Is There A “Run” On Firearms Right Now?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Is there a “run” on firearms right now? Yes, CTD Mike says:

There have been several articles in the mainstream media about the boom in FBI NICS background checks. NICS checks only track sales of firearms through Federal Firearms License holders, so it is not an exact science. Guns sold in private sales between individuals do not require a NICS check (this is what politicians like to call the “gun show loophole”), so the NICS checks don’t represent the total number of guns sold. On the other hand, many gun stores, pawnbrokers, and online Web sites deal largely in used firearms, so not every NICS check represents the sale of a newly manufactured gun just entering the firearms market for the first time. The FBI says it received 16.3 million inquiries for NICS checks in 2011, up from 12.7 million in 2008 and 11.4 million in 2007. However, that does not mean four million more new-in-the-box firearms were sold last year compared to 2008. The Brady Campaign is actually circulating a claim that the number of total firearms owners in the U.S.A. is going down, but facts have never been important to them. Many Americans are buying their first gun, but there is also some anecdotal evidence that this surge in sales is due mostly to existing gun owners adding more guns to their collections. However, there are no hard statistical numbers supporting this, and as 2nd Amendment supporters we do not particularly want the government or anyone else to keep track of how many guns each gun owner keeps in their safe. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that right now, people are buying guns faster than manufacturers can build them.

We heard this over and over again at the 2012 SHOT Show when asking gun makers when we could expect to see their newest products on the market. Without exception, they all said not to expect the new products anytime soon, because they were focusing all their resources on filling the backorders for their existing product lines. Ruger announced on March 22, 2012 that they are temporarily suspending new orders for guns, because they have exceeded a million orders for firearms they have not built yet. That’s a pretty big backlog for a company that doesn’t outsource any components. Ruger makes everything in house so it’s not as if they are waiting to receive springs or magazines from some other company that has problems with production. They just simply cannot meet demand.

Are ammo makers cutting production because of an ammunition “glut”? Heck no:

Ammo sales have followed gun sales and are currently at record highs. Ammo companies are building cartridges as fast as they can, but raw components are harder to get and now cost more than ever before. Bulk military surplus ammo is largely a thing of the past. An executive order by President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s made it illegal for the U.S. military to sell surplus ammunition unless it was done through the government’s ODCMP Civilian Marksmanship Program. The Program does sell ammunition but has no U.S. government surplus on hand at this time. Cheaper Than Dirt sometimes gets inquiries about the bulk 5.56 NATO ammo we sell, asking whether it is some kind of “factory seconds” that didn’t make muster for the military. It is illegal to sell ammo intended for use by the U.S. military due to that executive order. Millions of rounds of that ammo, paid with your tax dollars, is burned every year instead. At the same time, a two-front war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past decade has consumed untold amounts of cartridge components. The Government Accounting Office reported last year that the U.S. military fired an estimated 250,000 rounds of ammunition for every insurgent killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past ten years. Surplus? I wish! In fact, the U.S. military had to make a special ammo order from Israel to supplement the best efforts of ATK/Lake City. Total usage for training and combat has now reached about 1.8 billion rounds per year, or almost five million rounds of ammo expended every day. Those numbers are pretty difficult for me to comprehend.

Even if you don’t own a 5.56 rifle and you only shoot a .270 Winchester, the wars have greatly affected the cost of the components used to make your ammunition too. The lead and copper to make bullets, and the brass to make cases, all cost more now because we took all we had and shot it at bad guys halfway around the world. The cost of new ammunition has risen about 8% so far this year and we are just in March. Hornady is selling innovative “Steel Match” ammo in an attempt to prove that not all steel cased ammo has to be inaccurate Russian-made stuff. They would never have considered doing that only a few years ago. They just have to do something, anything, to keep their ammo affordable, and buying more brass isn’t affordable anymore. Look for other ammo companies to follow their example soon. Polymer-cased ammunition is also making a comeback. PCP Ammo came out with an improved plastic casing design and was promptly swamped with orders at SHOT Show this year. Where has all the brass gone? Well, it’s all over the ground in Fallujah and Marjah.

He also notes that scary black rifles have moved into the mainstream, outselling wood-stocked hunting rifles.


  1. Todd says:

    “Without exception, they all said not to expect the new products anytime soon, because they were focusing all their resources on filling the backorders for their existing product lines.”

    –Although this has been true for several gun makers for a number of years, Ruger has recently introduced many new models and variations across their product line (LCR in .22, .380; 10/22; 22/45…etc). I’m sure their backlog has been building for a while. And yet they still innovate.

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