Every year the National Shooting Sports Foundation does a series of studies on the firearms industry. The one I find to be the most interesting is the report they compile based off the results from a survey of hundreds of gun stores from across the country which give us some insight into the trends in the firearms industry. This year’s report (full version available here) is no different, giving us some numbers to attach to the trends we’ve been seeing. Numbers like 40% . . .
Forty percent of all firearms sales, according to the NSSF, were semi-auto handguns. Considering that’s more than twice the number of firearms in the next highest category, that’s a pretty good indactor of what people want these days. With the increased prevalence of concealed carry laws and citizens actually exercising that right, its only natural that the market provide the firearms to supply that demand. We saw the result of that massive demand at SHOT — companies focusing on small, easy to conceal handguns rather than massive rifles or awesome shotguns.
The survey of gun retailers confirms this as the cause of the massive demand, with over 60% of customers purchasing a handgun stating that they will use it for some flavor of personal protection.
While handguns are still the proverbial elephant in the room, they’ve been that way for some time. That’s not necessarily big news to us. What is big news is that assault rifles are making a huge leap in terms of sales.
Assault rifles (or “Modern Sporting Rifles”), such as the AR-15 and other semi-automatic magazine fed firearms, have seen the largest jump in sales since last year. Whether that’s an effect of the upcoming election is still unknown, but for me that’s the most plausible explanation. Obama has stated that his goal is to re-enact the assault weapons ban, so people are stocking up while they can.
The biggest loser, however, are muzzleloaders. Already the redheaded stepchild of the firearms world, their sales have dropped to their lowest point in recent memory. With the increasing relaxation of hunting laws (see: Texas allowing silencers) it makes sense that more people are waiting for open season rather than going the muzzleloader route. Also, especially among the younger crowd, muzzleloading firearms don’t really have any appeal beyond getting that jump on hunting season. It looks like people are trying to find a versatile firearm for hunting that they can enjoy taking to the range in the off season as well rather than a one trick pony.
There’s more stuff in the report, but this is (to me) the most interesting bits. Handguns are huge, and AR-15s are selling like hotcakes. Which explains why Ben’s review of the M&P 15 Sport is so darned popular.