The Government is Ordering Millions of Bullets…Should I Be Worried?

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: News and Tactical Advice

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I’ve been contacted by several friends recently about the Federal Government’s ammunition purchases.  Apparently, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has ordered 750 million handgun, rifle, and shotgun rounds (in addition to the 450 million purchased earlier this year).  You can read the actual request for proposal HERE.

 

 

My friends are concerned that this signifies that the Federal Government knows something that we citizens don’t and is preparing for future problems.  Even worse, some believe that the ammunition order is tantamount to an act of war against the citizens of the USA.  After all, why would Federal agents need more than a billion rounds of hollowpoint and match grade ammunition?

 

 

Some of the media hype around this incident has been prompted by the slanted “journalism” in articles written on the Prison Planet and Info Wars websites.  For an example of one such article, check out the link below:

 

DHS To Purchase Another 750 Million Rounds Of Ammo

 

 

While I often find myself agreeing with the articles posted on these two sites and occasionally even listen to Mr. Jones on the radio, I think that they are wrong on this issue.  I’m completely open to the idea of governmental conspiracies and regularly research such claims, but I really believe this “conspiracy” is just more media hype.  Here’s why:

 

 

1) The Feds train with expensive bullets.   I’ve  trained agents in the FBI, ATF, DEA, Secret Service, and Border Patrol in my job as a firearms instructor.  I’ve also witnessed hundreds of thousands of rounds fired by the various Federal Agencies that rent my police range and in training classes that I’ve attended.  This gives me a little bit of an inside track on their procedures.

 

 

Unlike most citizens and the majority of local law enforcement agencies, most Federal agencies do not use cheap (full metal jacket) training ammunition.  They shoot very expensive (around $1 per round) hollowpoint bullets during all their training sessions.  I personally believe that this practice is wasteful, as functionally identical training rounds can be purchased for roughly 1/3 of the price of a premium hollowpoint round.  Most agencies shoot the cheaper bullets in training and carry the more expensive bullets for duty use.  Not so with the Feds.  They practice with the same hollowpoints they carry on duty.

 

 

If you don’t believe me, look at the title of the bid proposal linked above.  It says “Commerical Leaded Training Ammunition”.  And yes, the spelling error was included in the original proposal.   Additionally, you can look to the “questions” section of the proposal which states:

 

“ANSWER – No. For clarification we are purchasing
training rounds only and not duty rounds as
specified in Part D, SOW paragraph 1.0.”

 

The Feds aren’t trying to amass hollowpoints to kill large numbers of American citizens.  They just use them in training.  The practice is fiscally irresponsible, but it isn’t a conspiracy.

 

 

2) There are a lot of Federal Agents.  This ammunition supplies all of the agents who work for the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service, Homeland Security (including Border Patrol), National Park Service, US Marshals, CIA, Federal Air Marshals, and a host of smaller Federal law enforcement agencies.  Check out this Wikipedia Article for a complete list of all of the agencies for whom the Federal Government buys bullets.  All in all, there are about 120,000 armed Federal agents with arrest authority.

 

 

The contract is a bid for a MAXIMUM of  approximately 750 million rounds over a 5-year period. It could be for as little as 1000 total rounds per year.

 

“The Government guarantees a minimum of 1,000 rounds per year on each resultant contract. Contracts will be for a base year and four (4) 12 month option periods.”

 

Doing the math, that means at maximum each of the Federal agents will expend approximately 6200 rounds in practice over five years.  That’s about 1250 rounds per year.  I order the bullets for my municipal police agency.  As a point of comparison, I budget for approximately 1500 rounds per officer per year.  The 750 million number seems high, but when you do the math, it really isn’t.

 

 

3) Consider budget cycles.  The Federal Government’s fiscal year ends on September 30.  If you are unfamiliar with government budgeting, the line item for each budgeted item is generally handled in a “use it or lose it” fashion.  If agencies don’t spend their allocated funds, they generally can’t carry them over to the next year.  The surplus is returned to the General fund.  Many agencies strive to spend every last cent of their budgeted money.  If they don’t, bureaucrats tend to assume that they don’t need all the allocated money and cut their budget in the future.

 

 

Consequently, at the end of each fiscal year every agency is on a spending spree, trying to use all of their unspent money before it “disappears”.  The timing of this huge ammunition purchase is suspicious to me.  It looks to me like the Federal Agencies are trying to use up all their surplus cash by buying something they know they will use in the future…ammunition.  It’s easy insurance against future budget cuts and is done by every municipal, state, and local government agency in the country.

 

 

You can disagree with the practice on principle (as I do), but until a zero-based budget is adopted across the board, these late year purchases will happen.  Again, fiscal irresponsibility does not necessarily equal “conspiracy”.

 

 

4) The Feds might be planning ahead.  I’ve been responsible for ordering my agency’s ammunition for the last 13 years.  I’ve learned to anticipate market trends.  If I don’t, I may not have enough ammunition for my officers.  Here’s an example…

 

 

In 2008, prior to the presidential election, there was a massive increase in ammunition demand.  People were stockpiling ammunition fearing that if Barack Obama was elected, he would initiate some type of gun/ammunition control legislation.  People were buying all the bullets they could out of fear that they would not be able to buy more in the future.  Market forces went to work.  The excess demand drove up costs (ammunition prices almost doubled) and created shortages.  My department had to wait more than a year to get our ammunition order (and it cost twice as much).  It was difficult to conduct training.

 

 

A similar trend appears to be happening again in the run up to the presidential elections.  Guns and ammunition are starting to be less available than they were just a couple months ago.  Costs are going up.  The Federal Agencies are likely to be recognizing this as well.  They don’t want to be in the same spot they were in 2008, scrambling to find training ammunition and paying way too much money for it.

 

 

This large bid is likely their effort to “step to the front of the line” and get their ammunition ordered now…ahead of any potential shortages.  That’s actually some intelligent forethought, not a conspiracy to kill American citizens.

 

 

Like I said earlier, I believe in a lot of “conspiracy theories”, but not this one.  I can understand how people can think that this massive ammunition order is a sign of future problems, but I really don’t believe that’s the case.  I know these arguments aren’t likely to convince everyone, but I do hope that a better understanding of some of the facts surrounding the ammunition purchase may provide food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. John says:

    Thank You!!

    I’ve been in this argument for a week with a clerk at a local gunshop. My point all along has been. If the feds want ammo to impose martial law, when the time comes they will just occupy the factories and take everything. I’m like you. I can buy into some of the conspiracy theories. But, most like this one are too far fetched.

  2. Thanks for the insight, Greg. Makes sense.

  3. browcs says:

    Good article. My observation has been with a few Fed OIGs and one FBI field division. All of those agencies, and my own, train with FMJ or flat point (FP) rounds. With respects to handgun rounds, we are on the FBI contract so, we also shoot Winchester 180 grain bonded JHP and FP rounds.

    • davidthomas38 says:

      So in the article they say they are using hollow points and you are saying they are using JHP. Who is correct.

      • Greg Ellifritz says:

        JHP = Jacket Hollow Point….all of the Hollowpoints that the Feds use are Jacketed Hollowpoints. The two terms are the same in this instance.

  4. Patch Delta says:

    Is there a possibility that this will raise cost to the civilian market (supply/demand)?
    Making cost prohibiive to its citi.zens

    • Greg Ellifritz says:

      I suppose it’s possible…but I think it would take a lot more rounds to impact costs enough to actually make it prohibitive to buy anything. A couple dollars more per box may slow down some buying, but it won’t make it stop.

  5. Frank says:

    Greg, I appreciate your position and the service you provide but the facts are overwhelming that cause citizen speculation when blatant criminal conduct is ignored by our chief law enforcement officers. When our chief law enforcement officials are potentially involved in criminal activity it is hard not to question the direction and threat of this situation. The federal law enforcement agencies you’ve listed do not fall under homeland securities budget and will not have access to this ammunition.
    I have been involved in public service from over 20 years and have known no employee of DHS that was issued a weapon even at the highest level of state government. I know TSA, Border Patrol may fall under DHS but that is about it as for as being budgeted by DHS.
    Innocent civilians have died including law enforcement officers as a result of political activist using cloak and dagger tactics to attack and compromise the validity of the Constitution of the United States of America. Our borders have been intentionally left unattended allowing insurgents to move freely into our country while our law enforcement officers are forced to close their eyes to offenses they’ve sworn to uphold.
    Why are the 22 members of Seal Team 6 involved in the highly publicized raid in Pakistan dead? Did they pay the ultimate price for a political agenda? Did they have a story to tell that was not to be told?
    We should be worried when bounties are placed on U.S. citizens and law enforcement is told to stand down? Should be we be worried when voting polls are patrolled by armed thugs designed to create terror in the minds of innocent civilians and law enforcement is told to stand down? You bet your ass we should be worried.

    The P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards & Training) Course takes 60 rounds and you have to do it twice for annual certification and I am sure you are very aware and for many agencies that is all that is required annually. So thats 120 rds to qualify and 120 rds of duty ammo.

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