NFATCA Report: The Ending of a Long Hot Summer
By John Brown

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse it just seems that the news doesn’t get any better. Ammo prices are through the roof, if you can find any. The AR family of rifles has all but disappeared from the shelf and the backlog for many of the manufacturers has surpassed the 50,000 mark for waiting customers. A thousand rounds of 5.56 that used to cost $175 surpassed the $400 mark months ago. What used to be an $800 decked out AR is now passing the $2,000 mark. It seems there is no end to the news.

Although still in pretty good shape the NFA buyers are slow but sure. We know that short barreled shotguns, short barreled rifles, and suppressor purchases are at an all time high. If we keep on the current track of buying NFA merchandise in 2009, it will surpass a million, yes 1,000,000 transfers in the fiscal year ending October 1st. It is really a strange phenomenon if you look at the buying surge and keep in mind that last year we barely passed the 500,000 mark for transfers.

There are still a lot of machine guns that are transferable being sold this year but nothing to compare to what we have seen in the last five years. Some of the active dealers who are used to selling three and four guns at a show have now fallen back to selling accessories rather than depending on the revenue from NFA sales. They may be selling a lot of NFA stuff but the margins are lower on a suppressor and a short barreled rifle or shotgun. In a recent conversation with an NFATCA dealer we were told that last year they sold nearly sixty high end NFA items compared to a mere dozen this year. So although the buyers are still out there, the “cautiously optimistic” crowd is larger than ever. Because we still don’t have a grip on what is happening with our own economy most of us are holding on to what we have or dumping what we don’t need or want to make room for a better cash flow, just in case. It makes for some strange numbers showing that the older guns are not selling like they used to. The choice is to hold on and wait for better times or to sell the gun and perhaps even take a loss. This chemistry makes both buying and selling interesting, to say the least.

Keep in mind that the “transferable” number of machine guns that are available will never get any bigger, and unfortunately will only shrink as time passes on. I remember two years ago Ken Houchens announced to the Knob Creek crowd that a recent NFA study showed that there were only 182,619 transferable machine guns in the United States. If that one fact isn’t enough to make you a believer just watch pricing as time passes. Sure the economy will affect how and when people buy, but make no mistake, the buying crowd is much larger than the selling crowd by a wide margin. In short, that 182,619 number is and has been for over 20 years, a safe bet. Pricing may change a bit from year to year but the really good stuff has and will continue to be holding its own, as long as you are patient. Just remember, it hasn’t been that long ago since many of us paid $250 for an HK sear or $300 for a MAC 11. I wish I could say that this was the first time that we have seen this kind of lull in the economy. For those of us who have seen this before we know that patience is a virtue and that waiting is the name of the game. That’s the part that is hard to bear. For many of us we ask the simple question, “Wait for what?”

In all of the fury there is one thing that you can rest assured that is happening in the NFA community: the NFATCA is and has been watching out for your interests. We watch the numbers every day and keep track of virtually every activity in the NFA industry that may affect our future. We keep in daily contact with major industry representatives and the top management of ATF to make absolutely certain that both the industry and ATF are moving in lock step with one another. This year we have an agenda that focuses on nine separate objectives that have been jointly created by industry and ATF. At this writing, we have made three proposals to put four of our objectives behind us as major accomplishments this year. I know we keep talking about the secrecy of these issues but we promise, as results are available you will read them right here first. In the meantime, we the NFATCA say “stick to your guns” and support your NFA community in any manner that you feel suitable. We would like to have you become a part of what we are doing and encourage you to do so. However, if that is not on your agenda, join us every month here and read about what we are up to and think how you could make a difference for all of us. Every effort helps and every NFATCA member encourages you to get out to the shows and make a difference in whatever manner you can. Of the three hundred plus members, every individual is making a difference in some way. We challenge you, as an NFA supporter to do the same.

Pretty exciting times, as far as we are concerned! Don’t miss the boat any longer; come join the only organization in the country that is watching over every single NFA issue possible. All of this energy is just for you, the NFA owner. Join the NFATCA today by visiting us at www.nfatca.org.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N12 (September 2009)
and was posted online on June 1, 2012


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