The Russian Ammo Ban

A mix of Russian-made 7.62x39mm ammo from UCW and Barnaul.

I was going to do another product review, but of course, the government had to go and do something monumentally retarded, and derail my schedule. Yes, I’m talking about the forthcoming ban on the import of Russian-made ammunition and firearms imposed by the Joseph Robinette Biden, Junior regime.

Scheduled to kick in on September 7th, 2021, the executive order drafted by the State Department and signed by Biden this past Friday will ban, for a minimum of one year, the importation of all Russian firearms and ammunition to the United States.

To say it’s a problem is an understatement…

Ironically, while the Taliban have been nicely equipped with over 600,000 US-made weapons, and billions of rounds of US-made ammo - the Biden regime has chosen not to address the problem at hand, i.e. equipping real terrorists with quality munitions, but instead slap the American gun owner in the face, again.

Ostensibly the ban is a sanction in response to the assassination attempt of Alexy Navalny, a Russian political figure opposed to the regime of Vladimir Putin. Though the incident happened last year in London, it’s only now that Biden has decided to respond, realistically to deflect criticism of his mishandling of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, and gain points with the base of the Democratic Party, by making life difficult for US gun owners.

Within hours of the announcement, brands like Wolf, Tulammo, Brown Bear, and so on became scarce on the shelves of ammo retailers. Case in point, I posted a link to some steel-cased 7.62x39mm Tula at Lucky Gunner on the RGG social channels, and by the time I circled back to check, the inventory was gone.

It’s a calculated chess move by Biden, or whomever really runs things at the White House these days, but - the devil is in the details. It’s not good, but it does present us with some options.

Existing Permits To Import Ammo From Russia Will Be Honored

Typically, steel-cased ammo imported from Russia was seen as a cheaper alternative to traditional brass-cased offerings from domestic and European manufacturers. And of course, if you were into AKs, it really was your only option, with brass-cased 7.62x39mm ironically being rare and comparitavely expensive.

Outside of the AK world, most of us chose to run domestic offerings, not wanting to dirty up our guns with the “cheap crap”. Of course, 2020 changed things, with a spate of riots, ‘rona, and the hotly contested election driving purchasing and prices through the roof. Only the Russian imported ammo stayed reasonably cheap. Snobby ammo aficionados, myself included, ran the cheap steel-cased offerings from Tula, Wolf, Barnal, and the others in all of our guns, whether it was an AK-style rifle, an AR, or 9mm pistol. The Russian plants obliged, with, after things caught up a tiny bit, US retailers typically always having Russian ammo in inventory.

The cheap Russian ammo was a bulwark against domestic shortages, and allowed us to easily continue training without depleting our domestic stashes too much.

As mentioned, with the Biden regime announcement, the Russian supply has essentially dried up overnight for the time being. Online retailers have little to none, and local gun shops are in the same boat. Unfortunately, the next link in the supply chain, the distributors, have suffered the same fate. And after September 7th, they cannot apply for new permits to import ammo from Russia for at least a year.

As a background, ammunition from overseas has to be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) for import, usually on what’s called a Form 6. Typically valid for 2 years, this enables US businesses to import ammunition legally. From countries that we’re friends with, like most European ones, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and so on, it’s a rubber-stamp affair with only routine scrutiny of the paperwork.

Russia, of course, is a different story. Prior to the current situation, there were already sanctions and embargoes on Russian munitions, but not as far-reaching as this. Specific companies were subject to disapproval, but not the entire nation. So yes, there’s no specific workaround this time like just asking another plant to produce the ammo.

However, existing permits for import will be honored, for now. For example, MKS Supply, the importer of Barnaul, probably has an existing permit to import X amount of ammunition from the Barnaul factory in Russia. That’s actually how it works, the Form 6 has to be for specifics. The importer negotiates with the factory to buy say 3 million rounds of 123gr 7.62x39mm FMJ, and the Form 6 only covers the importation of that amount. It’s why you would see a flood of inventory, then it would taper off - the importer has to place another order and apply for another permit to import that order.

The permit has an expiration, either when the order is fulfilled - if you look at a Form 6 there’s plenty of space to document what you are importing - or when the date, 2 years after approval, hits.

So, the supply won’t be completely tapped out yet. I’m not privy to specific numbers, but I can guarantee importers of Russian ammo still have some unfulfilled and approved orders left in the pipeline.

But, eventually the existing orders will be completed, most likely by this time next year - and then the ban is “real”.

That gives us a little time to maneuver though.

Non-Russian Ammo Companies Have A Golden Opportunity

In an ideal world, there’d be little to no bureaucratic barriers to trade. Someone’s selling something, someone wants to buy it, currency is exchanged (or barter), done and done.

Unfortunately, as is the norm, government makes things difficult. Sure, on paper, the sanctions are only for a year, but no one believes that, since realistically Biden doesn’t care about a Russian opposition politician, but instead cares about appeasing his base, which has it out for us Second Amendment Radicals.

So, let’s just assume the sanctions will continue for quite awhile. But, as they say, life…finds a way.

Even in good times, the allure of steel-cased ammo was simple. It was cheap, it went bang, and even though it wore on your gun more than comparable brass-cased ammo, the logic was that if you shot enough steel-cased ammo to notice the difference, you had the money to replace the worn components. And again, if you’re into AKs, there’s really no other affordable choice.

That being said, Russia isn’t the only country that was cranking out cheap steel-cased ammo. Factories in Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all have the ability to turn out steel-cased ammo. If you look closely at your steel-cased ammo boxes, you’ll sometimes see a different country of origin. Importers in the US often seek out the best deals to supply demand, rather than ally themselves with a specific factory.

Also, there’s no magic to producing steel-cased ammunition. It’s cheap, dirty, and goes bang. It wouldn’t be impossible for an existing US ammo company to dedicate capacity to accommodate the demand. There’s plenty of AK shooters out there in our nation, most of whom would be thrilled to purchase domestically-produced cheap ammo for their guns.

Though in the case of US-based production, the key is primers. There’s only 4 companies (Winchester, CCI, Federal, and Remington) making primers at the moment, though word is they are expanding.

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom For Ammunition

Yes, it sucks - what the Biden regime is doing is basically backdoor gun control. They can’t lawfully hit US manufacturers since there would be a completely chaotic storm in the courts, but since unfortunately the government can lawfully regulate international commerce, they’re hitting the import of Russian ammunition, in a move fueled purely by politics and spite.

We can fight back by seeking and encouraging alternative sources of cheap ammo, and of course in the political arena by holding the regime accountable. A percentage of gun owners, both new and old, voted for Biden because reasons, so it’s time to do just that. Remember, they work for we the people, not the other way around. Government isn’t supposed to be a welfare grift for sociopaths.

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