If you are new to the world of firearms, you likely have many questions, especially regarding ammunition. Buying guns and ammo online isn’t difficult, but it is easy to make a mistake without the correct information at your disposal.
Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about buying ammo online, from the legal aspects to the practical questions, and find out how to shop for what you need without getting sidetracked by the countless options.
Many people do not have the correct information regarding the legality of buying guns and ammunition online in the United States, leading people to the wrong conclusions regarding what’s legal and what isn’t.
Can I Buy Ammo Online?
In general, yes, you can buy ammunition for your firearms online. There are many online outlets and retailers that offer ammo, some of which even specialize in bulk ammo orders. You simply need to follow all relevant federal, state, and local laws.
At the federal level, you only need to meet minimum age requirements. According to the Gun Control Act, you must be at least 18 to buy ammunition for shotguns and rifles and at least 21 to purchase handgun ammunition. Certain websites may require you to show proof you are at least 21, even for rifle ammunition, due to overlap in what legally constitutes a pistol and a rifle.
Depending on your state of residence, your state’s laws may impose additional restrictions. Six states currently have restrictions in place: California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
Point-of-sale background checks required: In California and New York, any individual looking to purchase ammunition must complete a NICS background check, effectively requiring all online purchases to go through a Federal Firearms License dealer (e.g., a gun shop), the same as with firearms.
License required: In Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, you need to show the buyer that you own a specific license before processing the sale, and the seller must conduct a background check. For example, the required license in Illinois is a Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) card.
Can Ammo be Returned?
There are no federal or state laws governing returns on ammunition. However, most online outlets will have a “No Returns” policy similar to those found in many brick-and-mortar shops. This is because ammo can be tampered with relatively easily, potentially endangering the lives of the subsequent owners.
How to Buy Ammunition Online
Assuming it is legal and practical to do so in your area, you are ready to start looking for ammunition online.
Although many gun owners may prefer the more personal approach of visiting a brick-and-mortar gun store in person and speaking to a real employee in the process, buying online presents many advantages:
Convenience: Being able to order things from the comfort of your own home is convenient and practical.
No surprises: Most ammo retailers have live trackers telling you exactly which ammunition types and quantities they have in inventory. This system lets you know exactly what you can buy.
Live alerts: If your usual outlet is out of stock on your favorite calibers, you can sign up for email alerts and notifications whenever they return to the (virtual) shelves.
Better prices: Ordering online, especially bulk ammo orders, enables you to take advantage of the best prices to get the most value for the money. If you’re looking for cheap ammo or want the best deals, online is an excellent option.
Overwhelmed With Ammo Options? Start Here!
Still unsure what you should buy? First, take inventory of the firearms you possess and check what cartridges they are chambered in. Most firearms feature the name of the caliber they accept somewhere on the slide on the receiver as part of the rollmarks (the engraved markings).
For example, if you own a Glock 19, it likely reads “9×19,” meaning that it accepts 9x19mm ammunition (often simply called 9mm ammo).
Once you know which guns shoot which cartridges, check whether you already have ammunition of these types, and shop for the ones that require more rounds.
The handgun ammunition category groups together ammo intended for semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, and pistol-caliber carbines and rifles.
Examples of common handgun ammo calibers are as follows:
- 9x19mm Parabellum (also called: 9x19mm Luger or 9mm NATO)
- .40 Smith & Wesson (.40 S&W)
- .45 ACP (.45 Auto)
- 10mm Auto
- .380 ACP (.380 Auto)
- .38 Special
- .357 Magnum
- .44 Magnum
Shotgun ammunition typically uses the gauge notation to denote the shell’s diameter instead of the more typical metric and imperial notations (with one exception). The higher the gauge number, the smaller the shell.
Examples of common shotgun ammo calibers:
- 12 gauge
- 20 gauge
Rifle ammunition follows the same denominations as handgun ammunition, typically employing either a metric name or an imperial designation.
Examples of the most popular calibers for rifles:
- 5.56x45mm NATO
- .223 Remington
- 7.62x51mm NATO
- .308 Winchester
- .300 AAC Blackout
- 6.5mm Creedmoor
- .30-06 Springfield
- .243 Winchester
- .30-30 Winchester
Rimfire ammunition is in its own category due to its unique design and characteristics.
Examples of common rimfire ammo calibers:
- .22 Long Rifle
- .22 WMR (.22 Magnum)
- .17 HMR
- .22 Short
Popular Ammo Brands
Several manufacturers produce ammunition for the United States market, each offering their own lines and brands of ammunition for various purposes, such as range practice, personal and home defense, target shooting, hunting, and more.
Cheap ammo for training and plinking is typically full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo or, in the case of shotgun shells, inexpensive birdshot shells. This type of ammunition is best suited for bulk ammunition orders, as it is typically the cheapest ammo available.
Some of the best choices for plinking and training include the following:
- Federal Premium American Eagle
- Winchester USA ammunition (often referred to as “Winchester White Box” or WWB, after the color of their boxes)
- CCI Ammunition (ideal for rimfire calibers)
- Blazer Brass
- Speer Lawman
- Sellier & Bellot
- Prvi Partizan / PPU (frequently produces rarer and more obscure cartridges, ideal for old and surplus guns)
- PMC Bronze
- Wolf Ammunition
- Fiocchi Ammunition
If you’re looking for self-defense and personal protection ammunition, nothing beats expanding ammo such as hollow points and soft points. Many of these brand names are offered across the entire range of calibers, including shotgun shells (self-defense buckshot).
The best brands for self-defense are as follows:
- Hornady Critical Defense/Critical Duty
- Hornady Black
- Speer Gold Dot
- SIG Elite Performance V-Crown
- Federal HST (pistol calibers)
- Federal Power-Shok (rifle calibers)
- Winchester Ranger-T and PDX1 Defender
- Winchester Super-X (shotgun calibers)
- Remington Ultimate Defense
If you want the highest accuracy out of your firearms, you may need to buy brands intended primarily for precision and long-range target shooting. Such ammunition is generally referred to as “Match-grade.” Ammunition with match-grade accuracy is usually considered good enough to be used in serious competition.
The best match-grade ammo brands are as follows:
- Berger Match Grade
- Federal Gold Medal Match
- Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X
- Hornady Superformance Match
- Nosler Custom Competition
- Mosler Match Grade
- SIG Elite Performance Match Grade
Fast Shipping to Your Door
At IFA Tactical, we understand the needs of all shooters and gun owners. In addition to our extensive selection of pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns, we also offer a vast array of ammunition in the most popular brands and calibers. Whether you’re looking for rimfire or centerfire ammunition, we stock the ammunition you need.
Why is ammo sold out everywhere?
Due to an ongoing ammunition shortage, ammo may not be in stock everywhere at all times. American ammo manufacturers have ramped up production to their maximum capabilities and are currently working to meet the huge demand.
Will ammo ever be back in stock?
As of June 2021, experts believe the ammunition shortage is currently tapering off and that a return to normal should be expected during the summer.