The Column, No. 148:

What is Happening: July, 2023

By Randy Wakeman

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Every year, prior to and during the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, there is a tranche of new product announcements. However, an announcement is only that, with the actual production articles imagined to become available later on in the year, sometime. Rarely does this happen in a timely or predictable manner.

Right now, we have a Henry Homesteader in house, so you can expect a review of this attractive 9mm pistol caliber carbine in a week or so. My 2023 pheasant smasher is a Fabarm Elos 2 Elite 20 gauge O/U 28 inch, so that should be ready for text and video review in a few weeks. Benelli has promised an example of the new, refreshed M2 20 gauge, but no exact shipment date has been cited. We have a Mossberg 940 Pro Field coming in as well, with no clear ship date.

A Winchester XPR in .350 Legend has been on order for close to a year. That remains in the ether as well. There are several other firearms somewhere trapped in a nitrogen storm, including another Impala Plus and the back by popular demand Fabarm XLR5 Flat rib, but no ship dates have been forthcoming. In a few months, the 2024 models will start to be gossiped and rumored, so the cycle begins anew.

Firearms manufacturers are hardly immune from supply chain challenges and, as a result, new models are scarce and even core line products do not always have widespread availability. RemArms hasn't done much in the last three years (understatement), Retay has ridiculously raised / doubled their prices (although the Turkish lira has plummeted to all-time lows vs. the U.S. Dollar) and they seem to enjoy fantasizing about proof-testing and pattern performance as well. It is disappointing, to say the least.

While ammo prices have somewhat stabilized, that stabilization spectrum is historically quite high and there is no evidence there is going to be any change. KBB reports that the average transaction price for a new vehicle in the U.S. was $48,275 in April, 2023. It is hard to stray too far away from energy and transportation costs, which prohibit any significant price drops in the European and American firearms and ammunition arenas. If it is quality metal-forming from workers paid a livable wage, prices are destined to not just hold, but to rise regularly. It sounds like 5% price increases per year are baked into the cake. According to the CPI, $1000 in 2013 is worth $1324.95 today. Few are making any more buying power, it is just that dollars have less value.

One area that is trending in the right direction is optics. Scopes such as the Sightron S1 series as well as Bushnell Prime series are better optics than you could obtain even a half-dozen years ago at anywhere near the cost. When manufacturers are finally able to reduce their excessive backlogs, we might actually have some new models to consider.

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Copyright 2023 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.