Ammunition shortage in Canada

by Jeff Helsdon | January 19, 2021
a bullet with a full metal jacket

Conditions related to COVID-19 have caused an ammunition shortage.

“We have 40% of what we would usually have in stock for SKUs,” said Wes Winkel, president of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association and owner of Ellwood Epp’s in Orillia.

Increased demand

Winkel said increased demand due to the pandemic started the shortage here and in the United States. An increase in new hunters has also been well documented south of the border, but it is a little harder to define in Canada however, there has been an uptick in Ontario.

“At this time, there appears to be higher than expected Ontario resident hunting licence sales when compared to the historical trend,” said Maimoona Dinani, acting media relations officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. “The ministry has not done an analysis to determine if new or lapsed hunters are taking up hunting in 2020.”

Material shortages

Increased demand has been hampered by a shortage of raw materials – again caused by the pandemic – and federal employees who issue licenses working from home, which is slower.

There is also speculation that there will be another American buying spree due to Biden’s election – due to the perception that his administration will be more restrictive regarding firearms.

To make matters worse, the bankruptcy and sale of Remington ammunition brought their production to a halt. Winkel said this represented 35% of his sales. With Vista Outdoor purchasing Remington, the goal is to be producing the Remington products by year-end 2020. However, Winkel said this, along with Barnes being sold to Sierra Bullets, would require new licenses for these products, which are again coming slower than normal.

Winkel was told it would be the third quarter of 2021 before he sees some purchase orders placed now.

Canadian manufacturers behind

Canadian-made ammunition, such as Challenger and Score, has also been affected, Winkel said. “They load ammunition here, but don’t manufacture components,” he said. “They are short of components.”

The Remington bankruptcy, combined with pandemic-related factors, have also resulted in fewer guns on the shelves in most gun stores.

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  1. george doucette wrote: wow, I stocked up since 2009. The rimfire shortage back then opened my eyes.
  2. Mark R Spietaels wrote: I find it funny how this wasn't picked up by some corners of the hunting and shooting sports earlier . Perhaps it was the specific types and or brands of ammo that made this take longer to come to the forefront . I remember responding to an article someone had wrote ( maybe last May or June ) , where they questioned how a possible shortage was affecting Canada and It seemed that there wasn't as much concern as now . And rightfully so . But I remember people also , people responding to the question of whether they felt there was a shortage . I personally was already experiencing problems ,back at the end of 2019 / 2020 locating ammunition in the in the 3" size of both 12 and 20 gauge along with specific brands and types of .22LR ammunition . Other people were responding ,even with videos showing box stores with shelves full of ammo , where our more rural areas were hurting. By the time these articles were surfacing it was even more noticeable along with , what I consider a sharp increase in prices on existing stock and the new stuff trickling . And as of now , not much has changed and will probably worsen , with Covid , the departure of Remington and the current political views , both here and across the border .