Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why surplus ammo is drying up. What I found out, and what I didn't.

A while back,  I mentioned in a post on the Mosin Nagant rifles that surplus ammunition for them was much more costly than it used to be, and much harder to find with less of a selection to choose from. I said that I believed much of this was due to the U.S. Department of State either issuing a significantly more limited number of import permits than in the past, and or reneging on some they had already issued.

An individual I have known for several years asked me for further information. In researching this, I decided it was a good topic for a brief magazine article. I've written those, from time to time, on different aspects of survivalism and enjoy doing it.

I based my concerns about the Department of State on two articles I read on line.  Not forums, or blogs, but news articles.  Once upon a time,  I put a link to articles I thought were interesting on the right side of the blog, but I've let that practice slip as no one seemed to read them.  This made it hard for me to find them again when I wanted to, because when you google any phrase relative to the idea, you get hundreds of hits that aren't the exact ones you are looking for.

I read many of these links I did come up with, but most of them dealt with people expressing their views on forums, which was not what I was looking for.

So, in an attempt to get more definitive information which I could reference for an article or follow up post, I contacted Century International Arms.  I've been a customer of theirs for decades, and they are usually a  good source of information when I'm researching a firearms issue.  This time, they declined to respond.

I contacted two individuals I know who are associated with big import companies dealing in surplus arms and ammunition. These are people I have a personal relationship with.  Both declined to comment even on a non attribution basis.  One just didn't want to discuss it at all. The other said that right now, in that business, the survival strategy was not to make any comments at all on issues related to surplus arms, ammunition, or parts being imported into the country.  Both of these fellows are good men, and not moral cowards. Both know that when I say "on a non attribution basis"  I mean it. This very cautious approach to a straightforward question concerning a firearms issue is not something I have run across with them in the past.

I wrote the Department of State and asked the question.  I have had no response and even given the way the bureaucracy works, I should have heard something by now. This comes as no surprise. I am fairly certain that if they even opened the letter, it went into the circular file immediately thereafter.

Finally, I made a trip to see someone whom I thought could help.  This person lives in another state, retired now from government but she keeps up with old cronies.  She was willing to tell me what she knew about it, and it was a chance to see her again after a long period without much communication between us.

First, she primarily attributes the decline of surplus ammo availability to the exhaustion of supplies. Her opinion was that all the low hanging fruit had been picked in that regards. While some of the more common Eastern Block ammo is still being released from old storehouses,  ammunition common in the West such as British .303 and 30.06  is harder to find. While there is undoubtedly some truth in that, I don't think I concur that this is the primary cause. There can't be any shortage of surplus 7.62X54, for instance, the production runs during the cold war were too vast.  But this may be a contributing factor to the shortages.

She said that foreign governments who favor the U.N. treaty on regulating the flow of small arms and ammunition have started limiting sales of these items. She cited Germany as a specific example. This is certainly true, and there's discussion of the issue on the NRA web page if anyone wants to research it further.

Her opinion is that the information on import licenses being rescinded probably refers to the "cause celebre" of  the M-1 Carbines and Garands from South Korea. That is old news, but still generates a lot of outrage.  Other than that, she is not aware of any licenses being pulled after being issued. My acquaintance had no doubt at all that the process of issuing licenses for import was dramatically slowed by Hillary Clinton and that this is being continued by Kerry, but she stressed this was her opinion.  We enjoyed seeing each other again, but I did not really get anything I can use since this was a private conversation and she does not wish to be named.   There is a certain element of frustration involved with all this, since I can't seem to get people to talk honestly with me if they know they will see their names in the article. But if I can't name them, the value of the information for writing purposes degenerates to near zero.

All in all, while I am fairly confident that the government is limiting the import of surplus ammo by using the bureaucracy to get around congress,  I don't have references I can put in an article to support the contention. I find it very strange that such a simple, innocuous question should be so hard to get a straight answer to. It speaks volumes to me that there is such reticence on the part of individuals in the trade to touch this question at all.

I can understand their concern though.  When I worked in oil and gas, it was a given that any discussion of fracking that portrayed the process in a negative light, or implied it might have adverse health impacts on people, was an open invitation to being fired.  People who own businesses are not political extroverts. They want to make money, period.  The rule is, keep your mouth shut and your head down. I am surprised to learn this is the mantra in the arms importation trade as well.

So, at this point, I'm not in a position to write an article that I can go to a publisher with. I need at least two or three verifiable, attributable statements from credible individuals or publications that would support my premise. Over the years I've enjoyed good luck with my articles, largely thanks to Jim Benson, former publisher of American Survival Guide. I've learned that conjecture without substantiation doesn't make for a good article. Without some solid facts, such a submission is just another "rant" and they are free and numerous on the internet already. Publishers don't buy them.

If anyone knows of persons who could be helpful on this issue, and would be willing to give me an introduction, please email me at   If you've seen an article, even a small newspaper article or magazine article, that you consider from a reputable source, please send me the link. Of course, if I reference an article I give full credit to the publication and author.

I'm not giving up on this yet, but it's certainly proving to be more difficult than I anticipated when I started working on the idea.


  1. Harry,


    I figured that this is a 'no brainer' that the political stooges would come after us using the ammo next since any gun control got shot down in Congress last year.

    They will of course use EPA environmental psycho babble about Deer dying of lead poisoning during hunting season and restrict our ammo to steel core instead of lead core and then the environmental weenies complain about 'rust poisoning' with Deer populations from October through January of every year.

    What it all boils down to is they don't want us owning guns, period. They would strip away most of our Constitutional rights if they have the chance. As long people in this country have their cell phones, internet, large flatscreen TV's, beer, marijuania and video games as rewards for good behavior. The silent majority will stay silent.

    I voted yesterday in the Texas Republican Primary and I was on the only one on my street that voted and only a few of my friends voted. That's why this is happening, no one is willing to challenge the politicians and beurocrats as they 'have their way with" the American people.

    I can say on a personal note' that I am doing everything I can being a responsible citizen. I don't do drugs, I vote, I have car insurance, etc, etc, etc, but people in this country care, less and less about personal responsibility. That is why this country will fall into the same sinkhole as many African, South American, Central American and Northern European countries (I.E. Ukraine) as a example. Its because the citizens no longer care and apathy, corruption run amok and become the rule of law.

    I strongly recommend anyone who reads this to have an 'escape plan' to another country or to a state like Texas, Montana, Idaho or any rural area that's semi-remote when the zombie games begin. I hope we can turn things around and vote the scoundrels out but I don't see that happening in my lifetime.

    1. I don't disagree with any of the sentiments you expressed, Captain Crunch. I think you can add to your list of thing that are wrong a society in which people are afraid to talk about something that is public domain, for fear of repercussions impacting their job, their pensions, etc.

  2. I guess mum is the word in this case. Sorry I don't know anyone who can help you out.

    1. I'm beginning to think I don't know anybody else to talk to either, but there's always another course of action. I haven't plumbed the depths of my old college pals yet, those that are still alive, anyway.

  3. Thank you for your efforts in finding this information out. Given the 'War On Guns' stance of various governments, I'm not too surprised this came to pass - the supply is finite.

    The people who purchased those inexpensive WWI / WWII surplus bolt guns and ammunition for them are lucky indeed. I hope they thought to keep a few cases back 'for a rainy day'. 7.62x25 and 9x18 are getting difficult to locate. It was just a few years ago that 1000 round can of the former was available for a C-Note. that was of course prior to Ammoggedon.

    Thanks again sir.

    1. I wasn't very successful. It doesn't help me much for people to want to talk strictly off the record, because then if you quote them in an article it sounds like History Channels UFO files.

      I stocked up big time in the 1980's and 1990's, so I'm good to go. I only have two pistols (CZ-52) that fire the 7.62X25 but I have a couple of cans of it laid away. The only thing I don't have much of is the ammo for the Nagant revolver, I only have about 200 rounds and I don't reload that. But if I get down to using a Nagant revolver it'll be time to break out the swords anyway.

  4. Interesting. I would disagree with any supply-side shortage for one very simple reason. The decline was entirely too swift to be the result of dwindling surplus stocks. An end to surplus stocks would have been noted before it was ever reached and prices would have risen more slowly as that point came closer. Also an innocent cause would not be kept so hush hush either.

    The government, not just ours but all of em, are worried about civilian arms caching and stockpiles and there is a reason for it but what that reason is is speculation. Yet that reason also came on us swiftly so who knows.

    1. I have heard from other people that supplies of surplus in some calibers are getting low. I can see that, it's been awhile since any Greek .303 British (good stuff, boxer primed!) or Korean 30.06 was on the market at fair prices. The Korean stuff I've seen lately is corroded and loose packed, not what I would call primo.

      But the 7.62X54 simply can't be in short supply. It's not possible. I agree that our government and others are trying to choke off the source of supply. Clinton banned Chinese and Russian imports of weapons by executive order and no one since has reversed it. But I wish I could state categorically just how they are doing it. I think State is choking off import permits and I know the Europeans are stopping some export permits, all you need to do is read Shotgun News to be aware of that. But when it comes down to brass tacks, knowing it and having a verifiable source that confirms the suspicion is turning out to be two different things.

      I don't mind saying I have a lot of ammo stored up because I bought it wholesale over a 20 year plus period and if the boys from the alphabet agencies ever want to find out who bought the stuff I'm in the paper chain. So I don't worry about it.

  5. Replies
    1. I need more than luck to get anywhere with this. Don't suppose any of your retired acquaintances are ex government with friends still working?

    2. Yep, and I'll speak with them.

    3. I wrote both my Senators and my Representative today with the question. In the past, one Senator has been good about really having somebody look into things, one usually just sends a letter saying they share my concerns, even if it does't fit the situation. The Representative will almost certainly send me a letter referring me to the state department. Now that I've got so much time invested in what started out as a simple blog project, I would like to finish it.

      Old geezers who are retired are great sources of information, because most of them keep up with somebody who is still at the office. Also, they like to feel as if somebody values their opinion (which I do) and they'll go a lot further to dig into something than a younger person who is working.

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