Yesterday, someone asked me to look into my crystal ball. Do I think the current buying frenzy will ease off, prices come down, and guns become more available? If someone doesn’t already have a gun, but intends to get one, should they splurge on a high-dollar purchase now, or wait until things settle down a bit?
The question was prompted by someone looking for a good reliable gun for concealed carry, one that would be just large enough for comfortably learning to shoot. Last summer, this person had chosen to save up for a modern polymer gun which has magazines that carry more than ten rounds. They saved up all summer and planned to make the gun purchase this winter. But the gun they had chosen and have been saving up for suddenly became very hard to find, and the prices have skyrocketed. So they wanted to know if they should hold out for better days, or buy something less than their chosen ideal now.
This is what I told them.
To be honest, I have no idea what the prices will do, short or long term. It’s too unsettled right now to make that kind of guess. But I will say that if you don’t have any defensive firearm at all, any reasonably reliable gun is better than no gun.
Whether your ‘ideal’ gun will become affordable again, or how long that might take, I truly don’t know. The prices will certainly stabilize if no new legislation passes, or if it passes but does not affect your model. But even if the immediate political crisis goes in our favor, we probably won’t see a big drop in prices until everyone relaxes about the long-term legal situation, and that might take a long time. Worse than that, if any of the current proposals end up in law, prices may not ever drop. We just can’t tell right now. Also, if things don’t go well, a lot of people who are currently carrying mid-size or larger guns with standard magazines will probably move down to smaller guns, since shrinking magazine capacity erases a lot of the carry advantage of a mid-size or larger gun. That would put a lot of pressure on the small gun side of the market, and that means the prices for your ideal guns might stay high or even go higher for a little while, if things don’t go well on the political side.
So there’s the financial crap shoot in a nutshell: if you buy now, prices might go down, which means you’ll feel like you’ve thrown money away. If you don’t buy now, prices might go up completely out of your price range. My best guess is that prices will subside slightly in a few months, and availability improve, if all the current uproar comes to nothing. If the political noise keeps going, all bets are off.
Money isn’t all that matters
However, the financial question isn’t your biggest problem right now. Protecting your precious family is! So I’d suggest buying something you can use to defend your family while you wait to find out what’s going to happen long term. If you can find one and can swing it, get your ideal gun. If you can’t, get what you can. If the price of your ideal gun comes down later, you can almost certainly resell your interim purchase or swap it for the one you really want. You might even make money on something like that, if you choose well and if things go just right. But either way, at least you’ll be able to protect your family in the meanwhile.
Right now, if I had a budget problem and wanted to arm myself, I’d probably be looking at a solid, used revolver – S&W or Ruger. In many places, prices on used revolvers have dropped a bit, and I believe some are heading below their eventual replacement value as panicky people are selling their old safe queens to finance purchases of modern designs.
If you did already have a defense gun that worked for you, and just wanted to move up to something else, I’d probably tell you to sit tight for a bit and wait to see what happens next.
But do you remember the old cliché about the first rule in a gunfight?
 We’ll also see a big clump of people moving to .40 and .45 caliber guns in the same frame sizes as their current 9mm carry guns. But I think most of the trend will be toward smaller rather than larger.