It was bound to happen sooner or later:

Americans, apparently, may finally have enough guns and ammunition.

Cabela’s (CAB), a chain of outdoor stores that specialize in hunting and fishing equipment, said this morning the firearms market is cooling drastically.

Sales at Cabela’s stores open more than one year plummeted 10.1 percent in the recent quarter, primarily because of sluggish firearms sales and a “much sharper than expected” decline in ammunition buying, says Chief Executive Tommy Millner. Excluding guns and ammo, same-store sales were down only 3.5 percent for the retailer, which is based in Sidney, Neb.

The thinning crowd of gun buyers should not have been a surprise. In October, Cabela’s warned that the market was cooling “significantly.” FBI background checks, a leading indicator of firearm demand, have also been dropping. Federal applications to make a gun purchase last month were one-third fewer than a year ago.


The industry, meanwhile, is coming off record highs. Background checks peaked immediately after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in December 2012, on fears that tighter gun control laws would soon follow. But such legislation never really materialized, and background checks started tailing off over the summer.

The article is, of course, only half right.

Firearms sales are slowing tremendously from the days of panic buying due to Sandy Hook and the ensuing gun bans and registration schemes enacted in several states, and most gun store shelves are now filled back to capacity. We’ve now entered a “soft” market, where gun prices should decline as retailers attempt to move merchandise. If you have all the guns you need, and are now in a position to look for guns you want (and they are still legal in your area), you might be able to start realizing some savings soon.

The same cannot be said for ammunition.

While firearms are durable goods, ammunition is expendable, and the supply is in need of constant replenishment. Now that we have more guns on the market than ever before—and more shooters—the demand for ammunition is still high, and the cycle of speculation and hoarding continues, especially for harder to find cartridges in less common calibers and rimfire cartridges.

Things should return to normal for most centerfire cartridges over the next 6-9 months as long as there are no more panic-induced buying sprees. The rimfire market? Well, I’m pretty sure you didn’t want to shoot that .22LR until 2016, anyway.