end it sucks for all handloaders.
 
Joined
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Oregon City, Oregon
Most businesses would expand production when there is such a demand. For reasons I will never know, American ammo and component companies are not stepping up, or if they are, production is being circumvented. Hence, all the Eastern European companies more than willing to sell us ammo.
 

AJGUNNER

Hunter
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The Sticks---N.W. Orygun
I actually passed on some CCI LP just last week. I had asked in passing an employee if they happened to have any primers or powders come in. "Oh gee we haven't seen any primers in 2 years, and the powders go out as soon as we get any". I made my way to the sporting goods counter and there was 17 sleeves of CCI LP primers on the shelf priced at $5.79. Guess I should have grabbed my limit of 2, for a friend or 2, but just walked on by. I figure I have my lifetime supply, and the most expensive I have were $1.19 per sleeve. If Bill Clinton taught us anything it was to be prepared for the wrath of a democrap with a pen. This was at my local BiMart for those locals that know them.
 
Joined
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Greenville, SC: USA
I'm speculating that it is what Kmoore said.... primers are promised to the ammo manufacturers first and thus the fault goes to us that are for some convoluted reason stocking up on thousands of rounds of ammo. Also, various guvmnt agencies that buy even more.
 

Mobuck

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Dec 25, 2007
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missouri
As above, the suppliers will ALWAYS service their multi-million dollar buyers FIRST.
When the "CCI guy" made that little video about how VISTA was doing all they could do to supply ammo and supplies, that threw a giant red flag on my screen. Like the little boy who just threw a mudball at the teacher holding up his dirty hand and yelling "I didn't do it".
Personally, I was NOT affected by the shortage of primers and powder so not my ox that was gored--just my perception of the deception.
 

Johnnu2

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Jun 26, 2003
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NYS
Contrived shortages have been the staple of big businesses. At the risk of repeating: look at the diamond market that is TOTALLY CONTROLLED by deBeers family.... Several years ago, 60 Minutes did an eye-openning piece on how they lock the sparkly stones away and only allow a certain number of them to market each year. Guess what.... it works; silly people still pay sick prices for shiny stones that are "hard to get".

J.
 

Huskerguy72

Bearcat
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Mar 19, 2017
Messages
63
Location
Central Kansas
I guess the first question to ask, is there really a primer shortage or is it perceived? I am on several forums and am amazed at how many new shooters and reloaded have come in to the market. It seems many of them still don't know what things should cost and they just spent a bunch of money on presses and a $200 bunch of primers isn't out of line to them.

I am one is well.stocked up but always looking. Even if I don't look very hard, primers have always been available. They weren't at the old price but they were/are available. So, back my first question, is there really a shortage?

22 ammo was the same way a few years ago. Scalpers figurer out how to intercept Walmart orders and then made bug bucks on the black market. What kept that market high was people willing to pay the high prices.

I have a good friend who is an FFL and has carried many reloading supplies in the past. He can't get any primers from any of his suppliers. He says there is no incentive for them to sell him wholesale primers when they can open their own retail store and double or triple their money. He has seen this all over.

It is free enterprise at its finest but yet we complain that someone is gouging. Well, sure, they are gouging if one is willing to pay those prices. That just perpetuates the problem. We like to blame the government and business when things don't favor us but yet we fail to look at our own collective behavior. JMHO
 

dwayne

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Eastern Virginia
It hasn’t been that long ago that we saw videos from the manufacturing executives with tears in their eyes about how hard they are working to produce components and how the demand was gobbling all of them up and how we just need to be patient. I have been patient. And, I have real time access to the inventory of a wholesale supplier that supplies our club (and probably a hundred more). I have not seen a single primer in their inventory in two years. My initial call remains … BS. It’s all a money grab. And, that’s fine. Just spare me the tears.
 

Huskerguy72

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Mar 19, 2017
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Central Kansas
After I wrote my reply above, I had a good conversation yesterday with a guy who has his FFL for firearm repair and ammo manufacturing. He commented that ATF comes around more often looking at records than they once did. If they find any problem in your records, you can bet on more timely visits. He said they used to come around every 3-4 years, now it depends and they generally are not nice people. A guy fairly local just shut his doors, he could handle the paper work scrutiny.

As per reloading supplies, he obviously purchased in large quantities from two major suppliers. His cost before the pandemic was $130 for 5,000. Now the price is listed at around $240 for federals but he can't get them. His opinion is the big markup is coming from the middle men. He also said many of the middle men have opened what he called "ghost" companies where they sell products at a different price level.

He doesn't think there is an overall shortage of primers, they are out there but the price is the issue. With his contacts, he is not hopeful to see things improve significantly anytime soon. The one thing we can count on is more ATF regulations.
 

the_leper_colony

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Mar 5, 2015
Messages
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We can speculate endlessly about mysterious conspiracies to limit access to primers - but the bottom line is, it's a matter of supply and demand. The supply is limited by manufacturing capacity, but if people weren't willing to pay high prices (for primers & ammo), the prices would come down. Everybody wants primers: people who were never interested in reloading are starting to get involved, and people who always stocked 5 or 10 or 20 thousand primers (because they shoot competitively, etc.) are wanting to put away 2x or 3x as many as they used to, "just in case".

So, when primers do show up somewhere, they fly off the shelves, at whatever price is marked. I know a guy in charge of the gun department at a local farm supply store, who has actually been dreading getting primers back in stock. He tells me everybody wants 'em by the case, thousands at a time, and if he limits people to just 200-300 per purchase (the way they did with ammo when it was short), they'll just get pissed and scream at him.

We've all seen it before, with magazines (when they get banned), scarey-looking rifles (ditto), ammunition (whenever Joe Citizen realizes that eight rounds left in a 5-year-old box ain't enough for the current 'emergency'), etc., etc. - simple supply and demand.

IMHO, FWIW, YMMV, etc.
 

Mobuck

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missouri
In north MO, southern & central Iowa, and a couple other places where I have contacts, primers WERE unobtanium regardless of price as was powder and popular caliber bullets. I even tried to bribe a person who works in FIOCCHI ammo plant to let me have some of his 'employee status' allowance of 6.5mm bullets w/o any luck. Son stopped at the Hornady plant 2-3 times w/o finding anything worthwhile. Even now, it's not a sure thing to walk into a place expecting to find reloading supplies or ammo.
 
Joined
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Greenville, SC: USA
That's kind of like the DEF? stuff that is a diesel additive that was discussed about a month ago.... right after it was put out that it was going to be hard to get I go into HomeDepot and there is a pallet of the stuff near the contractor check out.... never seen the stuff before in my life and now I see a pallet at both Lowes and the home depot.

The only time I've ever bought primers was to reload simulated artillery shells for a flare gun I own...
 

57springer

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Central Pa.
It hasn’t been that long ago that we saw videos from the manufacturing executives with tears in their eyes about how hard they are working to produce components and how the demand was gobbling all of them up and how we just need to be patient. I have been patient. And, I have real time access to the inventory of a wholesale supplier that supplies our club (and probably a hundred more). I have not seen a single primer in their inventory in two years. My initial call remains … BS. It’s all a money grab. And, that’s fine. Just spare me the tears.
I agree big time !
 

6GUNSONLY

Hunter
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
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Alabama, in the bend of the Tennessee River
I don't think we have an information source about this "shortage" we can trust because everyone who actually knows anything has a vested interest in the outcome. This is why our country enacted anti-trust/monopoly laws in the past, but of course no one who could cares enough to do anything.
 

Skeet 028

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Sep 3, 2011
Messages
28
Location
Northwest Wyoming
It's a pretty simple equation.. There used to be 4 US primer manufacturers. Rem Win Fed and CCI. we now have 2 with a shortage of ammo. Where do you think the primers are going? Vista controls the market. I got some Rem 7 1/2s a month or so ago. But pretty certain they were new old stock. And let's be honest...Winchester is for all intents and purposes not a major maker of commercial ammo like they were in the past. They have divested themselves of much firearm related businesses. So, they're not going to rock the boat. Vista makes ammo. Much more profit in ammo than components. Rem CCI Speer and Federal are all in their stable. I am old enough to remember when getting reloading components was, while not impossible, much harder. Powder and primers were delivered by REA. Hodgdon, Speer Hornady and Huntingdon got that changed years ago. I happened to shoot with a few Rem people and one VP and a Co rep told me at the time they didn't want to be in the component business. They wanted to sell ammo. Mo money! That's still the name of the game... But there is one more fly in the ointment...we reloaders.. We have proved to the manufacturers we will pay ridiculous prices for components. A Rem VP told me back in the last shortage...the old retail price on ammo and primers would end up being the new wholesale prices. He was right. So if they ever get caught up on shortages...look for primer prices to be in the 60-80 dollar range. Foreign prices will be maybe 5 bucks less...They've learned the lesson we have taught them too. All said I think ammo prices will drop down a bit even with commodity prices so high...Components like primers?? Doubtful. And don't forget....there have been quite a few startup ammo businesses over the years. One like Browning Estate Activ. They helped for a while to bring ammo prices down. All gone now and ammo prices have continued to rise even with the foreign ammo imported into the US market
 

kmoore

Buckeye
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Mar 29, 2017
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Location
Idaho
I would be more into believing a conspiracy of Vista holding back primers if all other handloading stuff was readily available. The shortage has been bullets, brass, powder and everything needed to make them. Even lead bullet making stuff was been hard to find. The days of walking into a sporting goods store and picking out any of that type of stuff you want or ordering it though a web supplier went away. I waited months to get some RCBS and Redding stuff. Just waited 6 months to get 375 HH mag brass, over 1 year to get H1000 powder and over 2 years to get H3450 powder.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Sep 18, 2002
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Lake Lure NC USA
Skeet 028 makes some very valid points. With Vista having the lion's share of ownership of primer manufacturing it can & does control the market.
And as long as people keep paying the stupidly high prices,, for both ammo & components, they will keep the controls tight.

kmoore says that other components are also very hard to get. Yet,, of all the components,, primers are THE main problem. Yes,, some stuff isn't as readily available,,, but they are available.
I go into different gun shops now,, and I see ammo available,, and much of it is a Vista product.
I look for components,, (brass, powder & bullets,) and I see a much more available inventory than a year or even 2 years ago. Yes,, some stuff is in shorter supply,, but that's more due to manufacturing being strained by raw materials & low employee numbers. (Remember,, a LOT of businesses have suffered the loss of employees that were trained & working prior to the pandemic.)
I see everything reasonably available,, EXCEPT for primers.

I see it as a sideways method of gun control.

A firearm is useless without ammo. Control the ammo, and you control the use of firearms.

Government agencies (FEMA, USPS, IRS etc.) and our military, as well as ALL the LE agencies,,, ALL can make large contract binding purchases,, that leaves the individual under their control. AND big companies like Vista would much rather have a few large, guaranteed contracts, than trying to work at selling to 100,000 small business dealers.

Vista has & does CONTROL most of the primer supply, and w/o primers,, there isn't any ammo,,, and w/o ammo, guns are just paperweights.
 

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