I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with an employee of the largest ammo manufacturer in the country. I asked him what the deal is with 22LR accusing him of not making it as much. He told me that is not the case, not even close. We talked about 22 LR in general and why it is still so hard to get – here is what was discussed.
I learned a few things about the manufacturing and why it is harder and more costly to load than centerfire ammo (in relation to the retail cost). Unlike centerfire loading the priming solution needs to be added to the case wet. Whereas in centerfire ammo the primer is a cap that is pressed into the case. After the priming solution is added to the 22 case the cases need to pass through a drying machine before the powder can be added and the bullet loaded into the case. This is an additional step and it takes longer to load each round. The other difference with the 22 LR loading equipment is that it takes up more space than the centerfire loading equipment and can only be used to load 22LR. Machines used for Centerfire cartridges are generally multi-use and can be reconfigured to load various pistol calibers.
As far as why it’s still difficult to get – there are several reasons.
- #1. There are more 22 rifles in different styles than ever before. In the past 22 rifles were primary bolt, single shot or a semi with 10 or 20 round mags. Now everyone is making an AR-15 style gun in 22Lr and you can easily shoot 1000 rounds in an afternoon.
- #2. New shooters generally start with 22LR , and rightfully so. We have seen more new shooters in the last 3 years than ever before.
- #3. You can’t reload 22LR or Rimfire cartridges at home so once you shoot them you have to buy more.
- #4. Hording – with the recent scarcity of this ammo everyone is stocking up.
- #5. Preppers – yes people like you (you can admit it) recognize that this is a great prepper round. Extremely versatile, light weight so you can carry a lot, inexpensive and great for hunting small game for food.
- #6. Recreational shooting – with the cost of ammo more shooters are shooting the relatively cheaper 22LR more than they have in the past simply to save money.
If everyone would just stop panicking and hording the ammo 22LR manufacturers would start to catch up. My advice is spread the word to slow down and not panic. This may help it show up more on the shelves of your favorite gun stores. But if you fall under reason #5 listed above – do not take that advice and get out there and buy all you can. Once you get 10,000 + rounds you can slow down.