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Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 1:37am
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Gun owners have been challenged with the lack of ammunition for some time as stores cannot seem to keep their shelves stocked.
Due to the increased demand, The Dona Ana Munitions Ammo Company in Las Cruces has seen their business expand considerably but still keep prices reasonable for customers.
"I don't think our prices have climbed up more than 10 to 15 percent since we opened," said owner Paul McClarin.
McClarin estimated sales have gone up 400 percent in the last year in large part due to him having ammo in stock.
To help meet demand, The D.A.M. Ammo Company is open seven days a week and produces between 20,000 to 30,000 rounds a week of about 90 different calibers.
"Eight hours a day to 10 hours a day we spend in loading ammunition and it always sells," McClarin said.
He jokingly said a hobby has turned into a prison and the manufacturing part of his store surrounded by glass windows is known by employees as the "Glass Prison."
That's because the manufacturing process requires a human presence to insure the ammo is pressed correctly.
McClarin has about a dozen machines that help him manufacture up to a thousand rounds an hour as long as he has the right supplies.
"I have to have quality brass, bullets, gun powder, primers and the right equipment," he said.
McClarin scours the web and checks with suppliers on a daily basis keeping an eye out for good deals.
The brass casings are purchased in bulk usually from law enforcement or even his own customers with the price varying on the caliber
Previously fired brass must be resized and trimmed, then through an automatic feeder the primer goes into place, gun powder is loaded and the bullet is set on the brass at the desired depth.
The company also does a lot of custom work through a similar process but a lot slower with most steps done by hand.
McClarin said the company is able to find components at reasonable costs which means prices on ammo at his store aren't ridiculously high.
While his store is always busy, he will see a surge in customers whenever there's anything on the news that could potentially impact gun laws.
"A world event like a shooting or any change in presidents create a huge demand on ammunition and supplies," McClarin said.
For gun enthusiasts, having ammo in stock allows them to spend time at the range enjoying their hobby.
"I went to Walmart and they were out of a lot of the stuff I needed but luckily they have it here (The D.A.M Ammo Company)," said Johnnie Infante as he shot his .44 magnum rifle at Butterfield Shooting Range.
Infante said he is well aware some people will stockpile ammo as it has become increasingly harder to find.
However he will without hesitation shoot his ammo allowing him to enjoy his sport.
"If I bring a weapon out here, I'm going to shoot it," he said.
McClarin doesn't place restriction on the quantity a customer can buy for right before a gun show.
He said people will repackage and resell ammo bought at his shop for a higher price.