Enough ammo for a lifetime is cheaper than I thought

Today I was perusing the Ammoman website to look at pricing and availability for .22LR ammo. As I’ve been living abroad for nearly seven years, I was pleasantly surprised to see ammo in stock and reasonably priced.

For example, CCI Blazer ammo, my go-to ammo for my Ruger 10/22 rifle and MkIII pistol when not using a suppressor, is selling at its regular, non-discounted price of $275/5000 rounds. That’s $0.055/shot. Not bad at all.

That got me thinking: seven years ago, I was a newly-minted college graduate who didn’t make a particularly large amount of money. Now I’m married and have two kids, so I have more expenses, but a larger and more consistent income. For less than two weeks after-tax salary, I could buy a near-lifetime amount (50,000) of .22LR. Ok, maybe not quite enough for a lifetime, but it’s still a hell of a lot of ammo.

Sure, the Wife Acceptance Factor of doing this out of the blue right after a major move is quite low, but squirreling away $100 per paycheck for about a year isn’t unreasonable.

The fact that I can order 50,000 rounds of ammo delivered to my home is sure to induce some PSH in people, as well as likely getting me on even more government lists. Plus I’d get to have fun at the range. Sounds like a plan to me.

Some good news about California ammo laws

In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 63. It, in conjunction with related legislation, requires that — among other things, like banning the mere possession of magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds — ammunition buyers undergo a background check prior to buying ammunition in California.

Until 2019, the background check information is conducted by the state, but the only records are kept by the local dealer. Starting in 2019, ammunition purchases from dealers are required to be registered with the state, just like gun purchases.

In addition, direct ship-to-home purchases are forbidden, though one can have ammo ordered and delivered to a local dealer who handles the background check and state registration, as well as the collection of relevant state sales tax. Importing ammo from other states is a misdemeanor, if caught.

As someone who values both my gun rights, my privacy, and the convenience of online ordering, this is a major issue.

Fortunately, the relevant section of law has several exceptions, which I discovered today (other, more informed people likely knew of this long ago but it’s new to me). Let’s look at the relevant section of the California Penal Code:


[Skipping over part (a).]

(b) Commencing January 1, 2018, the sale, delivery, or transfer of ownership of ammunition by any party may only occur in a face-to-face transaction with the seller, deliverer, or transferor, provided, however, that ammunition may be purchased or acquired over the Internet or through other means of remote ordering if a licensed ammunition vendor initially receives the ammunition and processes the transaction in compliance with this section and Article 3 (commencing with Section 30342) of Chapter 1 of Division 10 of Title 4 of this part.

In short: you can order ammo online, but it needs to go to a local dealer who needs to do the background check, state registration, etc. That’s a pain, but it still leaves the option open for those who are willing to jump through the hoops — they could have forbidden all online sales entirely.

(c) Subdivisions (a) and (b) shall not apply to the sale, delivery, or transfer of ammunition to any of the following:

Following is a long list of exceptions, such as exempting police departments, individual police officers (my non-lawyerly interpretation is that it exempts individual police officers, even if they buy ammo for personal use, so long as they are authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of their duties), federally-licensed ammo importers or manufacturers, FFL (including standard 01 FFL and C&R 03 FFL) holders residing outside the state (though why they’d need CA approval if they’re not in CA is beyond me), target ranges (so long as the ammo is kept on the range at all times), training facilities for police, etc.

Of particular interest is this section:

(6) A person who is licensed as a collector of firearms pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United States Code and the regulations issued pursuant thereto, whose licensed premises are within this state, and who has a current certificate of eligibility issued by the Department of Justice pursuant to Section 26710.

What’s this? Someone who has a C&R 03 FFL (which costs $30 for 3 years) and who has a $22/year (plus a ~$100 first-year fee) “Certificate of Eligibility” from the state of California is exempt from that law and can order ammo directly to one’s home without having to undergo an annoying background check at each sale, and with the state being none the wiser about what ammo one’s buying?

I asked several major ammo vendors who sell online, and they said their lawyers confirmed my interpretation of the law. Great!

But what is the “Certificate of Eligibility”? According to the state, it’s a document that “certifies the Department of Justice (DOJ) has checked its records and determined the recipient is not prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms at the time the firearms eligibility criminal background check was performed”. It is required for “prospective licensed firearms dealers, licensed ammunition vendors, manufacturers, certified instructors, gun show promoters [WTF? -AZR], explosive permit holders, and other firearm related employment activities”. In short, you get the background check done ahead of time and you’re good to go for a year without needing to deal with the hassles the whole time.

Sure, the local police department is informed about one possessing a C&R 03 FFL, but no action is required on their part and it likely just disappears into some file somewhere or gets thrown out. The state also knows one has a Certificate of Eligibility, but so long as one orders ammo for delivery, they don’t get any information about individual purchases.

Unfortunately, even those with CoEs are required to do the full background check and registration when buying ammo at retail dealers.

These laws are a huge hassle and, while I loathe the fact that a C&R 03 FFL and CoE are required to bypass the absurd background check and state registration of ammo purchases (which ended up costing the state $25 million to start, plus unspecified ongoing costs — hooray bureaucracy!), the fact that one can bypass those absurd requirements with relatively minimal hassle and cost is at least some relief. In addition, one can personally import ammo from other states (e.g., in the trunk of a car) if one has a C&R 03 FFL and CoE.

I already planned on getting a C&R 03 FFL, as I had before I left the country, and getting a CoE means the state gets even less information about me than if I didn’t have one, so that’s not too bad as far as California goes.

Question of the day: Can the Swiss keep ammo at home?

A common meme going around the gun control circles these days is that, though the Swiss have lots of guns, they’re not allowed to keep ammunition at home, and that ammo is only available at authorized shooting ranges. The implication being that if the US restricted ammo in the same way, it’d be just as safe as Switzerland.
This claim is false, but there’s some subtleties involved that cause confusion. Hopefully I can clear things up a bit.

  • Up until 2012 the Swiss military required that soldiers (which is nearly all military-age men, due to their mandatory service) keep their military-issued rifle and a sealed box of military-issued ammo at home. This was intended to be used in case of invasion, so that soldiers could fight their way to a local armory to get more ammo, equipment, etc. In 2012, in light of the political and military stability in Europe, the military stopped issuing ammo for soldiers to keep at home and recalled the ammo that was previously issued.
  • The Swiss government encourages marksmanship by subsidizing ammunition sold at shooting ranges, even if that ammo is not used in the military-issued rifle. Subsidized ammo is intended only for training purposes, and it must be used at the range and cannot be taken home.
  • Similarly to the US, sporting goods stores and gun shops sell unsubsidized commercial ammo to gun owners for their own use. This ammo can be kept at home and used for any lawful purpose, such as self-defense, recreational or competitive shooting, hunting, etc.

Clear? Good. Now stop perpetuating falsehoods.

More memes: pseudoephedrine vs. ammo

I’ve recently seen an image meme making its rounds on the Book of Face. It consists of two pictures, each with their own text. However, for the life of me I can’t find it now, so you’ll have to deal with my description rather than an example.
The first picture is of a sweet, grandmotherly lady with text along the lines of “I have to show my ID and sign in the logbook to purchase medication with pseudoephedrine for legitimate medical purposes, and even then I’m limited in how much I can buy.”
The second is of James Holmes, who murdered numerous?people at the theater in Aurora, with text along the lines of “I was able to buy 6,000 rounds of ammo online with no background checks, no questions asked, and without the authorities knowing.”
The intended implication is that?since society has?restricted the sale of pseudoephedrine to reduce criminal misuse, it’s crazy that online ammo sales are essentially unregulated, and we should have similar restrictions on both.
I read it differently: the restrictions on pseudoephedrine present only the most minimal barrier to amateur criminals wishing to make illicit drugs (more serious criminal gangs get the precursors in industrial quantities and don’t bother extracting pseudoephedrine from over-the-counter drugs), and that restricting the sale of either over-the-counter drugs containing?pseudoephedrine or ammunition is absurd, misguided, and ultimately futile in preventing criminal misuse.
In short, the meme is a clear example of the?failure of such restrictions, not a good example for even more restrictions.

Ballistic Monte Carlo Methods

This is a paragraph I never thought I’d see in the academic literature:

“[W]e advocate the use of ballistic-assisted (i.e. projectile-based) random sampling methods because they are both easily accessible and parallelizable. In particular, shotgun-assisted random sampling seems very suitable becaues of the presumed abundance of shotguns in cataclysmic times and the speed at which they can generate samples.”

– Vincent Dumoulin, F?lix Thouin – “A Ballistic Monte Carlo Approximation of ?

Awesome. That’d make for an amazing grant application.
See here for a summary article that explains things for non-mathematicians.
Edit: Somehow I borked the initial post by forgetting the title and screwing up a link. I’ve now corrected these errors. If you’re still seeing those errors in your feed reader, please refresh the feed.

Sierra Bullets: shutdown of the Doe Run lead smelter shouldn’t affect ammo supply

The recent shutdown of the Doe Run primary lead smelter has some people wondering what effect this might have on lead supply for bulletmakers. Sierra Bullets issued the following statement, which I’ve quoted in part:

First, Sierra buys lead from several different vendors to maintain constant supply.? Second, this facility only smelts primary lead or lead ore.? This is lead ore that has just been brought out of the earth.? Sierra uses no primary lead at all and never has, so we use nothing directly from this facility.? The lead we buy from Doe Run comes from their recycling facility in Boss, MO that is about 90 miles away from the smelter that is closing.
The facility we buy from is still going strong and delivering to us as scheduled.? The lead from this facility is from recycled lead, mostly coming from car batteries.
Our supply should not be in jeopardy and we do not anticipate any changes in our supply chain at this time.? Could the lack of primary lead create a little more demand for recycled lead?? Sure, but how much is unknown.? Could this increase in demand also create an increase in price?? Sure, but again, by how much is unknown at this time.

Emphasis mine. Hat tip to No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money: Sierra Bullets On The Shutdown Of The Herculaneum MO Lead Smelter.
Edit (2013-06-11): I mis-spelled “Sierra” in the title. This has been corrected.

Ammoman’s open list gets spammed, subscribers lose their minds

Ammoman?uses a Yahoo Groups mailing list to announce the availability of various products, specials, etc.
Evidently the list manager failed to configure the list to be “announce only” for authorized senders. Instead, it was setup to be an unmoderated discussion list. This misconfiguration wasn’t noticed up until today when a spammer randomly decided to send a spam message to the list.
Evidently this caused the entire list to lose its mind, with hundreds of people replying to the list, first to inquire about the spam, then to wonder why they were getting copies of messages from others inquiring about the spam, followed immediately by people trolling the list, followed by hundreds more sending “UNSUBSCRIBE” or “REMOVE ME” messages to the list (even though that merely sends that message to everyone and doesn’t unsubscribe one from the list — the list itself has very clear unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of every message but people can’t be assed to read it). All of this helps contribute to the chaos and amplifies the list traffic dramatically. (Fortunately, a simple filter redirects all the crazy list messages into the trash folder — in a day or two I’ll remove the filter so I can get the regular notifications from Ammoman.)
Also, some people evidently blame the government and, specifically, Obama for this incident.
It disturbs me that people too stupid to figure out how to unsubscribe from a mailing list or setup a filter and who blame the government for a relatively minor technical cock-up walk among us every day. (Again, The Onion is prophetic.)

Swiss no longer keep military ammo at home

It is well known that the Swiss are a prickly bunch: military service is mandatory for able-bodied males and those military members keep their army-issue rifles at home.
They also keep a sealed package of 50 rifle rounds to enable them to fight to the nearest armory if the need arises. Well, they kept ammo at home: during an enjoyable evening with a friendly Swiss couple in Z?rich the topic of military service came up. My friend mentioned that sometime last year, the military took back the sealed ammo box and soldiers no longer keep military-issue ammo at home.
Of course, privately owned ammo and firearms are allowed, and both recreational and competitive shooting is about as common here as baseball is in the US.
There’s been discussion in the legislature recently that military rifles should no longer be kept at home (for safety purposes, say advocates of the restriction), but not much progress has been made along those lines: keeping military rifles at home is widely felt to be a Swiss cultural institution.

Ammo Promo: Prvi Partizan

Normally I don’t mention commercial services (( I don’t accept advertising or get any money or perks from the few services I do mention. )), but I recently got an email from Ammoman about how Prvi Partizan is raising their prices on .223/5.56mm NATO ammo soon. Right now it’s for sale (pre-increase) for $299/1,000rds.
For those who haven’t tried Prvi, I highly recommend it. Their 55 and 62 grain ball ammo meets NATO spec, is brass cased, boxer primed and reloadable, shoots reasonably clean, and is about as accurate as one would expect for general purpose military ammo. The cases have visible annealing marks, as does most military ammo, but polish up nicely for reloading.
When I lived in the US, my ARs were fed a steady diet of Prvi and worked flawlessly. I actually prefer it over the Federal stuff, which never seemed as consistent
If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s well worth $299 to try a case.