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Heller: Observations from the Ammo Line

Stocks in this article: DKS ATK

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We've all heard about the run on ammunition across the country these past few months. We've seen the long lines, the groans of short supply and ire over higher prices.

I just had to see it for myself, first-hand what it's like waiting to get to the front on the ammo line.

The word was that the local Dicks Sporting Goods (DKS) store receives shipments of ammunition on Tuesday and Thursday evening, for sale on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

I was told by an employee, that if I wanted to buy ammo, I needed to be at the store 45 minutes ahead of the 9 a.m. opening, that there was a limit of 3 boxes, no matter what caliber or how many rounds in each box, and that the lines would be 25 or 30 customers deep. DKS Chart DKS data by YCharts

That depiction is about as accurate as it gets. I was tenth in line at about 8:30, and it was bitter cold. For some reason, it reminded me of waiting in line for Van Halen tickets as a teenager more than 30 years ago. This crowd was quite interesting; very civil, seemingly from all walks of life, salesmen and corrections officers, male and female, African American, white, and Asian. There was one young couple that parked in a handicapped spot; which seemed a bit curious to me as they waited in line for 30 minutes in 30 degree weather to buy bullets; but who was I to judge, unshaven and wearing a hoodie the combination of which had me looking a bit like the Unabomber?

Once the doors opened, it was an orderly walk to the gun counter. Today's selection included ( Alliant Techsystems (ATK) subsidiary) Federal brand .22 caliber long rifle ammunition in boxes of 50, $5 each; a limit of three per customer. That caliber is seen as the "cheapest" way to get some practice in at the range. But at these prices? That's pretty expensive for .22 caliber ammunition.

Just a couple of months ago, you could purchase a brick of 500 .22 shells for about 20 bucks, but smaller quantities and better ammunition cost more. But I also have no idea how much today's ammunition was marked up. I've heard stories from reliable sources of some stores charging $12 for a box of 50 .22 caliber shells. Insane. ATK Chart ATK data by YCharts

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