I grew up in the 1980s and early 90s. It is not hard to remember a time when you could buy surplus rifles for a song. SKS rifles and Chinese AKs poured into the US, and one could buy a Norinco Type 56S AK for $229. Ammunition was cheap as well, a case of surplus 8mm or 7.62x39mm cost pennies per round. In fact, the good times continued after the assault weapons ban lifted in 2004. Cheap AKs, surplus rifles and ammunition flowed until the election of Obama. In 2008, panic began to take hold in the firearms community.
by Zach Dunn
Fear of a new Assault Weapons Ban, firearms confiscation and other totalitarian policies swept through the 2nd Amendment community in the USA. It’s not hard to remember just a few years ago when AR-15s sold for prices that were on average over $1,000. Ammunition was hard to find as fear of a gun ban swept through the firearms community. The once plentiful AK pattern rifles were cleared off the rack, as were even the most expensive AR-15s. In 2014, surplus 5.45x39mm ammunition was banned from import followed by Saiga AKs from Russia.
The Post-2018 World
The high prices and empty shelves reached a fever pitch in mid-late 2016. After the Orlando mass-shooting and the fear of Hillary Clinton winning the presidential election followed by an assault on the 2nd Amendment. One business, Hunter’s Warehouse, sold 30,000 AR-15s within a week after Sandy Hook. And that was just one smaller shop. Things changed quickly after Trump’s election. Very quickly.
It is a different, brave new firearms world we have stepped into. Gone are the days of cheap surplus rifles, and crates of surplus ammunition from Europe and the former Soviet Bloc. Also passed, is the age of the cheap AK rifles. In the place of “Ye Olden Times,” a new golden age has come to us. The age of the cheap AR-15 and the price drop of ammunition. Cheap handguns, cheap hunting rifles, and even cheap shotguns have also flooded the market. And cheap does not mean poorly made by any means.
The Bounty Before Us
Palmetto State Armory, Anderson Manufacturing, Smith and Wesson and even Colt AR-15s can be had for under $1,000. Del-Ton, BCM and others can be added to the above list. Some prices dip down to under $500. A Palmetto State Armory Freedom AR-15 can cost under $400. And the Freedom is built with mil-spec parts to boot! Colt LE6920s are selling for $825-$950. If there was ever a time to purchase an AR-15, the time is right now.
Handguns too are a part of this new golden age. Surplus Glocks are flooding the market as Police departments switch from .40 back to .9mm. If you’ve ever wanted a .40 pistol, you can pick one up now for a song. Canik, Smith and Wesson, Springfield Armory, and other offer solid polymer handguns for under $400. It is a great time to get a self-defense/combat handgun. If you have been in the market for a Shotgun, these too have become affordable. From imported HAWK shotguns that are an exact clone of the Remington 870, to the Mossberg 930, shotguns can be had for under $400, and as low as $150. Mossberg 500 shotguns remain as some of the most reliable, budget shotguns around.
If you ever wanted to start a survival gun collection, what a time to do it.
Traditional hunting rifles have become the neglected child in the firearms community. Bolt action rifles, such as the Remington 700, Savage 11, Marlin 336, etc. have taken a back seat in America to semi-auto military style rifles suck as the AR-15, AK, AR-10, CZ 805, etc. And this benefits us. Budgeting $400-500 today will net you a solid hunting rifle such as one mentioned above, or a Savage Axis, or Ruger American rifle. The Savage Axis and Ruger American rifles would be described as “budget” rifles, but they are tack drivers.
Ammunition and Magazines
Ammunition, while not as cheap as we remember it before Obama, is dropping in price. XM855 green tip ammunition can be had for $.25-$.35 per round. 5.56x45mm is plentiful again. 7.62x39mm Russian and even commercial 5.45x39mm ammunition is as of right now, still flowing into this country in solid numbers. Surplus Yugoslavian 7.62x39mm is still available. .308/7.62x51mm surplus ammunition is still coming in. Rifle cartridge production has seemed to have caught up with past years demand and there are no shortages. Handgun ammunition has not changed much in price, but 9mm is becoming more plentiful.
The reason being is the fact that 9mm is back in the limelight as police departments and the FBI all switch back to this cartridge and ditch their .40 pistols. Magazines are cheap. From rifles to most handguns, firearm magazines have dropped in price. You won’t spend much more than $10 for a solid Magpul or even a steel improved NATO mag. AK magazines are starting to climb in price as the import market dries up.
Stop lamenting the days gone by when surplus firearms and ammunition flooded the market. Get out there and take advantage of the new golden age. There are deals to be had, and as of right now, some time to take advantage of it!