Monday, July 27, 2009

The guns & ammo buying rush slows from panic to brisk

Ask any gun-shop owner and they'll tell you the same thing Les Jones is reporting, The Obama-inspired gun-buying rush is over.

Last November Barack Obama was elected president. Obama’s official platform included a renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and he was widely (and accurately) perceived as being anti-gun. His election set off a massive gun-buying spree that saw record numbers of gun purchases. That, in turn, led to empty shelves and inflated prices, not just for guns but for complementary goods such as ammunition.

Now people on The High Road are asking is the panic buying over? I think so. It peaked a month or two ago and now it seems to be going in the opposite direction. The best data I have for that is the Colt 6920, a popular AR-15 model.

Colt 6920 price history

A week before the 2008 election someone was selling thirty Colt 6920 AR-15s on Gunbroker for $1,200 a pop, which was a bit under the usual price. A few weeks after Obama won those same 6920s soared to $1,800 or more. (GunBroker’s auction search only goes back 90 days, but here ’s an April auction for $1,750.)

Since then I’ve been watching Clyde Armory, which lists Colt prices on its Web site. Over time I’ve seen the sticker drop to below $1,600, then to $1,449, then to $1,349 last week, and to $1,249 today. An identical gun on GunBroker sold for $1,050 a few weeks ago.

The Obama-inspired gun-buying panic is over. Everyone who wants an AR-15 rifle and can afford it has one, at least until another ban looms. (Well, except me, but I’m not all that fired up about buying an AR-15. I bought a lower and some 30 round magazines last fall as insurance against a ban, but I refused to pay those inflated prices for a complete gun.)

At the gun shop where I've worked since January, the hysteria has faded into at least mild panic if not gone back to normalcy. I'm no expert on "normal" sales at a gun shop as I have previously experienced the gun business only as a buyer prior to this new job.

As Les Jones notes, the drop in price and rise in availability of AR and AK rifles is one good sign that benefits gun buyers, the other is the accompanying slowdown and rise in availability of ammo. Until just this past week or two, we could not keep some types of ammo in stock, such as .380 ACP, which was overly popular due to the release of several new .380 pocket pistols. Now we actually have a good selection of various brands of .380, FMJs and JHPs, at prices that have returned to reasonable from outrageous.

Gun shows since the election have been frantic, but have in the past month or so slowed down to brisk. Same is true about sales in the shop. We now have occasional periods of slow sales, then a dozen customers will show up at once and it goes nuts again until everybody is waited on.

And on sales, which is what I do primarily for the gun shop, sales have slowed to the point where occasionally we have days when nobody buys a gun. This was unheard of until the past couple of weeks. But we have anedotal evidence that other gun shops are seeing little to no sales on gunbroker. One shop owner recently told our boss that his Internet sales were zero.

Maybe our Internet sales are continuing fairly strong has something to do with our inventory. We currently have 393 guns listed on gunbroker, so nobody can say they can't find what they're looking for, handguns, rifles or shotguns.

But all it will take to reignite the panic is for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama to wave the bloody shirt of gun control and it will be on again. Let's hope they've got enough on their plates to keep them busy without trying to grab our guns. Again.

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