In these times of inflation, we bemoan rising costs of everything, including ammunition.

I offer you two artifacts from four decades ago.

If you shop carefully and order on the Internet in places where it is legal, you can get the most popular centerfire handgun practice ammo of our time, 9mm Luger full metal jacket, for as little as fifteen bucks a box delivered.

Behold those artifacts I just mentioned.  One is from the 1980 Gun Digest listing retail price of a 50-round box of 9mm FMJ at fourteen or fifteen dollars. The other blast from the past a box of Remington 115 grain FMJ from roughly that period that I was recently given by a friend.

There ain’t a whole lot of things you can buy today that cost the same as they did in the 1980s.  And fifteen bucks ain’t got nearly the buying power it had back then.

You can order by the box or the case from a number of vendors and have it drop-shipped to your giftee.  Two that I’ve had good luck with are TargetSports and SG Ammo. I know people who’ve gotten great buys at Lucky Gunner, too. Google will get you to all of them.

If your state doesn’t allow ammo to be ordered/delivered from out of state, a gift certificate from a local gun retailer should do nicely.


  1. Mas – To test your thesis, I went shopping on the internet for some 9mm range ammo. I believe that, if I was willing to settle for re-manufactured or steel cased ammo, I could have beaten your benchmark price of “as little as fifteen bucks a box delivered”. However, I placed additional restrictions of requiring that the ammo be brass-cased, of new manufacture by a known (to me) manufacturer, boxer primed, and non-corrosive.

    I found some PMC 115 grain FMJ ammo, on sale, for $15.41 delivered. Pretty close to your benchmark and I have used PMC ammo before and found it to be good stuff. I scored 600 rounds at that price.

    So, you are correct in a limited sense. The 9mm Luger range ammo is inexpensive because vast quantities of it are manufactured. You can tap into a “volume discount” on 9mm ammo.

    Unfortunately, that is not true for many other calibers. Try finding .32 H&R Magnum or .44 Special ammo at that price. You will be lucky to get those calibers for $40 to $50 per box!

    So, I am not sure that it is a fair comparison with 9mm ammo. When the US Army adopted the 9mm M9, in the 1980’s, that helped to set off a wave of adoption by civilians and by law enforcement. The 9mm Luger caliber is far more popular today, then it was in the early 1980’s. That is a contributing factor that is not applicable to the ammo market as a whole.

    However, it is certainly one reason to own 9mm Luger caliber firearms today. I just picked up another one yesterday. Merry Christmas to ME! 🙂

  2. There have been some good prices on Blazer Brass 9mm lately. Lowest I saw today was $106 for 600. I always check AMMOSEEK first when looking for something.
    Back in the early 1980s when I bought my first centerfire handguns, factory ball ammo was expensive & factory hollow points were rare & even pricier. The choice was buying someone’s reloads or loading your own, which I did. In the early 2000s, factory 9mm & 5.56 got so cheap it didn’t even pay to load your own. The Covid & BLM insanity ended that for sure. Prices have finally started to moderate now, though finding revolver cartridges, brass & primers is still tough.

  3. So true. And it is one gift most of my friends would be happy to receive, and very unlikely to exchange. For those who reload, small pistol primers would be an excellent but overpriced gift. The last time I found some they were $35 per 100! With deals like yours, you can get 2 fully loaded rounds for less than 1 primer. Crazy times we are living in. Merry Christmas to you and Gail.

  4. Mas – in the mid 90’s I got a bunch of Federal NATO 115gr ball (white box mil contract overrun?) for $6.92 per box of 50 – and I have a box of 20 30-06 Silvertip with a $2.77 price on it – not sure when from but imagine the 80’s.
    There are some other good online dealers, and I like going to ‘Ammoseek’ to get a survey of what’s out there for what price.

    • Back twenty years ago WalMart in NH (no sales tax) would sell you all the hundred round Winchester White Box 115 grain 9mm FMJ you wanted for ten bucks per hundred. Times have changed in more ways than one.

  5. I received an email from FL Gun Exchange a couple days ago.

    50 rd 9mm CCi Blazer 115gr FMJ

    Might be time to stock up when I get home Monday.

  6. Two weeks go I found some ammo at a BiMart on Oregon City. Shocked they had any handgun ammo, I asked to see a box. Turkish made, known US importer, nine mm, 115 gr FMJ brass case boxer primed, sixteen bux the box. Asked what the limit is, he dais no limit ckear off the shelf if you like. I got six….. the finish and visuals on the stuff is as good as anything else I’ve seen. Shiney smooth mirror finish on the projectile, clean finish on the casings, primers well seated…. bang bang ammo at that price, and in hand? Sure. Wish I’d had more than one Benjamin to drop.

    .32 H&R Mag? WHERE? About twenty years ago I happened across a “retired” collector’s liquidation. New in Box S&W Airlite in that round. Knock me over price, so I piced myself up off the floor and got it. One box of fifty rounds came with I began coming the tables at gun shows, and in two years turned up one ziploc baggie of handloaded ball. Every gun store or warehouse type place, Cabelas, Sportsmen;s Warehouse, Big 5, nothing. I seem to remember stumbling across one box somewhere in Ohio when visiting a friend. It came home with me.
    As rare as that ammo is that gun is still NIB. Even looked into sending it back to Smith to have a new cylinder made that would accomodate the newish 327 Federal. then the laws got crazy about shipping/BGC and I did.. nothing. At some point I may just take that thing out and burn up all the ammo I have, put it back in the box, and find a new owner for it. I still don;t regret buying it, though. It IS a fine piece of workmanship, and that, all on its own, has value.

    • Hello, Tionico:

      The 32 H&R Magnums and .327 Federal Magnum rounds remain elusive and costly.

      Have you considered using 32 wadcutters in that S&W 32 H&R Magnum Airlite? Most are relatively expensive (Lapua), yet available online and arguably a bit underpowered. Have seen in-stock S&B, Magtech, Fiocchi (weak) and Lapua recently, and Buffalo Bore makes it–their 32 H&R +P round being currently available (which may likely push pressures too high for your Airlite, a real gem, by the way). That same company also makes .32 S&W Long rounds–both round nose and wadcutters, some of which are stoutly loaded. Midway often stocks some or all of the above, at somewhat premium prices, but if you catch their free shipping deals, the cost is tolerable. An online search should uncover the S&B and Magtech, at tolerable prices. Lucky Gunner often has one or more of the above, too, and I’ve found them at some less well-known (to me, at least) vendors.

      I have a Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Mag–a go-to favorite “pocket” and utility choice. Versatile with an impressively smooth stock trigger. But as noted, ammo is expensive and availability is hit-and-miss. (I’ve toyed with possibility of reloading for the .32–we’ll see.)

      Best wishes with all things 32!

      Merry Christmas.

    • Finding ammo for the 32 H&R Magnum is tough. MidwayUSA has some of the Buffalo Bore stuff available at around $43 for a box of 20! Expensive but powerful stuff. I fired some of this buffalo bore 32 H&R +P ammo, out of my Charter Arms snub-nose revolver, over my chronograph. I got an average of 1125 fps at 12 feet out of a two inch barrel snubby!

      This ammo was hot enough that case extraction was sticky although it did not hurt the revolver or blow any primers.

      If you just want some ammo for target shooting, you should pick up some plain old 32 S&W long ammo. I can reload 32 S&W long ammo and often shoot it as a target load in my Charter Arms snubby.

      You can find Magtech 32 long ammo, for $27.04 for a box of 50, here:

  7. Mas,

    I feel like you just told everyone about my favorite mechanic and now I will have a harder time scheduling my car appointment. Shhh!!!! SG Ammo and Target Sports have some shining moments in their pricing. SB 124 Grain 9MM was available for $259 shipped for a case of 1,000 rounds! Several instructors and serious shooters I know prefer this round. Shhhhhhh!

    Merry Christmas!

  8. I remember when my brother’s friend from college brought his newly acquired Taurus Model 92 9mm out to our farm to shoot.
    The cheapest ammo at the time was Blazer aluminum cased $10 for a 50 round box.
    This would have been late 80’s early 90’s.

    BTW the owner of the pistol was legally blind.
    He was totally blind in one eye and had poor vison in the other.
    His vison in his “good” (OK less bad) eye was good enough he could hit the middle of the target at 10 yards.

    He would get some odd looks from other customers in the gun store, that is for sure!

  9. 9mm and 357mag at the same price points? That is before my time. Trying to feed my new 3″ python is not fun right now. But I’ve had good luck with SG Ammo, got cases 308win gold medal match from them for like under a quarter per round back during the trump slump. Also tried out with great results, they sell euro stuff from ruag line, got swiss police ammo 9mm 124gr jhp cheap, looks identical to 9mm nato just with a jhp bullet. Didn’t get a shipping confirmation but the package showed up under a week later so they were legit. Ive also found the euro stuff to maintain their QC during ammo crunches, possibly due to lack of demand over there. When we go nuts our manufacturers seem to hire like crazy to match the demand with predictable results. I actually stopped working at an ammo company during the covid crunch because it turned into a zoo. Off topic rant, but i took Mas’s ammo purchasing tips a couple decades ago and have since been that guy everyone calls when there’s a crunch.

  10. Even 30.06 garand ammo is expensive.

    At least the common stuff is coming down, and no indication that the Biden communists plan to crack down.

  11. Target has bulk 9 MM brass CCI for $269 a thousand. It’s coming down.

    Someone I know has 750,000 rounds, and over 300 guns. I have a lot of catching up to do.

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