Here’s Why Ammo Is So Expensive in America

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A new story from Politico has shown that Russian troops have managed to get their hands on NATO ammunition. Hornady ammunition, popular with civilian shooters in America, has somehow made its way to Russian Wagner troops.

In a video published on Telegram, a Russian warlord displays a Western style sniper rifle, the Orsis, chambered in .388 Lapua.

“We categorically are NOT exporting anything to Russia and have not had an export permit for Russia since 2014,” he replied. “We do not support any sale of our product to any Russian son-of-a-bitch and if we can find out how they acquire, if in fact they do, we will take all steps available to stop it.”

“Strictly speaking, smart sanctions are not supposed to target anything civilian to avoid humanitarian collateral damage,” said Shagina, a research fellow at the U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. “But the targets in authoritarian countries will really exploit this.

Russia’s ecletic sourcing of ammunition is due to its weak domestic ammunition production. Should America be involved in a similar high intensity conflict, it would probably also face ammunition sourcing concerns. The US Department of Defense runs very few state-controlled arsenals, Lake City being one of them, and would rely on private contracting as well.

The thriving black market reflects a structural deficit in Russia’s war economy. Its military-industrial complex can produce good small arms, like the Orsis rifle, but lacks the capacity to churn out the amount of ammunition needed by an army fighting a war across a front stretching hundreds of miles.

America is not the only source of ammunition for the Russian war machine. Europe, with its free flow of goods and people within the EU, has also been a source of ammunition for Russian contractors.

There also appear to be cartridges from the European Union, which has imposed no fewer than 10 rounds of sanctions against Russia in a so-far inconclusive attempt to starve Putin’s war machine of the means to fight on.

The ammunition trade has suffered greatly from increased needs of armies in Ukraine. While profitable for the companies, American shooters have been competing for fewer and fewer ammunition. The popular steel jacketed producers of Russia, such as Wolf, has now effectively been banned due to the sanctions. Pricing of ammo, which had already skyrocketed during Covid, is expected to keep rising.


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