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‘Black guns’ face backlash: Firearm prices fall to a fraction of what they were in the Obama years

By Luke Whittaker

The Daily Astorian

Published on October 10, 2017 4:32PM

Jeff Kelland, owner of North Coast Shooter’s Supply in Warrenton, has seen a dramatic drop in the sale of assault rifles since the election. “A lot of gun manufacturer companies overproduced in anticipation of an election result everyone thought was going to happen but didn’t,” he said.

Photos by LUKE WHITTAKER

Jeff Kelland, owner of North Coast Shooter’s Supply in Warrenton, has seen a dramatic drop in the sale of assault rifles since the election. “A lot of gun manufacturer companies overproduced in anticipation of an election result everyone thought was going to happen but didn’t,” he said.

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Kelland used a blast cabinet to refinish metal in the back of his store in September.

Kelland used a blast cabinet to refinish metal in the back of his store in September.

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Dallas ‘Sandy’ Bennett, owner of Sandy’s Guns and Ammo in Long Beach, said sales are steadying after a few years of brisk business. “Obama was one of the best gun salesmen we’ve ever had, but now things are back to normal,” he said.

Dallas ‘Sandy’ Bennett, owner of Sandy’s Guns and Ammo in Long Beach, said sales are steadying after a few years of brisk business. “Obama was one of the best gun salesmen we’ve ever had, but now things are back to normal,” he said.

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Handgun sales remain steady. The 9mm Glock, pictured, is among the most popular calibers and brands.

Handgun sales remain steady. The 9mm Glock, pictured, is among the most popular calibers and brands.

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WARRENTON — If you were considering pulling the trigger on a new gun, an oversupply means this is a buyers’ market.

“A lot of the (gun) manufacturer companies overproduced in anticipation of an election result that everyone thought was going to happen but didn’t,” said Jeff Kelland, owner of North Coast Shooter’s Supply. “It’s certainly a buyers’ market.”

Firearms manufacturers banked on Hillary Clinton becoming president.

“They rolled the dice and lost,” Kelland said. “There wasn’t the continued panic that we’ve seen the past eight years. A lot of manufacturers were stocked with excess inventory, so now they’re practically giving things away. The market is just flat for certain things.”

Much of the firearms fallout is centered around assault rifles, particularly the AR-15 style that, only a year earlier were among the strongest sellers.

“Assault rifles are not as big as sellers as they had been during the previous political climate,” Kelland said. “If someone is wanting to get one of those kinds of rifles, now is the time to do it. They’re just ridiculously cheap right now.”


Drop in demand


Many customers were bringing guns in on consignment during height of gun craze.

Kelland witnessed a precipitous drop in demand and, consequently, a collapse in the consignment of assault rifles.

“I was looking on my business page from 2013 and it’s just bizarre how much it’s changed. Standard AR rifles were selling for $1,800 and they weren’t staying on the shelf for more than a couple days. Now they’re $600 and they sit. It’s been a huge shift in the market for those weapons.”

Kelland said that military surplus is “still big” and that collectible prices are climbing, but prices have dropped on assault-style weapons, commonly called “black guns.”

“If you overinvested in those prior to the election, you’re feeling the pain. Fortunately, I didn’t,” Kelland said.

In Pacific County, Dallas “Sandy” Bennett, owner of Sandy’s Guns and Ammo, has seen a similar trend, where the “bottom has fell out of the black gun market. … Since Trump was elected, nobody is coming in any buying their ‘Hillary Guns’ now. Obama was one of the best gun salesmen we’ve ever had, but now things are back to normal.”

Terrorist attacks, mass shootings and issues with the monetary system and price of gold all impact gun sales, according to Bennett, who added that people tend to “think more about being prepared” after a horrific event like the mass shooting in Las Vegas.


.22 ammo still scarce


Ammo sold briskly during the peak of the gun sales surge, pushing some calibers such as .22 into scarcity on store shelves as manufacturers simply couldn’t keep up with consumer demand.

“Any other standard caliber, I can order as much as I want — 20,000 rounds of this, 2,000 rounds of that,” Kelland said. “But with .22 caliber, I can’t do that. They’ll give me eight bricks (a brick is 500 rounds) or 10 on a good day. I can’t order as much as I want.” Bennett agreed that ammo “is pretty much readily available now and prices have come down to the 2010 level” but the .22 remains elusive.

“The ammo that lasted the longest in a depleted state was the .22 long rifle,” Bennett said. “The .22 shot shells are still pretty sporadic.”


Hunting season boost


Most hunters have a specific gun that they rely on each season, and making sure the gun is properly sighted is common concern.

“There are a few gun sales, but it’s more service-related things,” Kelland said, adding that mounting, sighting-in scopes and rifle cleanings are the most common requests. Scope mounting and bore-sighting costs $35, which “includes mounting everything up, making sure everything is level and ready to go,” Kelland said. Cleanings are generally $25 or $30.

When it comes to keeping firearms clean, Kelland calls on his former training in the armed forces.

“I went to the Marine Corps school of weapons maintenance,” he said. “You shoot, you clean, you shoot, you clean. A clean gun is a happy gun.”

The damp coastal climate can be corrosive, particularly if guns aren’t properly cleaned regularly.

“The environment we live in is not conducive,” Kelland said. “Anytime you have the powder residue from firing, it sucks up moisture, especially in our salty, wet environment. The last thing you want is all that crud sitting in your gun, because then you have corrosion.”



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