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Tactical guns and ammo have been on short supply the last few years, but supplies are easing and the coming year may be a good time to buy.
The great AR panic and shortage of 2012-2013 now seems to be behind us. Until a few months ago it was almost impossible to find an AR-style rifle for sale in any gun store or gun show in America.
This was also true for other military-type semi-auto rifles and carbines. If you did occasionally find one, the price tag increased significantly, sometimes double the price or more.
Over the winter and spring ARs, AK’s, FAL’s, Mini-14’s and other rifles the media likes to refer to as “assault weapons” disappeared from the shelves at all levels of the firearms retail business, from local gun shops and sporting good stores, to the big outlets like Walmart, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.
Early Warning Signs
Why, and how, did this happen? It isn’t as if it hasn’t happened before. The push for tougher gun control laws has surfaced many times over the years, going back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just over 50 years ago.
Depending on which party controlled the White House or Congress, proposals for more restrictive controls on the design, ownership and sale of firearms has come and gone many times. In many cases shortages quickly occurred in the category or categories of the firearms being legislated against.
The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, led to shortages of numerous semi-auto rifles and high-capacity handguns. When the legislation expired by way of its sunset provisions 10 years later during the Bush administration, the guns involved became available again.
Distrust of Government Motives
More recently, the long and contentious re-election campaign for President Barack Obama convinced many gun owners that a continuation of his administration was sure to bring new and more restrictive federal regulation of firearms.
Soon the “get’em while you can” slogan was being heard in gun stores and at gun shows. Long before the election, shortages began to develop in gun stores across the country, especially of AR-style semi-auto rifles.
After the re-election of President Obama, some concerned citizens opted to become gun owners and, believing AR-15s would soon be banned, decided that their first, and perhaps only gun, had to be an AR.
Now if we can just do something about 22 LR ammo and loading components, especially powder. I compete in a rimfire league and had I not had a large supply of bulk ammo for years I couldn’t have practiced with equipment mods and calibration at all. As it was I was forced to buy Eley at center fire prices for match shooting.
As reloaders still account for less than 5% of the shooting public according to my reads it makes no sense to me that powder is almost impossible to get. Except for black powder, 50BMG and a few other large caliber powders I haven’t seen the half a dozen or so powders I’m interested in, in well over a year. I had several pounds of Alliant Power Pistol on order last year from Feb to Nov from Midway USA and never got them. Searches for other powders in stock proved fruitless both on line and in numerous retail outlets that advertise powder. Component bullets were slightly better but in popular caliber/weights still real tough. Some primer sizes are becoming available although still at a big increase over pre-panic prices. When powder was easy to get I used to buy a pound at a time so I could experiment more without worrying about stockpiles of powder I didn’t want and to keep the explosive mass as low as possible. Now I won’t consider less than four pounds if I ever find some.
I have decided to opt for the single load concept for my own use, limitings my selection to CFE-223 for 223/556 and 308 while CFE Pistol sounds good for most of my handgun calibers, that is if I can ever find it to try. Most places I have contacted haven’t even heard of it and two large sports retailers I asked said they have no plans to carry it. The online houses will often let you backorder it but based on my experience that just lets them use your money for half a year of more for free before they or you cancel the order.
Bottom line? It’s good that guns are now available and at better prices but they are worthless if you can’t load them.
I enjoyed the article and agree with what Jerry says. I remember going to gun shows over the past couple of years where there was frenzied buying going on. Several retailers were selling AR’s that were all dolled up with added on accessories, and selling them for a lot more than they did previously. How do you spell greed? People were buying AR’s, ammo and what ever else they could get their hands on with the hopes of turning around and offering them for sale at a much inflated price. I still see those same ads in one of our local ‘for sale’ magazines. Those people are now stuck with a firearm that they paid too much for and will probably never use, because the industry has caught up with demand and you can buy AR’s at a reasonable price again. Now where did I put those .22s?