Gun Sales, Stocks Falling

NICS numbers January 2018 (courtesy

“January gun sales slumped in comparison to past years, according to new data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” reports, with the usual qualifiers . . .

The government doesn’t keep an exact count of firearms sold, but the system can be used as a proxy for sales and is considered an indicator for the industry.

According to data kept by the agency, 2,030,530 firearm background checks were logged this January, down from 2,043,184 in the same month last year and 2,545,802 in 2016, which was a record year.

Bottom line: January’s adjusted firearms sales numbers are the lowest since 2012.

As you’d expect with those numbers, with the U.S. stock market in something not unlike freefall, the stocks of publicly traded gun companies are tumbling.

Bloomberg offers S&W’s and an investment bank’s explanation for the firearm industry’s doldrums.

“There is no fear-based buying right now,” said James Debney, chief executive officer of gunmaker American Outdoor Brands Corp. (formerly Smith & Wesson), on a conference call in December.

In a report about American Outdoor Brands released Monday by Wedbush Securities Inc., a securities firm and investment bank, analysts cited firearms-purchasing trends among risks to their price target and rating: “Gun ownership is becoming increasingly concentrated, with fewer gun owners owning more guns, as guns are primarily marketed to people who already own guns.”

While some analysts reject the “satiated super-owners” theory of falling firearm sales, I have to agree that the industry’s short and long term health depends on breaking out of the pro-2A, anti-government, Waco Was a Warning OFWG ghetto, converting casual and non-gun owners.

TTAG will be doing its part for that soon. Watch this space . . .


  1. avatar Astigmatism says:

    Since when is 2+ million a slump?

    1. avatar B-Rad says:

      When its lower than every year for 6 years.

      1. avatar Mortimer Snurd says:

        Look at the graph, 2013 and 2016 (years where dems were looking to enage significant gun control laws) are obvious outliers when compared to the upward curve generated by the rest of the timeframe represented. Looks to me like an effort to frame a narrative from data that doesn’t support that narrative.

  2. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    “January gun sales slumped in comparison to past years…”

    Hey, I’m doing the best that I can. 8>)

  3. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    Basically we see a continued, steady trend upwards over the years (a good thing!). The two January spikes in 2013 & 2016 I believe were caused by the fear of gun grabbing actions due to a: fallout from Sandy Hook & b: the threat of her highness HRC being elected (shudder).

    Calling January 2018’s figures a slump is nothing more than fake news sensationalism.

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    I’m doing what I can. Hey RF do you understand OFWG isn’t an insult if you are one? Like moi? Didn’t get into gun ownership until later in life(and had some money).

  5. avatar anonymoose says:

    After 40 years of “buy it before they ban it!” we start returning to normalcy and companies don’t understand what’s happening.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Just because the threat has moved from federal to state government, the threat is not gone, nor even reduced. If gun owners abandon the, “Waco was a warning…” understanding of the nature of government (large and small), then we will get what we deserve.

      There are only two reasons to own a gun: protection from government, and every other reason. But the need to protect oneself from government should never wane. And the need to educate and convert the (two, or three) “fence sitters” remains constant. However, one must be realistic about the chances of “converting” people who recoil at the notion that at the very bottom of the nature of guns, they are used to kill people and animals. To “convert” those people requires that they are capable of changing their minds, AND admitting that their core beliefs are wrong; that they are wrong.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        I know we’ve still got to keep pushing for people’s right to self-defense and self-determination to be restored in many states, and be ever vigilant, but gun companies cannot depend solely on scare tactics right now, and that’s a good thing. If your whole business model is dependent on fat slobs ordering your out-of-spec overpriced crap over the internet so they can turn around and re-sell it at 10x the price to the Dale Gribbles of the world, then you shouldn’t be too freaked out when your company goes down the tubes.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          I understand your reasoning, but scare tactics are good tactics if they work.

          There is, however, the natural ebb and flow of products through the economy. Forecasting demand is an inexact exercise, filled with presumptions and assumptions. Pricing is another “guess” factor. Any company faces the same dynamics when trying to effect the best return on investment, and investor equity. Most of the articles about demand slow down are designed to make people believe that somehow guns are different from any other product, and a slow down means collapse.

          The overwhelming majority of the populace has no idea at all about industries and markets. Thus, the most effort they expend in trying to “learn” anything is reading a headline (and some really hardy individuals will even read the first paragraph. These are the same people who believe they are incomparably smart, and have abandoned traditional news outlets in favor of social media as their source of knowledge.

          One thing that is puzzling is the lack of a recognizable trend in lower prices for firearms and associated equipment. 2017 was supposed to have been a year of business failings for firearms. Such an event should have manifest itself in price drops to near cost, in an effort to maintain (maybe increase) market share. I cruise about six internet sites related to purchasing guns, and the prices seem to be stable. Maybe the glut is still building, and will be seen later this year.

          BTW, anyone looking at stock price declines over the last week should realize that the stock market is a casino, not an indicator of the health of the economy, nor any specific company. Changes in the markets are driven by computer algorithms, not actual company health. Understanding this is beyond the snoflake tribe, leftists, and Demoncrats (and the MSM…but I am repeating myself).

          And just because, there is this…
          “America has no distinctively native American criminal class; excepting Congress”
          – S. Clemmons

        2. avatar Hank says:

          No, because fear tactics are unsustainable. At some point many people say, “well it wasn’t banned before, they still haven’t banned it, they’re not going to ban it”, people eventually wake up to being swindled, even if it takes them awhile, and even if it’s in their best interest, they won’t see it that way. It’s just like the unending doomsday prophecies about the Y2k, 6/6/06, Dec 21 2012, and so on. Eventually people realize it’s all a money making scheme. Instead of trying to force the market to behave a certain way (which is impossible) you should tailor you’re marketing to your market. Right now gun companies should market towards the growing market, conceal and open carry. When elections draw near, break out the “get em befo the ban does!”

        3. avatar Sam I Am says:

          It seems odd to have to explain this to POTG, but….

          Look at the history of firearms. Were the firesticks created for hunting, competitions, target shooting, sports, or military? Answer: military, all the other uses came after.

          At the founding, the only serious uses of firearms was military, food gathering, and personal defense. Which of the three are today relevant to the entire populace? Answer: military and self-defense.

          For private citizens, what is the military application? Answer: member of the militia.

          The militia has three traditional functions: defense against invaders, police, defense against out-of-control government. Of the three, only the latter is likely to be called upon.

          If out-of-control government is a threat, the people should fear government overreach in every area of life. The people should especially fear disarmament by governments local and national. The people (the militia) will be the first responders when government begins to look to indirect, but effective means of rendering firearms neutered. This is not marketing hype, but an ever-present threat to the public tranquility. Fear your government, especially when it declares, “This (whatever) is for the good of society.” (insert Jefferson quote here).

          The second rational reason for private citizens to be possessed of firearms is self-defense. You can call it whatever you like, but fear of attack by lawless individuals is fear. Either the likelihood of attack is a real threat, or it is not. If the threat is really non-existent, there is no reason for the public to possess firearms (entertainment does not rise to the level of “need”, or even purpose).

          So, the threat of rogue government is real, or it is not. The threat of deadly attack is real, or it is not. Pretending there are other life events that make firearms necessary is just silly. If one does not fear government, then arming against “that day” is pointless. If one does not fear deadly attack on their person, then all the open/concealed carry sturm and drang is pointless.

          Owning firearms because we have a natural, human and constitutionally protected right does not generate viable markets for fire arms. Owning firearms because a sub-set of the nation engages in hunting or sport events does not generate robust markets for a wide array of firearms. Defending self and nation makes a compelling argument for equipping oneself with a multiple of firearms to deal with multiple threats (as in fear of attack upon a person).

          Fear is a good tactic, IF it works. No matter the fad-of-the-day regarding none defense use of firearms, always underlying everything is the threat to personal freedom and safety. People should fear those constant threats (as in recognize the threats, and prepare a response).

        4. avatar Hank says:

          I agree with you on many of those points. My argument more is about the specific fear mongering part of the advertising. Sometimes it is totally warranted. But let’s say right now, with the current political climate, companies and the NRA start screaming about imminent gun confiscations and what not, like we heard throughout most of the Obama presidency. People will simply tune that out, and next time, when there is a real democrat threat again, people won’t take it as seriously and ignore it. They’ll also come to the conclusion of “Well Trump and the GOP want to take our guns too, then why bother voting for them?” Or, “Obama and Trump didn’t take our guns like they said, why will *insert lunatic dem here*?” In the end over playing the fear mongering card hurts gun rights.

        5. avatar Sam I Am says:

          You proposition might be applicable in an environment where there are/were no attempts by government to restrict “gun rights”. We have not seen that development. The battle appears to be moving to local governments, but the battle continues. Indeed, gun control berserkers would likely be quite happy to see an ending of federal attempts, if the berserkers are more successful locally.

          In the current environment, if you do not fear Demoncrats gaining control of congress in November, you should look again. When Republicrats lose a political battle, they acknowledge defeat, and move on to lunch at the club. When Demoncrats lose, they double-down and get meaner. It has been fun harassing Demoncrats with the Trump presidency, but in addition to the other factors we will need to overcome to maintain effective control, our continuous victory laps based on November 2016 will lead us into complacency. Decades ago, I was involved with a senatorial campaign. The manager always told us to act as though we were constantly ten points behind the opposition. We listened, acted accordingly, and actually won the contest. We, POTG, need to act as if we are on the verge of ratification of a repeal of the second amendment.

  6. avatar Wiregrass says:

    Bought two bricks of CCI Standard Velocity .22lr last night for $25 dollars each off Brownells. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it in about 7 or 8 years, if I could find it. Hope this means a return to normalcy.

  7. avatar st381183 says:

    It’s called normalizing. This is where gun sales are supposed to be instead of the roller coaster ride it’s been since Sandy Hook. If you want to succeed in this market your prices have got to be reasonable and your product has to be an improvement to the status quo, just like all other manufactured products.

  8. avatar rc says:

    The market is normalizing for now…but we all know when the marxists get back into power, the panic buying will be back with a vengeance, followed immediately by wave after wave of bans.

  9. avatar Alex Waits says:

    “Gun ownership is becoming increasingly concentrated, with fewer gun owners owning more guns, as guns are primarily marketed to people who already own guns.”
    That’s alotta bull.

    Market saturation is can be a good thing as well, if everyone has guns, then manufactures actually have to innovate do things better than the competition, not just produce any ole thing because it’ll sell anyway because of scarcity. I think the next few years are going to produce some pretty awesome things.

    It can also help to stimulate new purchasers, by having so many guns in the market, it will encourage dealers to lower prices to move inventory, lower barrier to entry would likely result in a net gain to the 2A community. More shooters buying more guns.

    Well, that’s my theory anyway.

  10. avatar MarkPA says:

    A few States compel gun-owners to apply for and be issued a “FOID” (Firearm-Owner’s ID). I believe IL publishes data on applicants and outstanding cards. NJ requires FOIDs but I have not heard of their publishing data. NY requires a permit for pistols but not long-guns.

    We ought to identify which States have some form of FOID system (to be distinguished from a special CWP to “carry”). Then, we pester these States to regularly publish (at least annually, preferably quarterly or monthly) data on outstanding valid permits.

    Our pestering – as public as we can make it – will go either of two ways.

    States with FOID systems will PUBLISH the data and the chips will fall where they may. Outstanding FOIDs will be shown to: decline/hold-steady/rise.

    Some States will REFUSE to publish. Why not? What are they afraid of? Don’t they tabulate the data? If knowledge of who owns guns is so VERY important to public safety, why do these States not bother to maintain a database that would enable it to publish data? Shouldn’t they be able to show details of changes in outstanding FOIDs by county?

    Now, the kicker: Could it be that these States are engaged in a conspiracy with gun-controllers to further a myth that gun-ownership is declining? Would any State consider adopting a new FOID system carry-out such a plan in the face of pressure to publish figures? What if those figures showed an INCREASE in ownership? Would they want to PUBLISH that their residents are increasingly turning to gun-ownership?

    What do FOID-States have to hide? As long as there are FOID-States hiding data they serve to undermine the claims that gun-ownership is falling nationwide. As long as there are a few FOID-States PUBLISHING data, they supply – limited – data that will show whether the claims of gun-controllers are true/false.

    1. avatar Rincoln says:

      To which the gun-controllers reply “Gun owners have historically been distrustful of government, and did not follow the law. Every year, more gun owners are coming to the conclusion that gun-control is good for the state, and registering themselves.”

      Not at all correlated to actual gun owners, just people willing to submit to the state. So, they claim no increase in ownership.

    2. avatar pwrserge says:

      Illinois regularly publishes it’s data. The number of FOID card holders has been growing steadily for years. Given that the FOID has a 10 year shelf life, that’s a good indicator that the gun owner community isn’t actually shrinking.

  11. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Certainly there is less draw for some items compared to the panics where you could announce “we have pmags and stripped forged lowers” and get a stampede of buyers.

    Companies who just have a new M4 carbine, a milspec 1911, or a new “glock” aren’t going to generate a ton of interest.

    I don’t have numbers, but it seems the Colt Cobra is hard to find. Sig’s 365 will probably be in demand, assuming it doesn’t shoot when you don’t want it to. The non-nfa shotgunish firearms seemed to sell initially, different than what was on the market, and priced affordably. Hipoint 10mm carbines will probably sell well. I expect the Ruger PC 9 will also see some demand. 6.5 creedmoor everything seems to sell.

    Companies will need to seek out what sells and what their customers want, rather than just opening a machine shop and expecting to print money with standard AR parts.

  12. avatar TwoJohnsonsAreBetterThanOne says:

    2,030,530 vs 2,043,184 is -0.6% – random noise. No change.

  13. avatar Flange! says:

    So, the one background check for the five S&W Shields I bought, along with about 10 AR lowers counts as one sale because it’s one background check?

    Or when I bought a range of five Savage and T/C rifles with the crazy rebates and picked them all up from my FFL at one time?

    Got it.

  14. avatar 33Charlemagne says:

    The gun grabbers need to realize that their various schemes to restrict guns have ultimately resulted in more guns in circulation. A lot of people who thought they might “someday” get an AR15 or AK47 (but never would have gotten around to buying one) now have multiples because of the Clinton AWB Ban!

  15. avatar little horn says:

    its fucking tax season. see what it looks like next month.

  16. avatar Hank says:

    “I have to agree that the industry’s short and long term health depends on breaking out of the pro-2A, anti-government, Waco Was a Warning OFWG ghetto, converting casual and non-gun owners.

    “TTAG will be doing its part for that soon. Watch this space . . .”

    Did… you just declare you’re going to fear monger? I mean, bravo for being open and honest about it. But, thanks for the warning. I plan to douse this comments section with tons of chicken little themed comments if that’s the route you plan to go. I’m the opposite of those people who say “well that’s it I’m done with this site!” I plan to visit more, and be more of a pain.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:


      1. avatar Hank says:

        You say that now 😜

  17. avatar Evan says:

    While the tax cut will help for a while, I think most Americans are simply tapped out financially. Wage growth hasn’t been great over time at least in line with many asset prices, meaning lots of expenditures and price action are fueled by debt. It’s not just guns where sales (and therefore stock prices) will eventually slump, it’s everything.

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