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Is the Premium AR Market Finally Doomed?

An interesting question came up on B-ARFCOM yesterday. Is the high end market for AR15s doomed? I have my own thoughts on this and why it seems so but I would like to know what you think. Below are the choices the original poster gave for a poll.

Yes, People are fine with lower end offerings
No, there is always a market for higher quality
Not sure
The market is saturated; it’s the new buyer factor

And his thoughts and observations.

“Up until the last few months, if I had a new or near new premium AR like a Colt or BCM that I wanted to sell, it usually didn’t sit in the gun shop for more than a week before it sold. If I walked around a gun show with it, I usually couldn’t get all the way to the end without selling it for at least what I paid for it.

Lately, I decided my basic plain Jane BCM M4 should go in order to finance something else. It sat in a gun shop for more than a month during the Coronavirus panic.

Finally, I asked the dealer, “WTF?”

He said people were panicking, Yes. People are buying AR’s, Yes. But they’re buying the sub-$600 AR’s, not the higher quality, higher priced ones.

Okay, this area has always been one where people want to pay for a firearm out of one paycheck. I get that.

But something has changed this time. I’ve NEVER had trouble culling an extra Colt or BCM from the herd during a panic, but this time is different.

Could be people staying at home, maybe not making as much money, or just the overall uncertainty, is causing them to not want to invest in higher end AR’s?

Or could it be that we’ve finally reached a point where people truly don’t see the need for premium quality (and premium priced) AR’s as long as lower-end offerings seem to be good enough?

What do you think?”

8 thoughts on “Is the Premium AR Market Finally Doomed?”

  1. Trends point to the middle of most industries being torn out as peak efficiency lies at the top or bottom of the market. BCM is in the middle and in the long run that’s a dangerous place to be.

    Reply
  2. Short version: No there will always be a market. As stated many people aren’t spending money on nonessentials right now.

    Long version:
    There will always be some demand for a Knights Armament or Seekins but they’re going to have to earn their keep better if they want to convince people without Uncle Sam checkbooks to save their pennies for something that may cost as much as the car they drive.

    We are blessed with affordable well preforming options and cursed by people who would rather scoff and buff their monocle than explain why a Knights Armament rifle could be better than an American Tactical.

    “Lol get rekt poors” is not a winning argument nor is “well if you were an elite super secret squirrel you could sense the aura of our awesome rifles. We could tell you who uses our stuff but then we’d have to kill you. Clearly you’re not a real operator who sends their stuff back to us to be redone every 5k rounds because thats when they start seeing a performance drop off from their standard”

    Somewhere in our blood most Americans have a hint of contrarian in them. Not just that we want to have our choices validated but that we want to rebel against someone perceived as an elite preaching down. There’s a right way and a wrong way to talk to people and right now we’re not seeing the right way very often.

    A while back the Remington 700 was the “just as good” option compared to a Winchester 70. Then the tides shifted and we heard the same thing about Savage vs the Remington. In both cases you had people with direct experience putting meat on the table or lead on target with either which poisoned the well whenever an authorities opinion was present as Moses on the mountain vs their personal thoughts.

    More recently it has become hip to hate on Aero Precision and call it a poors gun because…..reasons?

    The other huge problem is buyers with no impulse control and a want for instant gratification.

    Reply
  3. Nope, the siren’s call of name brand X appeal will always be a seller. I don’t much get involved in the Coke vs. Pepsi debates. What someone does with their money is their business. Some lessons need to be learned; “buy once, cry once“ comes to mind.

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  4. I think for a while, there will be a lean market for higher quality/cost AR’s and other defense-oriented guns in general. Within the last decade, panic buying/record sales influenced by the political climate, coupled with a wider availability of good information from online sources (among them this site), have made it so that many of the people that were into guns and knew/cared anout quality, have taken the time, done thier research, acted accordingly and already bought “enough” guns, mags, ammo, and so on.

    Many of the COVID panic buyers seem to be new to guns (insert memes about liberals getting shocked that we have gun laws, and processes
    like NICS checks & waitng periods), so they don’t yet know much about the differences between different manufacturers and types of firearms.

    Online, other sources a full of the “Just as Good” crowd messing with the signal to noise ratio on various sites & media (of which our newbie may only be peripherally aware), means that a new prospective buyer, is going to be unsure of what to believe.

    So for a new buyer, who is in a hurry, and as other folk have mentioned, is likely trying to reduce their spending, will gravitate toward the low-cost option. This will be reinforced if that option is being pushed by the “expert” behind the counter.

    Given time, as some of these folks will become more interested in shooting and gravitate toward the quality manufacturers/types. This cycle happened before, if we look at the AWB sunset through the late 2000’s there was a shift toward better (or perhaps the appearance of) quality AR’s. One need only to think of a certain “chart”, and look at how many manufactures list specs to see the amount influence it had. Given time, I think we’ll see something like tis happen again.

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  5. I think there will always be a market for ‘higher priced’ rifles. Many people drop big bucks on brands just to try and have a feeling of status for owning brand XXX. I do believe the market share of the ‘elite’ brands will continue to shrink but it will never go away completely.

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