GREAT FALLS — In an election year with protests happening across the country, gun sales are on the rise nationwide but an ammunition shortage has left gun shop owners in Montana in a tough spot.
"I hate it when it's like this," said James Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Supply in Great Falls.
Annual gun sales in the U.S. doubled at the beginning of the summer, by more than 130% in July, according to Small Arms Analytics, and they continue to increase.
Ammo sales also went up this summer, but many gun shop owners say ammo has been much harder to restock than firearms.
Some gun manufacturers say part of the reason for the shortage is the pandemic, which has disrupted the supply chain.
Manufacturing has slowed down or stopped in some parts of the U.S., and exports are harder to come by right now.
There is also a shortage of primer, the part of the bullet that initiates combustion.
The Guns & Ammo website states: "Primer manufacturers are working hard to feed the market. 'We continue to operate at full capacity and are committed to meeting the current strong demand for ammunition and primers,” Federal representatives told G&A.
Remington is also working overtime: “We are producing at record levels to attempt to satisfy the unprecedented demand for primers in support of the hand loading consumer, our own loaded rounds, and our industry partners loaded rounds.”
Mitchell said now is a rough time to be in the gun business.
"People want to buy it; we can't get it, and it just makes it more difficult," he said. "It's a nationwide thing. Eventually, they'll catch up, but like I say, it's going to be pretty ugly here for the next few months."