PHOENIX -- Valley shooters and gun shops are on the hunt for ammo because a popular caliber has become nearly impossible to find.
"The two hard ones to get -- there's .22 and there's .22 magnum, which is even harder to get," said Jeff Serdy at AJI Sporting Goods in Apache Junction.
For some reason, .22-caliber ammunition has been in extremely limited supply for the past year and a half.
"Nobody really knows [why]," Serdy said.
Theories on why .22 is in short supply range widely.
An article by the National Rifle Association a few months back blamed rising gun sales since the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The gun control debate after the shootings at Sandy Hook in December 2012 also sparked high gun sales with many of the popular firearms being AR-style weapons chambered in .22 caliber.
Other theories say post-Sandy Hook hoarding is partially to blame.
"Two years ago a box of [.22] would have been about $2," Serdy said. "Now they're about $5 and some gougers are up to seven and $8."
The problem extends beyond small gun shops. The big boys are having trouble keeping .22 stocked as well.
A call to Bass Pro Shops in Mesa on Monday afternoon failed to turn up any available .22 ammo. Cabela's in Glendale was also fresh out on Monday afternoon, adding that a shipment earlier in the day fired off the shelves in just 20 minutes.
The big bullet manufacturers claim they're making just as much inventory as always.
"They're saying they are, but I don't know if I quite believe them," Serdy said. "Because I talk to distributors all day long and they're just not seeing it."
One problem leads to another -- at least for gun sellers. With .22 ammo harder to find people are a little gun shy when it comes to buying anything at all.
"People are this close to buying a gun and they say, 'Well, I'll take [the gun] and 500 rounds of ammo,' and we say, 'Well, we don't have 500 rounds of ammo,' and they say, 'We don't want the gun,'" Serdy said.