The .380 Mystery

Last week, I noted the strong sales of guns — and now, particularly, ammunition. Among other things, I pointed out that no retailers around here, even the local gun shop with high prices, seem to have .380 pistol ammunition in stock.

Ruger makes an extremely popular concealed carry weapon, the LCP, chambered in .380. It’s so small, it can literally fit in the palm of an average man’s hand. And while .380 isn’t the most powerful cartridge, the LCP can hold seven rounds. Our local gun shop cannot keep them in stock, and only sells them on a wait list. No doubt this is one reason why Sturm Ruger’s stock is trading near its 52-week high. (Also, Smith & Wesson released earnings data last night: Adjusted net income for the third quarter 2008 was $9.2 million, compared to $3.7 million in the 2007 third quarter.)

Anyhow, I wondered if the popularity of the LCP, and the shortage of .380 ammunition, were unique to our area. A story today from Tulsa suggests otherwise:

The surprise sales come with .380 caliber semi- automatic pistols. A relatively small self-protection weapon, it’s not one that people typically fire in great quantity at the firing range, Prall said. Yet, the ammunition is now hard to find. “Nobody would have predicted that,” he said.

“We ran completely out here of 9 mm and .380,” said Johny Mathews, product and service manager at the U.S. Shooting Sports Academy on East 66th Street North. “We were begging, borrowing and stealing from wherever.”

Concealed-carry classes at the academy are booked through April. “We used to do 15-person classes, and now we do 24 because of the demand,” he said.

Mathews believes that politics are partly to blame, but the economy also has people worried. “It’s 50/50, I think” he said. “When people lose jobs and get desperate, good people can sometimes do bad things. People hear more about home invasions, robberies, and they think it will only get worse. Then they’re afraid they might lose their guns or ammo, so they stock up.”

Sales are so intense that Stone has limited sales of .380 ammo to one box per customer at Dong’s. He has .380-caliber handguns for sale, and likes to be able to sell ammunition to whoever buys a gun, he said.

A shipment of 10 Ruger .380 LCP handguns was sold in 24 hours this week — seven the first day, three the next. “Last week I had 28 boxes of .380, rationed to one per person, and it was gone in three days,” Stone said.

Academy Sporting Goods stores also are low on .380 ammo. “The other day we got 16 boxes of .380 and a guy came in first thing and bought all 16,” said Jon Ide, hunting and fishing sales associate at the 41st Street store. “A few people are doing all the buying, and it’s the people who are trying to just get a box or two that can’t find any.”

I’m just glad I got my LCP, and a good supply of .380, when I could. Now, if only I’d invested an equal amount of money in Sturm Ruger stock at the same time…

4 thoughts on “The .380 Mystery

  1. Thanks for the reminder! I had looked at these a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to look at them more intently later…well, my husband just went out and bought me one–guess that’s my birthday and anniversary presents rolled into one, lol! And the ammo to go with it, thanks be to God. Thanks again!

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  2. My wife prefers her S&W .38 revolver. Not much bigger, but a lot more impact. She uses .38+p+ ammo. If she has to shot someone, she wants them to stop right there. No shortage of that size yet. Me? I don't have a handgun. Rifles have always seemed to do the job. But if things keep going down the toilet, I may pick up a Ruger .38 or .357.The ACP is a nice design, and it's cool they're using it with a reasonably sized round. .45 is just too painful to shoot even in a handgun. Last time I put a couple dozen rounds through my son's .45, I couldn't use my right hand for the rest of the day.

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  3. You want to know what I find scary? I’ve seen a blogger claim this spike in interest in guns is out of a racist belief that the country will rise up against the black President. Agree or disagree with the Confederacy, I’ve read of the North being awash with fears of a Southern Slave Conspiracy taking over the union that were as ludicrous as 9/11 “truthers”. I can’t help but find it disturbing that some people, however few they may be at the moment (for I’ve seen stranger things go from nonsense to not uncommon belief through a careless media), would direct the same type of paranoia at modern desires to seek self-protection outside the Federal government.

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  4. Ammunition sales, and component sales, have just gone through the roof. Small rifle primers are absolutely impossible to find now. Some powders, like IMR 4895, are as well. If you reload, and I do, it’s aggravating.

    Firearms sales have experienced the same thing. Particularly with some categories of rifles, such as AR15 based platforms.

    It’s really just simply a panic. There are no bills pending that have a chance of being passed, but people are hoarding out of a fear that there will be. I keep thinking it’ll pass, but so far there’s no signs of the panic letting up soon.

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