Bare ammo shelves have you frustrated? The solution may be closer than you think.
by Brad Fenson
Online marketplaces are inundated with posts of ammunition priced for a panicked, pandemic-driven market. A single box of shotshells can sell for as much as $100, which is ludicrous. Specialized social media sites are offering cases of shotgun shells, but the price will make you wince.
Anyone walking into sporting goods stores or even big box stores today will find the shelves are empty where there once were options. Clay loads, doves, upland birds, waterfowl, and even predator loads are hard to come by.
For a smoothbore enthusiast, the shortage may cause great angst. What to do when a supply of shotshells starts to become limited, scarce, or worst of all, non-existent? Shotgun enthusiasts have a lot in common and are hoarders by nature. I don’t mean that duck hunters have cases of their favorite ammo stashed away, although some might; however, there is a good chance there are multiple boxes of your precious shotshells scattered around the house, garage, or stowed in clothes and hunting gear.
Embrace Hoarding—The Roundup
Like most hunters and shooters, there are likely loose shotshells scattered randomly through your personal spaces. A recent shotshell roundup at home produced eight and a half boxes that are now carefully stowed away for days of excitement in the field.
Here is where to start looking.
Any vehicle used for hunting or going to the trap range is likely to have loose shotshells hidden in door handles, glove boxes, seat covers, or even under the seats. Rummaging through the truck and side-by-side, I collected lead clay loads, 3-inch magnum goose loads, and a discontinued box of heavy coyote collectors. The coyote loads are likely worth lots if I wanted to part with them.
Hunting clothing and pockets are a natural hiding spot for shotshells. My shooting vest produced several trap loads, while my parka and bibs turned up various duck and goose loads. My ALPS Upland Game Vest X provided the most significant windfall, with an entire box of magnum pheasant loads. With a diverse closet full of hunting clothes, enough ammo was pulled together to ensure fall hunts.
The next stop was my blind bags and shooting bags. I have an ALPS Pit Blind Bag and a Final Approach Layout Bag. Almost an entire flat of ammo was collected, including some full boxes and a large variety of loose shotshells. The bags were not emptied after the last waterfowl hunts and were an excellent reason to get excited.
The top of the gun safe had several loose shotshells stashed when putting shotguns away or keeping close for unwanted vermin in the yard.
After going through the garage, checking windowsills, waders, shell belts, and other potential hiding or storage spots, I had bags of loose shotshells. The large quantity and variety reduced my fears about getting afield as often as one would prefer. Oh, and don’t forget to check the laundry room. There is always one more spot if you stop and think about it.
A total inventory can produce an impressive collection of shotshells. My collection, though, was a mess and would require care and attention to sort and store.
The Problem—Mix and Match
Upland loads were put in one box, while waterfowl and target loads in others. I could even break the upland and waterfowl options down by manufacturer, shot size, and load. Being organized down to shot size means grab-and-go when the opportunity knocks with short notice.
Organize for Use
With boxes of shotshells organized, it was time to stow them to stay dry, safe, and maintain order for quick retrieval and future use. MTM Case-Gard offers more than a dozen shotshell storage cases, dry boxes designed for shotshells, and ammo crate utility boxes. I’ve used their products for years and store my blackpowder and substitutes in the Muzzleloader Dry Box. The O-ring seal ensures moisture never finds the powder and vice versa.
The trap loads went into Shell Stack 25 Round Compact Shotshell Storage Boxes, which holds 12-gauge, 2 ¾-inch loads. The boxes fit most belt-style shotshell carriers and the holders and are made of clear, durable, high-impact polypropylene. The box has a removable lid, works with a MEC shell stacker, and is sold in packages of four. The handle allows me to grab and go with enough ammo to shoot a round of 100 sporting clays.
There were a significant number of waterfowl loads, so more extensive storage was required. The Deluxe Shotshell Case is a dry box able to hold 100 shotshells in two removable trays. The lid has an O-ring for a moisture-tight seal, which allows you to take them into the field or blind under any conditions. The handles fold down and out of the way. A latch closes the box securely and can be locked. These boxes are designed to take a beating with the weight of 100 shotshells. I was able to store all the loose shotshells that were not in boxes.
The Deluxe Shotshell Case was designed to hold 100 rounds of 12-gauge 2-¾ inch, 12-gauge – inch, 20-gauge 2 ¾-inch, and 20-gauge 3-inch shells. It can also store 50 rounds of 12-gauge 3 ½-inch loads.
Other MTM Case-Gard products to note are the clear boxes with labels to see and record the contents. There are extra trays for the dry boxes. The Ammo Crate Utility Box will hold a flat, ten boxes of shotshells, designed to hold 65 pounds for easy storage and transportation. The full boxes of shotshells found in my blind bags filled one and a half Ammo Crates. There are specialty boxes for shotshells and chokes, and reloaders will like the Shell and Wad Hopper.
Before panicking about having enough shotshells for the year, take an inventory of what is on hand and organize it for future use. Chances are, you have more options than initially thought, allowing you to weather the current conditions and ammo shortages.