Of the notable stories in the firearms industry this year, both record breaking gun sales and the end of Remington Outdoor Corp. are at the top of the heap. By all accounts, 2020 is on track to set a record for firearm sales. Election years have been known to cause a spike in firearm and ammunition sales, like in 2016 where 15.7 million guns were sold, a record for gun sales during a single calendar year. However, this year, 2020, looks like it will top that number. Thus far in 2020, more than 15.4 million guns have already been purchased and it's expected that the 2016 record will be broken before the end of this year. Many of these purchases, up to 40%, are being made by first-time buyers, a large percentage of which are women. However, Mark says it's not just ladies making up this first time buyer category, but other demographics that haven't previously participated in shooting sports and gun ownership. These people are a big part of the tidal wave of new gun owners. What drives this kind of potentially record breaking firearm sales? There are a number of factors at work, Mark says, referring to them as "external influencers". First, anti-gun politicians that talk about what guns they want to ban and what restrictions they want to place on Americans' rights can be enough to push some people who have been on the fence to go ahead and purchase a firearm. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has sowed a lot of uncertainty around the country and that, too, has helped contribute to sales. Thirdly, lawlessness in the streets has captured the attention of many Americans and people are concerned about their safety. Additionally, there is a sport factor at play for those who are looking for something to do because of lockdowns, social distancing and COVID measures. People have more time on their hands, Mark notes, as he highlights an interaction he had with someone looking for guidance on purchasing a firearm for hunting to fill their down time. Gun buyers are all individuals with different reasons for purchasing a firearm and the good news, Mark says, is that when new gun owners are ready to get some training the NRA is the first and best place to go to do so.
As for the downfall of Remington Outdoor Corp, Mark says it's really unfortunate that this great name in American gun making, one that has been around since 1816, had to fold. In doing so, pieces of Remington Outdoor Corp. were sold to the highest bidder with seven different companies stepping in and purchasing various brands under the Remington umbrella. In his regular column, "The Keefe Report" at AmericanRifleman.org, Mark thoroughly details the Remington breakup and where each portion of the company landed. Here, he briefly discusses Vista Outdoor and their purchase of the Remington ammunition plant in Lonoke, Arkansas, the accessory business and the Remington name and trademarks. One of the other notable acquisitions was Ruger's purchase of Marlin firearms. Ruger has done lever actions in the past, Mark says, but on a very small scale and with this purchase, that is about to change. Although there isn't a specific timeline for when Marlin will be up and running again, Mark says the experts at Ruger are on top of it and excited to put their spin on the Marlin brand.
Finally, Mark discusses "American Rifleman" on Outdoor Channel, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET. The show provides the best of both worlds, a historical look at firearms as well as new technologies and products. The show is based on a 2-tiered approach, Mark says, where they combine historical firearm segments with behind the scenes insight into the factories of today's biggest firearm and optic companies. COVID has complicated their ability to stick to that approach, Mark says, so he highlights how this season is different from pre-pandemic shows. Viewers can expect some firearm safety features, as well as historical gun segments and a look at the "Top 10" most important machine guns in history. This machine gun series will be interesting and a great way to educate people about the history of machine guns like the Gatling Gun (not actually a machine gun), Maxim, MG 42, and more. "American Rifleman" will examine the role that machine guns have had not only in technology but also in history as well.
Be sure to listen in as Mark Keefe joins the show to talk all things firearms. Don't forget to watch "American Rifleman" on Outdoor Channel, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET. You can also pick up a subscription of American Rifleman magazine by becoming a member of the NRA.