You don’t have to make ARs to know that they’re popular. We’ve known for a long time that they’re one of the best-selling guns on the market to the point where just about every major (and most minor) gun manufacturers makes them.
It’s not just ARs, but AKs and countless other models of rifles patterned off military designs but made for the commercial market are guaranteed best-sellers.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, or NSSF, calls them “Modern Sporting Rifles,” an increasingly-popular moniker for these guns, or just MSRs. They have been tracking sales and ownership of MSRs since 2010 and news flash, they’re popular.
Just how popular is what’s interesting. In a survey of 22,000 people who own ARs and AKs by Sports Marketing Surveys, they found that more and more regular shooters are buying these rifles and that the percentage of MSR owners without military or police history is up, from 56 percent in 2010 to now 65 percent.
“The owner base for modern sporting rifles has expanded,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of industry research and analysis. “MSRs have been among the most popular selling firearms in recent years. While the rifle remains popular with those who have military or law enforcement experience, ownership has expanded to other gun owners. Given the popularity and versatility of MSRs, I don’t think that will come as a surprise to anyone.”
The report also highlighted that most MSRs were purchased at an average cost $1,058, which is $25 less than the average from the 2010 survey; so not only are they getting more popular, they’re getting more affordable.
The MSR aftermarket is doing better as well, with many people quick to accessorize their rifles. People are spending almost twice as much on aftermarket parts for their rifles, up to an average of $381 from $211 in 2010.
Additionally the report found that nearly half of the people who own just one MSR, 49 percent, bought them this year, during the buying frenzy following the call for increased gun control.
The AR is king of the MSR market, with an 82 percent share, although anyone who owns at least four MSRs is likely to own at least one AK. Variety being the spice of life, after all.
The survey found that MSR owners tend to be more active shooters than people who don’t own these rifles, with a majority of owners being routine target shooters (92 percent) and half active hunters (50 percent) — contrary to the notion that these guns are not good for hunting — and 19 percent of those surveyed were competition shooters.
In short, the “black rifle” crowd is one of the most active and engaged portion of shooters.
This isn’t going to blow any minds in the MSR-owning circles, but it reinforces what a lot of gun owners have been saying during the greater debate over gun control reform.
And also unsurprising to anyone looking to buy one of these recently or any firearm for that matter is that gun sales are up. Way up.
“The January 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 920,840 is an increase of 17.3 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 784,856 in January 2011,”explains the NSSF research page. “For comparison, the unadjusted January 2012 NICS figure of 1,368,816 reflects a 4.3 percent increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,312,544 in January 2011.
“This marks the 20th straight month that NSSF-adjusted NICS figures have increased when compared to the same period the previous year.”
All the details of the survey can be read in the NSSF Modern Sporting Rifle Comprehensive Consumer Report of 2013. Price is a bit steep at $5,000 for non-NSSF members, but really, the majority of the information is for gun manufacturers.
From the information we’ve read in the release, the data is clear: keep making ARs and AKs, and if you’re not, you’re missing out on one of the most active segments of the firearms market.