I wanted to share my experience regarding this situation. When the great scare began in December, I knew that as a prepared individual I did not need to panic buy and so I decided to perform an experiment.
The goal: To acquire an AR-15 for the lowest possible cost during a time with the highest possible demand.
Total cost for my AR-15: $654 (For perspective, the bulk of the component parts that I purchased was when complete rifles were easily selling for $2,000+)
How I did it:
When the scare began in earnest, I knew that the odds of getting the Rock River Arms tactical operator 2 that I had been eyeing went out the window, so I decided the easiest method of acquiring would be to buy the key components (the ones most likely to be banned) and then lay low for everything else.
Purchased during the scare:
Lower: Milled lowers were in short supply and those that were available were testing the $400 range, this was not an acceptable price. Based on many positive reviews online, I knew that Palmetto State Armory carried lowers produced by ATI that were polymer (and would not be on the top of anyone’s purchasing list). Cost $49 + $20 FFL transfer fee
Upper: Clearly, any of the high dollar uppers that one would normally buy were in the realm of crazy prices at this time. Again, Youtube and Google came in handy. A small operation known as Blackthorrne sells AR uppers at very reasonable prices online and I was able to acquire an M4 style 16″ upper (assembled) for $300 shipped.
Stock: As “Evil Adjustable Stocks” were going to be squarely in the crosshairs, I went on to a local firearms forum and offered to trade a 500rd bulk pack of .22LR (at this point more endangered than African Elephants) in exchange for a stock, tube, buffer and spring (Mil Spec not commercial as that is what the lower had marked on the box). Estimated value: $27 (including shipping)
Lower parts kit: Needed to complete the lower. And it included the “evil” and potentially banned, pistol grip. RGuns in Carpentersville, Illinois provided it for $80 (Including Shipping + Sales Tax — I am in the People’s Republic of Illinois.)
Total expenditure during the Crisis: $466
Purchased after the scare subsided (Items that had the feinstein ban passed (With no changes), we still would have the ability to purchase):
Bolt carrier group: Cosmetically blemished, but otherwise fine Auto profile BCG from Palmetto State Armory: $99
Charging Handle: $19
Professional Assembly by a gunsmith: $70 (Headspace checked, test fired, etc..)
Expenditure after the crisis: $188
What have we learned during this crisis:
Some of the good that has come out of this crisis are actually very interesting web sites. Gunbot.net allows you to search for “In stock” ammo sorted by price per round. ARPartsFinder allows you to find “In stock” AR components, again at the lowest possible prices. Additionally, and I think this is the most important thing, if you can afford to stock up more than you see yourself needing, do it. If nothing, when the next scare comes, you will be positioned that you can turn a handsome profit. Last summer I had purchased Tapco AK mags for $6/each, not out of any need but rather just to have them… I sold 10 of those magazines in January at a staggering $15/each, this may not sound like much but in six months I had a 150% return on my investment… when was the last time you had an annual return of 300% on your 401(k) or IRA? – K.A.