This is a topic that has changed significantly since I last addressed it in my Surviving Scrounge blog back in 2008.  The election of a radical anti gun president and two years of a Democrat lock on both the House and Senate have lead to some very interesting developments. Throw in a few high profile cases of nut jobs going on shooting sprees and the left’s normal reaction of “Ban Guns!!!! not stop the criminals” and the market place has gone absolutely bonkers. Gun sales have hit record highs almost monthly for the past 8 years. I’ll try to give a good overview on how to shop for firearms at discount prices but I’m actually going to have to address this in multiple posts. One dealing with rifles, one for shotguns and one for handguns. There is simply too much information to give out.

8 years ago, if you needed a decent rifle but didn’t have a lot of money, a quick trip online found you an arsenal refinished Russian made Mosin Nagant bolt action rifle in cosmoline for under $100. With the 7.62x54R round being the rough equivalent of a 30-06, it was perfectly suitable for both defense and hunting, at least as much as any 5 shot bolt action rifle can be. With the addition of an Archangel stock and a scope, you actually got a decent rifle in a rather archaic, though cheap to shoot, cartridge for around $300.  If you wanted a little more firepower (Who doesn’t?) you could pick up a semi automatic SKS for under $300 or an AK variant for under $400 NEW. All of that has changed. With the Russian invasion of one of their former satellite states, the Obamao administration has stopped the importation of any weapons or ammunition made in Russia. Nagants that used to sell for around $80 are now going for upwards of $250. They’re still good guns, but no longer the best option for people with low incomes that they once were. They have also decided that since someone made a pistol variant of the AK-74, the previously absurdly cheap 5.45×39 7N6 Russian surplus ammunition is an armor piercing handgun round and banned from importation as a result. With the ban on importation of AK parts from Russia, the other countries that provide them have increased their prices to meet the demand. That has lead to a huge price increase in AKs in the US.

So what ARE the best buys these days? Well, that depends on what you are looking for. Mossberg, Marlin, Howa, Savage and Remington have ALL brought out entry level gun/scope combinations in the bolt action rifle category that are accurate, durable, and available for under $500, some of them being under $350 if you are like me and willing to shop at Walmart. Savage has one that sells without a scope for under $300 that has gotten good reviews. Now none of these are going to be the equivalent of a high end sniper rifle, but they will work for putting meat on the table, or keeping coyotes out of the hen house and feral hogs out of the garden. They are available in a variety of popular calibers.

Now I am going to talk about how the leftist’s anti gun rhetoric has actually HELPED the below average income gun buyer. Prior to all of the hysteria over a nutjob murdering his mother, stealing her guns and shooting up a school (Those gun free zone signs were such a deterrent weren’t they?) the number of manufacturers for ARs was fairly small and the prices were $600+ even at Walmart. (Who has succumbed to the politically correct crowd’s rhetoric and no longer sells AR platform rifles. I have to wonder if a CEO from Arkansas would’ve folded like a cheap suit on this like their new British one did.) When the threat of a ban came out, demand skyrocketed and with it the prices. With prices being at double or more the prior to Sandy Hook rate, a lot more people decided to get into the AR building business, thereby saturating the market. This has lead to AR prices dropping substantially. Entry level ARs are now less expensive than AKs with some websites selling them for under $500. Another segment that has had a HUGE uptick is the sale of kits and tools to build your own AR without any government paperwork. Some enterprising individuals have even developed the molds and polymers needed to be able to make your own AR lower receivers in your basement with nothing but their molds, polymers and a kitchen timer. Once you have the lower receiver, you can buy the remaining parts at any given gun show with cash and leave ZERO paper trail. Depending on how this election goes, that may be a necessity. Hitlery has already said that she wants to impose Australia style gun laws in this country which have included mandatory “buy backs” (AKA confiscation with a minimal stipend) ludicrous storage regulations and any of a number of other unconstitutional restrictions on law abiding citizens.

While there are politicians who claim that you can buy guns over the internet, the truth is a bit different from their statements. Yes, you can buy a gun over the internet, under the same conditions as buying one from a newspaper want ad. You both have to live in the same state, you have to meet in person, and the seller has to reasonably believe that it is legal for you to purchase the weapon. If any of those three conditions do not apply, you can not purchase that weapon without it going through a licensed gun dealer. Despite what the media tells you, there are no such things as unlicensed gun dealers. Anyone engaged in the business of buying and selling guns for a profit has to have a license or is committing a crime. They are either licensed dealers or they are not. The problem being that the law establishing who is considered a dealer is so vague that the ATF has been looking at changing the definition to include anyone who sells a single gun to another person. Hopefully Congress under a gun friendly president will pass a law clarifying what constitutes “being in the business”.

Back to our regularly scheduled program. When buying any semi automatic rifle, you should research the manufacturer online to determine how well rated the weapons are. Many gun selling websites offer comments sections from buyers about the quality and performance of their purchases. Buds Gun shop is one of my favorites because it has product reviews from customers who have actually bought the item from them. You only get reviews from actual owners. Some of the reviews can be pretty brutal, so they don’t filter them either. Bud’s does ship for a reasonable amount, has great service, and an unbeatable selection. That is NOT a paid endorsement, simply a review of my prior experience in dealing with them. Per federal law, online gun sellers can ONLY ship to a federally licensed gun dealer in your state. You then drive to that dealer, go through the same exact process as if you were buying it from them (including the NICs background check), pay the dealer whatever fee that they charge to handle the paperwork (Make sure to find out what this is before having the weapon shipped to them. One dealer near here charges $50 another charges $20. Guess which one handled ONE transfer for me and which one handled more than one?)  and then you get your firearm.

Another area that needs to be considered is the cost of ammunition and accessories to include magazines. The greatest rifle in the world is useless if you can’t find accessories or ammo for it. I have a friend who bought an eastern bloc sniper rifle a decade ago for a good price and wants a few extra magazines for it. I looked for extra magazines for him and I can buy a new rifle for less than those magazines cost. When he bought the rifle, magazines were over $50 each. Now they are into the hundreds of dollars each. A PTR 91 that cost a couple of hundred dollars more when he bought the rifle he has now can be configured for sniper use and the magazines can be had for under $5.

AR 15s are like erector sets for adults. One owner says that they are more gadget than gun since they can be accessorized almost infinitely depending on your budget with accessories running the gambit of costs from $5 to $1500. I was an Army arms room officer, and spent WAY too much time inspecting rifles. I prefer something with a piston operating system since they stay cleaner than the direct impingement system used on the AR.  Guess What? Some enterprising individuals have figured out how to make gas piston operating ARs. You have got to love capitalism. Someone wanted something so someone figured out how to make it and sell it to them. Due to them seeing a market for something that wasn’t currently available, I can now own an AR with the reliability of an AK and the ergonomics of an AR. They do tend to be a bit more expensive than direct impingement ARs but they are available at VERY good prices if you know where to look. Again quality varies so make sure to read reviews from actual buyers, not some highly paid magazine shill who’s future employment depends on the manufacturer buying ad space in his employer’s magazine. When it comes to accessories and magazines, shopping around can save you money, but ALWAYS make sure when you comparison shop to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges. Some manufacturers make better, more reliable products than others. When the SHTF is not the time to find out that the magazine you thought was a bargain because it was $1.50 less than the other brand doesn’t temper their springs properly. There are magazine brands that I have had problems with and will not buy now as a result. Their new stuff may be perfectly fine, but having wasted money on their magazines in the past, I’m leery of trusting them now. A good bet when it comes to magazines is to see what the military spec ops guys recommend. If Magpul is the magazine of choice among SF operators, it’s good enough for me. One magazine company that I will recommend without hesitation is MecGar. They are probably the world’s largest OEM magazine manufacturer. If you have a Sig, Kahr, CZ, Keltec or any of a number of other brands, you have MecGar magazines. C Products is the OEM manufacturer for Colt, so the quality of their AR magazines is pretty good.

 


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