Interesting data point in this week’s Downrange Radio Michael…

Interesting data point: in this week’s Downrange Radio Michael Bane, who’s probably the gun journalist most connected with the industry, is saying that gun companies aren’t coming out with many new products because they can’t keep their current products in stock. For reasons no one really knows, Americans are buying guns at a steadily increasing pace and have been for about two years.

Around the time Barack Obama was elected and took office, sales of guns and ammo skyrocketed, causing prices on most things but particularly AR-15 pattern rifles to shoot through the roof. Interesting side note: although prices rose as supply did for guns themselves, ammo shortages were pervasive despite price increases. Given that this happened over a 3-6 month time frame, I’ve never understood why stores didn’t raise prices until they could guarantee they’d at least have some in stock. It’d make a good topic of an economics paper.

Mid-to-late 2009, though, the bubble popped and ARs came back down in price by ten or twenty percent (this history and these numbers are all from memory, so I’d be glad to see some solid stats on this stuff) and gun and ammo sales basically bottomed out before beginning the slow and steady rise they’ve been on since then. For the most part, prices have stayed fairly constant because the increased demand has been steady and predictable (remember, a healthy economy requires accurate prediction) and supply has been steadily ramping up. For example, Smith and Wesson recently added a third shift to their factory, a sign of economic recovery that’s pretty few and far between these days.

What’s causing it? I tend to agree with Bane that the zeitgeist isn’t yet that of stocking up before the election. What’s been driving people to guns, and in particular defensive shooting and competition over the past two years? I’m really not sure. But I’m glad it’s happening.