American Ballistics AP boxes

Whereas I collect pistol caliber penetrator loads, I am often after the rare boxes which some of these originally came in. As is usually the case, the cartridges are not too hard to come by, but boxes in excellent or mint condition are hard to find. Such is the case with American Ballistics “A-P” boxed loads which come in a couple cartridge types, and at least a couple box variants. Usually when I see the small 25rd American Ballistics boxes, they either have tape on them, or writing on the box (or both). I recently saw 2 boxes on Gunbroker which I bid on however, that were the only time I have ever seen mint condition boxes, and the rubber-stamped “A-P” was actually bold & sharp on both. I was amazed that they went for $520 a piece as I didn’t think anyone would value them as I did in that way. The cartridges themselves are not usually worth more than $20 a piece, and full boxes of 25rds should not sell for more than $200 - $300 at most.

The type shown below in 9x19 and .45acp is the later style with the knurled cannelure, and the green base, circa 1985.



Is it insanity or is it the new normal? I used to buy a lot of my cartridges and boxes on the different auction sites but not so much anymore. The stuff is still there but the prices have gotten completely out of hand. I keep thinking, “Be patient. It’s only temporary. The buying frenzy will end someday.” But, that day seems to be taking longer and longer to come. I do manage to find the occasional bargain but the periods between the bargains are getting longer and longer. It almost makes me want to change my collecting to something other than what I now find interesting. But what?? Obviously, American Ballistics AP is out of the question. :-(


Ray - I think you are right. I still think it is crazy, though. I don’t know if those crazy prices for the two boxes mentioned are just for the ammo - we have a whole set of “shooters” (I call them “boy commandos”) who seem to think they need tens of thousands of rounds in their storage bins, and hundreds of rounds of things like incendiaries, armor piercing, and the like. The so-called “run” on ammunition going on now is the longest on record in this country, and has the ammunition companies perplexed. In the past, they were short-run reactions to certain events, usually pertaining to the election of anti-gun Democrats or their attempts, often successful, at subverting the Constitution with new and Draconian gun laws. In the past, compared to now, they were over rather quickly. This one has gone on so long that the industry doesn’t know whether or not to try to expand production facilities. They are, of course, wary that if they do, the fad will end and leave them holding the bag. At any rate, if the buyers are ascribing big value to the boxes themselves, for relatively current commercial packaging, I cannot understand it. They ascribe the values of these modern boxes to that of packaging for truly old and scarce cartridges. I have a lot of boxes from that company - all empty now as the contents became illegal in California. This state has not YET started “burning books” although I can see that happening in the future, so the empty cardboard boxes are not yet illegal here, so I kept them.

I got this story in a letter from someone who was once in the industry & who has friends who know he is still very interested. This was apparently in Twin Falls ID.

I went to Sportsman’s Warehouse this morning for 22’s and I must tell you the story. I arrived at about 8:15am for a 9:00am opening and was 15th in line. By the time the doors opened there was in excess of 60 people in line, and possibly up to 70 because the line went around the building out of sight so I couldn’t get an accurate head count. Everyone marched in line through the store to the gun counter which is about half way back on the left side of the building. No one broke file, and remained in line in their proper order so each one would be served in succession. The employees had two large shopping carts full of 22’s behind the counter. Choices included a 500 count bulk box of Remington black solids (like Blazer 22’s. I can’t think of what they call them), Winchester 22LR Plated Solids in the 100 count plastic box, and good old CCI 22LR Mini-Mag Hollow Points. Each person is allowed 3 each of the 100 count boxes, or one bulk box. I opted for the hollow points which cost $7.99/100. That price is getting up there, but what are you going to do about it? Apparently there was enough to supply all in line because I hung around until the line had ended and they still had some left. Donna and I returned after lunch before we went to a movie and they were all sold out.

Now some observations about the waiting line. Many of the folks brought folding chairs because they obviously knew it would be a long wait and have played the game before. One of the fellows said that Sportsman’s had done well the last two weekends and had plenty for all comers. The woman in front of me said she had gotten bulk boxes the last two weekends in a row. There were several conversations going on that were easy to hear, and it seemed to me that quite a few of these folks show up every weekend for their allotment. They all have gotten to know each other, and it has almost turned into some sort of a social gathering. I finally asked one guy toward the head of the line how early he had arrived and he said he was there at 7:40am and was number 6. I don’t know how early the first guy got there, but it must have been before 7:40am. Remember, all of this is just to get 300-500 rounds of 22’s. I really question whether it is worth it. This situation is directly related to the store’s policy of only putting out 22’s on Saturday mornings, and not any other time. The Sportsman’s Warehouse in Nampa just off the freeway puts theirs out whenever they arrive, so there isn’t any waiting line on Saturday’s, it’s just first come first served and good luck Charlie. One of the guys in line was named Robert who I worked with for a while at Solo Cup. He ended up with one of the bulk boxes of solids. He commented to me that he wasn’t sure why he was playing the game anymore because he already had 10,000 at home. (Hoarder). I wonder how many others are doing the same thing. I don’t think this scenario will change into the foreseeable future. Amazing, just amazing. Thought you would like to know.

On the powder front they had lots of IMR4895, 4227, LeverRevolution, and 50BMG. Bullets were sketchy, but you could find something useable, and there were lots of primers for $39/1000. The shelves are loaded with guns and accessories, and it looks like they are starting to get ammo and clothing in for big game and bird seasons. In general prices are sky high. Now you know.
Happy trails,

I hang with shooters more so than collectors (not many collectors in Linden), and I hear about guys who are buying up any ammo they can find, even if they do not own a rifle in that caliber. Now, that is hoarding!

The CMP is now down to selling the dregs of the WW2 and KW surplus, ammo that is corrosive, with grungy corroded brass, and they cannot keep it in stock beyond a day or two. With the Feds putting more and more restrictions on importing foreign made rifles and ammo, that supply will soon dry up and then I have no idea where shooters will turn. I fully expect the CMP to be out of business before long.

The only reason I was willing to bid fairly high, was that I planned on selling 2 lots of ten cartridges from each caliber box in auctions on Gunbroker (one lot at a time) as I know that even if I start at a reasonable starting bid for 10 rds ($60.00 ?) it will often get bid up to $200 or more. Once it got past the break-even point on best-case-secanrio return on my investment per box, plus what I was willing to pay beyond that just for the left-over empty boxes, I bid no further. The auction prices that people have been willing to pay over the past 2 years on some pistol AP ammo has been wild. Aaron can tell similar tales with some of the pinfire boxes and cartridges he sells to gun collectors of late.

I can add a different twist here. This past weekend there was a major summer gun show in Kansas City and sales of anything and everything was, to say the least, SLOW. The dealers I talked with all said they (up to 1 pm Saturday) had sold nothing or very little of anything.
I bought 2 nice Radway Green 7.62x51mm ammo cans from a dealer at around 11:30 am, he told me I was his 3rd customer in 2 ½ hours. He had a lot of “gun show special” tracer reloaded ammo and had sold none of it.

A very “lonely” dealer had two .50 Cal. ammo cans of 6.5 Carcano rifle clips on his table, with a nice variety of maker stamps. I asked the price and was told that because they were “extremely rare” the price was $12.50 each. At that price I figure he had around $4,000 worth of Carcano clips on hand and I imagine he still has around $4,000 worth of Carcano clips on hand.

Some dealers volunteered, without my asking, to cut ammo prices when I asked to look at items. One dealer knocked $10 of a box of 15 Kurzpatr 43 m.E. (1945 ak). Another dealer knocked $5 off a box of Remington ETRONX 22-250 that I bought for a friend.

I bought a WW1 German 10.5cm Light Field Howitzer 98/09 cartridge case from a dealer with 6 tables of German militaria; he knocked $5 off the price. The dealer said I was his second customer up to that point (noon) on Saturday and he wasn’t sure if he would make enough money to pay for his tables.

The one thing I notice was lots of dealers sitting in their chairs with blank stares on their faces.

I have been told by a couple of manufacturers that the market for 9mmP began getting soft at the distributor level about 6 months ago. The worry is that people will start shooting all of the “backup” ammo they have purchased, and will quit buying the “Home Defense” when they have a few hundred rounds. How much home defense ammo does the average person need. The Psychos will still buy, but I believe they are a very small part of the gun and ammo market.

Just my views.


PS: Since us collectors (or at least those like me) will still buy a box or so of the new stuff that comes out so I guess that puts me in the class of “Psychos”.

Lew - you know that between the two us, there is only one nut case, and it is not you, so stop trying to steal my identity. :-) Buying a box of ammo to get one for the collection, the box, and some trade stock, is not at all the same as buying thousands and thousands of rounds for “the big revolution.” Yes, the nuts are a small group compared to the millions who own guns, but they are, unfortunately, a big enough group to drive the market.

There may be slow downs here and there in some areas, but my information that the companies are still in a bit of a quandary over what to do to meet demand (has anyone seen a gun shop rolling in huge quantities of rimfire ammo recently? I think not.) comes from sources in the industry that I still have after 14 years of retirement from 36 years in the gun business. There are auto pistol rounds that I would buy a box of that came out a year ago and I still have never seen an actual box of the ammo. Of course, I can’t get around like I used to, and most of the gun shops in my area have closed in disgust of the situation in our state of residence.

For years I didn’t collect the 9mm boxes along with the rounds. Lew got me doing that but whoa at that kind of prices for a box. An empty box is good for me although with one round is a lot better. I hope that the boxes are not thrown out when the contents are sold off.

I also went to the Kansas City gun show and didn’t pay attention that the dealers were bored. I did see a cased set of 2 44 Marston pistols with about 25 or 30 rounds with them. That was impressive. For $9500 the set was probably a steal since the cartridges are nearly $300 each in our collecting world.

There was lots of ammunition of all types. 44 Henrys were plentiful, I saw at least a hundred singles for sale from $25 to $50 each but also saw several full boxes.

Twenty two ammo is everywhere (meaning gunshows) these days but at high prices. Cabelas tells me customers buy them out each day and search the internet to buy pallets full and resell them at high prices of $40 to $75 a brick on the net and at gunshows.

I do have a question. With the new embargo on Russian guns and ammunition imposed recently, what does this do to the supply of cases that some of the US manufacturers were loading or to the general supply of some calibers?