Thursday, May 21, 2009

Handgun Buying Consideration: Ammunition Availability

As a Firearms Trainer, I meet many people who desire to purchase their first handgun. In my state of Michigan compliant Concealed Pistol License Training Class, I share with them several handgun buying considerations that they need to assess so that they will make a wise decision. Until now, I had never mentioned ammunition availability as a critical factor.

The Reason Why Ammunition Is So Hard To Find
Ammunition is currently in short supply and will probably remain in that state for the forseeable future. This condition exists all over the entire United States, despite the fact that domestic ammunition manufacturers are working their factories literally around the clock to meet the increased market demand. It is of no practical consequence to discuss political ideology at this time, but the run on ammunition started in earnest after the recent U.S. Presidential Election.

Many gun owners believe that President Obama is vehemently anti-gun. This position and opinion gained traction in the minds of many when Secretary of State Eric Holder announced the President's plan to institute a gun ban. Holder's announcement created a huge backlash from law-abiding gun owners; many Democratic legislators in Washington distanced themselves, at least temporarily, from supporting that initiative.

As a consequence, many citizens are buying firearms of all types (e.g. handguns, rifles, and shotguns) and ammunition in large quantities. In fact, the buying behavior has gotten so pronounced that many retailers have begun rationing the amount of ammunition that a single person can buy at one time.

Implication For The First Time Handgun Buyer
As a firearms trainer, I am cognizant of the fact that it is preferable to teach new shooters the fundamentals of operating a handgun with a small caliber firearm. However, as a practical matter small caliber handguns are not acceptable options for personal protection. Accordingly, I have my students shoot 9mm caliber handguns during my gun safety training class; it is the smallest acceptable caliber for defensive purposes.

Ammunition for 9mm handguns, which is currently the most popular handgun caliber, is becoming exceedingly hard to purchase due to its scarcity. Stores are literally receiving ammunition shipments and depleting their stock in a matter of moments. Buyers have resorted to 'staking out' stores, consulting with others over the Internet, and cozying up to Shipping & Receiving employees to find out when ammo shipments are due to arrive.

One obvious implication of the current environment for a new handgun buyer is that there is no benefit to having a firearm if he does not have any ammunition to use with it. I ran into this issue head-on when I taught my last handgun safety class. The range did not have any 9mm ammunition for sale.

I improvised and had my students shoot .40 caliber handguns. Although, there is a difference in the amount of recoil experienced when comparing a 9mm caliber firearm with one chambered at .40, proper instruction will lead to new shooters performing admirably on the range. For the record, they did.

Bottom Line
The experience of having my students shooting .40 caliber handguns because of a 9mm ammunition shortage has led to an addition in the info that I now distribute to my students. From this point in time onward, until the current environment changes, I will also add 'ammo availability' as a handgun buying consideration. Thus, a new handgun buyer should now assess his chances of being able to buy ammo for the firearm he is thinking about buying. He may have to forgo the 9mm as an entry-level purchase and consider buying a .40 caliber handgun.

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