Trends in AR-15 Gun Values

Trends in AR-15 values.

Following last year’s gun control hysteria and panic-buying of AR-15s, gun prices are finally back to normal. Editor Jerry Lee tells why referring to a copy of the newly updated Standard Catalog of Firearms 2014 is the surest way to avoid getting gouged.

One of the things I like about being editor of Standard Catalog of Firearms is that the book is a lot like a gun show. When I start working on a new edition, I get the same feeling I do when I walk into a really big show, one of those so big you can’t see it all in one day.

If you’ve ever been to the Tulsa Arms Show you know what I mean. Or Houston, or the one that used to be at the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds. It’s an exciting feeling to walk in the door and scan the room, and see literally thousands of tables full of guns, waiting for you to look at, as questions about, and check prices.

I hope the readers get as much enjoyment from reading Standard Catalog as I do putting it together. Every year I get to go through this virtual gun show, and with the help of some very knowledgeable contributors and consultants, decide if the values need to be adjusted up, down or stay the same—all of which I thoroughly enjoy.

I think back to a Sports Afield Hunting Annual I bought at the drug store in our little Texas town in the early 1950s. In the back of the magazine was the first “gun catalog” I had ever seen. Before long I’d memorized just about every spec and feature of every gun on the market. Soon I was getting catalogs from manufacturers and learning as much as I could about all their guns. I guess you could say I was statistically inclined and before long was a gun catalog junkie. And I still am.

The AR Scare of 2012-2013

AR-15 panic buying begins to slow as gun prices approach historic norms.

AR-15 panic buying begins to slow as gun prices approach historic norms.

When I was starting to work on the 2014 Standard Catalog of Firearms, we had a dilemma about what to do about the ARs. Anyone reading this knows that the values of both new and used AR-style rifles went through the roof late last year.

After several years without much talk of gun control from the political left, throughout much of 2012 guns were in the news almost every day. Following several mass shootings with guns the media insists on calling “assault rifles,” the gun control agenda was back. AR and AK prices doubled but people bought them anyway, some because they wanted to get one while they could, and others because they wanted to turn a profit.

How to handle such a swing in values in Standard Catalog? This is a book that is published annually—the values shown are going to be on bookshelves for a year or more. How much speculation could be done on prices six or 12 months in the future? What was a poor editor to do?

Thankfully, by early summer, several things happened. By then, just about everyone who had to have their first, or one more military-style semi-auto rifle, had obtained it. Also the manufacturers had increased production enough so the supply had caught up with the demand. And the anti-gun political leaders realized there was no way that stricter gun control measures were going to become law in the near future.

Prices for ARs began to shrink and soon were at MSRP and even lower. In other words, things were back to normal.

The result is that the values shown for military-style semi-auto rifles in the 2014 Standard Catalog are about where they were in the last edition—where they should be. And those buyers who thought a rack full of ARs would be a great investment, have a nice collection of overpriced ARs.


Recommended Resources for Gun Collectors:

Standard-Catalog-20142014 Standard Catalog of Firearms, 24th Edition

Standard Catalog of Military Firearms 7th Edition

Gun Digest 2014, 68th Edition

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