News from Shotshow 2024: I just got home from 4 days in Las Vegas at the shotshow, where I met with the people from the factories we work with, factory sales people, factory directors and owners, importers, etc.
The big point of discussion seemed to be shortness in supply for nitrocellulose, which is the raw material used to make gunpowder and other propellants and explosives. Based on these conversations, the issue seems to be based on 2 factors, decreased availability in the supply chain and increased demand for the manufacturing of military ordnance.
Getting into the details and a little more, a huge percentage of the nitrocellulose used to make gunpowder historically came from China and Russia, however according to my conversations with industry partners, the Chinese manufacturers who historically were the biggest suppliers at over 30% of the market share are no longer willing to ship raw nitrocellulose to the USA or NATO member countries in attempt to reduce the USA & NATO’s ability to supply Ukrainian forces with artillery shells, and of course Russia who historically was the 2nd biggest supplier is out of the supply chain as well.
This decrease in supply in raw material has gunpowder manufacturers in the USA raising prices dramatically and cutting off many of the smaller ammo manufacturers.
The 2nd part of this issue is the demand for military ordnance, like 155mm artillery shells that use huge quantities gunpowder propellants, and the gunpowder manufacturers switching production to this type of gunpowder with what supply of nitrocellulose they do get.
The first reason is that they always put the US government’s needs before those of the commercial market, and the second reason is that it is simply much more profitable to manufacturer military ordnance than it is small caliber ammunition, so they get a much more profitable price manufacturing powder for artillery shells.
In conclusion, while most of the factories seem to have gunpowder stockpiled today, this issue is expected to catch up to them no later than the summer of 2024 and possibly within a few months, and when it does it will mean the factories will be capable of producing much less small caliber ammunition to sell to the US commercial market.
If demand for ammo is low to moderate, you may not see a big change, but if demand were to go way up as it does periodically, the factories will not be able to ramp up capacity to fill that demand. In my opinion, a lot could go wrong in the commercial ammo supply chain in 2024 and it would be wise to stock up sooner than later as 2024 price increases have just started to set in on just a handful of select items so far, and availability is still good which has held prices down temporarily.