Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 NRA Show Report, handgun & ammo supply vs. demand

I'm back in Kansas City today after attending the 2009 NRA of America Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Phoenix this weekend. It was a great show and for those of you that made it by CZ-USA booth, I want to say thanks for stopping by. For those who could not make it, hopefully we'll see you next year in North Carolina.

Phoenix was the perfect host city for the convention. The local support was incredible. Over 64,000 people attended the show this year making it the biggest show in NRA history. The combination of a great pro-gun host state and the current nationwide trend in firearms purchases helped I'm sure.

Speaking of the current trends, it was very cool to have the opportunity to speak with way more people than usual who were interested in purchasing their first handgun. They were eager to learn, asking relevant questions, and I enjoyed being able to help. Reasons behind their upcoming purchase varied, but there was a noticeable trend in current rifle and shotgun owners wanting to buy their first handgun just to exercise their right to have one.

Handgun and ammunition availability was a common concern for just about everyone in attendance. Both CZ and Dan Wesson are running at full capacity, and the vast majority of the handguns we’re making are headed for the US consumer market. This normally wouldn't be possible, but high demand in the US is happening at the same time as a global recession slows orders in the rest of the world.

Ammunition availability appears to be limited judging by the stock on dealers’ shelves across the country. There are a few reasons that very by caliber, but there is also a common thread at work here. Ammo in certain calibers (like .380) is really tough to find right now due to the popularity of the caliber in new models released over the last year and a half. 9mm is tough to find as well. I assume that this is due to it's popularity in many handgun models with the highest magazine capacities (like the CZ 75 series). 7.62x39 and .223 are tough to find rifle calibers. Along with handguns the surge of interest in centerfire semi-auto rifles (for example the AR-15, AK models, and others like the VZ 58) is fueling the demand here.

Even with the significant increase in firearms purchases (Google NICS background check data 2009), the ammo availability is less than what would be expected. I speak with both CZ dealers and friends in the ammunition industry on a regular basis. All of them agree that people are stocking up on ammo. I have some ideas about this but would like to hear your take on this as well.

Here are a couple of shots that Dave Esch from http://www.czforum.com/ took in the booth at the NRA show. The first is Jo Esch and I posing for a shot for the forum, and the second is an overview of the booth.