May 02, 2006

Between An Anvil And A Hard Place

Just when you thought things were cheery enough following Bolivia's announcement that it had forsaken economic reason I'm afraid I have more bad news, via Cowboy Blob. This is from a Las Vegas gun dealer on the rising cost of reloading components:

"...In a word, everything is rising very fast, price wise and availability is going south. Every time I reorder anything, the price has increased and I get fewer items on my orders. And I can do nothing other than to raise the prices that I charge for what I do get.
This is a 2 part problem as I see it. First, raw materials such as steel, copper, lead and gunpowder is going up, largely because red China and India are buying everything in sight...Take a look at the market prices for these things and compare them to even just a year ago. HUGH increases across the board. Go down and buy some lumber, concrete or other raw material and compare the prices to a year ago. It will shock you if you haven't done this recently. In addition, shipping costs are going up due to increased oil prices."

"Two, the US and other world gov'ts are buying ammo like there is no tomorrow. Commercial ammo that is 'always' available isn't this month. Winchester, Federal and IMI are filling a new, LARGE contract for .45, .223 and .308 ammo. 762x39 was not coming into the country for several months, and is only now trickling in. Russia has been filling military orders in other countries instead of shipping it to the US commercial market. An industry insider friend of mine is telling me the smaller ammo makers are already finding shortages as well and expect it to get worse for the rest of the year. They buy their brass 'cups' once a year from Olin Brass Mills and can't increase production this late in the order year since they can't get more raw materials. Magtech was going to introduce .223 and .308 this year but sent out an announcement this week that it will not be coming until AT LEAST mid-2007 due to foreign military orders. ALL ammo makers had an 8% across the board increase on April 1, with another rise of about the same coming in June or July."

"So in short, blame it on rising raw materials due to a demand never before seen and competition for primers, powder, brass and bullets with gov'ts that are hell bent on getting us into WW III. That and an increasing demand for guns and ammo from the general population like I have never seen before, in my 25 years of being a gun dealer. Well, except for the rush just prior to the brady crap going into effect, when I had several months of the craziest buying spree I have ever seen. Every day I get in a number of customers that have never had a gun before and are looking to buy their first one. All of my best selling models are harder and harder to get, especially if it is chambered in .45 acp, and often my replacement costs are higher than they were just the month before..."

What this means? Well assuming it's an accurate assessment (& I've heard similar talk from my friendly neighborhood FFL) then ammo prices are going up & availaibility isn't. There's a cause & effect there that's not due to the "evil monopolistic ammo companies just wanting to take the sweat of the proletariat & use it to bolster the economic stramgelhold it has on the peasants". I mention that just in case some jack ass pretending to be a statesman drafts a bill to initiate "price controls" or look into the "price gouging" of the ammo companies.

Increased government demand coupled with steady private sector demand on a fixed (more or less) supply of goods. That's the way the market bounces. Prices will go up as availibility goes down due to increased overall demand.

For you & me it means we should probably look into stocking up on anything that might be hard to come by (though I assume that by January or February of '07 supply will catch up with demand). The big picture is more troubling.

China bugs me. In addition to my revulsion concerning all things Marx (well except for those brothers who went into acting - now they were funny) they are our biggest threat. Sure we're currently having it out with certain religious radicals of an Islamic nature (& it's important to remember that it's just a small portion of that overall group) but China has the potential to do us real damage. They also have the disposition. For whatever reason they've lacked the excuse. We tangled with them indirectly in Korea & Vietnam & I'm sure they wouldn't be shy about confronting us directly if they felt the need.

Taiwan. If China gets pushy we've promised to help them out. & honestly I think we should. But that would be all the excuse China would need to see who the biggest kid on the block really was. Iran has also been buddy-buddy with China & a confrontation about its recent nuclear program could also start something between us.

So we have China & to lesser but possibly related extents we have Iran & I daresay Cuba, Venezuela & Bolivia that are not u.S. friendly. There's a large segment of our population that isn't u.s. friendly either. Couple those things with the already open war with have with the jihadists & I'd say things have looked brighter.

Would China jump in for Iran? It's doubtful but possible. China definitely would get froggy if we started materially aiding Taiwan if it got serious about independence. It is cetain though that Cuba, Venezuela & Bolivia would do whatever they could to help out a fellow Marxist country that had beef with the u.S. It should be noted that Iran has been referred to by its government as an "Islamic Socialism" state. Iran also is on friendly terms with China, Cuba & Venezuela.

It is also possible, albeit extremely unlikely, that if China & the u.S. had a go at it while we had a large number of troops in other theaters (such as Iraq, Afghanistan & possibly another country such as Iran) that Mexico or an allegedly pro-Mexico non-government entity would try to take back "Aztlan". Like I said extremely unlikely but worth noting.

It is more likely, though still not that probable, that other elements masquerading as a pro-Mexican non-government entity would pick a time of multiple hostilities (or a time where such hostilities seem imminent) to launch terrorist attacks in the u.S.

& let us not forget North Korea.

So with China beefing up its take of the world market in certain materials, Iran getting all nuclear, the central american Marxist countries not seeing the u.S. as "comrades" & a small portion of Islamic radicals openly trying to hurt us I think things could get interesting. Course they could also remain on the verge of interesting or improve to the state of boring. My crystal ball is in need of Windex so predictions aren't forthcoming. Advising caution is in order though.

There may be some conflict with one or more of the aforementioned Marxist countries or there may not. In any event it looks like ammo prices will be going up. Course I do think that barring any open hostilities involving the u.S. & any or all of those Marxist countries that supply will catch up with demand by next February or so. Just scout for good deals until then. I'm not saying you should sell your first-born to secure 5,000 rounds of 7.62x39, but if ya happen to find a deal on a case then by all means now would be the time.

Posted by Publicola at May 2, 2006 07:09 AM | TrackBack

I started buying more than usual about a year ago; no special worry, just because I figured it'd go up a bit, so if I had the cash free...

Now, I think I'll pick it up a bit.

Posted by: Mark at May 8, 2006 05:51 PM

Oh the subject of Uncle Sam buying ammo from non-Lake City Suppliers, all the .50 cal ammo I've seen used on ranges in Yakima since mid-March (and we were running ranges since early Feb, I just wasn't there) were headstamped PSD 05. PSD is an ROK plant. Uncle Sam needs to build another GOCO plant to supplement Lake City-preferably, for traditional strategic reasons, somewhere else. And that would be a nice bit of actual legit non-pork.

As far as potential trouble with China, I wouldn't worry about a ground war. I'm just a lowly CPT, and I'm smarter than that. Cut them off economically (we're their biggest market) and they're already in trouble. The fight will be mostly naval, with some air thrown in, dependant on how much Japan and the ROK are willing to cooperate with basing. As it stands right now, the Chinese would lose that fight, and find themselves blockaded. But we can't get complacent, and the Chinese are spending a lot of money on their navy.

The North Koreans, if the balloon went up there, wouldn't last all that long. They could do a lot of damage to the south, especially Seoul, but once the come out of their fortifications and start driving south, they'd get pounded mercilessly from the air. They'd be allowed to drive so far, and then they'd be cut off and chewed up, and then the ROKs would start driving north, and there wouldn't be much in their way. I don't think China would save the Kim family again.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at May 12, 2006 08:55 PM
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