One of the hottest trends in recent years has obviously been the dramatic uptick in the sale of AR rifles. A lot of reasons have been cited for this, chief among them the election of Barack Obama in 2008 (“We had people flooding the store to buy even as election results were still coming in,” said one Norfolk, Va. shop owner.) and of course his re-election in 2012. Both of these electoral victories put fear into gun owners that new restrictions similar to the so-called Clinton Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 would re-emerge and many sought to secure another gun or two as much for investment potential as they simply wanted to own one. Indeed a lot of first-time tactical rifle buyers rushed into the market at this time as did even a good number of first-time gun owners period.
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Other reasons cited for the increased sales were that after a decade of war where many of our citizen soldiers have returned home, the platform is one they are simply more comfortable with. At the same time, seeing them on the news (and in television shows) has made them more recognizable and quite simply, “cool.” With the expiration of the Clinton ban in 2004, the guns have also become more familiar to sportsmen—a number of whom initially resisted the AR in deference to their beloved bolt-action and other traditionally styled long guns—while the technology and performance of the tactical rifles have become more refined. As a result, many are making their way into more hunting camps. The guns are also easily customizable, which is another phenomenal attraction for many buyers.
Despite all of this seemingly good news for gun owners and those who deal in modern sporting rifles, talk to some shop owners and manufacturers now, and you would think the bottom has fallen out of the market.
“The firearms market seems to really be grinding to a halt all of the sudden,” said one California gun shop manager. Owners are starting to slash their prices in order to even move the guns suggested another in Oklahoma. If you read the news it has sounded as if nobody is buying guns—any guns for that matter. “Gun Sales Are Plunging” echoed one CNNMoney headline earlier this year. But are they really?
Numbers released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation based on adjusted FBI’ NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) numbers, which provide the best basis for how many firearms transfers have taken place over a given period, show that in the first seven months of 2014, firearms sales were still the highest they had ever been at 6.95 million transfers over any other year on record except for last year. Last year, was indeed remarkable with an astounding 8.81 million transfers over the same time period. The year before that, even at a time when things were seen as “hot,” there were 6.85 million transfers. Surely nobody expected things to stay that superheated forever. No industry or economy does. It all moves in cycles.
What has really happened is that we are returning to a “new normal” according to NSSF president and CEO Steve Sanetti. Companies and retailers ramped up operations and supply to meet the surging demand and when demand became more normal, it created a surplus supply. This is definitely a challenge for any business that suddenly finds itself with more supply than there is demand, but it can be GREAT for consumers. Product availability returns, choices increase and prices generally drop.
Trending among today’s tactical-style or modern sporting rifles is that higher-end models are still selling quite well and with more hunters coming into the fold, there is an effort by many companies to develop a wider variety of big-game friendly chamberings to make the guns more commonplace in hunting camps where whitetail deer are the most hunted species in North America. Now is an awesome time to be in the market for a tactical rifle.
So the question to gun owners now is “Are ARs so 2013? Or do you see them becoming even more commonplace than they already are? Will these guns eventually replace bolt-action and traditional rifles on the range and in hunting camps just as smokeless powder replaced blackpowder and lever-actions replaced the single shot back in the 1800s?
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While I own other bolt action, lever and semi-automatic hunting rifles, I think that the “modern” AR type platform is a great hunting weapon. I believe the .223 AR has it’s place for hunting for smaller animals, I’m much more in favor of the .300 AAC Blackout for deer and larger targets. An AR-10 of course I think would be ideal but also carries a high price tag. Perhaps they will come down out of the high price range with time as well.
how long will it take before my comment is posted?
I know that the AR15 has troubled past, I have Smith & Wesson M & P AR15 direct impingement. And shot about 3000 rounds, with not one hick up. And I have shot it dirty just to know what would happen, meaning that I shot about 1000 rounds before Cleaning it. And it worked perfect! that’s not to say that I think it is a perfect gun because I’m sure it is not. But that being said it is very easy to strip down and field clean also with a little knowledge about the gun it is pretty easy to fix on the fly. Ok to address what BHPO had to say about it for the most part I cant deny that he is right. however they have made improvements to the rifle I am speaking to the piston driven system that is a big improvement on the gun it eliminates the unburnt powder from building up in the receiver and allows it to run much cooler as well. And I believe that they made some of the tolerances a little loser to make room for dirt and debris .After all that is what makes the AK very reliable the piston system and lose tolerances. and you can get the AR15 in different calibers as well, even the 7.62×39. So guys check it out and let me know if you think that I am wrong about any of my facts…
This is a perfect example of why the ammo makers are not going to invest millions in new buildings and equipment to alleviate the rim fire shortage. The AR market is flooded, demand is down and so are prices. The ammo thing is another bubble that will eventually subside.
The AR 15 will always be popular because it is a U.S. martial arm regardless of the fact that it was and is perhaps the most unreliable military assault rifle ever fielded and uses a weak anemic cartridge to boot. It blows up when the barrel is filled with water because of its small bore size. It must be used drowning in oil or its gas impingement action spraying burnt powder all over the mechanism soon renders it inoperative. The U.S. spent several millions of dollars developing LSA fluid so the gun would operate in the rain when the rain mixed with the burnt powder spilled all over the action. It is also known for being very unreliable in desert sandy conditions as well. Jessica Lynch the cute blonde girl and her entire squad of soldiers had 100 per cent jammed up AR 15’s when attacked in the desert by local Arabs who attacked them and this was 50 some years after the jammed up Viet Nam AR 15’s. In other words despite hyped up small improvements to this unreliable mechanism it still continues to get U.S. soldiers killed. No matter the AR 15 fanatics will invent a million excuses for this inferior weapon just because it was invented here. I will take the M14 or AK47 any day. They work under the most adverse conditions. I have used all these weapons since the 19060’s so no one can bull crap me on their reliability. I know.
I agree with BHP0. I have heard about all the improvements made over the last 50 years and I recently I fired one of the newer Colt AR that was owned by a veteran from Iraq. The very first shot jammed and he had trouble with clearing the jam. There was no debris, it was pristine clean, I was the first to fire it on the range that day. Now I am sorry I sold my AK. I am now looking seriously at an M14/M1A for the reliability and the .30 caliber round that it uses to match the AK 7.62×39 round.
Completely false. You must be talking from the 1960’s. I own modern three gas piston AR’s and they all function perfectly. I shoot a LOT, and never a hiccup. And an anemic cartridge!!?? I’d like to see you take a hit with an AMAX or hollow point .223 bullet. They are accurate and devastating. I know.
The versatility and adaptability of the AR platform ensure that it will be one of, if not the, most popular firearm platforms for many years to come. Today’s shooter has become accustomed to customizing, i.e., adapting the AR to fit her or his specific taste. Let’s face it; the current generation expects everything to be exactly as they want it. The AR gives them that opportunity.