Bullet Costs – Detailed Price Analysis

How Much Does Ammo Cost?

Let’s face it: Recently, ammo has become much more expensive. In addition, the COVID pandemic’s impact on supply disruptions has forced us to deal with severe ammunition shortages.

A couple of factors determine the cost of ammunition, namely.

  • Caliber
  • Type
  • Manufacturer
  • Availability of ammunition

Price ranges for ammunition include $0.08 for a 22LR cartridge and $3 for a  .50-caliber round. The cost of the ammunition is significantly reduced when cartridge casings are reused.

We’ll look more closely at the many aspects of ammo pricing in this post.

Average Ammunition Prices

The table below lists the average bullet prices for some of the most common ammunition types in January 2022.

Ammunition TypeAmmunition ClassAverage Price (Per round)
357 MagnumHandgun$0.66
40 S&WHandgun0.36
10mm AutoHandgun$0.64
45 ACPHandgun$0.38
5.56 NATORifle$0.47
223 RemmingtonRifle$0.43
243 WinRifle$1.46
308 WinRifle$0.62

How Much Does Ammunition Cost?

A modern ammunition round consists of the following components:

  • The bullet, also known as the projectile
  • The cartridge case, which holds all the individual components together
  • The propellant, which is either smokeless powder or black powder
  • The rim allows the cartridge to be extracted from the barrel once fired.
  • The primer burns and ignites the propellant inside the cartridge.

I will look at two of these components to give you an idea of how the materials used for manufacturing these components affect the price of ammunition.

Bullet Composition Versus Cost

Due to its low cost of production and malleability, lead is typically used to make the cartridge’s usual projectile. The cost of lead is $0.83 per pound as of the writing of this article. A metric ton of lead costs about $2,274.

It is important to note that during the past few years, lead prices per ton have dramatically grown. The price of lead increased by 10.76% from January 2018 to January 2022.

To lessen the number of lead deposits that build up on the projectile, a harder metal, such as copper, is occasionally utilized at the base of the projectile. Sometimes, a jacketing material like steel, copper alloys, gilding metal, or cupronickel is used to surround the projectile’s lead core.

Lead is replaced by other metal alloys that are safer and less harmful to the environment, such as bismuth and tungsten. One of the strongest metals and one of the most expensive is tungsten.

Tungsten is not a naturally occurring metal; rather, it can be found in other iron ores like scheelite and wolfram. China is the primary producer of 85% of the world’s tungsten, but Russia also produces roughly 3,600 tons of the metal. Tungsten costs roughly $3.25 per ounce.

Cartridge Composition Versus Cost

When using shotshells, the projectile is either held inside the cartridge or at the front of the cartridge by the cartridge casing. The bullet’s shape is determined by the cartridge’s casing, which also serves as a propellant container. Additionally, this acts as an additional layer of defense from the elements.

Historically, paper was used to make cartridges; however, in current times, metal and alloys are used to make the casings. Copper is the most widely used metal for making cartridge casings because it resists corrosion.

Sometimes in plinking rounds, steel casings are used instead. About ten years ago, a pound of copper would have cost $1.37. A pound of copper today costs $4.50 per pound.

Ammo Caliber Versus Cost

In most cases, when we talk about caliber, we’re talking about the gun’s barrel diameter. The bullet, to put it simply, is the thing that will strike your target. The cartridge serves as the basis for the entire weapon, whereas the bullet is just the metal projectile that moves through the barrel. All remaining ammunition does is help the projectile or bullet get to its objective.

A 308 caliber has a diameter of 0.308 inches or 7.82mm, and the average cost for a .308 caliber round is about $0.62.

A larger caliber round, such as a .50 caliber used on an M2, M3, and M85 machine gun, would cost around $3 a round. You will find these bullets in packs of 50 to 100 rounds. A 50-caliber is an armor-piercing round used on military sniper rifles.

A .700 Nitro Express (17.8x89mm) caliber round, such as the one used on an H & H 700 Nitro Express Rifle, will set you back about $80 to $120 for a single round, not a box! This large-caliber ammunition is only used for large game hunting. So always keep in mind that the bigger the caliber, the more expensive it is.

Bullet Types And Cost Per Round

The next factor that we should consider when thinking about the cost of ammunition is the bullet type. There are four different ammunition types that we should be aware of. These are:

Soft Point – A Soft point bullet (SP) is an expanding jacketed bullet made of soft metalcore. A stronger metal jacket covers the core left exposed at the front tip. A Soft point round will cost you in the region of $1.30.

Armor Piercing – An armor-piercing (AP) round has an alloy core that is not always made from lead. These bullets are meant to pierce through thick armor. An armor-piercing round of ammunition will cost you around $10.

Boat Tail – A Boat Tail (BT) bullet tapers around the base of the cartridge that allows the projectile to remain stabilized when it is fired. The cost per round of BT is $4.26.

Boat Tail Hollow Point – A Boat Tail Hollow (BTHP) point is a mix of the hollow point and the boat tail. A round of BTHP would cost you about $3.50.

Another aspect when considering the cost and type of ammunition is choosing between Rimfire and Centerfire ammunition. In a Rimfire rifle, the rim of the cartridge is struck to ignite the primer.

With a Centrefire rifle/gun, the center of the cartridge is struck by the firing pin, igniting the primer. Rimfire cartridges are the least expensive rounds, costing only a few cents per round.

Availability Of Ammunition Versus Cost

Ammunition costs have increased and there have been shortages for American gun owners since the COVID outbreak in 2020.

Ammunition supply disruptions have occurred all around the world as a result of import/export restrictions and lockdown situations that manufacturers and sellers had to deal with.

Due to the shortages in all ammunition categories, this has a negative impact on local gun shops and gun owners. Additionally, they had virtually doubled in cost because there was ammo available!

As a result, hunters were forced to accept insufficient ammo or pay excessive costs for ammo that was previously available for only a few cents.

Notably, though, we are beginning to see ammunition prices steadily return to normal as the pandemic’s effects begin to fade. Employees of manufacturers are now back at work, and some nations have relaxed import/export restrictions.

Market considerations such as supply and demand may be important factors in determining the cost and availability of ammunition. We will observe a complete return to typical ammo pricing once suppliers resume their usual manufacturing schedules.

How Much Does Handgun Ammunition Cost?

The table above lists the average prices for the most common types of handgun ammunition. These are the latest average prices as of January 2022.

Ammunition TypeAverage Price (Per round)
357 Magnum$0.66
40 S&W0.36
10mm Auto$0.64
45 ACP$0.38
380 ACP$0.37

Looking at the average prices for each of this handgun ammo over the last twelve months, we can see how ammunition prices have settled down after peaking twelve months ago.

What Kind Of Ammo Does My Handgun Use?

I believe it is vital to describe the numerous kinds of handguns that are accessible before we explain the various types of ammunition for handguns.

There are only two basic categories of handguns: revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. A pistol that fires semi-automatically has a single chamber and barrel. For each squeeze of the trigger, the handgun will fire a chambered round, extract and eject the spent case, and then load a fresh cartridge into the chamber.

Another pistol with a rotating cylinder and five to nine chambers is a revolver. The cylinder of the revolver would turn on its axis to line up each cartridge in turn with the barrel. Six-shooter is another name for a revolver.

The ammunition is kept inside the revolver’s cylinder, which enables it to shoot again without needing to be reloaded. A semi-automatic pistol, on the other hand, stores each cartridge in a magazine that is integrated into the handgrip.

A semi-automatic pistol’s magazine can contain up to fifteen rounds of ammunition, and some models can hold up to twenty-three! There are three different handgun sizes available in the semi-automatic pistol category: full-sized, small, and sub-compact.

The Most Popular Semi-Automatic Ammunition Calibers

I’ve listed below some of the most popular calibers of handgun ammunition and an explanation of each. Refer to the table above for the respective pricing of each of these ammo calibers.


The .22LR or Long Rifle rimfire cartridge is often used for training and sports shooting. These rounds are used both for Rifle rounds and some handgun types. The caliber of the .22LR is perfect for first-time gun owners.

380 ACP

The 380 ACP or Automatic Colt Pistol is also commonly known as the “three-eighty” and is a common choice for small handguns.


The 9mm caliber round is probably the most widely known and common caliber used worldwide.

40 S&W

The 40 Smith and Wesson is larger than the 9mm and a lot slower.

45 Auto

A 45 Auto round is larger and slower than a .40 caliber round but with more recoil.

45 GAP

45 GAP or “Glock Automatic Pistol” equals the .45 Auto in firepower but is somewhat shorter, making it easier to fit into a compact semi-automatic pistol.


The 10mm round has a longer range than the 45 Auto and is faster

357 Magnum

A 357 Auto round is longer than the 40 calibers and is known for its stopping power and accuracy.

How Much Does Rifle Ammunition Cost?

In the table below, you will have an indication of the average price per round for each of the ammunition types for your Rifle.

Ammunition TypeAverage Price
5.56 NATO$0.47
223 Remmington$0.43
243 Win$1.46
308 Win$0.62

If you are getting into Rifles, you start talking about firearms like an AR-15 Assault Rifle, Ak-47s, and Bolt-action and Lever-action Rifles.

With these rifle types, you’re looking at larger caliber ammunition, and therefore the prices for these rounds can get a little expensive.

Final Word

The aforementioned details make clear that a variety of elements, including the projectile, the casing, and the kind of bullet, affect how much ammo costs. Due to the COVID epidemic in 2020 and how it impacted the availability of ammunition, prices have also increased significantly.

It is unclear whether ammunition prices will begin to normalize given the rising costs of the metal alloys used to create the cartridge and bullet core.

Ammunition producers will begin mass production when ammunition demand rises once more, which will result in a market oversupply and a decline in ammunition costs.

As gun owners, we must practice patience, attempt to save our ammo, and avoid wasting it. If we have more ammunition to spare, we should use it to help others when we can.

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