Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Visit to the Gun Show, Taking the Pulse of Folk Reactionaries

Gun shows have always been hotbeds of what I'll call 'Folk Reactionaries' in the US.  This morning, my wife, our kids, and I went to one of the larger gun shows around these parts to see what might be seen.  My wife has been expressing a desire to gain cultural familiarity with arms, and I was considering getting either a 38 special revolver, 9 mm automatic pistol or a 22 target pistol to serve that end.  Normally we go to a gun show every year or so, usually the same one down in the Expo Center.

Here are a few of the things I noticed:
The place was busy---really busy.  It felt much more crowded than in years past.  My wife says that this is partially explainable by the season.  Apparently a lot of people want a Luke 22:36 Christmas in Oregon.

The crowd was somewhat less male than normal.  Granted, my youngest draws women, especially of grandmotherly age, like a magnet, but there were a lot more women around than is usually the case.  I take this as an indication that gun purchasing demographics are broadening.  We even saw a couple of small groups (2 or 3) of just women to add to the usual leaven of wives and girlfriends.  In addition, we saw a reasonable number of booths selling hand-crafty things that is probably aimed at that demographic.

The explicitly political material on offer was substantially reduced from years past.  Sure there were the usual anti-gun control and generally wonderfully politically incorrect t-shirts and tracts, but much less so than is the norm.

Instead, much of the booth and floor space that such material generally occupies appears to have been converted instead to preparedness and survival material.  Some examples---When There is No Doctor (medical field manual), When There is No Dentist, Nuclear War Survival Skills, tons of water filtration and freeze dried/otherwise highly preserved rations, and the like.  This can be taken as a sign that this section of the population has raised its estimate of the probability of civil disorder.

On the guns and ammo, this year appeared to be more rifle than pistol centered, and a lot of the ammunition was being sold in larger lots than I recall the norm being.  I saw considerably fewer SKS rifles than I'm used to seeing, and quite a few more AR-15s.  Perhaps there's a desire to have ammunition compatibility with the NATO standard?

4 comments:

Tim of Angle said...

Depends on what you mean by "NATO standard". Both the 7.62x51, for which the SKS is chambered, and the 5.56x45, for which the AR-15 (and M-16) are chambered, are 'NATO standard' rounds; many countries are moving from the former to the latter because of American influence. The 5.56 round was developed to be used in jungle warfare in Vietnam -- the bullet is only about half the weight of the 7.62, with a corresponding increase in the individual ammunition load, and the decrease in penetration was considered an acceptable tradeoff in jungle terrain. Most serious shooters, though, prefer the 7.62, which is the same size (although not exactly the same cartridge) as that used in the AK-47, perhaps the most widely available weapon in the world.

Jehu said...

Tim,
The SKS isn't 7.62x51, it's 7.62x39 if memory serves. It's thus a less powerful round than the 7.62 Nato. It's ammo used to be a lot cheaper too when the former Soviet bloc nations were dumping huge supplies of such onto the world market.

Olave d'Estienne said...

I think a lot of people have had it with the SKS, plain and simple. It's kind of the old VW Beetle of firearms--inexpensive, reliable, not high performance, fun but not easy to customize. People hate the sights, and have to choose either ruining the reliability with a cheap scope or ruining the economics with an expensive one. And the 7.62x39mm round is too low in velocity to make it easy to hit distant targets; zero your scope beautifully and you'll be hitting your target's feet if you estimate range wrong.

They heyday of the SKS and AK families were when the Chinese and Eastern European imports were flowing in great numbers, but there were only a few AR-15 manufacturers.

There was a time when I actually tried to keep track of all the AR-15 manufacturers! Nowadays, I hear about a new one an average of once a month. AR-15s are a really competitive and popular market; if you sell receivers at a fair price and barrels for a pretty penny, buyers will get there barrels from someone else.

The whole thing has either killed the Mini-14, or it should have. Mini-14s are less accurate than AR-15s, and less customizable, so they should be cheaper, but they're really not. Some people may just like their nice M14ish looks (I do), but I don't know anyone who thinks they're worth it.

(Pardons for posting to such an old thread. I got lost. I'll post this anyway because I'm in a whimsical mood.)

Jehu said...

Well, for a while in the 90s you could get a Russian SKS for not much more than $100. They're a lot more pricey now and most think the non-Russian ones aren't as good. Arms manufacturers in the US though are doing a good business. Maybe they're what Obama meant when he said the private sector was doing fine?