State of the Industry: 2022
As 2022 has closed and we are amidst in 2023, we at Venture Out want to take the time to reflect on the past year and take a peak forward into what the new year might bring. 2022 witnessed some form of market stabilization within the gun industry that hasn’t existed since 2019. Sales peaked during the pandemic riddled years of 2020 and 2021. This, coupled with civil unrest and a controversial election cycle led to soaring prices on guns, ammo, and reloading components. Not only were prices high, but many items were scarce. Panic buying and the collapse of the supply chain led to manufacturing shortages, not to mention the lack of a work force caused by COVID-19 restrictions (thank you Fauci). Luckily, much of that is behind us. However, we are now feeling the repercussions as the world dives into economic recession.
Through much of 2022, the shelves of gun stores were restocked. Many popular firearms came back into inventory—though plenty are still not available. Actually, the market slowed down to a point where a surplus existed—hence the multitude of manufacturer rebates during the 2022 holiday season. Ammo prices normalized with popular calibers—9mm, 5.56 NATO, etc.—becoming plentiful, while rarer or niche calibers are still nonexistent. Oh, and thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has banned the importation of Russian ammo (which is predominantly steel cased). Eventually the availability of cheap steel ammo will be extinct, though there are rumblings of a U.S. manufacturer looking into filling that void. Reloading components, on the other hand, are still hit or miss. Powders, especially Varget and H4350, have limited availability, but primers seem to be coming in regularly. Prices have deflated to the cheapest since the pandemic started, but don’t hold out that prices will go back to 2019 levels. Unfortunately, the times of $8.99 boxes of 9mm are gone. Ammunition prices are something to keep an eye on in 2023. With inflation, don’t be surprised to see certain manufacturers raising their prices (looking at you Federal). If ammo is on sale, buy it. Its hard to predict if it will be more affordable.
Now that some sort of normalcy has returned to the world, manufacturers have to revert back to relying on innovation to push people towards their product. With a very crowded space, especially in the concealed carry and Glock style pistol category, it’ll be interesting to see if something truly new comes out. To this point, the short answer is not likely. Manufactures, instead, keep eating away at each other in an effort to one up the other. For instance, Springfield came out with the Hellcat Pro. This is a quasi full-size carry gun outfitted with a 15-round capacity and a larger frame, making it easier to shoot, but not necessarily easier to carry. To combat this, Sig came out with the X-Macro. It fits the same niche, but ups the ante to 17-round capacity. And not to be left out of the Glock clone world, Anderson Manufacturing—yes, the Anderson that builds affordable AR-15 rifles and components—came out with the Kiger. This is a Glock 19 clone that is on par with offerings from Palmetto State Armory. Companies are pushing the status quo of a given market, but not reestablishing it. Many companies are afraid to push and innovate because failure is always a possibility. However, the possibility of failure is what pushes the aspiration of creativity. For example, Patriot Ordinance Factory (POF) released a brand new, reimagined firearm—the Tombstone. It is a modern day lever action—not a traditional lever action outfitted with tactical features, but a truly new gun. The internet has roasted it. That kind of negative attention is why so many are afraid to release something truly unique. Negative critique is something most people shy away from, so why bother? POF has embraced the negativity and are powering through it. It will be exciting to see what other calibers and options the Tombstone will be offered in.
Surprisingly, some of the most intriguing innovations in the gun world over the past year came from Springfield Armory. Springfield has had an up and down history in the community, especially when it comes to politics (you can read about that here). Their XD line of handguns have been a mainstay for over a decade and a punching bag for memes and gifs by social media warriors. The Hellion, SA-35, and Prodigy are examples of a manufacturer looking for dead spots in the industry. They found a niche and their sales of those items have been very positive. They also recently released a variation of the Saint Rifle in 9mm (it’s safe to assume that they released a rifle variant and not a pistol variant due to the pending ATF ruling on pistol braces). While the gun isn’t innovative and is pretty standard to others except for one item, it doesn’t take Glock mags. Instead of designing a gun around a magazine, Springfield went with a Colt style mag that was originally designed for use in AR style rifles. Springfield’s introductions in the past year sincerely pique our interest for what is to come.
The examples of POF and Springfield (and yes, there are more companies like them, look up Trailblazer Firearms for some really cool stuff) offering innovative ideas rather than continuations is striking in a year where most companies are just trying to recover from the pandemic riddled 2020 and 2021. Hopefully, 2023 sees a return to that innovation. As sales begin to slow as a result of economic recession and excessive inflation, innovation is what is going to drive business. Companies will be reevaluating as a new normal settles in. In conclusion, for us at Venture out and Fin Feather Fur Outfitters, we hope to continue to provide relevant articles and videos that help you find adventure and help you pursue your passion for the outdoors. From all of us, Happy New Year.