What You Should Know About Buying Ammunition Online


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Alayna Okerlund

Written by: Alayna Okerlund | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

Topics: Ammunition

Brass Ammunition Online shopping is often more convenient than going to the store. That's why it's no surprise you can now purchase ammunition online instead of having to find the nearest store and hoping they have the specific ammo you are looking for. Although buying ammo online can be significantly more convenient and cheaper (depending on where you shop), many people are still unsure about purchasing ammo online.

Online ammo requirements and restrictions

First, you should know that there are requirements you need to meet before you try buying ammo online. Keep in mind that these requirements and restrictions for online ammo purchases may differ by state as well as in-store ammo purchases.

Age requirements

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives website, the Gun Control Act (GCA) set age restrictions for purchasing ammunition:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to purchase shotgun and rifle ammunition
  • You must be 21 years or older to purchase handgun and additional (non-rifle or shotgun) ammunition

These are the minimum age restrictions for general ammo purchases and may differ for online ammo purchases. If you are 18-21, refer to federal law and specific company regulations before trying to purchase ammunition online.

State restrictions

According to Pew Pew Tactical, here are some state restrictions you should know about before you try to buy ammo online:

U.S. ammo restrictions state chart

Before purchasing a firearm or ammunition online, you should check your state's restrictions as they may be subject to change. Online and in-store ammo and firearm purchase restrictions may differ. It's important to also pay attention to what type of ammunition you are trying to purchase online as some states have varying restrictions for different types of ammo.

Online ammo shipping

As you can see, state restrictions vary on ammo shipping. For example, you may notice that ammo cannot be shipped to Washington, D.C. or New York City. In fact, many websites tend to require an additional charge for ammo shipping. According to Daily Shooting, websites tend to "charge extra for shipping due to the fact that they are shipping a hazardous material."

Ammunition is also an incredibly heavy item to ship which can result in extra charges from companies. Shipping and shipping prices tend to vary per company. However, most companies do have clear ammo shipping information on their websites.

Make sure to read the company's shipping information online before purchasing your ammunition.


Steps to take before the purchase

Remember that not every online ammo manufacturer or seller is the same. For instance, you may find that one company is selling a certain type of ammo cheaper than another company or you might notice that one company has a different shipping and return policy than the other. Just like other purchases, you may want to dive a little deeper and compare prices, company policies, and customer reviews.

Here are some things you should do before buying ammo online:

  1. Know what you are looking for. When it comes to ammo, there are many different types and prices. Before getting online, you should have an idea of what type of ammo you want to buy (competition rounds, practice handgun rounds, self-defense rounds, rifle ammo, shotgun shells, etc.) and how much you are looking to purchase. You may even want to establish a rough budget of what you are willing to spend.

  2. Ask for advice (if you can). If you are a first-time online ammo buyer, you may want to try asking someone who regularly buys ammo online for advice and recommendations. You might even find that they have a favorite manufacturer or seller online that you can check out. Keep in mind that what works for them might not be the right fit for you (price, quality, quantity, etc.), so instead of blindly going with the first company they recommend, add it to your list of companies you will personally research and go from there. It may be a good idea to ask a few other people you know as well.

  3. Do your research. Try treating your online ammo purchases like you would a large expense. Take the time to do your own research on certain brands/companies, ammo types, average industry prices, shipping and handling details, extra costs or fees, ammo and firearm laws, etc. The more you know before you make a purchase, the more likely you are to make a better purchasing decision down the road. Going through several customer reviews for each company you are interested in can also be incredibly helpful for first-time online ammo buyers.

What to look out for

Similar to when you buy other products online, there are a few things you should consider before you make an online ammo purchase. First and foremost, you should know how to tell if an online ammo brand or website is legitimate or not. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine the website's legitimacy:
  • Are the prices too good to be true?
  • How long has the website been up and running?
  • Do the website's design and layout appear poorly created?
  • Are there several grammar and spelling mistakes on the website?
  • Is it easy to find the company's contact information on the website?
  • Is there a clear refund or warranty policy? What about shipping?
  • Are there several reviews for that certain brand or company?

According to Statista.com, the number of internet scams has significantly increased over the past few years. *The 2018 year data below is as of August 13, 2018.

Internet scams chart

In addition to website legitimacy, you should also make sure you look out for product quality. A common mistake people make is blindly trusting that the ammunition they purchase online is great quality. It's important that you know and understand a company's return and refund policies. You may open a box of ammo you purchased online and see that the brass is dented or the primer isn't set right. Bad ammo like this can definitely ruin your entire shooting experience. You want to go with a company that has a clearly defined return and refund policy just in case you receive poorly made ammunition.

Industry expert input

James Forrester, founder and editor of KeepGunsSafe.com, and Sam Mazilech, editor and manager of Gunivore, provided some helpful information and advice for first-time online ammo buyers.

Online vs. in-store purchases

Forrester: "First, it can be cheaper to buy online, especially when buying in bulk. When you buy in bulk quantities, the cost per bullet can decrease, making it less expensive than what is available in stores. Also, shipping prices typically do not increase with the more ammo you buy, so buying a bulk of 1,000 rounds can be more cost-effective than only buying what you immediately need.

Second, online stores will have more ammo available and will rarely run out of stock. There will also be more options for the amount of ammo available to purchase, versus stores which will only have a few predetermined amounts."
Mazilech: "I started to buy ammo online after walking out of sporting goods stores empty-handed one too many times. I shoot a lot, and I don't sympathize with retailers who can't maintain a stock of popular calibers and brands. I can understand if I was looking for a niche round, but I found it difficult to find regular run-of-the-mill .22 ammo. Therefore, I decided to check out ammo suppliers online and my worries were over. Besides saving time, I also ended up saving money. It turns out that buying ammo online is usually significantly cheaper than in stores."
Pro tip for online ammo searches
Forrester: "Rather than searching on Google for ammo and trying to find the best dealers and prices, use the ammunition search engine, AmmoSeek. This will allow you to enter in the exact details of the ammo you are searching for, and it will provide you with the best prices and options. AmmoSeek also has a great app you can install on your phone which makes it easy to conduct searches on the go."
Mazilech: "While there are a few go-to ammo stores online, such as Brownells, Cabela's, and Lucky Gunner, you may be better off checking a third-party website first. Specifically, I recommend sites like gunbot.net which tracks ammo sales from across the web. The simple site lists all kinds of calibers, brands, and prices from reputable suppliers on the internet. This is probably the best way to get the most bang for your buck."

Advice for first-time online ammo buyers

Forrester: "If you are a first-time buyer, the number one thing to do is check your state laws before trying to purchase ammo online. States (and even certain counties within states) all have specific rules and regulations when it comes to buying ammo online. For example, some counties do not allow ammo to be shipped in at all, and other places will only ship to reputable stores or pick-up locations (where you can then go in-person to pick it up)."

The Bottom Line

Buying ammo online can be a more convenient and, often times, cheaper purchasing path. However, there are many factors you have to consider when purchasing ammo online. These factors include website legitimacy, brand reputation, type of ammunition, quality and quantity, state or area restrictions, age restrictions, prices, shipping, and more. As long as you conduct thorough research and make sure you are aware of current laws and regulations, you should be able to have a relatively smooth experience purchasing ammo online.

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