Gunner Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

· Registered
3,174 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rising cost of raw materials hits Alaskans where it hurts the...

Anchorage Daily News...

In Bethel, they buy bullets by the box now, not the case.

In Nome, ammo buyers are shell shocked: "They use a lot of expletives," says a local store manager.

In Anchorage, lead shot for shotgun shells used to cost $18 a bag. Now it's more than $50, if you can find it.

Across Alaska, and across the country, ammunition prices have spiked over the past two years. In some cases, the costs have more than doubled, and shooters, shops and ammo-makers mostly blame the soaring cost of metal.

In a state where politicians argue over who loves guns the most, the price of a round has far-flung impact.

Just ask members of the Alaska Machine Gun Association, who practically breathe bullets.

"That same ammo that we bought for, say, 6 cents a round three years ago is now 35 cents a round," said Dave Arieno, president of the club.

Arieno says a United Nations effort to limit the sale of surplus military ammunition, combined with war in Iraq, have boosted some prices. High fuel and freight costs don't help -- especially in rural Alaska.

But the factor everyone can agree on is the rising cost of materials used to make ammunition -- lead, copper and brass. Metal prices have soared in recent years, fueled by economic booms in China and India.

The price of lead has doubled since 2005. Copper and brass prices rose even faster.

"Our prices are purely based on material costs going up," said Jason Nash, spokesman for Federal Cartridge Co., a Minnesota-based ammunition manufacturer.

"It costs us more to make the product, so we have to charge more."

But copper and lead prices have dipped recently, giving hunters and gun enthusiasts a reason to hope for relief. Nash, whose company caters mostly to the sporting market, said he's seen costs level off.

"I hear the prices are going down in the Lower 48," said Dave Cross, manager of the Birchwood Recreation and Shooting Park, "but we haven't seen that effect here."


Talk radio and a stuffed porcupine in a baseball cap greet you when you walk in to Gun Runners, a firearms shop squeezed between a pizza parlor and barber shop in Midtown.

On a recent weekday, manager Troy McDade talked on the phone to a man who wanted to a rent a gun for his prospecting trip to Chicken. Sorry, no rentals.

As for ammo costs?

"A lot of it has to do with increasing fuel prices, because you do have to transport it," McDade said.

A young couple walked into the store. Then a soldier in a heavy-metal T-shirt, Nick Brownfield, who said the military is buying up all the .50-caliber rounds.

"It's almost impossible to find any now on the civilian market," he said.

Don Hanks, who opened Boondock Sporting Goods in Eagle River 40 years ago, said the war makes certain types of ammunition-- such as .223 cartridges used for M-16s -- scarcer.

".223, .308 and .45 auto are allocated calibers, meaning government comes first, civilians come second, which is only fair in a war," he said.

When it comes to shotgun ammunition, hunters are banned from using lead shot to hunt waterfowl, but lead ammo remains popular for competitions.

A case of trap shells that cost $36.95 18 months ago now goes for $59.95, Hanks said.

Expect prices to go up again later this month.

"We used to see price increases once a year, and then it became twice a year, a year or two ago," Hanks said. "Now it's four or five times a year."


At Anvil's Gun Cache in Bethel, customers come looking for .22 rifle ammunition to hunt ptarmigan, muskrats and rabbits.

A 500-round brick of rimfire ammo that went for $19 earlier this year is up to $27, said owner Carl Anvil.

"I think they're going to be more expensive pretty quick here, because our price of fuel is changing Monday," Anvil said.

He expected to see local gas prices go from $4.64 to $5.64 per gallon.

Alaskans living off the road system are used to high prices -- Anvil's wife, who owns a party store next door, just paid $15 for a bag of grapes -- but customers are reacting to the cost of bullets.

They're buying less. Or at least fewer cartridges at a time, opting for a single box rather than a whole case, Anvil said.

Nome Outfitters manager Logan Hebel said costs jumped roughly 30 percent in the past year.

"I get a lot of complaints when they come in here and see the price, if they haven't bought in a while," he said.

There was a delay between the increasing commodities cost and ammunition prices as manufacturers ate the loss, said gunsmith Steve Untiet, who owns Alaska Custom Firearms on the Old Seward Highway.

No more, Untiet said. Ammo-makers began passing the cost on to consumers about two years ago -- which is around the time retailers and buyers say prices shot upward.

The industry magazines say people are reloading more, or making their own ammunition rather than buying new shells, and firing fewer rounds, he said.

"But the guys down at the range tell me they're just as busy as ever."


Brian Baines, a state maintenance mechanic, packed up his gear to a drumbeat of shotgun blasts in the parking lot of the Birchwood range in Eagle River.

In the bed of his Dodge pickup: boxes of Diet Coke and shotgun shells, and dog kennels up near the cab.

"It's all because of the war and the gas and the Chinese," he said of the ammo crunch.

Baines, wearing a Cabela's vest and ball cap with a red slash through the words "Pebble Mine," said he goes through 1,200 shells a month -- easy.

A short walk away, the pastor of a Baptist church in Anchorage fired his late father's .380 at paper targets.

"I have changed some of my habits," Charles England said. He recently switched from more expensive Winchester ammo to a cheaper brand, saving $2 a box.

One out of every five rounds wouldn't fire.

Retailers said Alaskans won't stop buying ammo -- as with high gas prices, they'll bite the bullet and pay.

Still, England has a limit. "As ammunition goes up, I just shoot less," he said.

Anatomy of a bullet

Type: Remington .30-06 Springfield 180 grain.

Total weight: roughly 1.01 ounce.

Projectile: .41 ounce, copper and lead.

Casing: .46 ounce, brass, with a trace of steel and mercury fulminate.

Gunpowder: .14 ounce.

Source: Steve Untiet, owner of Alaska Custom Firearms.

Cost of the raw materials*

May 2005 May 2008

Copper $1.50 a pound $3.80 a pound

Lead $0.50 a pound $1 a pound

Brass** $1.15 a pound $2.70 a pound

* Excluding gunpowder, trace amounts of steel and mercury fulminate

** 59 percent copper, 41 percent zinc

· Registered
21,944 Posts
I thought the Chinese were buying up brass for WWIII and still do, however I see more and more plumbing fittings coming in from China...they make EVERYTHING cheaper than America we're selling off our natural resources and manufacturing raw materials to THEM and they're selling them back to US at catsback prices....and our gov't is making money going and that they can spend it on illegal aliens.....keep it up and brass will be higher than gold....I'm saving mine now...not that there's a lot of it...but I'll never throw it indoor range said when they send a semi-load of brass to the scrapyard, they send an armed guard...that truckload's worth enough to be hijacked....imagine that...

· Registered
21,944 Posts
It's in the Book!!! You'da thought we learned our lesson with Japan...lots of their fighters had Burma Shave labels on the inside...we sold them all our scrap, too....that takes "Love your enemies" a lot further than intended..........

· Registered
6,115 Posts
Arieno says a United Nations effort to limit the sale of surplus military ammunition, combined with war in Iraq, have boosted some prices.
ok,i've slept, what is the mighty UN up to now??????????????????
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.