9 Shooting Industry Predictions for 2015
Tom McHale 01.05.15
2014 marked a return to some semblance of normalcy in our industry. Whew, the past couple of years have been a pain. Too little product and too high prices. In 2015, we’ll get back to a sane business model with new products and broad availability. Danger looms on the political front with a lame duck president and billionaires dumping money into state-level gun control efforts.
1. “Old” new guns will hit the shelves
Every gun manufacturer I know has a backlog of new designs just waiting to be put into production. During the great gun panic of 2012-2013, no company could stop making existing products in order to re-tool for new designs. With the demand far outstripping supply, it would have been lunacy to halt production to make new toys. Now that manufacturers have (mostly) caught up to demand, we’ll see new products that will attract new and existing gun owners. 2015 will mark a return to competition among manufacturers, where producers of quality and innovative products will attract more customers.
In 2015, many of those designs will hit the streets. I’ve seen a number of them and we’ve got some good stuff coming! Stay tuned right here at OutdoorHub.
2. Someone will release a…curvy competitor for the Curve
In 2014, Taurus caused a ruckus in the shooting community by releasing a very unconventional self-defense pistol—the Curve. While I can’t predict which company will do it, I can with absolute certainty predict that a curvy competitor will be released into the shooting market in 2015. I have it on good authority that this gun will actually shoot around corners. I don’t mean you can aim it around a corner, I mean the bullet will “arc” towards its target, just like in that corny movie Wanted. Nah, not really, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone out there tried to one-up the Curve.
3. Politicians will emerge from the swamp
Like the 17-year periodical cicada, politicians will emerge from the ground this coming year. Unlike locusts, swarms of politicians cause far more damage than their crop-eating brethren.
It’s election season again. Well, these days, every season is election season, but 2015 will mark shameless pandering kicking into overdrive. We’ll see a whole slew of aspiring White House-dwellers that will beg for the Presidential Primaries’ brass rings. Since the NRA gained over a million new members the past couple of years, expect the politician swarm to cover Nashville, Tennessee during the NRA Annual Meeting.
My bold prediction? At least seven political candidates who have been historically opposed to guns will make the following statement: “I believe in the Second Amendment, with certain common-sense limitations of course.” Could Joe Biden dare make an appearance at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting?
4. The NRA Annual Meeting will be the safest place in America (again)
The first time you attend an NRA Annual Meeting, you might be slightly surprised at the apparent lack of security. No bag checks. No porno body scanners. And depending on local regulations, no restrictions on concealed or open carry of firearms. You see, security is built in and handled by the attendees themselves. You’ll see plenty of VIPs wandering around without the normal entourages and armed security details. Yep, you might actually be carrying your gun, standing on the escalator next to a Senator, Governor, or other current or past dignitary—like the Nuge. It’s no big deal, just law-abiding citizens acting all law-abiding and everything.
On the other hand, there will be another Everytown and/or Moms Demand protest down the road. The dozen or so paid protesters will be, yet again, protected by armed security guards.
I predict over 75,000 attendees to the NRA Annual Meeting, many of whom will be armed, and no crime problems. I also predict that the gun control protest will draw more than a baker’s dozen of real attendees—barely. Observing both of these events is an enlightening experience to say the least.
5. Gun sales figures will be healthy
We’ll hear plenty of chicken little doom and gloom predictions about gun sales dropping through the floor. Companies who over-invested during the great gun scare of 2012-2013 will have some ‘splainin to do as sales fall back to normal numbers.
Looking at a rough indicator of gun sale activity, gross monthly NICS background checks, we see that 2010 and 2011 posted 14.4 and 16.4 million total NICS checks. During the heyday over the following two years, we hit 19.5 and 21 million checks. Now that business is somewhat back to normal, we’re at 18.6 million for 2014. If you discount the two panic years, there’s still a healthy 13.4 growth rate between 2011 and 2014 during fairly rotten economic conditions. Not too shabby for most industries. If our Commander in Chief gets all Bossypants with his Mont Blanc pen, we may very well see another run on guns.
6. 2015 will mark the worst Bianchi Cup ever!
I’ve been ticking items off my bucket list items like clockwork. I recently drank rum on the Walt Disney World Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Yes, really! Shhhh! I learned how to pick a lock last week. Now it’s time to strike item 1,738 from my list. I’m seriously considering competing in the 2015 Bianchi Cup. You know this event, it’s that confidence-crushing, action-shooting competition that challenges accuracy, ability to hit moving targets, and one’s skill hitting 50-yard targets with a pistol.
There is some risk my presence could damage the prestige of this event. If you see a pillar of smoke rising from the Columbia, Missouri area, you’ll know I was there.
7. Bulk .22 ammo will dip to $0.05 per round
While many remain convinced that the scarcity and high prices of .22 LR ammo are the manifestations of an X-Files episode, I tend to believe it’s a simple example of that supply-and-demand curve. Millions of new shooters are buying guns and ammo, yet the production capacity of .22 LR remains largely the same as it was prior to that jump in demand. The result? Higher prices. Bulk .22 LR ammo is available any day of the week for $0.08 to $0.09 per round, but I expect this to fall to about a nickel in 2015. I don’t believe we’ll see $0.03 per round bulk ammo prices again, and here’s why: .22 LR is the least profitable ammo for companies to produce. Due to the complexity of building priming compound into the cartridge case itself, building new production capacity is more expensive than for centerfire ammo. It takes time and money to build new production and I’m not sure who’ll pull the trigger on that when better margins can be made elsewhere.
8. Billionaires will buy states
Fresh from a “success” in Washington State with the passage of Initiative 594 that requires background checks on any type of gun movement, we’ll see the Billionaire Bullies Club drop millions into all sorts of local initiatives and campaigns. Knowing full well that the nation as a whole will reject overt gun control efforts, they’ll try to impose their will with cleverly-disguised state and local campaigns that sound rational to uninformed voters. A complicit media will make 2015 and 2016 dangerous times for gun rights.
What can you do? That’s simple. Join the NRA to support legislative pressure against gun control. Then join the Second Amendment Foundation and send them a few bucks to support our efforts in the courts. They’re kicking butt in all the right judicial circles, but lawsuits are expensive.
9. Customer service will rise from the dead
One of the things I like most about the shooting industry is the people and the values they hold. With few exceptions, companies care about their customers and will go to great lengths to make things right when problems arise. Next time you get frustrated with a shooting industry business, just imagine the same scenario with a cable company.
Some, however, got too caught up in the great gun panic of 2012-2013 and forgot about how to take care of customers. One well-known AR-type rifle manufacturer even adopted a “don’t call us, we won’t even try to tell you when your rifle will ship” attitude. When you tell you customers that you won’t even try to communicate with them, they’ll probably remember that behavior when business as usual resumes. In 2015, there will be more guns on the shelves than willing customers. We won’t have to settle for whatever gun, ammo, or accessory is available on a given day. We’ll be able to shop for the best products, values, and service. And we’ll remember which companies worked their fannies off to get through the tough times.
9 ½. I will finally finish The Practical Guide to the AR-15 book—really
What say you? What are your 2015 predictions?
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.