Since the first politician in the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting uttered the words "Gun Control", ammunition supplies have been spotty and nothing has been universally harder to find than the humble .22LR. Why this is so is likely something we'll never know in it's entirety but of late, the accumulated .22 production capacity of the US is running flat out and market demand is apparently far outstripping supplies. Locally up in the Great North,
This sharp uptick in demand has got some folks in something of a tizzy, wondering why manufacturers don't invest major capital to develop new production and also many shooters wonder where all this current production is going. This current production certainly isn't being shot up. Hanging out at local shooting ranges in day's past, it was nothing much to see a group of shooters blast off a 500 round brick or more in an afternoon.
Not anymore. Folks shooting .22s might pop off a 50 round box.
As a maker, knowing the near total sum of .22 ammo is sitting on shelves and closets sure wouldn't spur me to invest millions in producing increased volume. Of course, nor would the very low profit margin .22LR ammo has normally carried either. Since .22LR tooling is pretty much dedicated to only .22 (unlike center fire rifle tooling which can be reconfigured to other center fire ammo), I can see where a producer might be reluctant to spend the capital investment to produce the shooting equivalent of the penny which, oddly enough, costs more than it's value to produce.
So, I've got to wonder- will shooters start passing on the .22LR? In days past every serious shooter had at least one or two, but with supply issues plaguing that aspect of the sport, will tomorrow's shooters find something else? Airguns are a natural fit and many of today's samples are easily the equivalent of the .22LR with regards to accuracy and power in the game fields. Oddly enough (or maybe not), shotgun shells are unaffected by this buying frenzy and a lot of small game enthusiasts simply moved to the scattergun. Or will it be something else new entirely?
I believe it's time for some innovation to come along out of the free market and give shooters something affordable and available in the small arms market. Maybe it's time the .22 faded on off into the sunset.