Browning PR manager Scott Grange tells TTAG that the high-end sporting gun market has rolled over and died. “Over-and-under guns that cost over eight thousand dollars are not selling, period.” Good thing, then, that Browning doesn’t sell firearms aimed at the top end of the market. Bad thing that they don’t make assault rifles, though. According to Grange, ARs and other assault weapons were the prime beneficiaries of the “panic buying” proceeding the arrival of the Obama administration. While Grange reports that the “black gun business” is still strong, demand has leveled off. Meanwhile, over in his proverbial neck of the metaphorical woods, the sporting gun business “did not do well” during the economic downturn and “still isn’t where it was. Not by a long shot.” In fact, the assault rifle surge has hurt sporting gun sales where it hurts . . .

Grange says the jump in assault rifle sales forced up the price of ammunition, taking its toll on gun enthusiasts’ activities.  “.9mm, .40, .45—it’s all too damn expensive.”

On the positive side, Browning has at least one weapon that appeals to the budget-minded gun owner. “We can’t make the Buck Mark .22 fast enough.” Depending on the model, the Browning pistol sells between $269 and $500.

Grange also reports that Browning’s non-gun sales are going great guns. Or you could say they’re safe for now. “Our safe business was off the charts last year, following along with sales of assault-style weapons.”

In all, the gunmaker’s spinmeister is—you guessed it—cautiously optimistic. “I’ve been in this business over thirty years,” Grange says. “I’ve seen the peaks and valleys. We’ll keep making a quality product and offering great customer service. We’ll be just fine.”

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