Special Report

27 Popular Ammunition Types From Least to Most Expensive

RonBailey / E+ via Getty Images

For decades, ammunition prices have been on the rise in the United States, outpacing inflation in 15 of the last 20 years. During the pandemic, consumer demand surged as ammunition manufacturers faced a scarcity of raw materials, driving up prices even further. 

While many sports men and women are feeling the pinch, shooting sports do not necessarily need to break the bank. Small arms ammunition ranges significantly in cost, depending on the caliber. Ammo for some firearms sells for as little as a few cents per round, while rounds for other guns can cost well over a dollar a piece. 

For cost-conscious shooters, as well as those looking to get into recreational shooting, it is worth knowing what you can expect to pay for ammunition before you head to the range or buy your first firearm. 

Using data from Ammo Prices Now, a small arms ammunition price tracking site, 24/7 Wall St. identified the typical price per round for 27 common firearm calibers, ranked from lowest to highest. Listed prices are averages over a specified time period. It is important to note that even within a given caliber, ammo prices can range substantially by brand, cartridge ballistics, retailer, and geographic area, and these prices are only benchmark estimates. 

Among the 27 calibers and gauges on this list, .22 Long Rifle, or .22 LR, is by far the least expensive, averaging about 10 cents per round over the past two and a half years. Unlike most cartridges on this list, which are centerfire rounds, the .22 is a rimfire. Rimfire ammunition is much cheaper to manufacture than centerfire rounds, partially because they are relatively low pressure and can therefore use a thin-walled cartridge case. 

Rounds for 12 gauge shotguns can also be relatively cheap. The lowest cost 12 gauge ammunition, generally target rounds or light birdshot, sold for an average of 35 cents per round in the past two years. However, 12 gauge shells containing slugs or buckshot typically sell for several dollars a round, though those loads were not considered for this list. (Here is a look at America’s top shotgun companies.)

The most expensive small arms ammunition in the United States are for centerfire rifles, commonly used for hunting and target practice. These rounds tend to be more reliable, powerful, and accurate than their rimfire counterparts. They are also reloadable, meaning, with the proper tools and knowhow, the shell casing can be hand-loaded and reused – both to save money and to customize ballistic characteristics for the desired use. (Here is a look at the most versatile hunting rifle cartridges.) 

Click here to see the 27 popular ammunitions from least to most expensive.

27. .22 LR
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.10 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.03 – $0.34 per round
> Most recent price: $0.05 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun or rifle

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Source: SolidMaks / iStock via Getty Images

26. .22 WMR
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.32 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.15 – $0.93 per round
> Most recent price: $0.22 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun or rifle

25. .17 HMR
> Avg. price from May 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.33 per round
> Price range between May 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.25 – $0.50 per round
> Most recent price: $0.26 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

24. 12 Gauge (least expensive shell)
> Avg. price from March 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.35 per round
> Price range between March 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.22 – $0.68 per round
> Most recent price: $0.30 per round
> Firearm type: Shotgun

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Source: jfmdesign / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

23. 9mm
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.36 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.11 – $0.71 per round
> Most recent price: $0.15 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. 5.45×39
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.41 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.21 – $1.50 per round
> Most recent price: $0.42 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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Source: Slantsixx / iStock via Getty Images

21. .40 S&W
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.42 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.21 – $0.90 per round
> Most recent price: $0.28 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

Source: westtexasfish / iStock via Getty Images

20. 7.62X39
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.45 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.32 – $0.78 per round
> Most recent price: $0.43 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

Source: usairforce / Flickr

19. 5.56 NATO
> Avg. price from March 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.47 per round
> Price range between March 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.22 – $0.79 per round
> Most recent price: $0.29 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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Source: michailPopov / iStock via Getty Images

18. .223 Rem
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.50 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.30 – $0.98 per round
> Most recent price: $0.31 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

17. .17 WSM
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.50 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.19 – $7.00 per round
> Most recent price: $0.84 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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Source: mj0007 / iStock via Getty Images

16. .380 ACP
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.52 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.23 – $1.47 per round
> Most recent price: $0.25 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

Source: RonBailey / E+ via Getty Images

15. .45 ACP
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.52 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.29 – $1.08 per round
> Most recent price: $0.35 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. .38 Special
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Jan. 2023: $0.57 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.25 – $2.88 per round
> Most recent price: $0.37 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. 10mm Auto
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.58 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.30 – $0.89 per round
> Most recent price: $0.33 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

12. .357 Magnum
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.64 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.46 – $1.63 per round
> Most recent price: $0.47 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

11. 7.62X54R
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.66 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.40 – $0.87 per round
> Most recent price: $0.62 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

10. .308 Win
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.68 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.48 – $1.28 per round
> Most recent price: $0.61 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

9. .300 BLK
> Avg. price from June 2020 – Dec. 2022: $0.82 per round
> Price range between June 2020 and Dec. 2022: $0.50 – $1.54 per round
> Most recent price: $0.51 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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8. 5.7x28mm
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.89 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.57 – $1.75 per round
> Most recent price: $0.60 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

7. .44 Magnum
> Avg. price from May 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.94 per round
> Price range between May 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.26 – $1.59 per round
> Most recent price: $0.78 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

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6. .45 Long Colt
> Avg. price from May 2021 – Jan. 2023: $0.97 per round
> Price range between May 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.14 – $2.40 per round
> Most recent price: $0.62 per round
> Firearm type: Handgun

Source: MichaelRothPhotography / iStock via Getty Images

5. .30-06
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Jan. 2023: $1.10 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.65 – $1.95 per round
> Most recent price: $0.74 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

4. .243 Win
> Avg. price from May 2021 – Jan. 2023: $1.45 per round
> Price range between May 2021 and Jan. 2023: $0.92 – $2.55 per round
> Most recent price: $1.00 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. 6.5mm Creedmoor
> Avg. price from March 2020 – Jan. 2023: $1.49 per round
> Price range between March 2020 and Jan. 2023: $0.68 – $2.72 per round
> Most recent price: $0.85 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

2. .30-30 Win
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Dec. 2022: $1.66 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Dec. 2022: $1.06 – $3.00 per round
> Most recent price: $1.25 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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1. 7mm Rem Mag
> Avg. price from April 2021 – Dec. 2022: $1.76 per round
> Price range between April 2021 and Dec. 2022: $1.21 – $2.96 per round
> Most recent price: $1.50 per round
> Firearm type: Rifle

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