I am not one to get caught up in “panic buying”. In the post-Sandy Hook months, I was one of those who was able to profit slightly while panic abounded. I recall selling a couple of Glock 33 round magazines for $60+, and I unloaded a Keltec Sub 2000 (Glock 9mm model) for $700+. I should note that the buyers of these items thanked me for the great deals! When ammunition became scarce, I bought an airsoft copy of my Glock 19 in order to get in some cheap practice (and I am glad I bought it then, because the KWA model I purchased, which I used in classes here and here, is now very difficult to find and purchase).
Nevertheless, this is an election year. It is my hardly unique opinion that, unless we see Hillary Clinton in handcuffs, she will be our next president. Hopefully, at least one and preferably both houses of Congress will remain in Republican hands. If that happens, Clinton will have a tough time—despite her current gun-control rhetoric—passing any significant gun-control laws (witness Obama the last few years).
Despite this, I think the panic is coming. Accordingly, I would advise our readers to begin buying now what they anticipate they may want/need in the future. To reiterate: I am NOT predicting sweeping gun-control legislation. I AM predicting panic buying based on the somewhat irrational fear of such legislation. Fear breeds panic, and there is plenty of fear out there (witness the fact that nearly each month over the last year set a new record for NICS checks).
Personally, I try to be more of a practical guy than a “collector”. Having six AR-15 stripped lowers in my safe gives me no real peace of mind. But, right now, the AR market is quite soft, so if you do not yet own one, now is probably the time to get one. You can score a high quality one for a very reasonable price. If you already own one or more, acquiring spare parts might be a good plan. I consulted with Dave Montana of Hunter Rifleworks(who built me an AR-15 upper I reviewed here) about some key items to have on hand. He listed: complete bolt carrier groups, extractor parts (extractor, springs, etc.), spare bolts, spare charging handles, gas tubes, gas blocks, and barrels. I would probably add to this list gas rings, firing pins, and other individual bolt parts. Obviously, some of this will depend on how much/often you shoot (for example, in my case, it will be a LONG time before I would need to replace a barrel in one of my ARs). Judging by the panic in 2013, all of these parts ended up in short supply, so this is a good basic list to go by.
Other things to stock up on now would be magazines for all of your semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Companies like Palmetto State Armory and Primary Arms continue to have frequent sales on items like Magpul and D&H AR-15 magazines for prices like $8.99 and $6.99, respectively. Stock up while you can. (Note: I am not affiliated with these two companies except as a repeat satisfied customer of both).
Finally, ammunition. Though I tend to keep plenty on hand and rarely burn though more than 100 rounds of 9mm in a single range session, the fact that I have several upcoming classes and prefer to always maintain a bit of a stash has had me trolling the online stores looking for deals. On a related note, although I do not reload my own ammunition, I ALWAYS collect my brass from the range (and ask neighboring folks if they keep theirs…if not, more for me). Though prices on used brass are quite low right now, I expect them to rise if panic ensues. I currently maintain a few thousand pieces of used brass in Ziploc freezer bags, ready to sell to reloaders or send to a company like Freedom Munitions as soon as prices rise again.
It is not my intention with this article to foment panic. Rather, as John and I try to promote training and practice along with a certain level of preparedness, it would make me sad if people decided to forego training opportunities a year from now because they lack ammunition, magazines, or some other key ingredient to training success. I do not think it’s necessary to stock up by the truckload on any of these items. Instead, just imagine if you are scheduled to take a carbine class in a week but are anxious because your AR-15 firing pin broke at the range yesterday and now you cannot find a replacement. Having a little bit of foresight now can get you through a possible tough time in the not-too-distant future.