With war being so prevalent in the world today, in Ukraine, in Gaza, Syria, Yemen, and other places, one has to wonder, where in hell does the ammunition come from?
Who are the ones, who feed the war dogs, keep their weapons full, keep them happy, keep them going?
Most of us in Canada don't have a gun or a rifle, so most of us don't know.
But one thing is certain, ammo prices have skyrocketed and stocks are growing scarcer.
Throughout the COVID era, ammunition stockpiling in America and, to a smaller extent in Canada, helped fuel the scarcity.
Losing two US ammunition factories in deadly explosions and the high demand created by two major conflicts and numerous smaller ones around the world hasn't helped either.
In 2023, we saw a significant rise in ammunition prices, impacting gun owners, defence efforts and the market as a whole.
Gun groups say, if you can find it, buy it, because it's going even higher.
Right now, a 9mm round can cost $.26-$.28 US per round at retail prices. That could actually double in the near-term.
According to an analysis by IMARC Group, the global ammunition market reached US$24.8 billion in 2023 and continues to grow.
Looking forward, it is expected to reach US$34.6 billion by 2032.
These companies are focusing on introducing ammunition with lightweight bullets, which are manufactured from polymer-based cases as they are lighter, less expensive to produce and environment friendly.
Moreover, the advent of smart ammunition that uses sensors and microchips to provide information about the trajectory, velocity and location of the ammunition is influencing the market, IMARC reported.
Imagine that, smart ammo. Yes Virginia, it does exist.
A project of The Pentagon's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), this piece of military weaponry has been named Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, or EXACTO for short.
Apart from this, key players are launching guided ammunition that uses a global positioning system (GPS) or other guidance systems to steer the projectile toward a target, IMARC reported.
And note, that some ammo manufacturers, mostly in Europe, have secret rooms where special clients are given access. In these rooms, is the nasty stuff that goes against UN arms policy.
Things like thermobaric 'vacuum' weapons — super deadly, and highly illegal.
So, now that you are freaked out ... who makes it?
Well, there are 14 big companies that do and because it is 2024, sustainability in operations has become a key policy.
For example, eco-friendly biodegradable ammo boxes offer a comprehensive strategy to reduce the ecological impact of ammunition.
Here is a quick look, courtesy the IMARC Group.
AMMO Inc. (Los Angeles):
AMMO, Inc. produces a wide range of high-quality ammunition for military, law enforcement and civilian use, including rifle, pistol and shotgun ammunition.
It’s product offering encompasses more than 60 unique items including STREAK® Visual Ammunition, a patented technology that allows shooters to visually see the bullets’ path toward its target.
It also boasts patented armour-piercing and hard armor-piercing incendiary ammunition and ballistic match multi-purpose and signature-on-target ammunition.
The company’s new 185,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin opened in the summer of 2022.
ARSENAL JSCo. (Kazanlak, Bulgaria):
ARSENAL JSCo. is a Bulgarian joint-stock company based in Kazanlak, engaged primarily in the manufacture of firearms and military equipment. It is Bulgaria's oldest arms supplier.
Its product line includes a wide range of military equipment, including small arms, artillery and armored vehicles.
It is known for its commitment to quality and innovation and its products are highly regarded by military professionals.
BAE Systems PLC (Farnborough, UK):
BAE Systems PLC is a multinational defence, security and aerospace company that has a global presence and operates in more than 40 countries with a workforce of more than 85,000 employees.
Its product portfolio includes a wide range of defence systems and platforms, including combat vehicles, aircraft, missiles and naval ships.
It can produce more than one million rounds per day of NATO-qualified, small arms ammunition in 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibres including ball, tracer and blank rounds.
CBC Global Ammunition (United States):
CBC Global Ammunition produces a wide range of ammunition products, including rifle, pistol and shotgun ammunition and components for reloading.
The company offers a variety of calibres, IR Tracer, armor piercing and armor-piercing incendiary and other related defense products to NATO and allied forces.
Its products are used by military and law enforcement agencies, as well as by shooting enthusiasts and hunters around the world.
Denel SOC Ltd (Centurion, South Africa):
Denel SOC Ltd designs and manufactures a wide range of products, including defence systems, missiles and munitions, as well as aircraft and aerospace components.
It is one of the biggest defence companies in Africa and its products are used by domestic and international customers.
Among its products: 60mm and 81mm mortar ammunition, shells for 105mm as well as 155mm artillery guns, aircraft bombs, etc.
A range of high-quality ammunition for all popular calibres are manufactured, including 5.56mm and 7.62mm machine guns, 60mm and 81mm mortar weapons.
Hanwha Corporation (Seoul, South Korea):
Hanwha Corporation operates in various industries, such as aerospace, defence, chemical, finance and construction.
Its global presence is impressive, with operations in more than 50 countries and a workforce of more than 62,000 employees worldwide.
Hanwha designs and manufactures the composite propellants for a variety of rocket motors for missiles. It also produces 60/81/120/155mm ammunition.
Herstal SA (Belgium):
Herstal SA is known for producing high-quality firearms and ammunition for military, law enforcement and civilian use.
It has an elongated history of innovation and its products are renowned for their accuracy, reliability and durability.
Herstal is a major contributor to the 12.7 NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) used for defence missions. The company is the current supplier of the 12.7x99mm calibre NATO reference round.
Hornady Manufacturing, Inc. (United States):
Hornady Manufacturing, Inc. produces a wide range of ammunition types for handguns, rifles and shotguns, including hunting, self-defence and target shooting rounds.
Products such as 17 HMR, LEVERevolution, Critical Duty and Superformance Ammunition have revolutionized the shooting sports and helped to drive the industry.
An explosion at its Grand Island, NE factory in October 2023, that killed one worker, has not deterred the company from continuing to produce ammo.
Nammo AS (Raufass, Norway):
Nammo AS specializes in producing ammunition, rocket motors and rocket-propelled grenades for military and civilian use.
Its products are used by militaries across the world, law enforcement agencies, hunters and sports shooters, offering a wide choice of 5.56mm ammunition.
Says the website: "Whether you are looking for specialty ammunition such as armor piercing, frangible or long range, or well known variants such as the regular ball, tracer, non toxic or just training ammunition — we have you covered."
Nexter group KNDS (Yvelines, France):
Nexter group KNDS is a French defence firm that specializes in producing land systems, ammunition and related services.
It produces a variety of ammunition types for military use, including artillery rounds, small arms ammunition and tank ammunition.
The company also designs, develops and produces all types of ammunition with calibres between 20 and 155 mm. It also manages ammunition transportation and storage to provide a global service.
The company is also known for its advanced technologies, such as programmable fuses that can be set to detonate at a specific time or altitude.
Northrop Grumman Corporation (VA, US):
When you think of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, you don't at first think about ammunition.
In fact, the aerospace giant is a leading producer of 20mm tactical and training ammunition, delivering up to three million rounds per year for the US Army, US Navy, NAVSEA and US Air Force.
As of December 2023, the company is no longer producing depleted uranium ammunition.
Nosler Inc. (United States):
Nosler Inc. is an American manufacturer of high-quality ammunition, bullets and firearms.
It is recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of hunting ammunition and bullets in the world.
Nosler is best known for revolutionizing big game hunting with its world famous Partition and Ballistic Tip bullets.
With the company motto 'Quality First,' Nosler manufactures premium component bullets, brass, ammunition and semi-custom rifles for domestic and international customers.
Rheinmetall AG (Germany):
Rheinmetall AG produces a wide range of military equipment, including armored vehicles, artillery systems, ammunition and air defence systems.
It's Weapon and Ammunition division is a global industry leader that is highly experienced in mastering the entire weapon and ammunition system.
The division focuses on capabilities spanning large and medium calibre weapons and munitions, protection systems, propulsion systems, charge systems and propellant powders.
Rheinmetall successfully combines world-class gun, ammunition, charge and fuse technologies to offer precise and effective solutions against enemy threats.
Sierra Bullets (United States):
Sierra Bullets specializes in producing high-quality bullets for rifles and handguns. It produces different bullets for target shooting, hunting and self-defence, including hollow point, boat-tail and match-grade bullets.
Its bullet jackets are made from gilding metal, a copper alloy composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc — a special alloy exclusive to the company.
This enables Sierra to build extremely high uniformity into every one of its finished bullets.
As a result, its bullets are known for their exceptional accuracy, consistent performance, and advanced features such as polymer tips, bonded cores, and low-drag coefficients.
— with files from IMARC Group