WSJ on Gun Sales

The WSJ reports on the rise of gun sales

As demand has risen, supply hasn’t kept up. Manufacturers are experiencing backlogs, even as they raise prices and report record profits.

Citing the political impact of the election, Olin said its June backlog doubled compared with the year before. The company has said it plans to raise ammunition prices by 2% to 6%.

Many suppliers of guns and ammo have been concerned that increased demand may not last and so have been hesitant to invest in additional manufacturing capacity, leaving retailers worried about adequate supplies.

Cabela’s, which generates about a fifth of its $2.8 billion in revenue from firearms and ammunition, is offering to pay suppliers more quickly, 15 days in some cases, in hopes of becoming a favored destination for the limited inventory. It can take some retailers up to 120 days to pay gun and ammo manufacturers.

[ Many thanks to the reader who sent us the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Bob Z Moose

    It’s 2008 all over again.

    • Flounder

      So true… It’s really sad that we all get scared around election time.

      It’s like we can’t trust our politicians to protect our rights or something!

      • Reverend Clint

        its a critical thinking problem

      • Abram

        Scared? Some, sure. For many of us, it’s not driven by fear, but by foresight.

      • Bob Z Moose

        Seems both parties have been lacking in this area. We all know the Dems want a permant version of the Crime Bill, but the GOP hasn’t been stellar here either. I think it was under Bush that part kits were prohibited. I pointed this out to a rabid GOP friend of mine (who was also a fellow gun nut) and he responded that it was “too easy to make a full auto out of a parts kit”. Right… That’s all I wanted to do with a parts kit. Not built an FAL, G3, or AK in SEMI AUTO ONLY for a fraction of the cost of a new or imported one. It also kinda dried up the parts for legally owned full autos, so there’s also that. Oh well.

    • W

      It is, and the thing that kills me is the lack of proactive behavior among most of american gun owners.

      Buy that shit when times are good, dont wait until election time and certainly dont wait until the 2012 election (of all ones to procrastinate on before you buy ammo and firearms).

      Im sitting fat and happy. I havent bought anything in six months.

      • Bob Z Moose

        Who has money to buy guns nowadays? Gun shop prices are outta sight and private sells aren’t far behind. Ammunition costs so much that a day at the range is a once a year proposition with anything but combloc milsurp or steel cased Eastern European stuff. It’s hard enough keeping gas in the car, the lights on, and food on the table without burning $7 a mag at the range (never mind gas getting out there).

        Fortunately, I’ve got reloads left over from last year for deer and elk season. Had a couple of cases of shotshells from better times or else it woulda been an arm and a leg to be there for opening day of dove season.

        It’s all very sad that none of us prepared for this. Shoulda been buying ammo in ’07, when life was good. Now, it’s $50 a case for birdshot and nearly $40 a box for my hunting rifle (270 WSM). My Mini 14 hasn’t been out in over a year, mostly due to price. Heck, I even get a bit of sticker shock at the 525 boxes of 22lr. I remember when it was $20 straight across. Now, that’s the sale price.

        I know, I’m lament about nostalgia. It’s not the gun or ammo maker’s fault. There’s a ton of market forces involved, from the price of metal, product for the war (or so I heard), to political uncertainty. It just sucks that we have to pay more to enjoy our sport when we are all trying to make ends meet. I really think that is the case for many gun owners.

  • B

    I was working as a firearm salesmen during the 2008 elections. Sales briskly increased in October, with ammo and firearms – after the elections in November, it went crazy.
    We sold out of all of our AR platforms within a week of the elections, and we could not get any into stock in a reasonable time period (6-8 weeks was the 1st order, after that it jumped to 3-5 months and kept increasing for subsequent orders).
    Shotguns, specifically ones marketed for home defense (18″ barrels, 5+ magazine capacity), were the next to go. They were easier to keep in stock, but, we still often had 1-3 week delay in getting them.
    Lastly was the ammo. All the popular flavors (9mm, .45ACP, 5.56, .223, 7.62×39/51mm .40S&W, 00/000 Buck, 12 gauge slugs, and .410/.45Long Colt) were increasingly hard to come by, and the cost on them went up.
    This time around, it started around January/February for the same worries thanks to things like the UN treaty that was trying to be passed, and all the media over the knee-jerk reaction politicians like Bloomberg and Feinstein regarding gun control.
    Be prepared for waits again on some of your favorites, but this time, I think most of the manufacturers know what to expect and hopefully have been stocking up to handle the demands.

    • W

      my brother decided it was a bright idea to start buying ammo now and cannot find tulammo or wolf 9mm. LOL. online sales, predictably, will explode in the coming weeks since many stores cannot keep the stuff in stock.

      you can bet your ass the expensive hornady and other premium ammunition is in stock though. 😀

      • B

        Yeah. I have bought a fair amount of the Tula and Wolf for personal use since I have started taking my brother and brother in law to the range with me (and I have the guns).
        It’s only going to get worse the closer we get to Election Day, and then for some time after that if Obama wins again.
        I don’t know if any of the worst case scenarios will happen (Assault Weapons Ban, banning online ammo sales, etc.) but I always say be prepared.
        If nothing comes to pass, it’s fine – I plan on using it anyway to spend time with my brother and brother in law. If it is needed for any reason though, I’ll have it.

  • Squidpuppy

    The upsides, of course, are that it strengthens the industry and puts more guns in the hands of the law abiding public and citizenry, which makes stringent laws less likely to get enacted. If more folks join the ranks, I’m willing to put up with a little inconvenience.

    Other recent articles have noted that it’s not just election issues, but more people are enjoying shooting sports, from a broader range of walks of life, and for more reasons. I know a number of NRA certified instructors whose classes are always full.

    Local shops and ranges in my area are always busy, and I’ve introduced more new shooters, and seen more minds change – some unbelievably so, than I have in a long time. Yes, I still hear the odd paranoid comment, but mostly it’s not about that.

    I do hope this time around the industry has anticipated demand, and won’t be so far behind in supply. Also, I have to assume there’s less going to supply our troops now, so that impact might be mitigated somewhat.

  • james

    Damnation. I can barely afford to shoot as it is. Screw it. I’m buying a reloading kit.

    • noob

      well, at least when the end of the world comes, you won’t be dependent on factory ammo.

      I wish I was joking.

  • Lance

    With James on this prices by greedy gun and ammo sellers is too high and making it impossible for many to shoot. Time to tell them to stop lying about the election and sell items at a decent price.

    • Bob Z Moose

      Dude, that’s capitalism. It’s like being a Prius salesman when gas was nearly $5 a gallon. I agree that prices are way over what they should be, but that’s the way it works. Reloading is the only alternative, but have you price bullets lately?

    • gunslinger

      that’s SOCIALISM!!!

      but seriously, supply and demand. more people want guns, but only a smaller number of guns are made. so, of course pries are going go up. now if the gn companies are latching on to the election that’s an issue.

      but back to manufacturing, this may be a small “hump” of gun sales. so why invest 2 million in equipment if you won’t make 2 million in revenue to “pay” for that. so i can see why companies would’nt want to buy more capacity.

    • B

      When I made order, I often had to call around outside of my normal wholesale suppliers for firearms and ammunition, often at much higher prices because I had no wholesale account with the dealer.
      As a result, I had to pass the cost onto consumers, and often it was just enough to cover the increased prices, shipping, and maybe a dollar or two, just to have the stock in the store for customers.
      Sure, some stores profited greatly off the crisis (I heard rumors of East Coast dealers sending people west to buy ammo at all the Walmarts until Walmart put the limitations on ammo sales), but for the most part it was just a scramble to get goods that were going for a premium from anywhere they could be found.
      Hopefully the industry anticipated the elections this year and have plans in place to deal with the problem until the madness dies down somewhat.

  • bob

    Lets face it, he has already stated in a recent speech at the National Urban League Convention that civilians should not be allowed to own an Ak-47 (look the speech up for your self if you think I’m fully of it). The 1994 “Assault Rifle” ban was signed by Executive Order by Bill Clinton bypassing Congress and the American people, that’s just simple fact. There are several senior Obama advisers on record, stating that he plans on singing a permanent “Assault Rifle” ban into law by Executive order, again bypassing Congress and the American people in his second term, when he is a lame duck president.

    • WoodenPlank

      Bob, maybe you need to go back and check your impression of history.

      The assault weapons bill passed the House 21 August, 1994 by a vote of 235 to 195, and the Senate on the 25th 61-38. Clinton signed the bill on the 13th of September, making it law. No executive order was involved. While there were some shenanigans involved in the Senate, you grossly misrepresent how the 94 ban came to be.

      House voting results –

      Senate voting –

    • Duray

      …and Romney doesn’t think you should have an AK either.

      • Bob Z Moose

        Was gonna point that out, but thought it might cause mass panic on the comment threads. Basically, we’re relying on the House and Senate to preserve our rights. It’s kinda like entrusting clowns with pies.