So, now a month into 2016, and with SHOT Show over, here are my Top 5 Firearms Industry Predictions for 2016. Take a read and let me know what you think!
1. Firearms Sales will Skyrocket. Again. Existing gun owners will continue to add to their collections, and there will, again be significant increases in first-time gun buyers, the fastest growing segment of which are women and minorities.
- Given the current political environment, existing gun owners are going to accelerate purchases they would otherwise put off, and prospective gun owners are going to finally pull the trigger (pun intended) on that purchase they’ve been contemplating. The gun control movement, currently championed by President Obama, defined by a series of ineffective Executive Actions as he rides out his lame duck session, coupled with the fear of someone even worse, has many afraid that guns on their wish lists might be unavailable in the future. And we all know nothing sells anything better than the threat of not being able to get it later. (The worst kept secret in the firearms industry is that Obama’s been Gun Salesman of the Year for the last 8 years running. Ironic, no?!)
- More people are going to embrace the idea of having a gun for home defense and personal protection. Recent terror events in Paris and San Bernardino, CA, ironically two areas with some of the strictest gun control laws, have forced folks to realize that laws don’t always keep people safe, and that those sworn To Serve and Protect can’t be everywhere at once. Put it all together and you’ll understand why many smart, realistic, logical people exercise their Second Amendment Right.
- Personal protection! Let’s face it, the bad guys are already carrying guns (oh, but why aren’t the laws stopping them??…), so knowing that, more and more Good Guys will make a conscious decision to give themselves an advantage, or at least level the playing field. “Sometimes the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun” is NOT just a catchy slogan. It’s a proven fact! And while such stories rarely make national news, you can find plenty of examples if you take the time to look into it objectively.
- National Reciprocity. In addition to getting a carry permit for personal protection, folks will continue to pursue carry licenses to get ahead of the curve in hopes that 2016 will finally bring about a National Concealed Carry Standard. In terms of concealed carry, the U.S. currently has an overly complex, inherently risky patchwork of state level statutes, comprised of Shall-Issue, May-Issue, No-Issue and Unrestricted States, plus Resident and Non-Resident Permits in some. Imagine if your Driver’s License was suddenly not valid the second you hit the State Line. On top of that, imagine that if, for whatever reason, you wandered across state lines, even by accident, and suddenly got arrested for committing a major felony. That’s just asinine!! It all too often severely, forever, negatively impacts the lives of otherwise good, law abiding citizens!!
3. All major handgun makers will offer a Modular Handgun System, like the Sig Sauer P320, Beretta APX, and Ruger American Pistol. As such, Modular Handgun Systems will all become increasingly popular. While handgun modularity has been around for a while – interchangeable backstops are nothing new, Glock enabled caliber changes between 9×19 and 40S&W, or .45ACP and 10mm for decades, and chassis based handguns, like the Sig P250 and Beretta Nano, have been around for years – but 2016 will focus on modular, chassis based guns like never before.
- The U.S. Army is looking to award a new XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) Contract to replace an aging fleet of Beretta M9 pistols, which have been in U.S. Military service since 1985. So, why does the U.S. Army want a Modular Handgun System (MHS)? The research I did indicates that a MHS will allow the gun to be caliber agnostic, easily upgraded without having to replace the entire gun, and easily customized to work well for different sized shooters. So, the MHS can be configured to specific mission needs, and/or specific shooter needs, as well as upgraded easily to take advantage of component level improvements, without having to buy an entire new gun, which theoretically means less cost. How will this translate to civilian demand? Military and LE use generally make it a proven commodity. If it works well for those guys, it’ll work great for us…
Editor’s Note: It’s a great concept on paper; one “gun” you can change as needed, and/or customize to your hearts content. Wish, after purchase, you got 9mm instead of the snappier and more costly .40 S&W? Suddenly need that new Flat Dark Earth frame, or just want to create a cool two-tone, OD frame, black slide combo? Want to change the grip size so your wife can shoot more comfortably, and more accurately at the range? None of that is a problem with a MHS (modular handgun system). Simply order up a new barrel, slide and/or frame and have it shipped right to your house, where you change the parts yourself. No gunsmith or special tools necessary. Aside from Military use, the MHS may make a lot of sense for first time gun buyers who aren’t 100% sure of what they want, or who’s needs may evolve. It may also make some sense in places like Massachusetts, NYC or New Jersey, where it’s not as easy to buy, nor sell and replace a handgun as it is other places. Ultimately, though, no matter where you live, the cost and availability of components will make or break the design, at least in the civilian market. I mean, if it’s gonna cost just as much to buy a new gun as it will to change a Sig P320 from a compact to a sub-compact, folks will more often than not simply buy a whole new gun. And Beretta, where are ya?? The Nano’s been out for 5 years!! The APX was announced one year ago, yet no public news on the APX since July 2015, and SHOT Show 2016 is over. What’s the hold-up?!
4. 2016 Will Be the Year of the AK-47 in the U.S. Civilian Market. While we Americans are by no means bored with our AR-15’s – pretty much everyone who wants one already has one – over the last year or so, there’s been a lot of U.S. civilian interested in Mikhail Kalashnikov’s famous AK-47 design, and similar AK pattern rifles, like IWI’s Galil ACE. So, AK pattern rifles will sell very well in the U.S. in 2016.
- The AK-47 is a historically significant, notoriously reliable, relatively inexpensive, and a very effective firearms platform. As the AK platform continues to lose that bad guy image, and instead becomes recognized as just another good, effective firearm, that can be had relatively cheap, that is cheap to shoot, and that can be used for many different, legit, legal purposes, like hunting, recreational shooting and defense, more people will want an AK pattern rifle.
- Reduced availability of “authentic,” foreign made AKs will drive demand for import based, 922r compliant AKs! In July of 2014, as part of sanctions against Russia, Obama banned the importation of products from Russian gun maker Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash), which were then sold in the U.S. under the extremely popular Saiga brand rifles and shotguns. (Russian AK’s are considered the best of the best. Demand, and prices, for Saiga’s instantly went through the roof. Nothing sets off a good buying spree like a ban.) Anyway, as of January 2016, you can still legally purchase 922r compliant AK’s from Bulgaria, Romania (WAS), Serbia (N-PAP / O-PAP), and potentially a few other European nations. However, as the Global War on Terror continues to heat up, many of these manufactures will be producing guns for their own military and civilian markets, rather than for export, which may reduce availability. And finally, 92 Democrats have recently asked Obama to go further with his Executive Action, and ban the import of all “Assault” style guns. Get yours while you can!
- More U.S. companies are making AK pattern rifles, and parts for AK’s right here, which further legitimizes the platform. Century Arms, Kalashnikov-USA, DDI all produce 100% U.S. made AK-47 variants. This might be just the ticket for someone who has always wanted an AK pattern rifle, but would rather invest in a U.S. product or company. Likewise, it might be appealing for those who think U.S. manufactured, milled receivers and U.S. made, nitride treated barrels might make the gun more rigid overall, and improve accuracy of the platform. And with big name accessory manufacturers like, Magpul and Geissele, making great accessories for the platform – the AK platform will only gain popularity here in the U.S.
5. Pistol Caliber Carbines and Bullpups will Gain Popularity, and everybody wants an IWI X95-9mm.
- The pistol caliber, bullpup carbine might just be the Best of All Worlds for Home Defense. Talk to guys on the job, or who have been on the battlefield, and they’ll all tell you they’d much rather have a rifle than a handgun when things go down. However, depending upon your situation, a traditional rifle might not be the best choice in a home defense, or CQB situation. Why? That long, protruding barrel may give you away, and at worst, could give the bad guys something to grab onto as you turn corners or enter rooms. Second, over-penetration is going to be worse with a traditional rifle round than with a handgun, and over-penetration is certainly something to think about in any home defense / CQB situation. On the flip side, if you can’t quickly and repeatedly hit your target, under incredibly stressful circumstances, with your home defense handgun, that’s a problem! And, will that handgun have enough “knock-down“power to end a conflict? Well, a good pistol caliber bullpup might just be the perfect answer. Shooting pistol caliber ammo from a rifle is generally a very low recoil event, making it very easy for even new shooters to hit their target, quickly and repeatedly. Pistol rounds fired from a rifle barrel will come out hotter, and carry more energy, giving them more “knock-down” power, compared to when fired out of a handgun. Finally, the bullpup design, which locates the action behind the trigger group, leaves much less of the rifle barrel sticking out in front of you, which is better in CQB situations. More rounds on target. Faster. Easier. With more knock-down power, and better CQB handling? Sounds like the no-brainer home defense winner to me! (The only thing you probably won’t like about the IWI X95-9mm is the price tag.)
So that’s it, my Top 5 2016 Firearms Industry Predictions! Let me know what you think!
Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!
© 2016 Inside The X Ring.