Ammo & Gear Reviews

Need ammo? Gold isn’t the only precious soft metal these days

By Cork Graham,

First there’s the conspiracy theory: The US Government is buying out all available ammunition, and telling the manufacturers to not sell anymore ammo to the civilian populace—In other words, the US Government is getting ready for a major, economic and societal shift that will result in all out Civil War, and as many know, those with the most toys, wins!

Then there’s other notion: gun shops are hoarding their ammo and only letting some of it out as they push the prices up even further–$17.49 for a 50 rounds box of .22 Long Rifle?! Just last year it was $9 for a box of 500 rounds!

Another idea launched is that there are so many survivalists, preppers, and newbie/wannabe preppers (they want to prep; can’t afford a gun, but a box of ammo, they can), who are hoarding ammo, either as something to barter, or are just hoarders subconsciously driven to fight scarcity, who now have a new item with which to fill their homes.

And, there’s yet another notion, where the manufacturers were completely taken aback by how effective President Obama has been in creating such divide American people, fearful that he’s taking us down the road of a dictatorship through Executive Order, and removing the Second Amendment, which was put there to protect against tyranny of any form—ironically, especially considering how anti-gun the president has been, no other president in US history has done the gun and ammunition business as good as has Obama highest gun and ammo sales, ever.

…As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between the extremes.

Here’s the clincher, what none of the commentators mention is one other point: we’re running out of soft metals! In scientific circles, this is called “Peak Copper” and “Peak Minerals.” This is when what were easy to extract metals become fewer, and we phase to expensive and smaller returns on energy expended to get those metals.

This is how they used to find copper: 100 percent pure copper boulder, laying around river bottoms…easy pickings!

China, India and Russia

Part of the strain on copper resources, and for that matter soft metals, is the massive industrialization that has ramped up in China and India in the last ten years—with no end in sight. Demand has become so large from these two nations that a booming business in copper theft has exploded in the United States. They need copper for their own construction needs and will stop at nothing to get it. Just a few years ago, a gas and electric company was the victim of copper wire theft that would have resulted in millions of dollars of copper wire being shipped to China.

Russian arms manufacturers, recognizing this increasing lack of copper, and how brass is an alloy comprised of copper and zinc, have been producing soft steel cases for a variety of cartridges, most notably the AK47 rounds and the American market of 5.56 NATO. Soft metals are being depleted, and the many  wars we’ve had over the last 60 years have added up to our selling off and shooting our finite natural resources in foreign lands, basically making them the natural resources for recycling in those countries in which we’ve fought. 

This was made clear to me all the way back in 1983 and 1984, when I was travelling back and forth between Saigon and Rach Gia for my interrogations and mock trial by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. When we were travelling I noticed rural Vietnamese scavenging off a tank that had been ripped open by explosion during the war. In THE BAMBOO CHEST, I described this scene, as though like African pygmies butchering a large elephant. Perhaps, we’re now at point, where once copper miners could get copper in 100-percent copper boulders, we now have to dig a mile down, a pit two miles wide, to get our copper ore. Can you imagine how expensive that’s going to make shooting your rifle or pistol in the near future?

This is how they have to get copper nowadays…there might be perhaps a cup of usable copper ore in that giant truckload–imagine the fuel and resources energy to get deep down to what used to be laying around on the ground, ready to be picked up by hand.


Soup Kitchens For Shooters

A chat with a friend revealed that a local Big 5 is having people line up, first come, first serve, to purchase ammo, right when they open. It’s like Bass Pro, who just a few weeks ago, received a new shipment of handguns one morning, and they were all gone by 11 a.m.

Here’s the irony, perhaps 30 to 50 percent of those standing in line for ammo, won’t even be shooters. They don’t even own a firearm. All they’re doing is hoarding. They’ve realized that next to gold, when things hit the fan, ammo will be as priceless as gold, perhaps more so. Gold is a pretty colored metal that because of rarity, was made into a form of currency, but ammo is food at the table and an attacker dead on the ground. When currency fails, as it’s continuing to do at a rapid rate, meat and potato systems take their place, and there’s no better meat-n-potato systems than the barter system.

It might even get to a point that you can buy a horse for a 500-round box of .22 LR…

So, What About Your Ammo?

A couple weeks ago, I was chatting with my buddy and colleague, show host, shooting instructor, owner of Student of the Gun, and former Marine, Paul Markel, and asked, “What if this is all because we’re running out of copper—what if the government is doing the same thing as the private citizen, but on a much larger scale, and for very similar, yet different reasons?…Both are hoarding to make sure they have ammo, but the private citizen is doing it because he, or she thinks there won’t be any available due to the government. But what if the government’s hoarding for the same reasons, but it’s doing it because it doesn’t think the raw materials will be available to make that much more ammunition?”

“About ten years so,” Markel answered, “I read one of John Farnam’s quips on his website. He was my first introduction into private shooting instruction. Basically Farnam was talking about how the shrinking of supply of soft metals would lead to us using alternatives, such as steel cases.

..I just don’t get it. When I was a shooting instructor at the NECC (Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, the commander came back from the local fleamarket, flipping out that they were selling used ammo boxes. As though he thought it wasn’t normal for the government to make available to the public the sale of these items. He then ordered all ammo boxes be crushed and sold for the melted metal price.