By: Eric at the Gunmart Blog
United States –-(Ammoland.com)- There has been somewhat of a shift recently by a few of the major firearms manufacturers with regard to ARs.
We are now starting to see ARs with MSRPs that are considerably lower than ever before.
It seems that the industry is quietly moving towards producing more affordable or entry level ARs. These are guns with MSRPs in the $700 – $800 range and a real world retail price in the $500 – $700 range. These guns are being brought to the market place in an effort to focus on a consumer who would never be anything more then a casual AR owner…
Its a gun for the hobbyist and at a hobbyist price.
These guns are not your standard Mil-Spec rifles. Many of these models are lacking standard features that can run up manufacturing costs. Features like the dust cover, forward assist, shell deflector, chrome lined barrel, carry handle/rear sight/front sight, and they often have light contour barrels. For the casual gun owner that just wants something to pull out of the closet a couple of times a year to go punch holes in paper, this might be an excellent way to get into the AR game. There are at least half a dozen models on the market right now from DPMS, Smith & Wesson, Bushmaster, and now Mossberg that all fall into this category. With a little searching, I have found these online for as little as $575 and some have even been seen in big box retailers being sold on promo for as low as $500.
So what's my opinion on this new class of ARs?
Well, I honestly think that this is a great thing. I really like the idea of an entry level AR that comes at a much lower price point. While cutting corners to reduce manufacturing costs doesn't sound too good on the surface to most gun buyers, we have yet to really see it result in inferior guns or major performance problems. These guns run, and despite the lack of some familiar features that can be found on Mil-Spec ARs many of these budget models get good overall reviews from those who have run them extensively.
So why is a cheaper AR good?
Well, first and foremost it makes AR ownership more appealing to the casual and/or new gun owner. A gun owner who is only going to go to the shooting range maybe once a year is not going to even consider plunking down $1,000 for some play thing that they might rarely use. Change that price tag to $600 and now you have their attention. Now they are starting to think about getting into the game. With a $500 price tag, you might just see them impulse buy one of these rifles on a whim… or maybe just because all of their shooting buddies have one.
This is great for our culture (read country). More guns in the hands of more Americans means more people on our side of the political debate. This would result in more people having a stake in the “evil assault rifle” and “high capacity 30 round clips” debates. It will also just bring more gun owners into the fold. Lowering the cost to play always, repeat always, results in increasing the number of players. Even if these guns just sit in the back of closets, it shifts the overall culture of this country. The other big possibility is that this might get the casual gun owner out shooting more. It might convert more casual owners into enthusiasts… and in turn might just shift us back to once again being a nation of riflemen.
Another reason I like seeing this push towards affordable ARs is because its good for us hardcore gun nuts. Why is a budget AR good for the most serious of us gun owners… someone who may already own one or more ARs? Because it lets you buy an AR for between $500 – $700, that's why. Are you someone who has been looking for a decent truck gun or a gun to keep on your boat or at your cabin? How about an extra 5.56 upper or just an extra complete AR to have “just in case”? Well, I'm thinking most of us who meet that criteria would jump at the chance to buy a $500 AR. Not to mention what these guns are gonna go for once they start showing up on the shelves of gun shops as used guns. It gets me excited just to think about it.
Finally, this is going to be very good for the gun and ammo industry… both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term this will produce instant revenue streams and even more profit. Make no mistake about it, these guns are going to sell very well. In the long term this new class of ARs will potentially increase their target market (number of gun owners).
The more people that are brought into the fold, the bigger the industry numbers get, and the more people there will be that the gun and ammo manufacturers have to potentially buy their products. This will have a significant impact on the long term success of individual companies as well as the industry as a whole.
This could very well be the biggest game changer with regard to long guns that we have seen in a very long time. I like that.
Eric at the Gunmart Blog – Eric is a gun blogger, firearms enthusiast, and sorry excuse for a hunter. He is also an AmmoLand Shoting Sports News Columnist. Leave him some comments on this article before you go. You can also follow Eric on Facebook, Twitter and at his blog, Gunmart. Visit: gunmart.blogspot.com