Why is powder so difficult to get?


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orpington
April 19, 2014, 06:23 PM
I haven't reloaded for longer than 5 yrs or so, therefore, I don't know what it used to be like, but I do know in the 'old days' every general store would carry powder. So, I don't know why it has to be difficult to get gun powder (and primers)??? I am not talking about the fact that it is more difficult to get powder due to the political climate, etc. I mean, from the retailers that carry it to begin with. I don't understand why one cannot go into virtually every hardware store and Walmart (yes, I know some Walmarts carry gun powder, but these are few and far between) and ick up gun powder and primers. It makes a ton of sense, especially with the high price of gas (so you drive a lot of miles to purchase gunpowder) and with the Hazmat fee (which makes it cost prohibitive to purchase a pound of powder through the mail).

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NWcityguy2
April 19, 2014, 06:46 PM
Perhaps because powder and primers are HAZMAT while ammunition is ORM-D? Also powder and primers are more specialty items and those stores don't sell the equipment to reload ammo either.

cfullgraf
April 19, 2014, 07:59 PM
My guess is that the run on ammunition has consumed the production capacity of powder manufacturers. Little production time left for canister grade powders.

Now that ammunition sales are slowing, at least until November, 2014, canister grade powders are returning to the shelves.

There were periods of shortage in the past but not as bad at 2009 or 2013-2014.

Catpop
April 19, 2014, 08:09 PM
I personally questioned two different gunshops why . I got two different answers
1) The hazmat fee made it cost too much to make a profit. When I said some would be happy to even get the powder, they replied they felt the public would feel they were being gouged and NOT return in the future.
2) The other store said his distributors did not have enough powder to make it profitable to place an order taking into account the hazmat fee.

In addition, powder IS available ITS JUST NOT THE ONES WE WANT!

Whereas I would probably be happy with BE and Win 231 for 45 acp, the shortage now has me using 12 different powder for same!

Good reloading, Catpop

cfullgraf
April 19, 2014, 08:36 PM
In my opinion, a gun shop that blames the HAZMAT fees is copping out.

When available, I can mail/online order a $200-$300 order of powder and pay the HAZMAT fee and the cost per pound is still less than what local stores charge. A gun shop would make a larger order and their cost per pound would be much less than what is available to me.

If a gun shop cannot make money on powder, there are other economic factors that come into play than just the HAZMAT fee. The inventory tax comes to mind as one.

It may be that in the future powders will only be available from vendors that specialize in powders and the numbers of these vendors will be few and far between. Mail and or online orders will become the norm.

orpington
April 19, 2014, 11:21 PM
Please re-read my original post. My intent was not to question production capacities, HAZMAT fees, etc., but to question why, in order to get gunpowder, independent of production capacities, & etc., & etc., one cannot go to the corner hardware store and find gunpowder. Instead, one has to find the out of the way gun store, or wander over to someone like Cabela's, etc.

KansasSasquatch
April 20, 2014, 01:29 AM
In some places they can only keep so much on the shelf and anymore than that has to be stored "properly." It's an added cost that a lot of retailers won't go through the trouble of. I know in one local city/town shops aren't allowed to keep powder on the shelf in public view (by city law/regs) so you have to ask what's in stock. Then there's stores that just won't sell enough of it to make it worth keeping on the shelf. Stores do what they can to maximize profits, so if it isn't/won't sell well enough they aren't going to stock it. So the question you're asking is just to general. It's going to vary from one retailer to the next.

If I make an order from Powder Valley, as a Kansas resident I still pay state sales tax+hazmat+shipping. Ordering 32lbs or more (a couple year supply for me), I still save about $12/lb over buying locally at the prices local stores ask, and that's before local sales tax is added in. It'd be hard for a hardware store around here to justify the added expenses and trouble of stocking gun powder if they wanted to have prices anywhere near being competitive with a large distributor like Powder Valley. I have a Cabelas and 2 Bass Pros near me and their prices don't even come close to Powder Valley's. If a specialty retailer can't compete with them there's no way a small hardware store could. But the area you're in could be different. If you live in an area where there's only 1 gun shop in a 100 miles radius, that shop would be have to be run by idiots to NOT carry powder and primers. Such conditions would also make it more feasible for a hardware store to carry them as well. It's all relative to the conditions of you location.

ColtPythonElite
April 20, 2014, 01:56 AM
Every corner store doesn't carry gunpowder because it isn't an item that a large percentage of customers want. Only a small percentage of the general population reload.

Swampman
April 20, 2014, 02:50 AM
Not trying to be ugly here, but try asking THEM, not us.
They may have no idea what sort of market exists.
I spoke with the manager of our local NAPA Auto Parts a few years back and they now carry both ammo and primers. :)

nevadabob
April 20, 2014, 05:31 AM
When I check out powder on gunbot, there's a whole lot of powder...but not MY powder. Now if the manufacturers would stop making powder that I don't use, and concentrate on pistol powder, then the world would be a better place!

Rob96
April 20, 2014, 06:13 AM
I was at Cabela's yesterday and they only had some magnum rifle powders and 50 BMG. In talking with the guy working the floor he said thats what they were able to get. I went to a local shop that I tend to forget about and he had what I needed. He gets it in and sells within a week. 1 pound of Unique was $22.95.

cfullgraf
April 20, 2014, 07:47 AM
Please re-read my original post. My intent was not to question production capacities, HAZMAT fees, etc., but to question why, in order to get gunpowder, independent of production capacities, & etc., & etc., one cannot go to the corner hardware store and find gunpowder. Instead, one has to find the out of the way gun store, or wander over to someone like Cabela's, etc.

From OP's original post

I am not talking about the fact that it is more difficult to get powder due to the political climate, etc. I mean, from the retailers that carry it to begin with.

Seems to me, you were asking about retailers that historically carry gun powder.

It comes down to economics for the retailer. In a little twon out in the desert or on top of a mountain that is a thousand miles from no where, one might find gun powder at the hardware store as it probably carries a broad spectrum of supplies that cover many many needs for the community. As they say, it is the only game in town.

In a larger town closer to civilization, I would not expect the local CVS carry gun powder so I would not shop there for gun powder. The interest in purchasing gun powder is very small so it would not be economical for a non-gun/sports related store carrying a product that would turn over very slowly. Among other things, retailers look at "inventory turns" when determining whether to keep a product on their shelves.

On the other hand, why can I not get a tune up kit for my 1984 Honda Civic at the local Walmart. It is not very customer friendly of them to make me go to the local NAPA store or even worse, shop on line at a specialty Japanese auto parts vendor.:)

45lcshooter
April 20, 2014, 08:05 AM
eyeryone in your town, knows where the gun shop is. your not the only one looking for the same stuff they are. they find it at the gun shop and they pick up more than they are going to need, and call a buddy and pick him up more than what he needs "hording" trust me i did it, i cant find any IMR 4895 or IMR4064, so when i go to a gun shop, i google what powders they have to see what would work with my calibers i have. and then i buy a few pounds, so i have them. They are powders that have fallen off the map, but i wont pay ammo compaines 20+ dollars a box of ammo, when i can build them for less than 5 dollars a box.


but as the weeks go by there are more and more componets becoming more and more on the shelves. prices are coming down, but 22lr still are through the roof. it will only be a matter of time before I will see IMR 4895 and IMR 4064 back on he shelf

oneounceload
April 20, 2014, 08:13 AM
It is so difficult to get because the current demand FAR exceeds the current supply. Surprisingly, the pricing has remained fairly constant throughout this. We have added millions of new gun owners and also reloaders in the last few years and the makers have not expanded to meet the demand as it was assumed it was a temporary "bubble"

Rob96
April 20, 2014, 08:39 AM
It's simple stores like Walmart and what not sell to the target consumer. Face it, handloading/reloading is a small target base even when you take all shooters and hunters into account. That is why you have to go to Cabela's or an out of the way shop.

hartcreek
April 20, 2014, 09:08 AM
The reloading market has increased and so has hoarding. A certain stores buy from dealers. Stores such as Cabellas have more purchasing power then your LGS who does his purchasing from a distributor that competes for products against stores such as Cabellas, Gander Mountain, Natches, Midway......ect. There is only so much powder being produced and the vast majority goes to the industrial reloaders....what is left goes to retail and there is so much competition to get what is left.....

Vodoun da Vinci
April 20, 2014, 09:24 AM
As others have said or eluded to, we are on the very near backside of a panic/hoard ammunition supply issue - for whatever reason, record numbers of folks are shooting and buying guns and ammunition and the numbers of buys increased so fast that ammunition and components became rare/hard to get.

This made folks panic and hoard which exacerbated the shortage and made things very bad, very quickly. Slowly things are coming right again with ammunition in many calibers being commonly available (not every where/all the time) and components "coming and going" in availability...there are a lot of folks who decided to "roll their own" ammunition after the panic began and so dies and tools were very difficult to get even last year.

I re entered shooting sports and reloading last Summer and literally it has taken until now to get all the components (dies, powder, primers, tools) in stock in the shop. I bought 3 lbs of powder (Unique) after an literally exhaustive search and wait period. Still it shows up in stock and if you don't jump on it, it is sold out sometimes in hours. :eek:

All we can do is bookmark several suppliers like Powder Valley etc. and then literally check in online 2X or more per day...if you see it? Buy it right there and then and buy enough to make the Haz Mat fee spread out.

The supply comes and goes - mostly it is slowly getting better and I'm hoping that by this Winter things look a lot better but I said the same thing last Fall.

VooDoo

Havok7416
April 20, 2014, 09:44 AM
Few posting here seem to be able to read what the OP was ACTUALLY talking about.

Orpington, I would think that it has to do with demand. If a store can't sell enough of any particular item, they won't stock it. No use in things sitting on the shelf indefinitely. The tax on inventory at the end of the year would affect this to some extent. All opinions on my end, but that's all I've got.

Potatohead
April 20, 2014, 10:07 AM
I dont think theyre misunderstanding as much as it's just a goofy question. IMO of course.

kcofohio
April 20, 2014, 10:24 AM
Liabilities! In the "old days", if you did something stupid that got you hurt, it was chalked it up as learning experience. Now it is not your fault, but whoever made it available to you. :banghead:

KansasSasquatch
April 20, 2014, 10:50 AM
I dont think theyre misunderstanding as much as it's just a goofy question. IMO of course.
I could see why you'd say that, but its not really a goofy question. As I said in my wall of text earlier in the thread, the question is just too general. The reasoning is going to vary from one retailer to the next. Local market conditions and regulations will play a big part.

Potatohead
April 20, 2014, 10:52 AM
I'm in full agreement that it's to general of a question.

Stormin.40
April 20, 2014, 01:17 PM
I was told by 2 separate gun shops that Hodgon had a fire in their main drier. They didn't tell me when this happened or if it had been fixed. They did tell me to buy what I could when I could as they expect it to get worse before it gets better.

judgedelta
April 20, 2014, 01:19 PM
I asked a friend of mine who runs a sporting good store in a distant town if he carried loading supplies; to which he replied that there were so many kinds of stuff that he would have to carry that the inventory and the space it would take up would eat him alive. I could compare it to a women's clothing store. The loading inventory in the only store within 60 miles of me takes up a space the size of a 3-car garage. Go big or go home...

HexHead
April 20, 2014, 01:56 PM
The time to buy reloading supplies is when you don't need it. You've never got enough. I stay well stocked and am completely unfazed by the current shortages. My only issue is finding time to reload.

Rob96
April 20, 2014, 02:00 PM
Ahhh I forgot about the fire at Hogdon.

KansasSasquatch
April 20, 2014, 02:39 PM
I was told by 2 separate gun shops that Hodgon had a fire in their main drier. They didn't tell me when this happened or if it had been fixed. They did tell me to buy what I could when I could as they expect it to get worse before it gets better.
Hodgdon didn't have a fire. ADI, who makes many of Hodgdon branded powders, did have a fire around May (I think) of last year. It supposedly only effected the production of Universal Clays and the Australian equivalent. I've seen International Clays and Clays on shelves, although not often, since then. But the one time I've seen Universal was shortly after the fire happened and I have to imagine that it was powder that had been shipped to Hodgdon for packaging shortly before the fire. There's plenty of other ADI made powders still hitting shelves so it obviously didn't effect all of there manufacturing capabilities. They had originally estimated that the problem would be fixed by the start of this year, however, that estimation has been pushed back at least once to my knowledge. I'm not going to dig up all of the links (again) but the information is out there if you care to be informed.

But fire or not, that info doesn't really pertain to the original question.

ETA: Back on topic. One more piece of info is that most of the powder companies aren't taking any applications for new wholesalers/retailers. I know of at least one guy locally who has contacted both Hodgdon and Alliant about carrying their products. They both turned him away saying that they can't keep current clients in ample supply and there's no way they could supply him. So right now, if you haven't been carrying powder for a few years, you pretty much have no chance of getting your business in the game right now while the powder drought is happening.

Now the powder companies might make special exceptions if they don't have any retailers carrying their products in a particular area, but if you currently have at least one in your area, you aren't likely to get a new one anytime soon.

Stormin.40
April 20, 2014, 08:36 PM
Maybe it depends on who you are. In WI they have added Fleet Farm (hardware/farm supply) to their distributor list. Less than a year ago they started carrying reloading supplies. I have purchased both alliant and hodgon powders from them. Maybe they had their negotiations done by the time things got short.

We even have some gas stations in then area that carry primers and powder, they have been carrying these for a long time so it isn't anything new.

KansasSasquatch
April 21, 2014, 02:01 AM
Fleet Farm is a chain with over 30 stores. That brings buying power and a larger customer base to the table. The guy I was talking about is just a small time FFL dealer who's fairly new to the business. Those types of dealers aren't likely to be able to get into selling powder right now, unless they do like many other small shops already do--buy up a ton of whatever they can get in from a large distributor like Powder Valley. But if they do that their prices aren't likely to be the most competitive.

Vodoun da Vinci
April 21, 2014, 07:31 AM
On the "why don't more places carry powder and reloading supplies" I'd have to say that places that specialize in reloading supplies like Powder Valley and Midway USA can't keep it in stock and I'd suspect that they are at the top of the food chain for distribution.

If they can't get any, the chances of the local LGS, sporting goods, or general goods store getting any is further down the list.

I think it'd be a exercise in logistic frustration trying to buy it for resale in those cases.

VooDoo

mdm
April 21, 2014, 08:54 AM
Powder is a product sought by a small customer base.
Powder is a product that requires special handling and shipping.
Powder is a product that requires special storage considerations, esp. at the wholesale/retail locations.
Powder, like it or not, is a product that falls into what many consider a politically incorrect activity (anything that is related to guns).

Add all these things together and you will begin to wonder why we are able to find powder in as many retail locations as we do.

When I was growing up in the '50s/'60s, most hardware stores sold firearms and ammunition. As a kid, I had no idea if these stores stocked any powder or other reloading supplies. You would often find stores that had guns, esp. shotguns, that were branded for that store. Over the years the number of these stores has shrunk considerably. Part of this is due to the reduction in the number of local, family owned stores and the increase in the number of chain stores like Home Depot and Lowes.

oneounceload
April 21, 2014, 09:43 AM
Part of this is due to the reduction in the number of local, family owned stores and the increase in the number of chain stores like Home Depot and Lowes.

Part of it is also due to the fact that after WWII, many farm folks moved to bigger cities searching for good paying jobs and then the start of the "planned communities" and suburbia began eliminating a lot of hunting areas. Add in LBJ's "Great Society" and the progressive take-over of the education system and guns started falling out of favor for many folks, not because they hated them, they just didn't see as much of a need. Many stores that used to cater to shooters and hunters (A&F, Sears, Monkey Wards, JC Penney come to mind) have completely moved away from them. Big chains like Cabela's et al put the hurt on mom and pop locations. Those that survived now have to contend with the internet and gunbroker, Bud's and the like. Then throw in the government contracts for military, homeland and the hundreds of Federal LEO agencies plus all the state and local LEo needs, and there is only so much to go around and places to get it.

Potatohead
April 21, 2014, 02:19 PM
We even have some gas stations in then area that carry primers and powder,

Now that sounds like my kind of town!

oneounceload
April 21, 2014, 03:56 PM
When I lived out West we had a major drug store chain (now owned by CVS or Walgreens) where you could go in and buy a handgun or long gun, ammo, reloading supplies and equipment, then go to the other corner and buy whatever beer, wine or booze tripped your trigger and then go pick up any mood meds or painkillers from the pharmacy section - all in one trip. There was NEVER an incident from anyone going crazy or what not

orpington
April 21, 2014, 08:15 PM
Gas stations and pharmacies that carry guns and reloading components! I love it!

I think the increase in urbanization decreased the everyday occurrence of firearms and components, and made folks scared, instead of respectful, of firearms.

However, the difficulty in getting powder, etc., suggests that the 'powers that be' may want it to be difficult to get this sort of stuff. Maybe this is the case, but the fact that some gas stations and pharmacies carry this stuff suggests this not to be the case. I wish my local CVS had the sense to carry gunpowder.

thecarfarmer
April 21, 2014, 11:48 PM
Well, I don't know where the OP is... if he were here in the Seattle area, I'd tell him that he can have any powder he wants. As long as it's one of the few rifle powders up at Cabela's.

The guys at the Cabela's stores in Mukelshoot and Olympia (an hour north or south of Seattle, respectively) have told me that they can't seem to even obtain pistol powders.

BTW, I was able to pick up a couple 50 round boxes of .22LR at the Olympia Cabela's last week. $2.99/box. Nice to see that they aren't price gouging - even if they don't have enough to let everybody buy as much as they'd like.

One thing I heard posited recently is that a number of LGS owners actually do manage to get in much sought-after supplies (primers, powder, .22LR, etc.). But they just move straight to selling it on gunbroker, and charge filthy prices for it anonymously.

Makes sense, and I suspect there are some (not all, maybe not most - just some) who do this.

Just my .02.

Now, does anybody have any extra Bullseye kicking around?

-Bill

spitballer
April 22, 2014, 10:29 AM
I looked up reloading supplies on the internet and started making some calls. Found a place that generally has a good inventory, but I have to buy it in person. It's also a good ways from here and I have to use a day off to make the drive.

I'm not sure why powder is so difficult to get but I do know that sellers are terrified that the next IED is going to be made with powder from their shop, and they won't sell to just anyone who walks in off the street. At least, not the guy that I buy from. Good luck to you.

KansasSasquatch
April 22, 2014, 02:00 PM
I'm not sure why powder is so difficult to get but I do know that sellers are terrified that the next IED is going to be made with powder from their shop, and they won't sell to just anyone who walks in off the street. At least, not the guy that I buy from. Good luck to you.

I wouldn't buy from a seller with that attitude, at least not if they won't sell it based on fears of IED's. There's much more dangerous chemicals that are readily available to anyone, that could do much more damage than smokeless gunpowder. Anyone afraid of selling to the general public for that reason doesn't have their head screwed on straight and would never get a dime of my money.

Anyone who brings up the Boston Marathon bombing should do a little more research.

Havok7416
April 22, 2014, 04:03 PM
Kansas, it sounds to me like spitballer was merely referring to the fact that retailers may be afraid of liability in general rather than actual IEDs. Perhaps I read it wrong, but that's my take.

orpington
April 26, 2014, 03:24 AM
Just when I resigned myself to $24.00 and up being the new norm for gun powder, if you can find it, and cursing the 'establishment' for purposefully making gun powder difficult to come by, I walk into the LGS and discover he just obtained 8 metal containers, sealed and never opened, of IMR3031 (3), 4064 (2) and 4895 (3), at $15.00 each! I offered $100 for all 8 lbs of powder and we settled on $110 for all 8 lbs. I guess sometimes things turn up at the right prices when you least expect it.

Doc68
April 28, 2014, 05:00 PM
That's because of the hoarders. They see it and don't need it, but buy it anyways. "Just to have". Along with their other 500lbs of powder(sarcasm).

hceuterpe
April 28, 2014, 06:22 PM
I don't think it's specifically to the local gun shops. Granted I don't have a Gander or Cabelas (at least where it's close that it's worth it just to find out they don't have it), but when I did visit, they didn't have much anything either.
Look online at the popular component sellers. They pretty much don't have anything in stock powder wise on an on-going basis. I bet the big name ammo producers compete with the same powder suppliers that supply the reloading powder companies. In fact I read that ATK runs a join venture with St Marks that makes a lot of bulk powders that supply the various powder companies too. ATK also owns Blazer and Federal.
Perhaps mass production rate of powder is less elastic than manufacturing finished cartridges (just a hunch since manufacturing powder inherently seems very dangerous). If the major cartridge manufacturers have a sway and priority to powder before powder companies with the same supplier, that could explain why powder to consumers is so scare?

Just my theory.

jcwit
April 28, 2014, 06:31 PM
Might have the same problem as .22 rimfire? Suppose?

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