It’s no mystery that gun sales are up since the start of Covid-19 as people panic buy and hoard all things survival or “tactical”.
But the data on what people are currently searching for paint an interesting picture.
We looked at what kind of articles our readers are most interested during this time and our findings might explain why some things you are searching for are out-of-stock.
We also interviewed some of the largest firearm retailers in the business to see when things will be back-in-stock, and what they are doing to address firearm shortage issues.
What People Are Searching
Since March, we’ve seen a lot of searches on handguns for self-defense, ammo, body armor, and much more.
How much growth in search of these items? Here’s data we pulled from Google Search Trends:
Google uses a scale from 1-100 to chart “interest over time”.
Terms like “buy ammo” spiked up over 900% from January to March; and terms like “best handgun”, also spiked over 300%.
While interest over terms “body armor” gained a lot of interest in June when riots broke out all through the nation.
Here at Pew Pew Tactical, we also saw terms like “ar pistol”, “best-concealed carry guns”, “300 Blackout”, “1911 pistol”, “gas mask”, pick up as folks are looking for adequate and effective protection for themselves and their families.
Roy Hill, a PR Specialist from Brownells, one of the world’s largest firearm retailers, said “…we saw immediate demand increase for popular types of ammunition, especially 9mm pistol along with 5.56 and .223 rifle ammo. That demand has remained high, and has expanded to other calibers of ammo along with different types of products – including guns – in the recent weeks.”
Palmetto State Armory also reported a massive surge in first-time gun owners as well as a strong trend toward anything defense or AR-15 related.
Body Amor Sales (Year-To-Date)
Interest for body armor grew tremendously this year with spikes in January, March, and June.
Google trends showed interest in “body armor” increased by over 130% from January to its peak in early June. People are looking at defending themselves, and that includes body armor along with handguns and shotguns.
We asked Alex Lind, Marketing Manager at AR500 Armor what they’ve been seeing the last few months and he said they’ve seen sales soar “approximately 450% from the same period a year ago.”
Lind added, “we believe demand will be high until at least the end of the year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if demand increased as we get closer to the election, or if a new round of civil unrest begins.”
What This All Means
With events of COVID coupled with bouts of riots, people are scared and they’re looking to protect themselves.
“This is the first time in my life that I can say people are just scared,” said Bill Murphy, a career law enforcement officer who taught at Gunsite Academy before founding Firearms Training Associates in Corona, California, in 1998.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), there are more than 2.5 million new gun owners in the first half of 2020 in America.
People who didn’t own guns before are now becoming first-time gun owners. People who owned guns are now looking to conceal carry, buy more ammo, and stock up for the winter, so to speak.
Looking at the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), there were 3.9 million background checks conducted in June, the highest amount ever since it began operation in 1998.
The Brand Manager from Guns.com, Jennifer Simunek, sees that there is a great demand for self-defense guns.
When asked what was selling, she said “…lots of semi-auto handguns, rifles and pump-action shotguns are flying off the shelves. We think 2020 has a lot of people thinking more about their safety and how they can ensure that”.
When Will Things Come Back In Stock?
Since nearly everything is sold out right now, but manufacturers are working hard to restock shelves nationwide — it must be coming back eventually.
Jennifer said “We are already starting to see popular firearms and ammo available more often than they were a month ago, but it’s hard to say when things will fully return to ‘normal’. Manufacturers are doing what they can to keep up with demand, but we’re all being impacted by these record-breaking numbers.”
For most retailers, it’s hard for them to foresee when demand will fall back down.
Guy Walker, Director of Sales at GunPrime.com likened the strain on manufactures to that as during wartime. “The manufacturers are working hard, like full wartime production kind of hard, but there just aren’t enough parts to make guns.”
Walker continued, “We are already seeing new shipments from the manufacturers, but what we’re getting is usually a small fraction of what we have ordered. For example, if we order 700 of one gun to be delivered ASAP we usually end up getting 1-2 in a week dripping in.”
LuckyGunner.com‘s Anthony Welsch, Director of Marketing, echoed the same sentiment. He said “Right now, between the pandemic, civil unrest, and upcoming election season there is a lot to feel anxious about. I’m not sure any of us are qualified to say when those nerves will be eased.”
While the extra sales and work and surely welcome, it must be taking a human tole on their employees also.
“The warehouse guys are working extremely hard right now. They’ve been working a lot of overtime and weekends as order volume has been higher. They’ve done a great job with it thus far and we’re still shipping most orders out the day they get placed on our website” Welsch said.
According to Roy Hill from Brownells “We’ve been shipping orders out as quickly as we can. But the whole industry is running into supply chain issues…For example, if Company X is inside a state with strict COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s hard for Company X to manufacture many products, much less keep up with this very high level of demand. And if Company X also supplies components or parts for Companies A, B, and C, well the challenges just multiply.”
This kind of chain reaction is likely a major cause of slowdowns and low stock.
Some retailers have also increased their own efforts to help bridge the gap between what the customers want and what the manufactures can deliver.
Terry, the Director of Purchasing and Product Manager for Rainier Arms said that “I am ordering more to keep up with demand. As well as ramping up production on our own products in case manufacturers are unable to deliver.”
As no one is surprised by much of these changes, but we think some of this data is interesting to share as many are looking to see when prices for guns and gear to come back down.
Many of us are tired of everything being out-of-stock and long lines at the gun store so it does feel good knowing that manufacturers are doing something about it.
We also appreciate all of the front-line workers, from the sales persons behind the gun counter to the warehouse pickers working overtime to fill orders.
Light is at the end of the tunnel, for all of us.
Are you a new gun owner? If so, comment below and share with us how your journey to gun ownership has been!