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“In the gun industry, politics and fear matter,” NPR reports. “And they matter a lot. Over the last two years, there was plenty of both to go around amid terror attacks and school shootings. And, of course, there was the presidential race, which Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to win.” And then she didn’t. And then . . .

Gun sales cratered. And continue to crater. Badly. But not all guns sales.

Before we get to the meat of the matter, it’s worth noting (in a raise-your-blood-pressure kinda way) that NPR promotes a predictable analysis of the relationship between the threat of gun control/terrorist attacks and gun sales. It’s paranoid delusion!

Reporter Uri Berliner highlights the thoughts of one James Hardiman, an “equity research analyst who follows the firearms industry for Wedbush Securities.”

The fear that Democrats will make it a lot harder to buy guns has never been very likely, according to Hardiman. And the idea that they will ban guns altogether — he calls that pure fantasy.

“Nonetheless it’s fantasy that has worked in the favor of the gun industry for quite some time,” he says.

So candidate Clinton’s call to reinstate the “assault weapons” ban — to remove “weapons of war from our streets” — was a fantasy? As was her stated desire to reverse Heller and remove manufacturers’ protection against criminal use lawsuits?

Note to self: call broker to blacklist Wedbush. Meanwhile, here’s the deal: AR-15 sales have tanked. Manufacturers stuffed the sales channels with tens of thousands of ARs and the market for the guns pretty much disappeared. Poof! Gone.

The manufacturers are struggling to do something, anything to move additional product. Example: Smith & Wesson (a.k.a., America Outdoor Brands) is offering dealers a “buy four AR-15’s for four bills (each) and get a fifth one for free” deal.

The good news: AR-15 prices are set to play how-low-can-you-go. The bad news: small makers are struggling to stay alive. Parts makers, too. The whole AR-15 supply chain has a bad case of sales constipation.

On the other hand . . .

Sales of concealed carry handguns remain relatively robust. As more states go Constitutional Carry, as concealed carry continues to become normalized, more people are buying personal defense handguns. Even as those who dipped their toes in the water are snapping up bargains (H&K’s are priced 50 percent off in some locations).

At the same time, sales of AR-10’s are doing OK. People who own AR-15’s are adding the larger caliber semi-automatic rifle to their collections for hunting, man-stopping and why-the-hell-not.

Going forward, the “new normal” for the firearms industry will remain the same: slower rifle sales, steady handgun sales. Manufacturers will react to the new status quo by increasing their marketing budgets and lowering costs.

In short: with Trump’s election, the industry’s salad days are over. If the Dems make a comeback in the mid-terms or start looking strong for the next presidential election, it’ll be game on again.



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  1. As a parts manufacturer, this is exactly what I’m seeing. The orders we had for AR15 bolts and BCGs, where they were 5,000 a month just 4 months ago, are absolutely dead now. I’m seeing emails to customers offering a good quality bolt at as low as $68. That means they are making all of $7 on that BCG, when they used to make $20 or more. What used to be the dealer price is now the consumer price, the dealers are just trying to get their huge stocks gone, and the manufacturers are getting orders zeroed out entirely.
    What’s really just absolutely killing some of the mid size manufacturers is that they sent a lot of gun to dealers on terms, and now those dealers can’t pay, which just screws the manufacturer 7 different ways. This is a replay of the post-Post Sandyhook, just on a bigger scale.
    On the consumer side though, this is not a bad thing. On the industry side, it’s adapt or die, again, always.

    • Feast or famine. Some construction industries are like that. I was a dive boat capt once upon a time and it was either slammed or dead. Save when times are good to make it through when times are bad. This is just kind of a new phenomenon for the MSR industry to adapt too.

      • Does this mean we will be able to get 550 bulk packs of .22lr for under $15 (or even under $20) again?

        Hopefully this all means the .22 ammo availability increases while the price drops. I’m starting to see more .22 ammo, but it still seems a bit pricy to me.

        • It’s coming but it will take a little while.

          Seeing $24 Bricks (500) pretty regular but they sell out quick.

          9mm has been dropping pretty fast.

          Got 1000 round of 115 FMJ for $180……

          Patience and hope that some nut doesn’t go on a rampage.

    • 1) “Example: Smith & Wesson (a.k.a., America Outdoor Brands) is offering dealers a “buy four AR-15’s for four bills (each) and get a fifth one for free” deal.”

      ACK!! Do you have a URL on this? Is this a dealer only thing? Sounds like a great time for a group buy.

      2) With the drop in pricing due to glut, how about kits? I have a few (cough) lowers already in the can and would love to build out more funky toy-to-fantasy guns. And maybe a Mall Ninja Special.

      My wife once asked if I could paint one tie-dye with a peace sign on the mag well. At under $400, yes I can. :^)

      • In a local store, they had isles made of stacks of AR15 boxes. There was desperation in their voice when I inquired about the quality of the brand i’ve never heard of. Looks like they bet the farm on AR sales and now even if they gave them away for a song, our safes are already stuffed, and lowball ARs just dirty up the resale market meaning ARs have little asset value.

        If you want to invest in firearms, get Hi-Point. The dealers say they cannot keep them in stock. And there is a bottomless market for hundred dollar 9mms which no doubt fuels the anti crowd’s message.

    • I’m sure it’s hard to survive on $7.00 profit per BCG. Hopefully … HOPEFULLY … they’ll pass some legislation that opens up suppressors and SBR / SBS purchases for everyone to shift their inventories from. Personally I think we should lobby much, much harder.

  2. I don’t care whether there is a “Trump slump” or not. All I know is that I have bought 2 new rifles since the election after not buying any since 2002. I bought my first AR15 simply because I wanted one and they have become much more affordable. I bought a brand name because of the odds of an off brand going out of business. They have gotten a little cheaper since I bought mine but I am still happy. Also, my local Walmart has had more ammo available than I have seen in years.

    • I’ve found myself buying a lot more ammo this year than I have in previous years only because I am finding myself going to the range more often.

  3. I was looking to enhance my AR with a 300BLK upper since PA recently approved hunting with semiautomatic rifles. Then the Fudds got semi-autos restricted to small game. Really not much need for that upper now since I am limited to using it as a range toy/groundhog gun.

    • Tell me about it. I picked up a stripped lower (Trump Slump cheap) last week with the thought of giving myself I nice ongoing project of slowly building an AR for deer hunting. D’oh. PGC gave us a head fake at the start of the year with semiauto inclusion for big game, the Fudds complained, and they nixed it. I feel like this was the PGC’s plan all along – test the waters and consider the feedback before the final vote. Slowly but sure the PGC’s moving into the mid-20th century. Based on the semiauto response, Sunday hunting probably won’t happen until a bunch of old Fudds are in the dirt.

    • Shit, is that what ended up happening? I was wondering when we were going to get the Game Commission rules but hadn’t seen anything on it for a while. Do you have a link to the news about this?

      PA is so weird. We have so many armed citizens, people actually OC in some of the rural areas, and it seems everyone has an AR-15 or six. But even those same OCing AR-15 fans still think that SOMEHOW semi-auto deer hunting will result in storms of lead in every wooded area, people getting hit by stray bullets, and “city people” pumping a single deer full of 30 rounds. Even though NONE OF THAT has happened in every other state.

    • Certainly if you are buying new. The pre-owned market is still full-retard though with prices often exceeding NIB offerings.

      • ^This- it is ridiculous how much stores and private buyers want for their (well) used guns. The b!tch about it is, they don’t even want to negotiate.

  4. I already own an AR15 and I’m having a hard time in my head justifying that I need to own a bunch of them. One seems to suit me just fine. My gun buying is not tied to the elections. Not even close. Leading up to the elections, and despite all the Clinton landslide poll predictions and tales of gun grabbing woe, the number of guns purchased by me: 0. After the swearing in ceremony for Trump, the number of guns purchased by me: 3. None of the purchases had anything to do with who went to the white house, it all came down to 2 things: (a) I always wanted to own specific models of guns, like a nice beautiful Henry lever action rifle for instance and found them available, and (b) I had the disposable cash to invest in some new things. I still buy gun parts and modify what I have to suit my needs as a female shooter. But the reality is, I am not doing any of this because of who is in office.

    • The good thing about AR-platform firearms is the lower receiver, what’s legally considered the gun, is pretty damn cheap. Like 50 bucks or less cheap.

      50 clams is what a range day costs for me around here.

      Pick up one or two of those now the prices have tanked an put ’em away or slowly build a 300 Blackout when the mood strikes…

  5. My favorite gunstore just got sold afterbeing in business for 64years. It’s busy(they’re hiring)…and I’m putting an AR15 on layaway after purchasing 2 handguns and a shotgun. Profit is profit. Oh and there is ALWAYS a threat from the anti-2A azzwholes!

  6. so what? this is how economics and supply/demand works. did they really expect sales to NEVER go down and only up? talk about a fantasy.

    • What they expected was President Hillary for eight years, a Democrat Congress enacting a new AWB, repeal of the PLCAA and a RBG clone appointed to SCOTUS. In other words, another eight years of panic buying just like the last eight.

      It’s mind-boggling when you think of the sheer number of Progressive dreams that were smashed on November 8th.

    • Oh yes, there were a lot of manufacturers at Shot Show trying to convince people this was the “new normal.” Not a whole lot of takers on that line.

      • Actually, lots of takers on that line. Many companies were diversifying outside traditional firearm markets. Just look at Magpul’s catalog. Lots of non-gun stuff. Those who are in business will stay in business. Those who just make gun stuff will suffer. Today’s market can no longer carry the stupid, the lazy, or a lack of quality control. Today’s gun buyers want forward thinking, engaged engineers, and perfection. And I don’t blame them. I’ve had it with gun companies who are too busy to make things right as Olympic Arms can no doubt attest.

  7. Where is this ” Smith & Wesson (a.k.a., America Outdoor Brands) is offering dealers a “buy four AR-15’s for four bills (each) and get a fifth one for free” deal.”? Because I’m not seeing it anywhere.

  8. A shooter has to practically be an aristocrat these days. The cost of firearms, ammunition, and accessories is ridiculous. $600 for pistols that should cost $200. $20-50 for a vertical grip (piece of plastic with a screw through it). Rifle ammo is $0.50 per round ($15 per magazine). Unless you can retire on spent brass, how can you afford it?

    • Every hobby has its price. Compared to motorcycles, snowmobiles and boats, shooting is a relatively affordable hobby.

      On the bright side, .22LR is inching back down toward the $0.05 price per round where it belongs.

    • Salty you’re still living in 1960. Check the CPI since them. The price of firearms compared to most every other item and they are not a bad deal. IN PARTICULAR for US MANUFACTURED durable items. What other actual real machined product can you buy for $400? A freaking POS Chicom cellphone sells without complaint for $400.

    • You’re on the internet – go look at wikiarms and gunbroker. Guns and ammo are cheap if you bother to look.

  9. Uh where are these HKs? I see sub $600 for 40 cals on Buds Guns. I may need to finally buy an HK, so that my dick can grow an inch and I can grow a Kevlar operator beard.

  10. Considering the number of boutique firms selling Picatinny mounted tail fins and other equivalents of fuzzy rear-view mirror dice for the AR platform, perhaps a market shake-up isn’t a bad thing. What we might see from small manufacturers (read: any machine shop with a CNC machine and an owner who likes guns) is some actual innovation, instead of yet another FA button with a scorpion engraved in it, or other JC Whitney equivalent baubles.

  11. Probably why EO’s haven’t been signed to allow in Chinese ammo.

    That would be a deathblow to the US manufactures, who have continued to insist on jacked up ammo prices.

  12. Meanwhile at the state level, especially in blue and purple states, there is a lot of anti Second Amendment activity going on. Sadly a lot of gun owners are not paying any attention to such. Here in Illinois the democrats have a whole bunch of bills in the works including one for a “panel” of appointed people (almost surely to be antis) to oversee gun store/FFL licensing, taxes on guns and ammo, serialization of ammo, and more, Fourth Circuit court decision on upholding gun bans at state level is further emboldening states..

  13. My message to manufacturers: Please, please, please make something other than ARs. Really, there are other designs that are both interesting and affordable to manufacture. Other than a tubular receiver push-feed bolt action with no iron sights and a polymer stock with “grippy” applied camo wrap.

    • God how I wish that were true, but alas it is what the vast majority of the consumers want. Above all, the majority of firearms consumers want dirt cheap. That’s the number one thing I hear in reviews for any quality firearm. A 2k gun should only be $700. A $600 gun should be $200.
      But that’s never been reality. Take, for example, the original Marlin 36-A. A lever action .22, without fancy wood or finish, but decently made. A good gun. The adjusted for inflation price on that gun in today’s dollars, based on the year it was introduced, is about $900. No way that survives the modern market. You can get a modern Henry in .44Magnum for the same price, and a .22 lever gun for less than half that. But people complain they are pricey.

      • Yup. I ran similar calculations on the cost of ammo about a year or so ago. Back when it was high.

        9mm, .40, .45, .223/5.56 . . . . at the peak panic buy-ing prices ALL were lower after adjusting for inflation vs. when I got into shooting in the lat 90’s, early 2000’s.

        The only thing up was .22 lr and its as only up by ~16%.

        Not to say I won’t still complain about the cost of ammo.

      • Quality firearms are one subject. But mass produced widgets like the Glock 19 are another. Made on machines that are long since paid for. In buildings long since paid for. By the box car full. No way that gun is worth more than 300, tops. And that still allows a profit.

        I haven’t bought a gun in over 2 years. For a variety of reasons. Not the least of which I’m tired of gun companies loving them some barack so they can make a profit.

    • Well, then consumer should buy a NotAR-15 . . .

      In the past year I bought two AR stripped lowers “just to have” and I don’t see my self building them out any time soon. Otherwise, I’ve purchased:

      PTR 91
      Bushmaster ACR
      MP5 (clone)
      FN PS90

      I have an AR. I like it. A lot. I think they are fantastic guns and it’s a great design with an amazing amount of flexibility. And damn if you don’t get a great rifle for a great price.

      But . . . I have an AR.

      So I’m always interested in something else, something different.

    • “My message to manufacturers: Please, please, please make something other than ARs.”

      We need those MSRs to keep on flooding into the market.

      Why? Remember the Heller decision?

      Let’s make sure MSRs are as much ‘in common use’ as it can possibly get…

      • Sure, but they can be different, unique designs too. I’m not too happy with the constant refrain upon seeing a new design of “Well, an AR can do the same thing and you can get it cheaper”. Yes, that’s true, but variety is fun. I won’t call myself a business expert, but one thing a small company can do to survive is find a nice niche to live in. ARs are a bit too crowded a market, and limited resources make it hard to compete against the established makers. A unique niche market can be much more survivable- even if the end product is more expensive.

    • Why are you complaining coming from Canada that has way more options than we do?

      You all don’t have 922r to contend with, arbitrary import bans, and limited to imported sporters that have to be modified to be compliant with 922r adding cost to the final product.

      You all can buy real Swiss 550’s, Chilean SIG-540’s, Chinese Type 81’s and Type 97 bullpup’s, Chinese and Russian SKS’s, SVT-40’s, and a slew of others from places that are banned to us.

      Don’t forget hordes of surplus Russian, Chinese, Czech, and Polish 7.62×39 you can get whereas we are stuck with new commercial garbage and the occasional Yugo imports for decent ammo.

  14. I’m actually quite tired of hearing a return to normalcy being called a slump. Its counter-productive and sends the wrong message, and set people up to be even more manipulated by fear

  15. If anyone actually, like maybe our President and elected officials, wanted to help both consumers and the firearms industry as a whole, they would repeal the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. That’s 11% immediately back, and that makes a big difference. 11% can mean success or failure for a lot of small businesses.
    After all, it was enacted to pay for the revolutionary war, and I think that’s probably been covered by now. Remove the Federal Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, and everyone wins.

    • The Pittman–Robertson Act (1937) took over the 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The proceeds are supposed to be kept separate from Treasury funds and given to the Secretary of the Interior to distribute to the states’ fish and game departments.

      I’d like to see an audit.

      • “In 2000, when evidence surfaced that the Pittman-Robertson Act sportsman`s conservation trust funds were being mismanaged, NRA board member and sportsman, U.S. Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act. The act passed the House 423–2 and became law on Nov. 1, 2000 and defines in what manner the monies can be spent.”

        I don’t have recent audit info, but it’s amazing they closed the loopholes at all considering how DC works.

    • You need to check your facts a little bit. The original tax was replaced with the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act in 1937. This money is a large part of fish&game/wildlife management budgets across the entire country (to the tune of $300MM+ these days), as it is granted to state wildlife agencies that meet various rules regarding how a state receives this funding and what they are allowed to do with it.

      One remarkably sane provision reads “if, for whatever reason, any of the federal money does not get spent, after two years that money is then reallocated to the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.”

      Hunters with places to hunt and animals to hunt tend to spend more money on more guns and ammo. The effect on the industry has by and large been positive. If you care to read about the economic benefits of the act:

      The benefit this tax has provided over 80 years to hunters and non hunters alike is well worth the cost in my opinion. If only all tax money was spent as responsibly.

    • Actually the Federal Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax became law in 1919 a number of years after the Revolution.

  16. $450 for an S&W? Is that for the M&P Sport II? That’d be an incredible deal.

    Only thing I really would be tempted by is if prices cratered on a quality .458 Socom upper, or a decent .300 BLK upper. Last time I looked, each of ’em were about twice as expensive as an entire AR15. Where does one go to check for screaming deals on these?

  17. Retail sales of pretty much everything are down, guns are no exception. This is all part of the super awesome Obama “recovery” I’ve been hearing about the past 8 years (I think they misspelled ‘recession’). Unemployment is up (but under-reported, of course), people have next to no savings, so they’re not spending money. All the major retailers are either closing stores or going out of business. Is it any surprise that guns are not selling well either? Add to that the (hopefully) gun friendly administration and you can also forget about waves of panic buying. Unfortunately, Trump will most likely make the same economic mistakes as Obama, so I expect things to get worse, not better.

  18. If you want more sales, get judges on the courts who will over-turn state AWBs. If the CT AWB were struck down – well I’d place about $8k of orders that day.

  19. I’m not sure I’d call handgun sales “steady” and “robust” if a major manufacturer has to sell them at half price to get them out the door. That’s a sign of weak demand. Not as bad as the ridiculously overstuffed AR15 market, sure, but half-price pistols is a pretty bad sign for that segment of the business.

  20. This works if you’re happy with mil-spec ARs. Unfortunately I have picky, high end taste. None of the stuff I would be willing to spend money on has gotten cheaper.

    What I’m hoping for is a significant drop in *ammo* prices.

    • It’s not just the cheap stuff. Gunwerks is doing $1,000 off for some of their rifles. A quality upper in .22 Nosler with an 18″ fluted SS barrel and a 15″ MLock handguard is online at MidWay USA for $399.

  21. I read Uri Berliner’s bio over at NPR. Native New Yorker, college at Sarah Lawrence, Master’s in journalism at Columbia, 12 years in California newspapers before moving to NPR a decade ago. All about as expected.

    Then I read that he had been a “Nieman Fellow” at Harvard. I didn’t know what that was. Looking it up, it’s a year long immersion experience for professional journalists (of all types, including digital), auditing history, economics, and business classes at Harvard.

    I thought it’d be a great experience for RF in itself, plus the chance to be a fifth columnist behind enemy lines. It pays $65K for the year, which doesn’t go that far in Boston, to be honest, but it’s not nothing.

    You might want to check it out.

  22. People just need to find or create new gun niches that they need to fill. Carry gun truck gun night stand gun lever gun 22 plinker rifle 22 plinker pistol msr deer gun bird gun skeet gun race gun 3 gun guns. Mind you none of these should overlap. I’m working on building a rifle caliber pistol now. Next comes a pistol caliber rifle. Always something to need

  23. May I suggest that looking at the firearm industry as a single market is an inaccurate oversimplification?

    Yes, AR 15 sales are in the tank. But it’s actually a return to normal. Those sales have been the result of a fear-driven bubble that unexpectedly popped on election night. And that quick drop in fear, leading to a quick drop in demand, caught the industry with substantially high levels of inventory throughout the supply chain.

    But other segments of the market are doing well. Handguns sales seem pretty steady. Entry-level, bolt action rifle prices seem to be on the upswing (take a look at the recent upward price trend for the Savage Axis II XP as an example). And prices are definitely on the rise in the milsurp market: check recent prices on an SKS rifle, a CZ-82 pistol, or the Makarov PM (any nation).

    My personal take is that some markets in the firearms world are down. And it’s a window of opportunity to buy…and a window that likely won’t last long. Prices that are dropping now will firm up and may even increase a bit once the excess inventory is liquidated. And there is always another election on the horizon that may shake things up again. I’m thinking it may be time to step away from my recent interest in milsurp guns and buy that AR 15 I’ve always wanted…

  24. Pass a law mandating that every adult (non-prohibited person) under the age of 65 purchase a firearm every year or be taxed.

    Oh, wait…

    • If they’re over 65 do they qualify for GunCare, and get a free gun their first year with an annual ammo allowance every year after?

      I like your idea. And the fine for not buying Crime Insurance (a gun) and carrying Crime Insurance is 2.5% of your income. It’ll guarantee gun sales!

  25. As I have said before, you can not run full throttle all the time without crashing. We needed the market to slow down & ‘normalize’ so it did not implode on itself. However, it is painfully obvious that Springfield Armory, Savage & some others were EXPECTING the Hideous Rotten Criminal to be crowned dictatorous. What is slowly happening is that a lot of people who may never would have bought a gun are now considering it: more reasonable prices, greater ammo availability , more states (except the total commy controlled ones) are even further relaxing gun laws & permits or even going Constitutional Carry. It should all buff out; the strong will survive, the weak die off. NO ONE does a better job LISTENING to the consumer than Ruger. A soon as their new shotgun comes to market I will be a 99.999% Ruger owner (some old wall hangers will be kept).

  26. There must be over 100 AR manufacturers and shops wrenching parts together and selling a brand name in this country. I said it 20 years ago that there was no way the market could sustain that many. There is an etailer selling a complete (import?) AR right now for $400. Factory ammo within $10/420 rnds of pre-Clinton era. Will be interesting to see who survives. Headline story at 4pm was Colt Competition shutting it’s doors.

  27. I got a shield 9 in Nov for about $380. Same dealer has them this weekend for about $285. Even less for an sd9ve. Of course that includes the mail in rebate!

    Too bad my flaming leftist AG will not let me get an AR. Will be much worse when she becomes governor.

  28. If you guys missed out on bitcoin like me then just wait till lowers hit dirt cheap status. Buy a boat load of em then wait till a dem is elected.

    • Bitcoin? Did you miss one of the times it went up 20,000% in a week, or when it went down 20,000% in a week? Which one do you wish for? Las Vegas is still there, make your play.

    • Why Bitcoin specifically? Why not one of the other dozen crypto-currencies? What makes one better than the other?

  29. If gun companies want a vast market they will put more effort into opening CA markets.

    But they got used to thinking they would always have barack and hillary in their corner and dropped the ball.

    Now they got to figure how business works in America.

  30. Dont forget to take into account that you cant buy semi auto rifles in CA anymore. Im sure that plays a big part in overall sales.

    • Maybe Gosuch and Thomas will lead the SCOUS to re-read MILLER [1939 ] to rule that contemporary military rifles and arms are the most protected under the Second Amendment. The MILLER Court said the only thing they were sure about was that “when called the militia was expected to appear bearing their private arms” suitable for use using and compatible with current military service.

      Take that California, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

  31. I’d appreciate any tips on getting H & K at something like the large discounts you mentioned. Do you remember the best discounts being offered on a particular caliber or model?
    You mentioned “areas of the country” being a factor, would appreciate any details you could pass along.
    I did check around on the net for a bit, incl. wikiarms; did not find any tremendous deals on H & K.
    Actually, I’m personally noticing the biggest discounts on the Ruger American handguns and S&W M&Ps, but I’d consider H&K at a helluva price.

    • Buds Guns has some cheap HK 40 cals and some VP9’s. I went to Slick Guns and typed in HK and a lot of dealers have VP9’s for $500.

  32. I wonder how many folks bought AR’s for later profitable resale, because pants suited Hillary was almost certain to take it.
    And if your wondering why I through in the “pants suit” thing, it’s because I think that if a president is going to wear pants all the time, it ought to be a “man”


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