Why Are Gun Sales Up in the U.S.?

Ask any gun shop owner what they like least about the business of selling shooting irons, boomsticks and related gear and they’ll probably give you an answer with something to do about the feast or famine nature of it. The gun market goes through phases like any other, with periods of steady, even frenzied purchasing being punctuated by precipitous drops in consumption.

As of the writing of this article, the U.S. is seeing solid sales of guns, ammo, optics and everything else. Background checks on firearms (only a partial indicator of purchasing activity) are up around 5% from the same time period in 2017. Why is that? The factors are varied, but not as complex as you might think. Whether you care or not how the gun biz is going so long as they have your favorite caliber in stock at your local store, it will benefit you to learn how to “read the tea leaves” and anticipate these market swings.

You’ll be buying your favorite ammo in either a Buyer’s or Seller’s market, and timing your big purchases accordingly can save you a bunch of cash, and keep you from getting caught up in the rat race that always seems to happen anytime there is a rush.

I’ll give you an insider’s look at the current market, and a few tips and signs to watch out for in the future so you can tell where the market is heading.

Major Factors

Gun purchases in the U.S. are motivated overwhelmingly by fear. I don’t necessarily mean fear of criminals or the dark, I mean fear of legislation from Capitol Hill! Guns have been and will be red-hot political topic for the 20th century. Democrats and Republicans fight over them. People defend or demonize them. Legislators and political hopefuls stake their careers on pandering to one group or the other. None of this activity shoes any signs of stopping.

You’ll notice that gun sales skyrocket in the run-up to and subsequently after presidential elections, especially in close races or ones where a Democrat is favored to win. The fear that a shift in political power could allow onerous and far-reaching Federal gun control legislation to be enacted will see buyers getting off their duffs and into gun shops so they don’t miss out on the chance to own a certain make or type of gun, or components like magazines.

Perhaps ironically, it is Democrat politicians and anti-gun activist groups that are the gun seller’s best friends: their vehement and increasingly unhinged rhetoric rightly frightens pro-2nd Amendment gun owners and would-be gun buyers that, if they have their way, another useless but draconian Assault Weapons Ban or worse could become the law of the land.

This threat to liberty is what sends people into gun shops in droves, and leads to mass purchases on everything from ammo and magazines to spare parts. Anyone who was in or around a gun shop in the years leading up to the 2008 presidential election knows that fear alone of what Presidential Candidate Barack Obama and his Democrat White House would do to hobble private gun purchasing and ownership led to one of the longest lasting buying stampedes (and years long shortages) on guns and ammo in decades.

Perhaps surprisingly, President Obama did not try too hard to help his Democrat allies in Congress push through too much legislation, and did not implement any executive gun control initiatives. The facts did not matter much until the very end of his presidency, as, surely as the tide, any time he or Liberal members of congress even mentioned gun control, it would set off another “aftershock” of panic buying.

Conversely to all of that, it is Republican presidents and strong Conservative control of congress that will lead to slow, even stagnant buying of guns. With their being little fear of having the “door” on purchase or ownership of certain guns and parts slammed shut, most gun owners and many new or prospective gun buyers will put off a purchase considering there is no risk of missing out. Guns are expensive and plenty of people have other things on their plate that take priority without fear, that most reliable of motivators, giving them the push to walk into the gun shop, credit card in hand.

Another factor, macabre though it may be, is the frequency and severity of mass shootings. Mass shootings are politically polarizing, and highly motivating to activists on both sides of the issue. If there is any event that will see long-time trusty defenders of the 2nd Amendment bow or break in the face of political expediency, it is a mass shooting.

In the wake of such events, there are invariably cries for more gun control and commensurate saber-rattling from the political Left. Like any other time, this threatening talk will see a spike in gun sales until the time such talk dwindles down or is met with vehement resistance from the Right. 2017 and much of 2018 have seen a rash of several terrible mass shootings, among them the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay attack, and Parkland, FL High School Shooting.

These shootings and the political aftermath being media hot topics and constant subjects of argument has created an undercurrent of uncertainty in the gun-buying public counterweighted by more or less reliable Conservative control of Congress, impending Conservative edge in the U.S. Supreme Court and of course the mercurial but otherwise safe Trump-led White House. Nonetheless, the continual promises of “common-sense” (read: ludicrous) gun control initiatives by powerful Liberal politicians and political partisans has contributed largely to the increased tempo of gun sales.


Minor Factors

Hunting seasons will always see an increase in gun sales, as new hunters equip themselves for the first time afield in search of game big or small. Veteran hunters may decide to upgrade their hunting arm, or purchase a new one in pursuit of different quarry. Combined with all of the ongoing political agitation, the hunting season bump has contributed to the spike in sales we are seeing presently.

Another factor is the general “threat level” perceived by the populace. While it is tough to tabulate against any metric in this era of shock journalism and relentless peddling of fear and anger, times of increased strife and civil unrest will see concealed weapons permit applications increase and gun sales alongside them. Major or repeated acts of terrorism or threats of terrorism will also drive up sales according to the impact on daily life.

As always, the overall health of the economy contributes significantly to discretionary spending. For all but a few purchasers, a firearm is not really a must-have item. For those who have serious reason to fear for their safety thanks to a potential human predator, a gun will be at the top or very near on their Big Ticket list. Others who are not facing a specific threat but feel very strongly about self-defense will also be purchasing guns for their purposes so long as funds allow. Gun enthusiasts with extra funds will be buying guns left and right in a good economy, stuffing their safes with new additions to their collections.

The Christmas and Yuletide season always results in a predictable jump in gun sales, as this is one traditional time to give the gift of a firearm to a friend or loved one. A firearm is the gift that keeps on giving!

Tips for Buying Smart

When the market has slowed down and sales of guns are dwindling (a Buyer’s market) you are in deal-getting prime time. Ammo should be plentiful, guns and all their parts available, and lead times on orders minimal or non-existent. Competition among dealers will be fierce if they want to survive.

Now is the time to strike! You should expect a good discount on any new firearm, and perhaps a few goodies tossed in to sweeten the deal. Paying above market rate for common ammo is dumb. Don’t do it in this market phase. That being said, buy as much as you can stand when you can; the saying you’ll hear from seasoned gun enthusiasts who have weathered hoarding and panic-buying before is “buy it cheap and stack it deep.” Good advice for any prepper. Now’s the time to pad your stash and ensure you have the hardware (guns and parts) and ammo to fuel your training and your sustainment supplies.

When the market is simmering, perhaps the run-up to election season or a looming anti-gun omnibus, take care: deals can still be had for the diligent, but they will be fewer and farther between. Certain regions will already be seeing price fixing due to dwindling supplies. Magazines will start vanishing. Now is the time to get what you have to have, and you should thank your lucky starts if you get anything under MSRP. Don’t balk at paying factory pricing if you need something and can afford it.

When the gun market is H-O-T hot, hot, hot, (Seller’s market) you will be facing chronic shortages or no availability of ammo, even the most common calibers. You will forget what a “high-cap” magazine looks like. The most popular guns will be on indefinite backorder when they aren’t marked up drastically on shelves. If you have waited till now to get what you need, you have screwed up. You’ll be paying hiked prices on everything, if you can get it, for the foreseeable future; panic buying is usually self-sustaining until such time as political theatre over gun control passes.

The moral of the story: do not wait to get what you need! If you are disciplined and purchase only what you need, when you can, you won’t be left regretting all the funds you squandered on a zombie themed crap and guns that are nifty novelties but of questionable utility. If you are serious about self sufficiency don’t be a hobbyist when it comes to buying until you have all your boxes ticked on your list.

Be sure to buy more ammo and mags than you think you need. You’ll consume some ammo for training and skill maintenance practice. Even the best magazines are disposable items; expect to lose a few through wear and tear. Also you may have a friend in need that could stand a hookup because he was not as smart and shrewd as you were on buying smart. Having some extra ammo and feeding sources to help bolster an ally in times of trouble is smart planning.


The U.S. is experiencing a spike in gun sales die to entirely normal and repeatable, if not consistent factors affecting the market. Ongoing rumblings and uncertainty about the increasingly partisan and hostile political environment is sustaining the increased buying trend. Presently supply is able to keep pace with demand and it is a good time to buy whatever you need. Rest assured that will change in the future. Empty shelves and usurious prices are just one campaign away. Don’t wait until that happens.

8 thoughts on “Why Are Gun Sales Up in the U.S.?”

  1. All I can say is “Yep”.

    I am a vendor at a fair number of local gun shows. I say .22 LR ammo selling for $100/500. I’ve seen $600 AR’s sell for $1200. I saw a lot of FFL dealers who were sure (like most of us) that Hillary was going to win and bought a bunch of $650 AR’s that they are now sitting on; the ones that are selling now are all under $600, most under $500. Ammo prices and selection is back into the realm of reasonable.

    But, it won’t stay there. The timing of the change is the tricky part. Personally, I have lowered my ammo spending budget, but I still look for bargains. I keep an ammo inventory, with a “comfort level” for each type, and buy accordingly.

    I also feel that gun prices are “at the bottom”; deals are out there, but rarer. Gun “deals” especially on used guns happen in a down economy, and it is going up. People don’t have to “get rid of something” just to make ends meet because they lost a water heater.

    With it being an election year, the rhetoric has been ratcheted up to new and staggering heights, buy both sides. How much is true and how much is BS remains to be seen. I was “caught” short once, never again.

    • JP,
      $100.00 for a brick of .22 RF? That is crazy; but, at that price I’m sitting on a gold mine with a few cases on hand. I’ve been shooting for nearly 60 years and worked security for guns shows for an organization I was in back in the 1990’s, and have seen all of the crazy stuff. One urban yuppie type approached me and said his wife had inherited a handgun; but, since they couldn’t be kept safely around children, asked if it was legal to sell it. I told him the basic rules and he entered the show. The gun was a nearly new Colt Python in .357, and I didn’t offer to purchase it since it was way out of my price range at the time. He entered the show and was leaving with 10 minutes. I asked if he sold the gun and he smiled and said someone had given him $100.00 for it. I almost cried, LOL.
      Another guy at one of the gun shows had a Thompson Center Contender and made the mistake of mentioning to me he really needed the money to make rent. I low balled him & flashed the cash, and got a great deal on that one, with several barrels. I still deer hunt with that gun today, nearly 20 years later.
      The big thing is to not get too much in love with any gun, since with patience you’ll eventually find what you need (or want).

      • TOP:

        Yes, $100 a brick. Later, after prices and availability had stabilized, there was one vendor that had a brick of American Eagle (400 rounds per brick) on his table for $110. I wished him luck and he had no idea how sarcastic I was being. I funded 2 years worth of shows with my 22 LR stash.

        • JP,

          Yes, $100 a brick. Later, after prices and availability had stabilized, there was one vendor that had a brick of American Eagle (400 rounds per brick) on his table for $110. I wished him luck and he had no idea how sarcastic I was being.

          Another clueless newbie? Probably trying to get back the $80.00 he paid for them.

          I funded 2 years worth of shows with my 22 LR stash.

          My .22 LR stash was only for classes and personal use and I still have 5-7 bricks on hand. These were Ely that I purchased through an instructor program @ $120.00 per case (10 bricks). I purchased 2 cases just before the ammunition shortage where prices went crazy. I would like to think I was being smart; but, the fact is that they were just on sale and I had some spare money at the time.

  2. The left has gone crazy and it irritates me. The crazy anti-fa, MS13, threats of war/ civil war ect. have made being armed to the teeth mandatory. They say they want to restrict our right to own arms to protect the children while promoting abortion to kill children. What Hippocrates……..

    Buy guns and ammo…..

  3. Medical bills are killing me, no wonder many people want single payer. Oh well, if my wife can hold up with the current job she has and no new maladies crop up by the middle of next year I can start getting some toys (as my wife calls them). The plan is to be self sufficient by 2021. Odds are good the Dims get back into power. It is not going to be pretty.

    • Daddio7,

      Medical bills are killing me, no wonder many people want single payer.

      The only problem with single payer is that there is no such thing. It’s always multiple payer, and we taxpayers are the multiples paying the bills.
      Dem’s point to Medicare; but, fail to mention that a 65 year old starting to collect Medicare, has been paying premiums into that system for as much as 50 years. Social Security is pretty much the same thing,
      Medical bills are not killing us; but, we are making payments to cover balances left from the benefits of Obamacare.
      Pointing out places like Cuba and Venezuela falls on deaf ears, since the left only hears what they want and practice only what keeps them in power.

  4. Charles,
    I pretty much agree with your explanation of what drives the ebb and flow of firearm sales.
    I’ve been fighting that battle with the politicians for 40+ years, against the likes of Chuck Schumer and Howard Metzenbaum before him.
    My gun club had a commercially produced sign with the face of Barack Obama and the caption, “world’s best gun salesman.”
    Of course these leftists will try to convince us that they do not support gun control, only Common sense Gun safety initiatives They not only fear us, they think we are all stupid.
    I would suggest that you more carefully proof read your work, or perhaps have someone else proofread for you, since an otherwise excellent article has some glaring misspellings.

    Gun purchases in the U.S. are motivated overwhelmingly by fear. I don’t necessarily mean fear of criminals or the dark, I mean fear of legislation from Capitol Hill! Guns have been and will be red-hot political topic for the 20th century.

    They were in the 20th century and continue to be now in the 21st century.

    Legislators and political hopefuls stake their careers on pandering to one group or the other. None of this activity shoes any signs of stopping.

    The U.S. is experiencing a spike in gun sales die to entirely normal and repeatable,


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