FBI NICS Checks Indicate Ongoing Post-Trump Sales Slump?

The stats for December’s FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks are in. Keep in mind that the NICS numbers don’t directly correlate to gun sales. Some states don’t require additional background checks for CHL permit holders purchasing firearms. All states that require a permit for carry require a NICS check. So here’s the latest . . .

According to the official stats, the Fibbies ran 2,234,817 background checks in February 2017. While that number represents the third busiest February on record, it’s a 15% drop from the 2,613,074 background checks performed in February of 2016.

For context, February NICS checks didn’t crest one million until 2008, just ahead of the Obama presidency. In the last four years, they only fell below two million in 2015, missing the mark by about 150,000 checks.

The ballistic burghers at Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Vista are attempting to assure stockholders that the Trump election is no biggie.

Sales are still historically robust, to be sure. With increasing concealed carry gun law liberalization, they’re destined to remain so. And yet, despite enviable profitability, the stock market ain’t buying it. Literally.

In the face of the “new normal” Smith & Wesson is following Vista’s game plan and diversifying. Ruger, the only pure play gunmaker, announced that it’s depending on new product launches (perhaps counting on the idea of “super gun buyers“) to maintain growth.

One thing’s for sure: tens of millions of America are now armed to the teeth. Way more than ever before. And there are still tens of millions of Americans who aren’t armed. At all.

I expect gunmakers to finally do what I’ve been urging them to do in the seven years of this website’s existence: target market gun virgins. To do that, they’ll have to break out of the mainstream media advertising blacklisting ghetto. Or infiltrate it. Watch this space.


  1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    Jan and Feb were the third highest on record. I wouldn’t call that a slump.

      1. avatar Muzzle Device says:

        Gun Virgins? Sound like a job for the SAINT!

        Anyone bought one yet? Didn’t think so.

        1. avatar Gloria says:

          I’ve never owned a hand gun or any other before but I am in the process of buying One right now.

      1. avatar junkman says:

        Too bad Remington was bought by a company that only wanted to gouge profits. Their QC went to hell & with it their reputation. Having assholes as top management (a very common issue with lots of companies) leads you down the death spiral. Once worked for a company that sold a defective, dangerous product & I refused to sell it. (My sales were so over the top they didn’t know how I did it, but defective product I did not sell). The store & district manager were both walking together one day & I stopped them both & asked the question: What are you going to do when someone gets hurts or killed by (this product)? Their answer: “We will refer it to our legal dept”. Refused direct orders for 3 years (they weren’t going to fire someone that made them as much money as I did) & one day all the garbage was gone, junked. Poor corporate leadership sunk Remington as well as other companies.

  2. avatar barnbwt says:

    New normal; ha-ha!

  3. avatar Norincojay says:

    Like is said they are down from record highs, but still way up there. If this is the new normal the gun industry should be happy. I agree with the author target gun virgins. The more the merrier is what I say.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Something I predicted after the election is now noticeable the past few weeks: customers, even the noobs, are becoming pickier – more selective in their choices. The weekly add will get them into the store but then they’ll look around at what wasn’t in the ad and leave emptyhanded saying, “I’ll think about it”.
      Sales have slowed down, to be sure. But a customer base that seeks more information before making a spontaneous choice is a nice thing in it’s own way.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    Sales are still very robust, but market expectations are unreasonable.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      The market analysts are always looking for increased sales and increased profitability; great stable sales are not good enough. Being good is not goo enough–if you ain’t getting better you’re a bum. (I have to wonder about that viewpoint, but whom am I to say?)

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    Well I’M not contributing to any slump! 3NICS checks and more to come. My favorite LGS is crowded and dealing big time. Thankyou DJT?

  6. avatar Bosko says:

    2016 was perverted by Fear of Hillary, much the same as 2013 was skewed by Obama 2nd term..
    2017 numbers are a nice increase of the more normal past year’s continued steady growth,
    2,000,000+ checks per month IS NOT a collapse.

    1. avatar Wuz Nt Me says:

      I think the 2013 numbers had more to do with Sandy Hook which occurred in mid December 2012 than the reelection of a do-nothing president…

  7. avatar Geoff PR says:

    POTG from across the fruited plain (Note – some of the plain is more heavily fruited than other parts. *wink*) are taking a breather from the imminent threat to the 2A had the Dems won the election.

    Saving their hard-earned cash in anticipation of the rivers of cheap surplus Chi-Com ammo and guns waiting in the wings for import. (And anticipating the repatriation of the 1911s and M-1s in Korea.)

    When the Hearing Protection Act passes I fully expect American gun companies will produce integrally-suppressed firearms and kick off another buying surge.

    As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t have much of a problem if foreign-made cans were barred from import. It would be cool to let the American companies have that business for themselves. American jobs making cans for Americans…

    1. avatar ORCON says:

      Maybe… I’m speculating that private sales are cutting into NICS checks. You know that guy that cashed out his 401k to buy all those lowers and built a bunker? Yeah, buy high sell low. Good job.

    2. avatar int19h says:

      You’re expecting Trump to lift import bans on Chinese stuff? Seriously?

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “You’re expecting Trump to lift import bans on Chinese stuff? Seriously?”

        Have you read the book that the movie ‘War Dogs’ was based on? (It’s actually a decent read – check it out sometime).

        What their core business scam was?

        It was re-packing *millions* of rounds of surplus Chi-Com 7.62×39 to ‘erase’ its origin so they could sell it to the US gov for use in it’s Afghan-Iraq ‘adventures’.

        How tough would it be for a foreign country on good terms with the US State Department to ‘discover’ a warehouse of that ammo and call it surplus Hungarian, Romanian, Indian, etc? 🙂

  8. avatar jwm says:

    I haven’t bought a gun in 2-3 years. Want to see gun sales take off? Make CA real shall issue. It’s a nation size market.

    1. avatar Me says:

      Haaaaahaahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa…I’m leaving this progressive utopia in a couple of years. Mark my words…it aint gettin no better here. West Coast Wall!

    2. avatar Marco says:

      For all ten guns that will be on the roster by the time that happens.

  9. avatar Nanashi says:

    Repeal the NFA. Watch machine guns, SBS, SBR and “destructive devices” fly off the shelf. Gimped guns will be given to new shooters who will pay to feed it and buy new guns themselves.

  10. avatar Mr Lizard says:

    Whatever, my shopping habits have not slowed

  11. avatar Hank says:

    I’m guessing sales will remain pretty high, because many people, like me, see this as the time to buy. I bought only 2 guns and little ammo, in between 2012 and 2016. But the next few years I’m gonna be spending son.

  12. avatar Skoon says:

    I will buy one stripped lower every month to artistically inflate sales numbers

  13. avatar unknown says:

    If things had not slowed down some, there would eventually be a huge crash. Went to gun show last weekend & attendance was very good, but not like October 2016. The dealers that came with inventory & the desire to sell had people lined up all day to do the paperwork (usually 3 to 5 dealers that do extremely well). It’s a buyers market now.

  14. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    The drop in prices says more about overproduction in anticipation of a Hillary-induced panic. I am conflicted about whether to buy another AR. They don’t do anything for me and I prefer my AK but darn, the prices have come down so much that hoarding one for the next panic is tempting. However, I did buy a Sig handgun that I never thought I would buy because the price came down on it, as well, and the LGS where I bought it at a low internet price was not exactly empty when I picked it up.

  15. avatar Anon in CT says:

    Well, if you want me to help, repeal the CT AW ban, and watch my credit card balance soar!

    In terms of handguns, I’m looking to get the M&P 2.0 in .45, the SIG 320-9C-RX and a Sig P220 Legion.

    The last of the three has been “coming” for over a year now.

    I can’t spend $$ if the stores don’t stock product.

  16. avatar Ralph says:

    I bought myself a nice pistol for Christmas, and I’m going to buy another nice gun for my birthday in April. And another one for Father’s Day. And at my age, that’s about as far off as I’m willing to forecast.

  17. avatar Gun Virgin says:

    They don’t need to market “gun virgins” , they NEED to stop allowing stupid states to make stupid state prohibitors that prevent good citizens from protecting themselves.

    If an individual passes NICS, the “state” shouldn’t be allowed to overturn it! With that being said though, the FBI needs to stop qualifying mass murderers to purchase guns, which then in turn makes it harder for normal folks.

    This is one less gun purchaser because of it.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Talk to a lawyer about getting your civil rights restored…

  18. avatar EJQ says:

    Well, let’s see. Since the Inauguration, the gun range said they had certified 44 new CC shooters in one class, I got a gun for Valentine’s Day, and stocked up on ammo, on sale. My spouse hasn’t found a new gun he wants, but got ammo for his birthday.

    Those new permit holders won’t have to fill out a NICS form in Texas.

  19. avatar Adam says:

    Pass national concealed carry and those numbers will rise again as citizens of slave states will finally go out to purchase those concealed carry handguns.

  20. avatar James69 says:

    It’s easy. Gun makers hire some fake news people to start tinfoil hat rumors that Trump is going to …. – insert utter nonsense here – and watch the magic happen.

    BTW I see lot’s of 22 on the shelves at the LGS’s Nutty prices but it’s there. I just scored a deal on some of the CCI Copper/poly ammo yesterday. 10.85 OTD – 50 rd box. HPish did not have the fluted tip. Also scored some Saiga 12 mags 12 rd SGM’s for $20 each for my JTS AK12.(fantastic BTW) Chicom made.Mags are a Perfect tight fit. Bought 2. Gonna go back today and get the other 8. Learned my lesson about mags.

  21. avatar lightfoot says:

    Pricing has definitely come down a bit, and inventory seems to be up. Typical supply/demand situation. A couple guns I thought I purchased for a steal of a price a year ago, are now readily available at the same pricing.

  22. avatar Adam says:

    If they want more sales they should put more effort in getting rid of the anti gun laws in states like CA and NY.

    California’s roster of “safe” handguns currently prohibits any new handgun models to be sold by dealers within the state. Its been that way for awhile. You cant even get gen 4 Glocks new from a dealer and they’ve been around for years. The only way to get new model handguns in CA is through shady resale from police officers who are exempt from the roster. Every year guns drop off the roster never to be sold again.

    There’s pent up demand that would supply a good number of sales.

  23. avatar BierceAmbrose says:

    Well Our Betters were all about restricting citizen gun ownership (by simply introducing friction when they couldn’t get their way overtly) when they wrangled the whole administration. Now that they want to tool up to “resist” the Orange Crush, they’ll push the other way.

    It’s a whole other story when the (perceived) jackboot is on the other (guy’s) foot.

  24. avatar M. James says:

    I hold a valid Concealed license in my state of NC.

    I do not need any NICS when I fill out the 4473 BATF&E form,
    my license is all I need.

    Since January I’ve purchased two more 5.56 rifles, two ar pistol lowers,
    two 9mm and two .22lr semiautos and one .357 and .22lr revolver.

    None of these purchases will show up in the NICS.

  25. avatar M. James says:

    Once the tax refunds hit the accounts, sales will increase again.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email