I talked to Dan Compton at the Shot Show about what was going on with .22 production. Everyone is interested in the situation with the ongoing .22 ammunition bubble for the last three years. Store shelves have been empty more often than not. Dan is a Senior Product Line Specialist for Vista Outdoors, which includes CCI and Federal brands. I also talked with other people at the Vista booths and in the industry.
Over the last year, the decision was made to increase .22 rimfire production. Now it will take about a year to implement that decision. Part of that decision is based on the belief that the overall market has expanded to include more new shooters, young shooters, women and urban shooters. Dan said that the style of shooting has changed as well:
"We call it the 'Call of Duty' style. Lots of rounds downrange increases demand. The rounds expended per session has gone up. Where people might have shot a 50 rd box before, now they shoot a 525 round box, and they don't stop until it is empty."I talked to Dan of my understanding of the bubble. There are about 50-80 million .22 owners in the U.S. If a few million decide that instead of the partially used box of 50 or a hundred rounds, they want to have a couple of bricks on hand, the demand increases beyond what production can handle for years. Dan said that was a very good way of looking at it.
Dan was a little vague about actual numbers, but sources in the industry assured me that both Federal and CCI were looking to increase production by about 20% this coming year. Obviously, no one can promise that the increased production will actually come on line in 2016, but that is the plan.
One source said that CCI needed to put up a new building for the production facility.
I also heard that CCI is currently maxed out, producing about 4 million rounds a day, and Federal is also running at top capacity at about 8 million.
One employee told me that the numbers per day vary depending on what sort of rounds were being produced. Some types of .22 rounds take longer than other types.
What kind of rounds are produced is a complicated scheduling process, with the schedule being set up about two months in advance, based on orders. .22 Stingers might be run for two 8 hour shifts, then a shift of .22 quiet rounds, for example. The machines keep running 24 hours a day, only stopping for 15 minute intervals at lunch breaks and between shifts, when maintenance is done.
CCI and Federal dominate the U.S. market, so a 20% increase in production will have an impact.
Much of the .22 bubble is political in nature. But an increase in new shooters and changes in shooting style will keep the machines producing .22 ammunition busy for a long time.
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