We all remember the panic buying after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The prospect of new gun control, including a new Assault Weapon Ban, drove gun owners to buy every firearm, bullet, and magazine that they could get their hands on.

Right now, however, it is cheaper than ever to get involved in the shooting sports.

There will be another panic. It is a matter of when, not if. But you can take advantage of today’s low pricing to make sure you don’t get caught off guard by $50 magazines and $0.60/round 5.56 ammunition.

Here is our list of 7 things you should buy now while they’re still cheap.

1) AR-15s

This is just common sense. When Congress was debating gun control in 2013, AR-15 pricing shot through the roof. A sub-$400 rifle was all of a sudden selling for over a thousand. It was nuts.

But today, it has never been cheaper to stock up on AR-15s. If you want a full rifle, budget builds can still be had for below $400. If you build the rifle out by buying your own parts, you can definitely build an AR-15 for around $300.

If you can’t afford to buy fully built rifles, then stock up on AR-15 lower receivers. It is now possible to find Anderson AM-15 stripped lower receivers for less than $30 when they’re on sale. You will still have to pay for a transfer at your local FFL, but you can now buy three stripped lowers, out the door, for less than $120.

Buy them now while they’re on sale and build out the rifles as your budget allows…

2) AK-pattern rifles

While the bubble has burst in the AR-15 market, the same is not the case when it comes to AK rifles. While you could buy a budget WASR-10 less than $500 during the 2013 Panic, today those same rifles are selling for around $700.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, the process for building an AK is much more complex than an AK. There is no real market for AK receivers because you need hundreds of dollars in tools and jigs, and in some cases even a welder, in order to build an AK from scratch.

Another reason that prices have increased is that sanctions against Russia have prevented Saiga rifles from being sold into the United States. Not only did consumers lose this source of foreign-made AK rifles, but manufacturers also lost their vendor. Many companies would import the Saigas in their hunting configuration and then upgrade them into a full AK. Without Saigas to upgrade, these sellers needed to source American rifles (which are much more expensive). That has caused the whole market to increase their prices (supply/demand).

There is no reason to believe that AK rifles will get cheaper over time. If you want one, buy one now.

3) Ammunition

This one is just common sense, especially if you shoot a lot. If you can’t go shooting unless you stop at the store on the way to the range to buy ammunition, then you are just waiting to get burned by a future panic buy.

There is no set amount of ammunition that you should have on hand. It’s up to each gun owner to decide what they’re comfortable with stockpiling. Personally, I like to make sure that I have at least a couple boxes for each and every caliber of rifle and pistol that I own. I like to collect WWII rifles, so this can get complicated. But since I don’t shoot every gun frequently, it isn’t hard to keep a couple of boxes of 30-06, Arisaka, and Carcano ammunition on hand (for example).

But for calibers that I shoot frequently — 5.56, 7.62×39, .308, 9mm, and .45 ACP — I try to keep at least a 1,000 rounds on hand for each caliber. Since I don’t shoot .308 too often, I only keep 500 rounds of that caliber on hand. And when I see a good deal, like a case of 7.62×39 for $190 or a $280 for brass 5.56, I buy more.

If you want to store ammunition long term, look for ammo that is vacuum sealed. It is relatively easy to find 5.56 ammo vacuum packed. For 7.62×39, Tula now sells their ammunition sealed in steel cans for long term storage.

4) Magazines

Immediately after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, the price of an aluminum 30 round magazine jumped to $100 on Cheaper Than Dirt. Today, those same magazines are selling for $7.

It’s a no brainer. I’m not telling you to stock up on magazines so you can gouge people when panic buying sets in again. But you should stock up now because it is really hard to imagine a brand new AR-15 magazine ever selling for less than $7 or $8…

And if you like to shoot a gun designed overseas, and rely on your magazines to be imported into the country, you really should stock up now. Brand new steel AK-47 magazines can now be bought for around $10. If you shoot a Cetme or PTR-91 rifle, you can still buy surplus German G3 magazines for $5-6 each (and that price is starting to tick up).

If you want to treat this like an investment, odds are high that you will eventually get your money back.

5) Curio and Relic Guns

As someone who collects old, WWII guns, I have seen the prices of these guns shoot through the roof in recent years. Back in 2012, you could buy a Russian Mosin Nagant Rifle for $80. Today, online retailers are selling them for close to $400.

It is supply and demand. Foreign countries aren’t manufacturing these old bolt-action rifles anymore. While they have produced millions, not all of them are destined for the American market. Mosin Nagant and 7.62x54r imports into the US dried up when Russia invaded Ukraine and the Syrian civil war broke out. The instability in Ukraine made it harder to export rifles to the United States and with a war going on in Syria, there was all of a sudden rebel groups looking to buy whatever weapons and ammo they could. Syrian rebel snipers did use Mosin Nagant rifles.

If you can buy these guns now, do it. They will only appreciate. And as we saw with the market for K98 rifles, once the commercial market dries up, the price can easily double on the private resale market.

The same is true for the Civilian Marksmanship Program. If you have not yet purchased an M1 Garand from the CMP, stop what you’re doing and buy one right now. The price of M1s will double or triple once the CMP runs out (and they have already warned that they are starting to scrape the bottom of their stock).

All of these things are affordable to buy now and each and every item on this list will cost more when the next gun control panic buying hits. If you can afford to stock up now, do it. Because you’ll be kicking yourself years from now about the golden age of $300 AR-15s…


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Max McGuire

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