Shelves Are Still Ghost Towns in October

The Gun Industry going into the spooky season.

As we move closer to closing out 2020, this most interesting time as the old proverb goes, we see that demand has not slackened in most respects. Now with demand probably won’t influence your deer season since most of those calibers aren’t defensive and their prices and availability have kept pace with their expected volume.

But anything remotely close to a ‘fighting’ gun is gone and will probably stay “gone” for the foreseeable future, at least through the Holidays kicking off this month and probably spring 2021.

Does this mean you won’t get the extra awesome wizzbang thing that you want? No, and I’ll explain why.


Ammo is probably the simplest and yet scariest of the prospects right now. Demand is high for everything but nothing quite so high as ammunition right now. Backlogs of orders for rounds are approaching two years. Now, that isn’t the scary part as full year orders from large volume users and retailers is nothing new but their is usually some slop and production breathing room to crank out ammo to the unclaimed market regularly.

There is no such ‘unclaimed’ ammunition pile from manufacturers anymore. They are booked day in and day out. They after components, especially primers, and many have noticed that normal sources for small items in loading have dried up. Everything is going into new production ammunition.

Not surprising given the combination pandemic/riot ‘awakening’ and the upwards 12-13 million new gun owners out there and perhaps 40 million guns that have changed hands new and used. This is a guesstament, of course, from conversations I have had among the learned folks and off the NICS and NSSF data. Basically for every NICS applicable transfer there are one to three that don’t touch NICS, and with commercial on the shelf availability hit hard the ‘friend with a spare’ availability becomes the only option.

As I’ve been that option, and all the owners were new owners, my estimate seems plausible. Of course that is sample size ‘me and a few friends’ so, could be off. Speaking of new guns though.

Availability is… Buy it now if you want it.

Make no mistake, new guns are flowing just as fast as ammunition. I’ve built an AR during this but I am lucky I wasn’t picky about parts. My order of an MCX Virtus rifle (in January) was also fulfilled recently.

We are looking very much at a Beggars can’t be Choosers market where waiting for the exact item(s) you want are going to be long waits. Having broader criteria like “a duty or compact 9mm of reputable quality” will result in much quicker availability than waiting for the OD Green G45 MOS.

I checked an online distributor this morning to see what I could order and the handgun selection listed… 6 of 2500 items. And those were all slow moving oddballs. Semi-auto rifles were 6 of 905, all higher priced hunting models or .22 competitive models.

Gone are the days of quick searches pulling together exact makes and models, fairly simple availability of limited editions, and picking and choosing our idealist parts lists. We have to search in broad terms, hunt online auctions, and accept that we aren’t going to find the extra most bestest lowest price on demand.

If you need it quickly, make a list

Have more than once acceptable option on your list for defensive rifles, handguns, and shotguns. Multiple brands with a range of feature sets will be easier to find.

Want a 14.5? Be willing to accept a 16″ too or vice versa. Want M-LOK? Be open to a freefloat quadrail as well. Speaking of that, if its a non-freefloat made of quality components it’ll beat a shoddy component freefloat.

Wait lists and “Notify Me’s” are your friend. So is patience. Those systems are not perfect and if a retailer gets 100 units with 1,000 people waiting, demand beats supply by quite a bit. Work with your retailers and they will work with you.

Good luck folks!

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.