Sunday, December 8, 2013

Been a while. Here's a gun show report...

From Don Dickinson:
Gun Show Report 7 Dec 2013

The show was at the South Atlanta Expo Center. This is a huge facility but due to a lack of sufficient vendors, it was not as fully used as I have seen in the past. There was room for at least a 25% increase in vendor occupied space but still it was a very large show. The show sponsor used the extra available space to considerably expand the width of the aisles which, given the heavy attendance, made for a much more pleasant experience for the shoppers. It was noon before the line to get in shortened much from its initial 100 yard length.

Private sales (except for guns) seemed to have returned to pre-panic levels and this was where most of the best deals were to be found. For example, I picked up 1,000 .45 ACP once-fired cases in their original boxes and case packaging for $35 and 8 pounds of an uncommon but excellent shotgun and pistol powder for $80.

A friend who is one of the biggest ammunition component (brass, bullets, primers, and powder) dealers in the country was present and had almost as much stock on hand as in pre-panic times. Nevertheless he had no surplus powders and his assortment of bullets was much less in the popular .308 caliber. All components were priced 10-20% higher than last year. Though he had three competitors at the show, his prices were by far the best available from a dealer. So why did some people pay more for exactly the same components? The low priced dealer was strictly a mom and pop operation and it was often very time consuming to wait for a chance to get the best deal price wise. I noticed that people buying $500 to several thousand worth of components waited to get to the low priced dealer while those wanting small amounts opted for speed over best price. Capitalism in action!

The only loaded ammunition still in shortage status is .22LR but the average price for 500 rounds has dropped to $40-55 depending on the specific brand and type. Private sellers still seemed to be dominating this niche of the ammo market. As far as is known, the government is not in this part of the market in any significant way so the persistence of the .22LR shortage is a signal indicator that the ammo buying habits of a big swath of the American public has changed toward getting and holding significant quantities of this primary caliber.

The general availability of most types of guns continues to recover and prices for those most readily available continue to drop. Some of the prices I saw were: generic AR15 type rifles $599, used 12 ga. shotguns $250-300, Mosin-Nagan $99, nice used Model 94 Winchester in .30-30 $295, typical used M1 rifle $800-1,000, beat up but sound Colt .38 Special $300, Witness 10mm pistol $400, and Beretta CX4 Carbine in 9mm $ 750-950. Shortages remain in .308 ARs and heavy barreled bolt action rifles designed for long-range accuracy.

There seemed to me to be at least 50% more dealers with various assortments of prepper type supplies and they mostly had a lot more lookers and buyers than usual. The medical supply, steel ammo can, water purification, security paraphernalia, long term storage food, and general military surplus dealers were doing the best business I have ever observed at a gun show. I got the distinct impression that many buyers have filled what they believe to be their general gun and ammo needs and are now moving on to more esoteric supplies.

But, that does not mean that the gun and ammo dealers were suffering; they too were doing a brisk business. I think significant numbers of people are going to have a Merry gun show product Christmas one way or the other.

My estimate is that if there are no more political or terrorism shocks, gun and ammo availability will continue to increase as prices continue to drift lower. On the other hand, if we are at a upward inflection point in prepper type awareness, the current excellent availability and pricing of prepper supplies could reverse very sharply. The supply lines of such supplies and equipment are minuscule compared to the levels of guns and ammo before they virtually disappeared in the late Nov-Dec 2012 time period.

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