Buying ammo online has become an increasingly popular thing to do for many gun owners, and it’s easy to see why. When you buy ammo online you typically enjoy a much greater variety than you would in your local gun shop. Online prices are usually lower than what you will encounter in a brick and mortar shop too. And let’s not forget the convenience of ordering from your couch.
So there is a strong argument to be made that buying ammo online is the way to go. But not all online ammo retailers are created equal. So, in this guide we will take a look at what we feel are the best places to buy ammo online.
Brownells is one of the most popular online gun shops on the planet and receives more than 6 million unique visitors per month. They are renowned for their no-nonsense customer service, vast selection of guns and ammo and competitive pricing. One of the many advantages of shopping at Brownells is that you can buy your gun and your ammo at the same time.
Brownells sells only high-quality ammo and ships it to you fast. For your convenience they let you see a running total of your purchase while you shop, as well as what it will cost to ship your purchase to your location (just enter your zip code for that information). There are online ammo shops with slightly larger varieties, and online ammo shops with slightly lower prices. But no other sites that offer the same combination of quality, service, related products and competitive pricing.
Cabela’s receives even more monthly visitors than Brownells, but their focus is spread out across a wider spectrum of outdoor activities. They cover everything from hunting and sport shooting, to fishing, camping, ATVs and more. While they are known for their selection of hunting ammo they do not ignore other types. No matter what type of ammo you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you will find it at Cabela’s.
Cabela’s was recently purchased by Bass Pro Shops. One of the first things the new owners did was lower ammo prices from Cabela’s already competitive levels. So if you are looking for high-quality ammo at great prices you owe it to yourself to check out Cabela’s. They also offer discounts on large orders, and you have the option of ordering through their website and picking up at one of their 169 brick and mortar shops.
3. Palmetto State Armory
The Palmetto State Armory website receives more than 10 million visitors a month. So they must be doing something right. The company sells a lot of different products related to outdoor activities, not just ammo. But their ammo selection is large and satisfying and their offerings reasonably priced.
If you are looking for any of the more popular ammo types you’re sure to find it here. They also offer some pretty good deals on select ammo from time to time, so it pays to check them out periodically just to see what’s on order. The only reason PSA wound up in our #10 position is that their website is something of a hot mess. And that’s going to turn some people off.
4. Lucky Gunner
Lucky Gunner is a very reputable online source for high-quality ammo at reasonable prices. No matter what type of ammo you are looking for chances are you will find it at Lucky Gunner. Lucky Gunner has one distinct advantage over many lesser online ammo sellers in that everything you see on their site is in stock. Their site is underpinned by an inventory algorithm that immediately removes an item from the site as soon as it sells out. When inventory is replenished, that item reappears on the site.
With Lucky Gunner your purchase will never wind up being backordered. That is a significant relief for many folks. Lucky Gunner also makes a point of getting your order out to you as quick as possible. In fact, any orders placed by 3 pm Eastern Time will be shipped out the same day. Lucky Gunner puts their money where their mouth is in that regard. So, if your order is placed before 3 pm Eastern and does not ship the same day, you will receive a $100 store credit.
As the name implies ammo.com is all about ammunition. They stock one of the largest varieties of American and imported ammo anywhere and their website is well organized so that you don’t waste time sifting through thousands of items looking for what you want. On average, Ammo.com prices are competitive, with some types of ammo surprisingly cheap and others a bit more than you might pay elsewhere. Overall, however, it’s a great value.
The people behind ammo.com take their Second Amendment rights seriously. It’s their visible commitment to this cause that separates them from other online ammo retailers, who try and stay above the fray. They maintain a ‘Resistance Library’ where you can browse articles related to gun rights. They also donate 1% of their profits on every sale to the related organization of the customer’s choosing; be that the Second Amendment Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, the NRA or something else.
6. Sportsman’s Guide
The Sportsman’s Guide website quietly attracts some 10 million visitors per month, many of whom arrive there looking for high quality ammo at competitive prices. Those customers are not disappointed. While TSG covers virtually the entire spectrum of outdoor activities, ammo is anything but an afterthought. Their selection is good, their prices often the best you’ll find and they offer free shipping on orders of $50 and up.
If you sign up for a Sportsman’s Guide membership you will enjoy additional savings of 5% on your ammo purchases. That can really add up if you’re an avid hunter or range shooter. There are online ammo sellers that offer a bigger selection, but if price is a primary concern, Sportsman’s Guide should be on your radar.
7. Bulk Ammo
The bulkammo.com website has a distinct 2005 vibe to it. But don’t let that fool you. That website is secure and fast loading and presents you a wide array of popular ammo types at extremely attractive prices. They use a state of the art inventory system that updates in real time so you can always see exactly what is available and what is not.
If you are looking for niche calibers in bulk quantities you have a good chance of finding it here. Although bulk sales are their primary business they will also sell you a box of ammo so you can determine if it is what you’re looking for before you purchase a whole case. It’s that kind of attention to detail, as well as their low prices, fast delivery and excellent service, that earn Bulkammo a place on our list.
8. Ammo Man
Ammo Man is not the biggest online seller of ammo, but they do their best to provide, in their words, “Cheap gun ammo with free shipping”. Despite their modest size Ammo Man has been around longer than most other online ammo shops and has kept their focus squarely on ammunition from day one. You won’t find fishing gear or hiking boots or RV refrigerators at Ammo Man. Only cheap gun ammo, with free shipping.
While Ammo Man delivers to most states they take a pass on Alaska and Hawaii (due to logistical challenges), as well as California and Massachusetts (due to legal spiderwebs created by those states). Ammo Man offers a rewards program where those who register receive 2 points for every $100 spent, with 1 point equalling $1 in store credit. Note too that the “free shipping” is only available on orders of more than $99.
Unlike the Bulkammo website the Gunbuyer.com website is a slick, state-of-the-art affair that’s very user friendly, secure and fast loading. Their selection of ammo is impressive and arranged in a clear, logical manner. To find the ammo you are looking for simply check the appropriate boxes on the left hand side of the screen and results will be filtered to present your ammo. You will also be able to see if your choice is currently in stock or if it will be backordered.
Gunbuyer has been around for 10 years and has a solid reputation for providing high-quality ammo at reasonable prices. They deliver fast, rarely mess up orders and offer outstanding customers service. While you’re on the site, check out the ‘Sale’ tab. You might find a real steal there on exactly what you’re looking for.
10. Ammo To Go
The Ammo To Go website (‘ammunitiontogo.com) has seen a steady rise in popularity over the past few years. It’s certainly not because the website is so sleek and slick with lots of bells and whistles. It’s more like the internet version of a warehouse. But that’s fine. Because the real reason this online ammo seller has become so popular is because they put the focus on providing virtually every type of ammunition at low prices.
Ammo is arranged by caliber down the left hand side of the web page. Just select your caliber and you’ll be presented with everything they have to offer in that caliber in the center of the page. It’s a simple effective process and if you have any questions there’s a phone number where you can call them direct and talk to one of their helpful customer service reps. That’s about it. Ammo purchasing made simple.
Can Anyone Buy Ammo Online?
No. There are numerous people legally forbidden from buying ammo either in person or online. They are:
- Those under 18 for rifle and shotgun ammo, and those under 21 for handgun ammo.
- Those who were dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
- Fugitives (1).
- Convicted felons.
- Those currently under a restraining order.
- Those who have been convicted of domestic violence.
- People who have renounced their US citizenship.
- Illegal aliens.
What are the Advantages of Buying Ammo Online?
We’re all for supporting your local gun shop but that does not change the fact that there are some significant advantages to buying ammo online. Here are some of the best.
Low prices – Nobody wants to spend more for something than they have to. And that includes people who buy ammo. Online sellers are able to offer products for less because many of them have no physical storefront generating big bills every month. Many online ammo retailers also purchase the ammo they sell in bulk, which enables them to lower their price while retaining healthy margins. And many offer big discounts and free shipping on larger orders.
Better selection – Brick and mortar gun shops are limited in size. They just don’t have room to display countless types of ammo. Display area is not a problem for online shops, however. They can display as many types of ammo as they want on their webpages without it interfering with their display of other items. So the number and type of ammo online shops can offer is theoretically unlimited. And indeed, you will almost always find a better selection of ammo at an online shop than at a brick and mortar shop.
Convenience – In a way we’ve become spoiled over the past couple of decades. We’re now able to purchase virtually anything online and have it delivered to our doorstep in short order. Ammo is no exception. An increasing number of people weigh going out to the gun shop, fighting traffic and burning gas, against the convenience of picking up their smartphone and ordering online, and decide online ordering is the way to go. The ammo will arrive at their door in a couple of days, and in the meantime they can get on with other things. It’s hard to beat that kind of convenience.
What are the Disadvantages of Buying Ammo Online?
Your ammo may be backordered – It’s not common but it does sometimes happen that a person will place an order and go through the payment process only to be told after they complete payment that the ammo is out of stock and their purchase has been backordered. As a result, they may have to wait weeks to receive something they already paid for. Or, they have to wrestle with customer service to get their money back.
You may have to pick your order up anyway – Because ammo contains gunpowder and gunpowder is an explosive your ammo will likely carry a ORM-D (Other Regulated Material) (2) warning sticker and need to be signed for by an adult. Therefore, if there is not an adult at home when the ammo is delivered, it will go back on the truck and you may have to go to the distribution center to pick it up. Or, your state may require you to pick up your online order at a licensed gun shop, and that kind of negates the convenience of ordering online.
Lack of Privacy – Privacy is already under attack from all sides. You can’t go anywhere today without being on a surveillance camera. Your smartphone tracks your every movement. And since everyone has a hi-res camera on their phone, almost everything you do is being recorded by somebody. And let’s not even talk about the fact that the NSA listens to your phone calls (3) and reads all your emails. When you buy ammo online you’re leaving yet another trail in cyberspace for the man regarding what should be a private transaction.
Maybe you get what you ordered… – And maybe you don’t. As with anything you buy online there is always a chance that the ammo you thought you bought is not the ammo you receive. In which case, you have to send it back and try again. That won’t happen when you buy from a local gun store and walk out with the ammo you want in your hand.
Further Information About Buying Ammo Online
Here are a few basic things to keep in mind when thinking about purchasing ammo online.
- It can sometimes be a major hassle to return ammo bought online.
- You have to be at least 18 to buy rifle and shotgun ammo and 21 to buy pistol ammo.
- In some cases local law may prohibit ammo from being delivered to private residences.
- In such cases you may have to go out and pick up your ammo at a gun shop with an FFL (Federal Firearms License) (4), negating the convenience of online ordering.
- If you order a lot of ammo online you may wind up getting a call from the state police or another law enforcement agency. Messed up, yes. But it happens.
- If you live outside the contiguous United States (i.e. Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico) you may have difficulty purchasing ammo online.
States Where Buying Ammunition Can be a Chore
Some states like California, New Jersey, and New York, whose streets are overflowing with illegal firearms, feel the best way to solve that problem is to restrict legal gun and ammo sales to responsible citizens. As a result, buying ammo in one of these states, especially if you buy it online, can be a significant pain. For instance:
In California only a licensed vendor is allowed to sell ammunition and that vendor must conduct a background check on anyone who wishes to purchase ammo. This issue is hotly contested and does not seem likely to be resolved any time soon. If you are thinking you can get around this by purchasing online, think again. Some online retailers won’t sell to California residents, and the ones that do need to send the ammo to a licensed gun dealer with a Federal Firearms License who will conduct the background check before allowing you to pick up the ammo.
In Massachusetts it is pretty much the same story. Only worse. You can’t even buy ammo without a firearms license. If you buy online the ammo will go to an FFL gun dealer and you will need to present your firearms license before you are allowed to walk out with your ammo. Not sure where it mentions needing a license to buy ammo in the Constitution, but the powers that be in Massachusetts say it does, so that’s that.
New Jersey at first seems the most reasonable of the states in the Tri-State Area. But a bit of digging reveals that purchasing ammo online in Jersey is no stroll down the boardwalk. Essentially, there are a (very) limited number of rifle cartridges you can purchase online and have shipped to your home. Those include .223, .308 .270, and .243. But that’s it. If you are looking for, let’s say, Winchester .325 Short Magnums, or you want to buy ammo for your new pistol, you will need to provide the online retailer with your handgun permit, firearms purchaser identification card (5), or permit to purchase a handgun before the vendor will approve the sale.
New York State is a house divided. In the far southeast of the state you have New York City, the nation’s largest city. The vast majority of the state, however, is rural farmland populated by people who enjoy deer hunting, duck hunting, target shooting and the like. You can even hunt bear in upstate New York (6). Those rural folks retain some clout in Albany and, as such, you can legally buy ammo in licensed gun shops upstate without jumping through too many hoops. Buying ammo online, however, is another story. All online purchases must be redirected through an FFL gun dealer. If you’re buying pistol ammo you will need to present a pistol permit before you can walk out of that FFL gun shop with your online purchase.
Connecticut can’t decide whether they want to allow ammo sales or not. If you are a Connecticut resident you can purchase ammo online and have it delivered to your doorstep (though an adult will likely have to sign for it). If you want to buy ammo in person, however, get that paperwork ready. You will need to present either a passport, valid driver’s license, or some other form of government issued ID as well as a pistol permit, eligibility certificate for a pistol, an ammunition certificate or a long gun eligibility certificate (7) to walk out of the gun shop with some ammo.
Washington DC residents are not allowed to purchase ammo online and have it delivered to them. Period. They may only purchase ammo from gun shops with a Federal Firearms License and that ammo can only be for existing firearms that are already registered with the government (8). So no buying ammo for a gun you plan to purchase, or a gun you have purchased but have not yet registered with the federal government.
The Bottom Line
In most states buying ammo online is a straightforward process and provides some significant advantages over buying ammo from your local gun shop. You will typically have a better variety online and prices are almost always lower because the online retailer doesn’t need to maintain a brick and mortar storefront.
Use the above information to make an informed decision about whether buying ammo online is the right choice for you.