Monday, March 9, 2009

Gun show observations in the age of NObama

At the show this weekend, whenever I wasn't politicking for KC3 I was doing my own shopping and watching what others were buying.

The show was JAMMED on Saturday and still busy on Sunday. People were buying both days and not just gandering on Sunday as they sometimes do.
ARs were still high on everyone's list, but people weren't springing for $1500 S&Ws, Bushmasters, Rock Rivers and the like which had been marked up to ridiculous levels. They were trying to stay under $1000-1200 in price, and buying basic guns. The people at Double Star/J&T Distributing were selling lots of stuff, including top ends in various configs, and lots of accessories and parts and add-ons which their armorer was installing on the spot. The impression I had was that the initial buying frenzy for ARs at any price was over. People were shopping for bargains and reasonable prices, not willing to dole out big bucks for just any AR. If you had a quality brand at a good price, though, it was snapped up. However, if the seller had loaded up the carbines with rails and lights and collapsible stocks and all that, and driven the price to $2000 and beyond, people didn't even pick them up off the table to look at them. They were BUYING those gee-gaws for their own guns, but a piece at a time, not as a package installed on a pricey gun. Handguns were surprisingly hot. Lots of folks were stopping at Bud's Guns' tables, apparently buying more handguns than long guns. They were spending real money, too. There was less haggling than I'm used to - if the price was reasonable (and most shoppers had obviously done some research before coming to the show) then they bought the gun without much discussion. Bud says that his internet business is booming. AMMO was still the thing. The vendor next to our table was selling ammo by the case lots, a lot of that to dealers. One dealer trucked off with 10 cases of 124gr Federal 9mm ball at $10 the box/50 rounds for resale in his store. Apparently the wholesalers are still not stocked up as well as they should be. But again, people were shopping prices and not just buying the stuff at any price. While our neighbor was selling ammo hand over fist, the guys down the aisle with the same stuff at higher prices weren't. People were paying attention and when he ran out, they quit buying from anyone. It appears that the initial surge of "survival and fear" buying has passed, or at least until NObama decides to do something else rank. Some ammo was still overpriced, but the major calibers - 9mm, .40, .45, .223, .308 - were available in ball loadings again in addition to the JHP/defensive/hunting types and at prices closer to what you'd expect to pay from the online vendors. A lot of people had guns of their own to sell - saw several CETMEs, Dragunovs and ARs of different configs, but those were going begging for the most part. People seem to have spent much of the cash that they could allot to things that weren't necessary to their core holdings. Older guns and traditional guns were trading among the older guys as per usual, but not as much as the newer or milspec guns were among the younger crowd. AR magazines were more available. I saw the C-products aluminum black-Teflon-coated 30 round AR mags for $15 each, and they were moving fast. The MagPul P-mags with witness windows that had been marked up to $25 weren't moving and neither were the steel C-products mags at $20 or the GI-spec aluminum mags priced over $15. I saw ZERO basic P-mags without the window - none. Basically, mags for any platform, AR or AK, that were priced over $20-25 weren't moving nearly as well as at the previous two shows. But the ones that were priced at the right point were FLYING out of the boxes. FAL and M14 mags were scarce and the FAL mags I saw were ratty. I did see some really neat European/Combloc surplus stuff that was new and different, such as a complete spares/arsenal trunk for the CZ58. Seeing it made the militaria nut in me wish that I could afford to add another platform to the collection right now but alas, such is not the case. Saw some interesting new AK mags - made of steel but lighter than most Combloc mags, finished with a light grey parkerized finish, very clean lines and crisp corners with steel followers. They appeared to be well made and well finished with very precise spot welds holding them together. The story is that they're US-made for a contract to equip the Iraquis, and that these are overruns or that the contract had been cancelled. I bought one to evaluate, but neglected to find out where they'd acquired them so can't do more research on them. At $20 each the price is okay, now that any AK mag costs almost as much as an AR mag, and they're enough lighter than most surplus AK mags to be worth considering. My impression is that most folks have gotten the things that they HAD to have, the guns and mags that they thought might be legislated against the most quickly, and now they're filling in the gaps in their supplies as they can afford to do it. They're also holding onto their money because the economy is scaring them. They're still buying, but they're not buying blindly or spending money they're not sure that they can let go and they're trying to winnow down their collections to generate funds.
I can identify with that!

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