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SMYRNA, Ga. -- Demand for .22-calibre ammunition for rifles and handguns is so high that most metro Atlanta retailers have run out.

At Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, sales are limited to one box per customer per day.

"If we get a pallet, that used to last two months," said Adventure Outdoors General Manager Eric Wallace. "Now that will last two weeks, even at the one-box-per-customer limit."

The ammunition is cheap compared to other calibres, and it's popular with a growing number of new shooters.

Gun owners said .22 bullets are mostly used for target practice, not self-defense.

"They are extremely hard. I know of 8 gun stores out," said gun owner Harold Leverette.

Wallace said manufacturers can't keep up their supply, and that only increases demand.

Politics and concerns about eroding gun rights play a role here, too.

"In our industry there's always concern that laws could come into place," Wallace said. "People want to hedge their bets and stock larger amounts of ammo, so that does drive some of it."

Prices have jumped about 20 percent in the last year, Wallace said.

The shortage started last year. It's happening nationwide, and it's not letting up.

"People are paranoid of government action of all kinds," said gun owner Ron Harding. "One way of dealing with it, they tend to hoard with the idea that there won't be any available later."

On Black Friday in November, Adventure Outdoors gave away one box of .22s to the first 500 customers in line.

"We had 800 people lined up at the door when we opened," Wallace said. "And at retail, that's about a $3 value."

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