Industry News: September 2001

By Robert Hausman

The used gun market represents a force to be reckoned with. Consumers purchased some 2,089,000 used firearms worth $464,241,000, in 1998, according to a recently released National Sporting Goods Association study, “Purchases of Used Sporting Goods Equipment 1998.”

The numbers break down into 637,000 used shotguns selling at an average price of $180 and representing $114,944,000 in sales. Some 781,000 used rifles were sold in 1998 at an average price of $223 and producing $174,647,000 in sales. Roughly 671,000 previously owned handguns were sold in the year at an average price of $260 and yielding $174,650,000 in sales. About 178,000 pairs of used binoculars were sold in 1998 at an average price of $26, representing $4,729,000 in sales. Most used binocular purchasers bought from private individuals.

Turning to the place of purchase, the survey found 65.9% of the shotgun buyers bought from private individuals, 11.4% bought from sporting goods stores, and 22.7% bought from other outlets.

Some 60% of used rifle buyers bought from private sellers, while 9.1% went to sporting goods stores, another 9.1% went to specialty sports shops, 3.6% bought from department stores, 1.8% purchased through mail order, another 1.8% bought on-line through the Internet, and 14.6% used other outlets.

For used handguns, 60% bought from private individuals, 17.1% went to sporting goods stores, 8.6% utilized specialty sports shops, 2.9% laid down their dollars at pro shops and 11.4% used other outlets.

Demographic data of used firearm purchases during 1998 broke down as follows: The majority of used handgun buyers (54.3%) were in the 45-64 age bracket (22.6% were aged 25-34, 10.5% were 35 to 44, 9.5% were 65 or older and 3.1% were 18 to 24 years old). The majority (32.1%) had household incomes of $25,000 - $34,999 (28.8% had incomes of $35,000 - $49,999, 18.1% had incomes of $50,000 - $74,999, 10.2% had incomes of $15,000 - $24,999, 6.5% had income of $75,000 & over, and 4.3% had incomes under $15,000). Some 46.2% had some college education and 22% were college graduates. Most (23.3%) lived in the Mountain geographic region, while 20.4% lived in the South Atlantic, 18.3% resided in the Middle Atlantic and 13.4% made their home in the Pacific region.

Most buyers of used rifles (38.2%) were 45 to 64 years of age (29.4% were 25 to 34, 19.6% were 35 to 44, 5.5% were 18 to 24, 5.1% were 25 to 34, 1.2% were 65 & older, and 1% were 14 to 17 years of age). About 21.3% had annual household incomes of $75,000 and over (20.7% had incomes of $50,000 - $74,999, 22.9% had incomes of $15,000 - $24,999, 12.8% had incomes of $25,000 - $34,999, 11.9% had incomes of $35,000 - $49,999, and 10.4% had incomes under $15,000). Some 35% had completed high school, 31% had some college, and 28.1% were college graduates. Most buyers (21.4%) were situated in the Middle Atlantic states, with 19.8% in the West South Central region, 16.3% in the East North Central, 13.9% in the Pacific, 5% in the West North Central, 4.1% in the East South Central, 2.3% in the Mountain, and 2.2% in the New England, regions.

Most used shotgun buyers (45.7%) were in the 35 to 44 age bracket (23.3% were aged 35 to 44, 20.6% were 45 to 64, 3.9% were 25 to 34, 3.7% were 18 to 24, 1.7% were 65 or older, and 1.1% were under age 14. The majority (45.3%) had annual household incomes of $50,000 - $74,999 (14.2% had incomes of $15,000 - $24,999, 12.2% earned $25,000 - $34,9999, another 12.2% made under $15,000, 9.6% brought home $75,000 and over, and 6.5% earned $35,000 - $49,999).

Some 44.5% of used shotgun buyers had some college education, 31.8% had a high school diploma, 14.7% were college graduates, and 9% did not complete high school. Most (24.1%) lived in the West North Central region (22% lived in the East North Central, 15.1% in the East South Central, 13.3% in the Middle Atlantic, 9.4% in the West South Central, 2.1% in the Pacific, 1.9% in the Mountain, and .9% lived in the New England regions.

Political News

On the political front, the Missouri State senate recently passed a bill that would force the city of St. Louis to drop its suit against handgun manufacturers. The bill was introduced by senate president pro tem Peter Kinder (R-Cape Girardeau).

The senate also has begun debate on legislation to allow Missourians to carry concealed arms. Although a licensed carry proposition was narrowly voted down in the state during 1999, the issue has been reintroduced by the state house majority leader, Rep. Wayne Crump (D-Jefferson County). Under Crump’s bill, a statewide vote would not be required to make licensed concealed carry legal.

Despite having one of the most stringent gun laws in the country, or possibly because of it, Boston, Massachusetts, reported a 26% increase in homicides, and a 2% hike in violent and property crimes during 2000. Homicides involving firearms jumped 53%. Specifically, there were 39 homicides in Boston in 2000, compared to 31 in 1999.

The Indiana House of Representatives has approved (by an 83-15 vote) legislation that would prevent the state’s cities from filing frivolous lawsuits against the firearms industry. The measure has gone to the state’s senate where it is awaiting action. Gary, Indiana, is one of about 30 cities and counties across the country that have filed lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and their trade associations, alleging the industry is responsible for criminal violence.

Over a dozen states have already enacted laws prohibiting such suits and similar measures are currently under consideration in several other state legislatures, including Florida, Kansas, and New Hampshire.

Turning to other news, the U.S. Army is developing software that allows the remote control of commercial manufacturing equipment, converting automotive and other factories into arms plants. Under a Congressionally mandated program costing some $25 million, the Army is developing the Totally Integrated Munitions Enterprise (TIME) software which allows the service to transmit machining information from a remote location to computer-driven machinery in commercial plants.

TIME allows the machinery in the plants to be reprogrammed to produce a variety of parts. It is envisioned that commercial manufacturing plants could produce gun parts or ammunition for the military during second and third shifts, or on the weekend, when the plants are otherwise idle.

Random Gunfire Detection

Police response to random gunfire reports may be improved with new technologies that can detect the sound of a gun’s muzzle blast within seconds and notify law enforcement of the shot’s origin. A study, Random Gunfire Problems and Gunshot Detection Systems, recently published by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), highlights the findings from two field studies of gun detection technologies conducted in Redwood City, California and the Dallas, Texas area.

“Random gunfire detection systems are tools for law enforcement to detect the locations of random gunfire and hone in on neighborhoods where citizens live in fear of being victimized by stray bullets,” said NIJ director, Jeremy Travis. “Technologies like this can help us in our attempts to reduce crime and restore community well-being.”

From the trials, the NIJ researchers drew four general conclusions:

The two studies each measured different applications of the gunshot detection technologies. In the Oakcliff community of Dallas, Texas, researchers focused on how the gunshot detection technology complements police work and affected police response to random gunfire. The field study in Redwood City, California, addressed the science of ballistics by firing test blanks from three arms under controlled conditions to measure the performance of the technology.

The .50 Peacekeeper is an exciting new innovation by J.D. Jones of SSK Industries (590 Woodvue Lane, Wintersville, OH 43953) that puts 88% of the ballistics of the .50 Browning Machine Gun cartridge in an extremely accurate, 1- to 14-pound 23” barreled, long range man portable rifle. It uses any projectile suitable for the .50 BMG cartridge or any .50 (.510) diameter soft point bullet intended for a .50 caliber-hunting cartridge.

The .50 Peacekeeper uses only around half the powder charge of the .50 BMG to give the same bullet 88% of the velocity of the .50 BMG equipped with a highly efficient muzzle brake and other recoil reducing devices. Felt recoil is substantially less than that of many 30-pound .50 BMG rifles. Formed cartridge cases, bullets, reloading dies and loaded ammunition are all available through SSK.

The new Ed Brown single-shot bolt action is one of the preferred actions for the .50 Peacekeeper when coupled with any of a wide variety of stocks. Other suitable actions include the Ruger M-77 Magnum or any Weatherby action originally chambered for the .378 or .460 cartridges.

Reloder 15 Chosen for Sniper Round

Alliant Powder has announced the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Operations Support Command have selected Alliant’s Reloder 15(r) as the new propellant for the 7.62mm (.308) M118b Special Ball Long-Range Sniper round. The cartridge will feature Reloder 15 with a 75-grain boat tail bullet. It will become the standard issue, long range .308 round for use by all military services.

“After rigorous testing by the U.S. Army of all appropriate rifle propellants, including those known as ‘extreme powders,’ our standard, canister grade Reloder 15 was selected over all others,” said Pete Jackson, director of sales and marketing for Alliant Powder. “Not only did Reloder 15 provide superior performance in the four test categories of accuracy, chamber pressure, ballistic performance, and lot to lot consistency, but did so across a broad range of temperatures and distances,” said Jackson.

Testing by the U.S. Army was conducted at ‘ambient’ as well as ‘hot and cold’ temperatures ranging from 125 degrees F. to -40 degrees F. and at distances from short range to 1,000 yards. The new ammunition will be made at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Independence, MO. Alliant Powder is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, an aerospace and defense company headquartered in Hopkins, MN.

ArmaLite Select-Fire Air Rifle

ArmaLite will shortly be marketing a very unique product - the M-15P select-fire air rifle. Looking much like an M-16 rifle, the M-15P (to be available in semi-auto and full-auto versions) uses pre-charged compressed air, nitrogen, argon, CO2 and other inert gases for power. The rifle delivers superb accuracy at 10, 25 and up to 50 meters with match grade pellets. With its special valve system, as gas pressure decreases, gas volume increases to ensure uniform velocity and trajectory for every shot. All M-16 and AR-type sighting systems fit the M-15P.

The M-15P recoils like a firearm (to add realism to training), feeds from a 25-round magazine, and uses .22 caliber pellets and balls. A unique aspect of the arm allows the user to adjust the amount of felt recoil from light to heavy to match the felt recoil of various .223 loads. Its fully controllable full-auto fire allows the user to fire short, medium or long bursts. The rifle weighs five to six pounds empty and will be furnished with a red dot sight as standard equipment.

For more information on the M-15P, contact Patrick Squire, president, PneuGuns, Inc., 13067 County Road 29, Clanton, AL, 35045. Telephone: 205-646-1187.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V4N12 (September 2001)
and was posted online on April 18, 2014


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