Monday, February 18, 2013

DHS buying billions of rounds? Not so fast . . .

By Donald Sensing

Summary: No, DHS is not buying billions of ammo rounds after all - at least not as quickly as we thought. But it is still buying a huge amount.

I posted the simple question on Feb 7, "Why is DHS buying billions of rounds of ammunition?" I based the question on information from other web sites, most of which were referring to a solicitation and award in December of .40-caliber and 9mm handgun ammunition purchases of what appears to be 21.6 million rounds in a single contract. Their source document is here, a grab is below (click image for large view):

I was emailed not long after my post by a retired Air Force officer  named Dave Calder, with whom I also exchanged several emails way back in the "Rathergate" days leading up to the 2004 presidential election.

Dave has professional experience and expertise in reading these kinds of federal documents and does so now on a practically-daily basis as part of his job. What follows is a summary of the detailed points he made and full credit should be given him for being my fact checker here.

Refer to Item No. 001 in the image above. The "Description" says the solicitation is for 100,000 rounds of .40 ammo. Then the "Qty" column says there are 100, and the "Unit" column says "MX." Thanks to Dave's expertise, this is how we decipher reading what this all means:

1. The other web sites (and I) multiplied the Qty of 100 times the number of rounds in the Description and concluded that the total was the number of rounds being requested. So: Qty of 100 times Description of 100,000 equals 10 million. This is incorrect.

2. In fact, DHS wants 100,000 rounds of .40 ammo, priced in batches of 1,000 rounds. The Qty column refers to units of pricing, not units of amounts of ammo. Therefore, DHS is saying it will pay for 100 units of 1,000 rounds, that is, 100,000 total rounds of .40-caliber ammo, not 10 million.

3. The same relationship exists on the other lines, of course, meaning that this particular contract's bid was for 240,000 rounds, not 21.6 million.

4. Another key piece of info is the Unit column, which cryptically lists the unit as MX. According to, MX stands for 1,000. So merely multiplying the Qty of 100 times the Unit of MX yields the 100,000 figure, too.

Furthermore, Dave sent the link to the actual federal page for the solicitation. It is "Solicitation Number: HSFLAR-13-Q-00014." And the actual amounts are even more plainly stated there:
The DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center requires the following items, Brand Name or Equal, to the following: 
LI 001, Commercial Leaded Training Ammo (CLTA) Pistol Cartridge .40 caliber 165 Grain, jacketed Hollow point(Jhp) p/n P40HSTS3G OR EQUAL. BRASS CASING. TOTAL 100,000 Rounds for this line item. ROUNDS TO BE PRICE PER 1000 ROUNDS WILL INCLUDE DELIVERY. 
Finally, Dave did some, well, journalism, writing:
I did call Willis Bullard, the point of contact who's phone number is listed just above line item 001 in the attachment. I confirmed with him the total amount for each line item as 100K for .40 caliber, 100K for 9mm, and 40k for 9mm ball, for a total of 240K rounds.
So there you have it. I retract the Feb. 7 post and affirm today that DHS is not buying billions of rounds of pistol ammo with one proviso: DHS is not buying billions of rounds as quickly as some of us bloggers say they are. But they are still buying a heck of a lot of ammo that, if continued at the published pace, definitely will come to billions over a longer time. Consider major ammo manufacturer ATK's announcement of 11 months ago:
ANOKA, Minn., March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ATK (NYSE: ATK) announced that it is being awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) agreement from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS, ICE) for .40 caliber ammunition. This contract features a base of 12 months, includes four option years, and will have a maximum volume of 450 million rounds.
PR Newswire (
If DHS exercises all the options of this single contract, it will buy 90 million rounds per year of .40-caliber pistol ammo alone. What are the contracts for 9mm and rifle ammo? That would likely make some interesting totals.

I am grateful to Dave Calder for informing me of the errors in reading the solicitation in question.

Update: The NRA itself had debunked the rumors.

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