In central Maine, gun buyers and sellers told a similar story of hard-to-get bullets, high prices and hoarding by those who want ammunition.

“Everyone’s buying it up because they don’t know the next time they can get them,” Dorie Richards, co-owner of First Choice Firearms in Benton, said.

She said it was hard to tell whether it was actually hurting gun sales, but it seemed likely.

“I think you’re less likely to buy a new gun if you can’t shoot it,” she said.

Richards said she was reluctant to buy and sell bullets at inflated prices because she didn’t want to price-gouge her customers.

All winter, buyers have been paying a premium for .22 and .223 ammunition at gun shows, said Craig Taylor, who runs Wild Wood, a gun shop that sells collectible ones in China.

“A thousand round boxes of .223s used to be $200. Now they’re seven or eight hundred,” he said. A package of 500 .22s, which normally costs around $15, has been selling for $60 at gun shows, he said.
Taylor said he is just trying to wait out what he sees as a skewed market.

“I assume they’re making them as fast as they can,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll catch up, and people will get tired of buying bullets for three or four times what they’re worth.”

At Waterville’s Walmart, a sign informs sporting goods department customers that only three boxes of ammunition will be sold per customer, per day. Despite the rationing, there were no boxes of .22 or .223 ammunition available.