This past weekend I spent a few hours poking around the aisles of the Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly, Va. It’s a good show that now occupies every square inch of the Dulles Expo Center, and I always see old friends, but I can also catch a glimpse of what’s going on out there when it comes to interest in firearms old and new.
There were plenty of AR-style rifle’s to be seen, typically at the very high-end or at the very low-end. Prices at the bottom were lower than I thought they could ever go—and options were plentiful. There were no more stacks and stacks of Colt 6920s from a few years ago on virtually every other table.
Ammunition was plentiful, and prices competitive, even on .22 Long Rifle. The accessory vendors seemed to be having a good time of it, with many attendees walking around with the distinctive Magpul brown boxes under their arms. Tables and tables of parts to upgrade your AR with everything from sleek CNC-machined fore-ends to complete uppers abounded. Too, there were tables and tables of optics and lasers that seem to have exploded like ragweed. And this tracks with trends I have seen after big firearm buying sprees. After having bought a gun—perhaps ahead of a planned purchase due to external factors—it takes a little while for the family budget to suck things up, and then accessorizing can begin in earnest.
Semi-automatic handguns intended for concealed carry seemed to dominate on the tables as well as in interest. And not just concealed-carry pistols, but bargains on concealed-carry pistols. This is a very competitive market right now, and probably the best time to purchase a carry gun. In particular, I saw guns on every table hovering between $200 and $300. The Taurus G2 and the SCCY pistols often were below the $250 mark. This wasn’t limited to just carry pistols. Want a Remington RP9? Several tables had them at under $300 with tax. One of the best bargains I saw, and there may have been some room to haggle, was the excellent Ruger American Compact with a sticker price of $375. That is a lot of gun for $375.
I didn’t make it over until Saturday, and that meant some things were just gone. Friday afternoon is when the serious shopping, often with little haggling happens. I heard rumors Ruger‘s new Pistol Caliber Carbine, the PC, had been there, but you would’ve been more likely to find the abominable snowman on a table in Chantilly by the time I got there.
There was high demand for some guns, guns no longer there. I didn’t intend to be a stalker, but I overheard a conversation between a man and his wife at the next table as I was looking over a particularly tasty Colt Police Positive. They were looking for a gun for her, one with a slide easy to retract, and inquired about the new Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ pistol. This is a gun that just arrived at my office, and the dealer told her he had some on order. Check back next show. “On Friday,” he said.
The president of a major gun company told me years ago that sometimes between 60 and 80 percent of the company sales for a given year would be based on new product. Judging from interest among the attendees for the SIG Sauer P365—a model that right now is scarcer than Bigfoot somwhere other than a beef jerky commercial—the new micro-compact is in demand, just not yet in supply. The P365, the Ruger PC Carbine and S&W M&P380 Shield EZ demonstrate demand for the right guns is high. The problem makers face is you don’t necessarily know for sure what consumers want. And the Magic Eight Ball is sometimes of no help at all. You have to know your consumers, because, in the end, they will determine success or failure.