Everyone has noticed that ammo cans have been harder to find and that when you do find them they cost more. Lots of folks are asking why, and lots of rumors are flying.
First, to dispel the biggest rumor, there has been no executive order or directive that all ammo cans be crushed. Now some are being destroyed, but it is do the incompetence of government workers, no an executive order. But more on that later.
The first thing causing prices to rise is that the Army changed how they issue 5.56 ammo stateside. It used to be that when a unit went to the range they drew ammo that was packed just like “go to war” ammo- it was in stripper clips, bandoleers and and .50 cal ammo cans. That meant that every day lots of cans were opened, the ammo used, and the cans went to be sold. Someone saw that this was wasting money, and they changed so that 5.56 training ammo is now issued in cardboard boxes. The result is that the taxpayers are saving a lot of money, but there are a lot fewer surplus cans sold.
The second thing is that more and more national retailers are starting to bid on the cans, and that drives prices up. Chains like Northern Tool have found that they can get $15 or more for a 50 cal ammo can. This drives prices up further.
Lastly, you have typical government bureaucrat idiocy. First, somewhere somebody decreed that all ammo cans sold must have the lids removed. Why? Who knows. I guess they are scared to death that some of that evil ammo might be in it. Of course, that same ammo is available to anyone outside the military, but logic does not matter here. So they pay a government employee to sit there and take all the lids off so nobody finds a .223 blank out there.
What happens then? They put them all on a pallet. And they sit exposed to the elements for months before they get sold, letting water pool up in them, causing the insides to rust.
And then those typical government employees strap them down to the pallet. But what happens when you take the lid off an ammo can? It loses it structural integrity. So what do you do when you are a government employee who doesn’t care if he damages government property? You take the ammo cans that are easily bent and strap them down to the pallet so hard you bend them.
And the top ones are badly bent, as you see. But the bottom layers will be bent as well, and it only takes a slight bend before the can won’t shut or seal properly. You can figure at least 20% of the cans on the pallets are now good for little more than scrap. And for no other reason than the folks at the ASP and DRMO are lazy and don’t care.
So, add all these together, and the end result is that fewer cans are sold, many of the cans that do get sold are junk, and there are more people bidding for that. That all comes together to drive ammo cans prices higher.
All of us in the military surplus business are used to seeing the stupidity that comes with the way the government manages it, but I figured folks out there might like a glimpse into the factors that affect price and supply.