ISRA Thursday Bulletin - December 3, 2020

by Richard Pearson

The constant question everyone is asking is where all the ammunition is.  There are all kinds of conspiracy theories out there but I don’t buy any of them at this time.  The production of ammunition is more complicated than one might assume.

In the fourth quarter of each year, ammunition companies estimate what is going to happen in the following year.  In 2019, ammunition manufacturers estimated how much raw material would be needed in 2020.  Handgun and rifle ammunition requires lead, antimony, copper, zinc, aluminum, bismuth, bronze, rubber, steel, tin, tungsten, and several varieties of plastic.  Additional waxes, types of oils, waxes, and other lubricants have to be purchased.  In short, they have to buy a lot of stuff before they begin manufacturing.

The other factor is the ammunition companies run a full year’s production on one caliber and then reset the machine to run another caliber.  There are not 9mm, 38 special, 380 ACP, 45 ACP or other calibers in ammo loading machines just sitting around waiting to be turned on.  There is no order that says, “Hey Charlie, run over to the plant and run a couple million 9 mm’s.”  It doesn’t work that way.

Think back to the Fall of 2019.  The Election was a year away and things were relatively peaceful.  In January, COVID-19 hit us, and later, George Floyd was killed.  That is when things started to fall apart, at least as we know it.  Ammunition sales went up and are now averaging 139% more than in 2019.  There are 7,000,000 more gun owners in the United States than last year.

Ammunition companies are getting ready for the process to begin for 2021.  They have to rebuy all the components that I mentioned earlier.  Let’s guess they are buying 50% more than last year.  That means the cost of materials may go up if supply is short.   Remember, many other industries are using the same materials.  That’s my take on the ammunition problem.

The ammunition shortage for rifles and pistols has brought about the rise of the self-defense shotgun. While shotguns are not the first choice for many, they are versatile and powerful in both short and medium range situations.  The good news is shotgun shells are available.  Even if you can’t find buckshot, heavy turkey loads work just fine.  I consider anyone trying to come through my door as an uninvited turkey.  When shotguns are loaded with slugs, they are good out to 150 yards.  The energy generated by a shotgun shell is something to be considered.  A 1.25 ounce turkey load comes out of the muzzle at 1300 feet per second and with about 2048 pounds of energy.  Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum is about 971 pounds of energy; the shotgun has more than twice as much power.  (In the movie, Clint Eastwood shot a .41 Magnum because he couldn’t handle the .44)

Right now, there is a variety of self-defense shotguns, both American made and imported to choose from.  Looking online, I found several foreign made pump shot guns for under $200.  Add another $150 or so for American made.  If you are interested in a semi-automatic shotgun, about $450 to $500 is good for foreign made.  If you want American made, add somewhere between $300 and a whole bunch more.  The semi-automatics come in recoiled operated (inertia driven) and gas operated.  I have all three.  The semi-automatic gas operated is best for those who may be recoil sensitive.  They are also the most forgiving if your gun isn’t perfectly fit into your shoulder.

The foreign made shotguns are often made off of expired patents.  The Stevens 320 uses the Winchester 1300 design, for example.  A lot of the foreign made semi-automatic shotguns use old Benelli and Beretta designs.  I have not tried them all but the ones I have tried work just fine.  If you buy a self-defense shotgun, get one with a stock on it and use the stock.  Stocks can be shortened to fit every adult in your household.  There are some aftermarket products out there to make modifications such as shorter stocks, lights, lasers and red dots.  I expect there will more coming as far as accessories go.  If you only get one accessory it should be a light.

If you buy a shotgun with a stock you have four points of contact, they are your shoulder, your cheek, your firing hand and your forehand, plus your eye for aiming.  In close situations you have to treat your shotgun like a rifle.  A shotgun pattern only spreads about one inch per yard contrary to popular belief. If you get the cute pistol grip only shotguns, you only have your firing hand and your forehand to control the gun.  You also lose your aiming eye.  I have seen people miss at three feet. 

Of course, make sure you practice.  You can use cheap shotgun shells to practice and not use the good self-defense ammunition.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has released the deer harvest for the first firearm season.  Hunters took 47,147 deer, 3000 less than last year.  Randolph County led the way with 1340 deer, followed by Jackson County with 1227, and Jefferson County with 1080.  All other counties were under 1000 for the first firearm season.  Second firearm season starts today (December 3) and ends Sunday December 6th.


December 3, 1818 - Illinois becomes a State.  Originally Illinois was part of the State of Virginia.  At one time, Patrick Henry was the Governor of Illinois Territory.  In 1787, Illinois became part of the Northwest Territories Ordinance.   Also included were Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.  The goal was to get those territories admitted as States.

December 5, 1933 - The 21st Amendment is ratified ending Prohibition but not before organized crime had the United States in its grip. Powerful gangland mobsters like Al Capone ruled all or parts of cities. 

December 5, 1964 - Captain Roger Donlon of New York is awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam.

December 6, 1884 - The Washington Monument is completed.  There are 900 steps to the top of the monument and I have climbed them.  There is now an elevator inside the monument.  If I go back, I believe I will take the elevator. There are over 800,000 visitors to the Washington Monument each year.  If you haven’t been there, you should go.

December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor is bombed by Japan and the United States is plummeted into World War II.  The United States becomes the predominant military power in the world.  Take a little time and watch a couple of documentaries on Pearl Harbor.  I have interviewed a couple of survivors of Pearl Harbor and WWII while doing radio years ago.  After listening to them relive their experiences, it is easy to understand why they are called “The Greatest Generation”. 

December 8, 1941 - The United States declares war on Japan.  Germany declares war on the United States.  It would Hitler’s undoing.  

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