Is the .22 bubble finally bursting? I have, with many others, been watching WalMart for .22 ammunition. It is a good indicator that demand may be saturating, and prices dropping. For two years, .22 long rifle ammunition in WalMarts has been very spotty. They have had a "3 boxes per customer limit" for most of that period. When .22 ammunition comes in, it is snapped up by the first few customers; then the the shelves are bare until the next shipment, which usually happens a week or more later.
On October 1st, in a Dallas Walmart near the North boundary, off of Marsh Lane, I spotted these boxes of Blazer .22 Long Rifle, at $2.47 for a box of 50. That is less than 5 cents a round, starting to approach pre-bubble levels.
Appropriately, there were 22 boxes of Blazer on the shelf, and a few boxes of .22 shotshells above them.
Suspecting that I might have come across one of those rare moments when the shipments were just put on the shelf, I asked a nearby associate about the presence of the .22 ammunition. They were a little reluctant to talk, but an explanation of my interest as a writer convinced them to open up.
The shelves in the North Dallas WalMart have been stocked with .22 LR for two weeks, nearly constantly. The three boxes per customer limit applies, but shipments have been coming in regularly.
The rest of the shelves were nearly full of centerfire ammunition of the common varieties.
Two weeks earlier, in Yuma, I had seen a few boxes of Winchester Varmint .22 LR in the local WalMart.
It was priced at $9.97 for a box of 50. It is some of the highest velocity .22 LR out there, with an advertised velocity of 1650 feet per second and a special, hollowpoint, 26 grain, tin bullet. I do not count those as an indicator of the end of the bubble, but some have said that the stocking of the higher priced .22 is a precursor to wide availability of the garden variety loads.
A bit over a year ago, I wrote that:
You will know that the bubble is close to the bottom when you see .22 LR on sale for below 4 cents per round. At the lowest, we might see .22 cartridges below $10 for 500.We are not there, yet. There is still that three box per customer limit, and the price is nearly 5 cents a round. But we are getting a lot closer. The .22 ammunition bubble may be close to busting, but it would only take a few words from President Obama to start it inflating again.
I checked on the 4th of October, and the same shelf now had 23 boxes of the Blazer ammunition at the same price. On the 5th of October, there were still 18 boxes of Blazer, same $2.47 per box of 50. That is about three weeks that reasonably priced .22 ammunition has been consistently stocked at this particular WalMart.
An internet search showed that Natchez Shooting Supply was selling the excellent Federal Champion Target .22 LR for $2.79 a box of 50, or 5.6 cents a round, with a maximum order of 10 boxes a day.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch
Update: A correspondent reports large quantities of .22 LR at a Cabella's at $89.99 for 1400 rounds. That is 6.42 cents per round.