Friday, May 1, 2015

Firearms Friday: Always Consider The Caliber

Sig Sauer P238.
A couple of years ago, firearms chambered in .380 ACP surged in popularity. This spike in sales was largely due to the compact nature of the firearms being produced. Heck, I was one of the people that purchased a firearm for that very reason (the Sig Sauer P238 to be exact). Since that phase, 9mm firearms have definitely caught up and have been shrunk down to approximately the same size. With size now pretty much out of the equation, more and more .380 firearms can be found in the used cases than ever before (my Sig suffered the same fate) and many of them are discounted heavily due to the number of firearms that are coming back in and the significantly decreased demand.

Another deterrent keeping the .380 market subdued is the simple fact that ammunition prices for the necked down cartridge are still high when compared to 9mm. Essentially, you can get the same sized firearm with the same round count and spend a lot less on ammunition (a difference big enough to justify the slightly larger price tag for 9mm). All those small firearms don’t make much sense anymore even though the upfront cost is much lower.

However, in the end that is now the biggest draw of these firearms. People go to the used display cases, see the price difference, and decide to save a few dollars. The rude awakening (most commonly with new gun owners) doesn’t happen until later when they keep spending more and more money on ammunition with the price of 9mm, sitting right next to those pricy boxes, staring them in the face. Overall, anyone who has been around firearms knows that this is not a new dilemma just the current incarnation.

This is still something that happens when you aren’t quite paying enough attention before buying that surplus rifle or dusty revolver. I still see people, many with a pretty good background in firearms, bring back their ‘bargain’ buys once they feel the pain of the prices associated with uncommon calibers. Primarily I see with 32 and 38 Smith & Wesson revolvers. These firearms frequently rotate in and out of used cases with nominal price tags… seeing a price in double digits pretty much ensures that the firearm will be sold quickly. What many buyers don’t realize as they are filling out the forms is that they will actually spend more money on ammo during a single day at the range than they spend on the gun itself (if they can even find the ammo).

So, in the end, whether you are buying your first gun or your hundredth, don’t forget to factor in the price of ammo especially in a market that retains some volatility. Make sure that you consider both the price and availability of the ammo for the ‘bargain’ that you just discovered in the used (or new) case. Practice is an essential part of firearms ownership and if you can afford to practice it really isn’t a bargain after all. Buy what makes financial sense in the long run not just in the short term. Of course, if you really want that PPK and you can afford to feed it by all means go right ahead just stay away from the Martinis.