Really! You just need the right perspective. Ammo is actually cheaper now than it used to be — even when you don’t adjust for inflation. From an article by Massad Ayoob in the current issue of Backwoods Home:
As I write this, a copy of the 1986 Gun Digest is sitting next to the computer on the desk where I’m working. It lists 115 grain 9mm full metal jacket ammo at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22.50 for a box of 50 cartridges. Today’s price for the same stuff is $16 for twice that amount? Let’s have a little perspective here. The same publication lists .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) jacketed hollow point (JHP) defense rounds at $26.05 for a box of 50. Today, just outside Chicago, I spotted Winchester USA brand 230 grain JHP at a bit less than that for the same sized box at a Dick’s Sporting Goods chain outlet. 21 years of inflation later, I can’t honestly complain about that.
You used to be able to buy a 100-round pack of 9mm WWB for $10.97 at Wal-Mart, before sales tax. It has, at this writing, shot up (no pun intended) to about sixteen bucks…. I understand the sticker shock. However, I’m also old enough to realize that this isn’t price gouging, it’s simply an indication that the gravy train American shooters have been on since the generic ammo price wars started is simply rolling to a halt. (…)
A lot of folks who came into shooting in the late 1980s and later have been spoiled. This was the time when Pan Metal Corporation (PMC) of Korea stunned the US market by importing cheap, generic, factory fresh ammunition that dramatically undersold the cartridges produced by our indigenous ammunition industry. In desperation, the local companies fought back with their own generic ammo, creating a price war from which the American shooter has benefited hugely.
Emphasis mine. He’s right. I have some old Gun Digests myself, and prices were higher back then.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the ammunition you can buy now seems to me to be just plain better. Certainly since the 1980s, and even since 1992 when I bought my first firearm and a few boxes of Black Talons. Bullet design alone has made leaps and bounds in the last 20 years.