I think it's the ammo manufacturers taking advantage of a demand side spike to run up prices when they could just as well pump out twice as much ammo and we could all get ammo at the same price we did last year at this time.
I had to respond:
"No, it's not.
I know it's fashionable in America to blame rich people, big business, fat cats, and whatnot for every misfortune (hey, at least we don't blame Jews anymore; we're making progress,) but this shortage is just a natural result of modern business practices.
See, once upon a time, it was common for American businesses to produce everything they could. Then they would send it to wholesalers, who would in turn sell to retailers who would buy all of it they could afford.
In the days before instantaneous, nearly-free, cross-country communications and three-day coast-to-coast delivery, this made sense.
Then in the '70s and '80s, American manufacturers got their butts kicked by the Japanese, led by Toyota, who had made a religion out of Just-In-Time inventory control. Now everybody uses it.
Federal Ammunition Co. will look at last year's Q1 business and only order enough components to produce what it thinks it can sell this quarter. The wholesalers will only buy based on what they think they can sell, again based on data from previous years. Same with the retailers. A big enough demand surge at the retail end can suck the pipeline dry all the way back to the component end of the process.
If I only sold 10 boxes of .44 Magnum a week at Anytown Firearms, I'd only keep an inventory of 11 or 12 on hand. Those unsold boxes are liabilities, after all; money tied up that's not turning a profit. If somebody comes in and buys all 12 boxes, I'm out 'til next week.
If he does that to every store in the area, and we all need to reorder from the same wholesaler to restock our shelves, we'll probably empty the wholesaler's shelves as well. And the wholesaler doesn't get weekly deliveries, he gets monthly deliveries. Meanwhile, since each dealer in Anytown only got an allocated 4 boxes of .44 Magnum, and word has gotten around at the range that there's a .44 Magnum drought, those four boxes are going to fly off the shelf. Now we're stuck until the wholesaler can get more from the manufacturer. Next month. See?"
Wow, same exact endpoint, with 99% less conspiracy!