What were we shooting in 2013?

2013 was an interesting year for shooters. After a couple of high profile shootings, the Obama administration started talking about banning guns which spurred one of the craziest ammo crunches I can recall in my lifetime. For most of the year popular calibers such as 9mm, .45 ACP, .223/5.56 and even .22 Long Rifle were nearly impossible to find. When you could find ammo, it could cost 2x-3x’s more than 2012 prices. Some ammo, like .22 LR, is still nearly impossible to find and commands a premium when you do stumble across a box or two. Our ammunition selling friends over at LuckyGunner.com compiled a list of the most popular calibers for 2013 based upon traffic to their website. Let’s take a look at the top calibers according to their analytics.

LuckyGunner ammo sales stats

Not surprisingly, 9mm tops the list by a considerable margin. If you follow my posts on TBS, you’ll know I’m a 9mm kind of guy. It seems I’m not alone given the massive volume of 9mm ammo being consumed by follow shooters. It’s also not surprising that .223 Remington comes in second place. The little hotrod centerfire .22 is as American as baseball and apple pie and it feeds the most popular rifle in the U.S., the AR15.

Was this years hunger for .223/5.56mm driven by fears that the government would ban the rifles that chamber it? Quite possibly, but based on data collected by LuckyGunner in 2012 the sales seem to be fairly consistent in terms of ranking. In 2012 9mm again took the top spot with .223 following less than 1 percentage point behind. If anything, 9mm sales took off like gang busters in 2013 while .223 lost a couple of percentage points. Another interesting tidbit of information is which states are consuming the most ammo. Check this out.

Luckygunner sales by state

What I find interesting is that California, New York and Illinois make it into the top 10 list over a state like Tennessee which is known as being one of the most gun populous states in the country. Cali, New York and Illinois are generally thought to be anti-gun states with laws that make most gun owners cringe yet shooters in these states are obviously very passionate about shooting and consume copious amounts of ammo.

I hope the trend of buying guns and ammo continues, although I have to admit, I’m running short on .22 LR. I hope shooters by more center fire ammo in 2014 and let me get restocked on my dwindling stash of rimfire.

Here’s to 2014!


MAC is an avid shooter, former MCSF Marine, NRA member, Oath Keeper and is commissioned as a Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky. Known for his videos on the Military Arms Channel, he also writes for The Bang Switch, for Shotgun News (Be Ready!) and freelances for Guns & Ammo. MAC has been a life long shooter who has an interest in all things that go "bang" but gravitates towards military type firearms.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle PlusYouTube

  • RandallOfLegend

    Cool Article. Your math is off though.

    “If you combine the data for .223 (21.4%) and 5.56mm (5.5%) the caliber
    is by far the most popular cartridge on the market, at least in 2013.”

    It’s actually 15.7% based on your data. (10.2% + 5.5%). So 9mm is still tops.

    • Andrew

      I’m guessing he’s talking about rifle calibers, as that’s what the paragraph was talking about.
      “The little hotrod centerfire .22 is as American as baseball and apple pie and it feeds the most popular rifle in the U.S., the AR15. If you combine the data for .223 (21.4%) and 5.56mm (5.5%) the caliber is by far the most popular cartridge on the market, at least in 2013.”

    • Anthony Cordero

      Can’t add them together as they are different rounds. .223 is different from 5.56.

      • smurf

        Am I the only person who prefers .223 over 5.56? The brass is harder to process before reloading due to the primer crimp, and if I want a higher pressure round, I’ll hand load one to match the rifle I’m using.

        I’ve only casually observed the competition scene, but everyone I talked to shot .223 even in 5.56 chambered guns.

      • RandallOfLegend

        Different rounds, but a lot of people shoot 223 in their 5.56 uppers.

    • Military Arms Channel

      That’s one of those brain fart moments where you’re looking at two different things and think they’re something they’re not. Fixed.

      • Brandon Bowers

        +1 for admission of error :)

  • peterk

    I’m sure the sheer population volume of CA doesn’t hurt. Nor does the fact that politics increasingly speak less and less to the true heart of our country.

  • Rence

    Its not really surprising that Texas and California were ahead of states like Tennessee when you consider relative populations of those states. But regardless of where the shooters live, as long as the number of us keeps growing, thats not a bad thing in general.

  • newtoak

    I gave up on shopping for .22LR. I have started to shoot(and stock) on 7.62×39. Glad to see it’s isn’t as popular as other calibers.

  • Ctirad Los

    To be honest I thought that .40 would be less popular

    • Matthew Henik

      I imagine it well because it was actually available while 9mm and to a degree .45 was hard to find.

      • Christopher Sine

        You beat me to it. The ammo crunch left me wishing I had a .40 cal, as .40 S&W was ALWAYS in stock at my local walmart

  • Andrew

    To be fair, this shows/proves 2 things.
    1. Those are the top calibers that were available to buy on the market.
    2. It’s what people bought, not necessarily shot.

  • Evan Jonathan

    “What I find interesting is that California, New York and Illinois make it into the top 10 list over a state like Tennessee which is known as being one of the most gun populous states in the country.” The only reason for this that I can come up with is that perhaps more people in Tennessee and other states have realized the financial benefits of reloading. ? Haha, I know I have.

    • Parnell

      I think Tennessee shooters realize that Lucky Gunner is over priced. I”m in NJ and I know of at least 4 bulk ammo suppliers that are cheaper.

  • Woods_Mike

    Contributing to NY and California being at the top of the list was the unSafe Act in NY which makes a background check necessary to buy ammo after april 15 and the laws that were going to be passed requiring background checks in california that the governor vetoed

  • hundreddollarman

    Wait, people were actually shooting ANYTHING in California? This can’t be right.

  • Thor

    California, Illinois and New York must be on the list for all of the police training to come down on the citizenry like an iron fist.

  • PaC SGM (R)

    Agree, good article and further proof that if you can afford multiple weapon systems you should choose different calibers of weapons to cache away, if there is no 9mm but there is .45 you have an option, no .556/.223 you have your AK 47.

  • James

    actually only chicago/ cook county has cringeworthy gun laws. the rest of illinois (with a couple of exceptions) is just less than favorable…

  • FireMission

    My purchasing is in line with your results. Once the craziness subsided a bit (say, in April or so) I started being able to find 9mm and .223 again. I did manage to come across a few bricks of 22LR, but not enough to convince me that I can go shooting it willy-nilly as I usually would. It’s crazy that I am more able to go shoot 9mm than 22LR. But instead of shooting my 10/22 and my NEW 22/45 (only 2 mags thru it!) I’ve been shooting my 9mm carbine, my Glock, and my AR.

  • aaron hanson

    Lucky Gunner’s prices are ridiculous. I thought $15.99 for a box of 50 9mm cartridges locally was crazy. They are charging $23.99 plus shipping for the same ammo.

  • 306_AD

    Interesting, but not surprising. Higher concentration of population in those states.

  • JD MAK

    The numbers given are percent of revenue, not percentage of total rounds purchased. In other words, if a particular caliber is cheap, yet sells at a higher margin, it will show as representing a larger percentage of revenue than another caliber that wholesales at a higher price and sells at a lower margin. It is possible that some ammunition with lower profit margins and a lower percent of revenue are actually outselling (on a round for round basis) other ammunition that may not sell as well, but provides a much higher margin and puts more overall cash in a retailer’s pockets. Actual numbers of rounds sold would provide a more accurate picture…

  • 13steps2nowhere

    I’m confused… I see 9mm Luger at the top of the list. Is this the same as 9mm Parabellum?

    If so, I turned down 100 rounds of ammo from a Christmas present because I thought it would make my PPQ explode. :-(

    • Mr. LoadsaMoney

      I’m so sorry, but yes, they are the same… I hope you have a chance to get that back.

      • 13steps2nowhere

        Likely so. It’ll just have to come in the mail instead of in my suitcase.

  • Erin

    California tops the list because online orders is the ONLY way to get ammo in that state. There is literally no ammo anywhere on the shelves. That’s one good reason (among many) I moved away. 22 is low on the list because its less expensive. The list is revenue, not volume. If it were round for round, you know 22 would be right at the top

    • Mr. LoadsaMoney

      This is why i hate living in california, i hope to move someday soon. During the whole gun control craze we bought a couple thousand rounds of just 5.56 alone, with another thousand of .45 acp (crazy i know with the price it is). Though I am proud to say i contributed to california being that high up on the list

  • retired military, your welcome

    Having grown up in California I can tell you it’s not all anti-gun. If you were to look at presidential election data broken down by county you would find the majority to be red over blue. Which somewhat loosely corisponds to pro-gun/anti-gun. Or at least it used to. I grew up in the Central Valley and all my friends were hunters and fishermen. Deer season was almost sacred. So it’s no surprise to me that the most populist state would be at or near the top in ammo and even gun sales. The problem come from the most populated counties in and around LA and San Francisco. The liberal elite that believe they know better than you, what is best for you populate these places, and that’s what everyone thinks California is all about. Spend some time in the central part of the Sierra Nevada mountains and you’ll find yourself in gun lovin’ country just like anyplace in Tennessee or. Kentucky, or Texas.

  • JCook

    LuckyGunner is based in TN, so those of us who live here would be paying nearly 10% sales tax to order from them. I order all of my ammo from AIM or other out-of-state places. I assume many other TN residents who buy ammo in bulk online do the same.

  • Joshua Fletcher

    You should try http://www.freedommunitions.com the prices are pretty good! Of course I’m in Texas so there is sales tax. But still .23 to .26 cents per round isn’t too bad. That’s what I paid at Academy 2 years ago for new stuff.

  • Matt

    Reason California is so high is there are no real gun shops like southern states have that carry cheap bulk ammo, there are a lot of small gun shops that have 4 old hunting rifles maybe a shotgun and few odd ball expensive boxes of ammo. Nobody sells handguns or ar-15s or ak rifles. Best thing for ammo is Walmart and there selection compared to your Walmart is huge, also they don’t sell any firearms. Makes me think this is why California is so high up. All my ammo I buy is from online it’s what you have to do unless you can afford inflated prices.