JWR’s Firearms Market Trend Predictions for 2020 to 2025

I was recently asked by a consulting client about my predictions for the U.S. retail gun market for the remainder of 2020 and next few years. In this article I’ll summarize my responses:

  • Panic buying will continue through August, or possibly longer. News of a large scale “camping” exodus from big cities, home invasions, campsite robberies, garden thievery, livestock rustling, and roadblock confrontations will raise gun buying to a fever pitch, even in small towns.
  • Once the urban gun shops have sold out, then buyers will travel further out into the suburbs and even small towns, and wipe out those inventories. Low gas prices will facilitate this.
  • We will continue to see severe shortages of most modern military caliber ammunition–most notably 9mm and 5.56mm.
  • The strong demand and higher prices for centerfire ammo will spill over to rimfire ammo buying–as people will want to shift to inexpensive training ammo. So we may experience another multi-year .22 rimfire ammo drought.
  • Prices will be strong across the board until at least August. For now, it will be a lucrative Seller’s Market–especially for private party guns.
  • First-time gun buyers will be so desperate that they will be buying even commemorative Winchester lever actions for use as practical self-defense guns. Some people will also buy bird-hunting shotguns and do Bubba hacksaw or tubing cutter jobs to turn them into combat shotguns. (Desperate times call for desperate measures.)
  • To get around state restrictions, there will be renewed interest in pre-1899 cartridge guns — but not in muzzleloaders. Many of those buying replica cap & ball revolvers will be doing so with the intention of doing cartridge cylinder conversions.
  • After the COVID crisis dies down — probably in October or November of 2020, a lot of “first-timers” will have buyer’s remorse, and sell guns back to gun shops. They will of course take big losses. Since many of these folks know little about either legalities or market fundamentals, they will assume that they can only  sell guns to FFL holders–even in states where private party sales are perfectly legal. If you live in one of those free states, then it will be a good time to post “want to buy” classified ads.
  • The glut of returned guns–many of which will be “like new in box” (LNIB) and perhaps even unfired and “new in box” (NIB) — will drive down prices. This will profoundly be a Buyer’s Market.
  • Adding to this oversupply, the heirs of elderly people who succumbed to the COVID-19 virus will begin to flood the market with a lot of nice old classic guns. Have plenty of cash on hand to buy these “Grandpa’s old guns.”  You might end up buying a few $300 M1 Carbines, M1 Garands, or pre-’64  Winchester Model 70s.
  • The Buyer’s Market will persist through 2021, UNLESS a Democrat wins the presidency. A dem in the White House hcould flip things back to a Seller’s Market, much like we saw when President BHO was elected.
  • The nascent recession may turn into a depression. As the crime rate rises, a lot of people will be looking to trade high grade sporting guns (such as a over & under shotguns) for practical and tactical guns. If, at that point, you are sitting on a pile of M4geries and full-capacity 9mm pistols, then you will be able to trade very advantageously.
  • A high crime rate will inspire more people to get CCW permits (or to carry without one in Constitutional Carry states), to defend their lives and property.  This will create a disproportionate market demand for  compact, concealable self-defense handguns. (I believe that Daily Carry pistols in the size range of Glock 19/M&P Shield/Glock 43 will be the most sought-after, at least by the more knowledgeable buyers.  So I suggest that you stack them deep, when the COVID buying panic ends, but before the Depression Seller’s Market begins.)
  • The higher crime rates will inspire may people to carry daily. This will drive demand for guns in stainless steel or with rust-resistant finishes (Melonite/Tenifer/Cerakote.) Glock’s uses Tenifer as their standard  finish.
  • Over the course of the next five years, many Blue States and Purple States will enact Universal Background Check laws–banning private party sales of modern (post-1898) guns. This paperwork requirement will make pre-1899 guns more appealing to both collectors and practical shooters. I can foresee pre-1899 prices rising, even in the midst of a Buyers Market, for modern guns.
  • If President DJT is re-elected, he will continue to appoint pro-RKBA Federal judges and Supreme Court justices. There may be a delay of several years, but eventually there will be some landmark decisions, affirming our gun rights. Many unconstitutional gun laws wil be overturned.
  • Strong memories of the pandemic in crowded cities will spur interest in relocation to “wide open spaces”, by those who can telecommute for their work. Thus, if there is some “backfill” in the lightly-populated Plains states, then there will be a stronger interest in scoped long-range precision rifles–both both action and semi-auto.
  • A spread in prices will develop between papered and un-papered guns. In states that enact Universal Background Checks, a large black market in sans papiere guns will emerge.  These won’t be stolen guns, but rather just untraceable and deniable guns. (By deniable, I mean older guns where people can say: “It’s been in our family for years.”) And of course the burden of proof on the date of acquisition is on the Prosecutor.)  Just as with pre-1899 guns, people will be willing to pay more, for privacy.
  • Democrats will continue to push for more civilian disarmament legislation. But increasingly, they will be stymied by DJT-appointed judges. I’ve concluded that it is almost inevitable that here will be a resounding Supreme court ruling  that invalidates any state and local laws that restrict semi-auto militia rifles and full capacity magazines. But, again, that may not come for several years.
  • The “feast or famine” market swings in the gun market will continue for the next five years. Some debt-laden major manufacturers may go bankrupt. The gun makers and gun sellers that are the most flexible, lean on overhead, and innovative will be the ones that survive and thrive.

Note that thee foregoing are just my own subjective predictions. Your local circumstances may vary. – JWR

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