Hunting Rifles Sales Down Yet License Sales Up
‘Splain this to me, Lucy. Hunting license sales in the U.S. have increased slightly in the past two years while hunting rifle sales have plummeted. Hunters bought just shy of 15 million licenses in 2009 compared to just under 14.5 million in 2008, according to a 2011 Industry Report published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Less than 1 percent is not a big increase, but it’s still moving up.
Meanwhile, hunting rifles are falling through the basement. Ed Brown Products, a boutique maker of custom-grade hunting rifles, shut down production in September, 2009 after sales were so bad, “I was selling them to family members,” Brown told the Insider.
Remington rifle production was down 22 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to Shooting Industry magazine. They bounced back to their ’07 number (roughly 280,000 rifles) in ’09, but it’s not known how many of those were AR-style tactical rifles.
Smith & Wesson fell prey too. The Massachusetts gunmaker dropped production of the i-Bolt rifle after less than two years of production (2007-2009).
Sturm, Ruger & Co. had a good year overall in 2010, but not because of hunting rifles. “They accounted for less than 15 percent of our sales,” said an Insider source.
Kimber Mfg. is holding steady at roughly 6,000 rifles in the past two years. Six-thousand rifles is a drop in the bucket compared to Remington’s production and seems to suggest that perhaps high-end rifles are doing alright. Yet how do you explain Ed Brown dropping his rifles?
Savage is bucking the trend, however, up almost 10 percent from ’08 to ’09. Value and performance are obviously attractive to hunters.
Hunters are buying more licenses yet overall sales of hunting rifles are down. ‘Splain this to me, Lucy. I don’t get it.