While TFB endeavors to avoid the politics itself, we do deal with the fallout of various political decisions. California’s new “gun control” laws being a perfect example of it, prompting innovation for “features” that previously that did not exist. Another is the Hearing Protection Act, which is having ramifications within the market today, intentional or not.
Today, while the market waits to see if the bill is going to pass, suppressor companies are seeing demand drop significantly. In fact, suppressor giant SilencerCo has announced a series of layoffs due to cratering demand as buyers are looking to potentially avoid the recently enacted 41F rules. As an FFL myself, I’ve seen my suppressor transfer business crater in the last month alone.
If the HPA does not pass, it will largely be a return to business as normal, with likely steady increases in NFA items sales as the ATF works to get down processing times under the new administration and as the demand for suppressors increases.
But… what if the HPA passes?
I see three phases to the post HPA world.
First Phase 1-6 Months
Assuming near immediate implementation of the bill, current suppressor companies are in a prime place to cash in. Demand for suppressors will skyrocket and due to limited production capacities (due to NFA restrictions), availability of cans will be limited relative to demand. Prices will likely increase over what is seen today as the total value quotient changes without the NFA tax and from high demand. Current OEMs will run lights-out and work to bring on capacity.
Second Phase 6 Months – 3 Years
This is where things start to get interesting. Suppressors, at least basic ones, are very simple and easy to manufacture items. Any shop with a lathe can produce components and produce they will. With demand skyrocketing, your “typical” firearms companies will get in the suppressor game, adding in their capacity to a high-demand market. In the second six months, as new companies and offerings come online, pricing will start to fall and in the second year, it will be a near race to the bottom. Similar to “The Panic” buying from a few years ago, production will catch-up to demand and an excess of inventory will start driving prices down… way down, especially with suppressors being much easier to make than a completed firearm.
Third Phase – 3 Years +
After the prices hit bottom, the market will start choosing its winners and losers. Those without compelling offerings or solid pricing will shrink and potentially go out of business, including well-known brands if they opt to compete by reducing pricing without right-sizing other operations. There will be sufficient capacity and most buyers will see suppressors on the self ready-to-buy at most gun shops. Pricing will stabilize, significantly below pricing today (I would estimate great cans to be 50-60% of today’s pricing with reduced overhead, regulation, and increased volumes). At this point, suppressors are commonplace.
If anything, the prospect of the long-term effect of deregulating suppressors is exciting. One of the things that struck me during my world travels was the shooting culture in Scandanavia. For them, it was considered rude to NOT have a suppressor on a firearm. I would expect this to be the same in the US with cans being affordable and readily available. Say goodbye to nasty multi-port brakes (unless serving as the mount and sacrificial blast baffle for a solid can)!