Once upon a time, Americans bought more long guns than handguns. After Florida opened the floodgates to firearms carry liberalization, U.S. consumers flocked to handguns in their millions, reversing the balance. With the prospect of a Clinton administration looming, what with Ms. Clinton’s enthusiasm for a new “assault weapons” ban and all, buyers are snapping-up AR-15’s like there’s no tomorrow. But handguns are still hot, as The Motley Fool reports . . .

Much of the strength Smith & Wesson exhibited in its fiscal first quarter was due to the 38% surge in handgun sales, a segment that accounted for more than two-thirds of total net sales. In particular, its cheaper full-size polymer pistols, as well as the small, concealed-carry M&P-branded pistols, were responsible for the jump in sales, with revenues totaling $138.9 million for the period.

Although Smith & Wesson is recognized mostly for its handguns, it is also a major manufacturer of long guns. They might account for a much-smaller percentage of total sales, but they’re growing in popularity, and in the first quarter, sales more than doubled, to $44.5 million.

That’s one big ass jump. That said, the handgun market is far from saturated, as new shooters join the fold. And Smith’s revolvers (e.g., the venerable 642 hammerless snubbie) are the best entry-level handgun money can buy. If S&W would only market them as such they’d kill it (so to speak). Then again, capacity.

The Motley Fool article sounds the alarm about safety concerns related to the TTAG-reviewed five star .22-caliber AR-15, now banned from the rifle marksmanship programs offered by Project Appleseed. Remington 700 much? Let’s hope not.

Meanwhile, all hail Fool writer Rich Duprey for pointing out that “assault weapons” are no such thing. Like this:

Modern sporting rifles, or MSRs, are what gun-control proponents deceptively term “assault rifles.” Although an MSR is virtually the exact same gun as any other semiautomatic rifle on the market — including hunting rifles, which critics say they’re not going after — the fact they’re clad in scary-looking accessories like barrel shrouds and extended grips and magazines, and have folding stocks allows opponents to demonize them for belonging to an especially dangerous category of weapons.

But they’re quite similar to hunting rifles: They use the same ammunition; they have the same firepower; and you can fire only one bullet with each trigger pull, just like with hunting rifles. It’s because they’re tactically colored and look like military weapons that people not familiar with them think they pose a heightened risk.

This in a business-oriented publication. That’s a solid win for both Smith & Wesson and The People of the Gun.

34 Responses to Motley Fool: Firearms Market Moving Back to Rifles?

  1. I actually read this on Yahoo yesterday and remarked to my wife “where are you ever going to see THAT”? I don’t disagree either. Wait ’till either the hildebeast or the Donald gets in power. And I’ve never seriously thought of buying an AR-now I am. Fun times ahead…

    • I wouldn’t let the political winds make your purchasing decisions for you. An AR is a fine rifle to have, but I would buy one because you want/need one instead of panic buying one and paying too much for a lower end rifle.

      • Everything I do is political. I don’t hunt,plink or compete. And a Ruger AR556,Delton,Palmetto or S&W Sport2 will work just fine in a civil disturbance. I also have nowhere nearby to shoot…

      • Pay too much? How/where? AR prices are the lowest EVER.

        New handgun owners by the tens of thousand learn that the main purpose of a handgun is to give you time to get to your long gun. By an AR. And defend your Constitution.

      • The whole point of being prepared is to get stuff BEFORE it’s needed. And if you think you may not have a chance to buy one later, now is a good time.

        Also just buy a stripped forged lower for 60-90 dollars if money is a concern. And mags. They ain’t gonna ban uppers.

    • With ARs you can buy the lower receiver alone, stripped of parts add this is the only part that is legally a firearm, then purchase and assemble the rest at leisure.

      Legislators seem to be clueless enough I don’t think that will change.

      Don’t know if you knew that already, but if you’re worried, it’s an inexpensive way to get grandfathered in. It’s what I did when Jerry Brown had those bills on his desk in CA.

  2. Talking about rifles.
    I shot my Savage 11 .243 to sight-in, on the 10th shot I don’t know where the bullet went on the target. I could see the hole’s from shot’s 1-9 but there is no new hole for 10. And none of the hole’s looked jagged from the last shot.

    Using 95gr Federal Fusion the rifle shoots sub-MOA, shooting two shot groups the largest group was 11/32 of a inch center to center.

  3. I would also bet that this year has seen the largest number of handguns purchased with the intent of turning them in to SBRs. Between the SiG MPX, CZ Scorpion Evo 9 and the versions of the MP5 there have been a lot of guns sold and SBR’d.

    • Not many of them have been SBR’D yet, the atf’s blatant disregard of timeliness while processing forms means the latest forms that have been processed were submitted in March. Those of us closer to the middle of the year are in for a long wait indeed.

  4. Handguns are utilitarian. Just try toting a rifle around town for self defense and you’ll know what I mean. But rifles, with their stunning long distance accuracy, are small monuments to the science of gun making.

  5. Most folks buy what they want. Not what they need. Obslama has been the best gun salesman ever. That isnt in doubt.
    I bought an AR last year just because I didnt have one. Now with 1500 rounds and no place to shoot it here in South Florida outdoors. It sits next to my 10-22 and Ruger PC40.
    None of which Ive had at least a 100 yard outdoor range to shoot them at in over 15 years.
    Considering all I had to do when I lived in rural NY was open my kitchen window and bang away.
    South Florida is the pitts for long range rifle shooting.

    • Have you tried the Palm Beach Sheriff’s range? It used to be open to the public on weekends. There’s also Okeechobee Shooting Sports which has public ranges.

    • Homestead Training Center is about as far south as you can get in Miami Dade, but they have the longest range around. Markham Park in the Weston area is smaller but it’s an option.

    • 1) They’re great for teaching new shooters because of the adjustable stock and mild recoil.
      2) .223 ammo is cheap, compared to most rifle rounds.
      3) Shooting a semi-auto is lots more fun than running a bolt back and forth between shots.
      4) They can be set up for everything from varmint eradication (scope, bipod) to home defense (laser, light), especially with the right handguard.

  6. What are some good entry to mid level AR-15’s? Max price I’m willing to pay is $1000 and I’d want it to shoot 77 grain and 62 grain bullets equally well.

    • Spikes makes a pretty good “entry to mid-level’ AR somewhere around that price range, but that’s really more on the entry level side of the spectrum honestly… Have to say that I mused at people talking about their ‘FIRST AR’ before I actually had one for a while and learned about them. Why would anyone want more than one I thought. If I had to do it all over again now, I’d school up FIRST and spend a little more up front on something of “mil-spec” quality and also something that would allow me to do whatever I wanted to later more easily (ie- free-floated keymod or mlok handguard with low profile gas block). So maybe more in the 1250-1500 range, either BCM or Daniel Defense (Noveske, LMT, LWRC start to get a little out of that price/value range). By “mil-spec quality” I mean: a good, MPI/HPT BCG with properly staked gas tube, CHF chrome lined barrel (Gov’t profile), M4 feedramps, low profile pinned gas block, staked castle nut + free floated barrel, quality mlok or keymod lightweight ‘rail’ (handguard) from a well known, quality manufacturer. Buy once and cry once. Easier than having to buy again later because you got a bug up your butt that you didn’t know all that sh*t to start with. Oh, and sounds like you’ll want a 1:7 twist, but honestly if you’re on a budget (which it sounds like from your price range), I’m not sure how much you’re going to like the cost of 77 gr rounds.

    • Most of my ar rifles see 55-62 grain ammo so they have 1-8 or1-9 twist barrels. When I wanted to try shooting heavier 72-79 grain bullets, I didn’t feel like spending 1000-2000 on another ar just for that purpose. A gunsmith recommended I try Palmetto States Armory. I got a 1-7 twist 18 inch complete rifle with every thing but sights for $500. With a UTG 3×9 scope (about $100+) I can hit 6 inch plates at 300 yards all day. Hope this helps.

    • Aero precision – I’ve been more than impressed with their quality. They produce product for a lot of major manufacturers and sell directly too. Their entry level AC-15 is ~$700. They also have mid level at slightly higher prices within your range.

  7. To Jay in Florida,
    Starting in Miami there is the Traill Glades shooting range on 8 th street
    Fort Lauderdale has Markham Park. Both of these go out to 100 yards
    West Palm Beach has the Sheriifs Shooting Range on Southern Boulevard. They go out to 200 yards one Sunday every month
    As someone else said there’s Okeechobee shooting sports that goes out to 200 and even 1000 yards
    Okeechobee is the only one that allows Full Auto firing, if you have a slide fire stock, for instance
    So go buy a Sig M 400, a Colt LE 6920 or an FN 15 and go blast away at one of the above places

  8. Hell, here in California all we have left to buy is rifles unless one of the 10 or so available handgun designs we can buy has somehow passed you by.

  9. I am starting to think that now is always a good time to buy a rifle (or any gun for that matter). Consider that the Civilian Marksmanship Program use to sell M1’s and M1 carbines for way below cost, there was a time that you could get an SKS for under a Benjamin, and before 68 the guns would show up on your doorstep. It makes me wish I had gotten that fancy Tommy Gun I saw in the Sear’s Roebuck catalog back back in 33 🙂

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