Why do guns cost so much?


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Str8Shooter
March 2, 2006, 12:44 AM
I've been wondering why guns in general are so expensive. With all the modern computer-controlled automated manufacturing machinery available, I would think the price of decent quality mass-produced guns would have dropped, just like many types of electronic devices that we used to repair when they broke and now just throw away because it's so much cheaper to buy a new one. Are guns still very labor-intensive to manufacture?

Also, what percentage of a gun's price do you suppose goes to defend gun manufacturers against anti-gunners' lawsuits trying to drive them out of business?

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Zundfolge
March 2, 2006, 01:08 AM
You're illustrating a basic misunderstanding of economics that is very common (I'm not chastising you, but just using your question as a jumping off point).


Regardless of what manufactured goods you're talking about, prices are not determined by cost of materials, labor, marketing or lawyers.

Sure prices are often effected by these things, but ultimately they don't determine prices.

Prices are determined by the market ... in other words, manufacturers of any goods or providers of any service will charge as much as the market will bear.


So the short answer is; because there are plenty of people who will pay the prices.

Hook686
March 2, 2006, 01:16 AM
Put another way .... when folks have too much time and money on their hands, prices increase. :p

Str8Shooter
March 2, 2006, 01:39 AM
Yes, but don't manufacturers have to strike a balance between charging as much as they can for a product, vs. making the product attractive to a greater number of buyers by keeping the price at an affordable level? For example, some time ago, a certain number of people were willing to pay $7,000 for a big screen HDTV set, but the same set can now be purchased for maybe $3,000-$4,000, so far more of them are being sold. Improved manufacturing techniques, competition and volume sales have driven the price down.

In the case of guns, however, prices only go in one direction: UP.

czc3513
March 2, 2006, 01:40 AM
Why does software cost so much?
Yep.... economics

Euclidean
March 2, 2006, 01:44 AM
Actually considering what guns used to cost relative to what people used to make, I wonder if they haven't gotten considerably cheaper.

I got a CZ 75B for $225 and I'm not unique in that regard... that's a fine handgun and that's not an unreasonable price at all.

Str8Shooter
March 2, 2006, 01:56 AM
Was that CZ price for a new gun? I'm not really familiar with the CZ lineup.

I guess I'm thinking of back when I could walk into a gun shop and buy a Colt AR-15 for about $300. The same gun now would be well over $1,000.

It just seems to me like the price of many guns is out of proportion for the relatively simple mechanical principles on which they operate. They aren't really what you would call a "high-tech" device, and some of them have changed very little from the way they were designed 50-75 years ago when a lot more manual labor was involved in their manufacture.

Lupinus
March 2, 2006, 02:15 AM
I don't know that guns are expensive.

They most certianly are not cheap, but with a little saving you can buy a gun at a reasonable price. Just like a car you will sometimes pay for a name, sometimes you will pay for extra quality that is nice but that you can live without, and for the most part you will get what you pay for.

Take a basic 1911 pistol, you can pay a few hundred upwards of a few thousand depending on maker and exact model with most prices for a reasonable example falling somewhere in the middle. Sure if all you are willing to go with is the compitition grade with bells and whistles its going to be expensive, if you go for the basic model its going to be a few hundred.

Also really depends on seller. Some gunshops I have been in I was tempted to ask where the vasoline was cause if they really expected that price I was gonna need it. Example, one place sells XD's for 539, another 499, if I look online I can find them around 450 or a bit lower.

Euclidean
March 2, 2006, 02:22 AM
Well thing is, my grandparents can think of a time when <insert pistol here> was only $200 etc... what they don't tell you is that people were lucky to make 10 cents an hour back then for whatever reason. Well actually they do tell you that, just separately. It depends on if they want to be nostalgic or lecture...

Sunray
March 2, 2006, 02:33 AM
"...considering what guns used to cost relative to what people used to make, I wonder if they haven't gotten considerably cheaper..." Nope. Relative to pay scales they're about the same. Roughly a couple of week's net pay.
Mind you, up here, pay scales, in the non-union, private sector, have not kept up with the cost of living. There are fewer new shooters as a result. The enormous amount of government interference by new stupid laws and regulations has driven the entry cost way up in recent years too. Our current laws insist on very high priced courses and licencing that has caused new shooters to think twice. It runs nearly $500Cdn just for the courses and licences, before the cost of a firearm even enters the picture.(That's part of our former government's plan to eventually have no private firearm ownership here.) Add the fact that all firearms, up here, come from outside of Canada, mostly Stateside, and our prices are high. The Free Trade Act doesn't apply to anything firearm related so we get to pay duty, to protect a non-existant industry, plus the exchange, taxes, etc, etc.
"...charge as much as the market will bear..." And if a maker can sell every rifle of a certain model they make, they'll do it. Even if said rifle is expensive, inaccurate junk. The Mini-14 for example. Doesn't shoot worth beans, but Ruger sells every one they make, so they don't make it accurate and want nearly a grand for it.

SomeKid
March 2, 2006, 03:43 AM
Depends on what guns you are talking about.

Why are full-autos so expensive? Government.

Most, or all, of the high prices can be linked to government regs, fees, and other assorted BS.

Zun and Hook have another reason as well (argueably more important, but I think the Government is the single largest reason guns cost as much as they do), there is a level people will pay, and that does determine the price.

When a new type of gun comes on the market, and there is a large demand becuase it has (insert cool thing here), the price can be expected to be high. After demand wanes, it will likely decrease. There are exceptions, specialty guns for example won't be cheap, period. (One example, Cheneys hunting shotgun...)

MaMa PyCb
March 2, 2006, 03:54 AM
I can get a Mosin-Nagant M44 or 91/30 for 69.95. I didn't know that was expensive?

The 7.62x54r is also cheap. I can get 880 rounds for about 60 bucks.

I dont think my MN will every have to be repaired, so no worry about cost there. They will take a un-heard of amount of abuse before theres a problem with them.

125 bucks for a rifle, 880 rounds of ammo, and pretty much a soviet workers guarentee that the simple little guy will NEVER break?

Its well worth breaking the bank to me!
http://www.geocities.com/dot5621/mn9130cl.jpg

:D :D :D

SomeKid
March 2, 2006, 03:56 AM
One of these days, I am getting a MN. ANd I want a sword to come with mine, just like yours.

MaMa PyCb
March 2, 2006, 04:13 AM
Gotta love the MN's! you have to have the "Kommie Kabob" for the end of it. It's acctually less of a sword, and more of a SHIV.:evil:

Not only do mosin-nagants make Great, inexpensive, and accurate rifles, but they also can be used to enter a pole-vault competition.:D

gvass
March 2, 2006, 04:19 AM
1. A plastic mobile phone (with 1-2 year life expectancy) for 150 USD is EXPENSIVE

2. A steel Makarov pistol (good for the next 50-100 years) for 150 USD is brutally INexpensive.

And I can not understand why everyone carries the first device...:banghead:

Taurus 66
March 2, 2006, 04:31 AM
I've been wondering why guns in general are so expensive.

What's considered inexpensive and affordable to you?

U.S.SFC_RET
March 2, 2006, 06:48 AM
Supply and demand plays a large part to setting prices. For example Washington State has gun shops abound and Maryland deos not. I moved to Maryland and noticed that prices seemed to have jumped 20 to 40 percent. a lady airweight "used" $565.00. well kiss my grits:mad: .

svtruth
March 2, 2006, 07:13 AM
if you buy ammo. I asked if anyone had spent more on ammo than the cost of the gun. Most responses were, more on ammo. Even for .22, even reloaders.
No, I don't remember where I posted it.

DunedinDragon
March 2, 2006, 07:24 AM
With all the modern computer-controlled automated manufacturing machinery available, I would think the price of decent quality mass-produced guns would have dropped, just like many types of electronic devices that we used to repair when they broke and now just throw away because it's so much cheaper to buy a new one. Are guns still very labor-intensive to manufacture?


There's a big difference between electronic devices and mechanical devices when it comes to manufacturing. Economies of scale (if you remember from economics 101) tend to apply more to electronics simply because of the materials and rate at which they can be manufactured because they tend to not have to have a lot of finish work. Some of that applies to metal and mechanical work, but there is obviously more fitting and finishing to be done on mechanical and metal pieces. Electronics tend to either work, or not work. In mechanical equipment it's not that black and white.

Case in point, why haven't the price of cars decreased significantly? Same issue as with guns...it's mechanical to a large degree requiring fitments and finishing. That's the reason you see cars and guns with more and more plastic components...less finish work, more dependable and cheaper manufacturing so it keeps the prices down.

Jubei
March 2, 2006, 07:25 AM
Also keep in mind that when purchasing a gun from a major manufacturer like Kimber, SIG, Glock, etc., you are paying for more than just the gun itself. You are also paying for their advertising, their R&D, their insurance, their quality-control and customer service, etc. I would imagine that the insurance costs for a company that manufactures firearms would be outrageous, especially in the litigous USA.

Jubei

Lone_Gunman
March 2, 2006, 07:31 AM
I would imagine that the insurance costs for a company that manufactures firearms would be outrageous, especially in the litigous USA.


Then why didn't price go down when the gun manufacturer liability reform bill was passed?

dfaugh
March 2, 2006, 07:50 AM
Started shooting on my teens, 35 yrs ago.

I bought a Model 70 Winchester in .270 for (IIRC) about $250 circa 1972.
Similar gun today is about $600??? (Haven't looked lately).

My mother bought a "loaded" 1973 Buick LeSabre for right around $4000.
Similar car today $40,000+.

I know its a bit of apples vs. oranges comparison, both time wise and quality wise (cars are way more complicated today)....But still, compared to alot of manufactured goods, I think gun prices, at least for the more mainstream ones haven't risen as much as other items.

Also, when you consider that even an inexpensive gun can and will last for decades (unlike a car, or washing machine, etc.) I think they're downright bargains.

pcf
March 2, 2006, 08:00 AM
Expensive compared to what?

Inflation:
A $1 in 1890 is equivalent to $19.10 in 2000
A $1 in 1920 is equivalent to $8.62 in 2000
A $1 in 1950 is equivalent to $7.17 in 2000
A $1 in 1980 is equivalent to $2.09 in 2000

Find the price of the appropiate era and comparison can be simplified. The increase in wages has not been taken into account, so the above just to get an idea. Historically firearms prices have not increased when inflation and wages are taken into account.

But you're right given the effeciency of modern manufacturing, firearm's prices should be comparitively lower than in the past. Two huge factors in cost, R&D and liability. With the various FFL requirements for designing and manufacturing, we've missed out on the modern Browning, Garand, Ruger, and Wesson. A lot of innovation has been cut out of firearms design, good engineers are hard to come by.

Thin Black Line
March 2, 2006, 08:11 AM
Real goods desirable by people are always going to command a solid
price. Without going into supply/demand another reason why you're
not seeing guns decrease in price is beacuse the US$ is losing its
value against other major currencies. The prices of many metals, not
just gold/silver, have also increased a lot over the past year.

When the Iranians switch their oil bourse to e's rather than $'s later
this month this will put further pressure on the $. The US may have
no other choice but to punish Iran for this affront to the $ and invade
them in order to keep prices (and credit card finance charges) affordable
for US consumers.

TarpleyG
March 2, 2006, 08:18 AM
Str8shooter said:

I guess I'm thinking of back when I could walk into a gun shop and buy a Colt AR-15 for about $300. The same gun now would be well over $1,000.


Inflation, my friend, inflation...

From http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

What cost $300 in 1975 would cost $1123.68 in 2005.
Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2005 and 1975,
they would cost you $300 and $80.09 respectively.


Greg

'Card
March 2, 2006, 08:18 AM
It's also important to remember that competition doesn't work the same way in the gun industry as it does in electronics, for example.

When you go out to buy a new widescreen TV, odds are that it doesn't make a bit of difference to you if you end up with a Sony, a Toshiba, or an RCA television, as long as you get the features you want. There's very little 'brand loyalty' in that market.

With firearms, many people are brand loyal to a ridiculous level, and will continue buying Colts (just used as an example - nobody get your panties in a wad) even when similar products at a similar quality level are available much cheaper. That lack of direct competition allows companies like Colt to keep their prices artificially high, therefore keeping prices higher than they would otherwise be across the board.

Once a company has big-time name recognition and big-time customer loyalty on their side, it's practically a license to print money. Harley-Davidson is the classic example of that. They spend next-to-nothing on research & development, and almost nothing on advertising, and yet they can get away with selling a bike for $20,000+ that it only cost them $6000 to make. As long as their customer base will continue buying anything they put their name on, there's no incentive for them to control prices at all.

Taipei Personality
March 2, 2006, 08:30 AM
To see an illustration of what pcf stated, above, go to http://eh.net/hmit/compare/ and scroll down to the calculator. For example, your $300 AR-15 in 1975 would be equivalent to $1,054.08 in 2004. As a decent AR-15 can be had for about $800 today, that means that the same AR-15 would have cost $227.69 in 1975. Therefore, the cost has come down.

By the same token, let's say you make $50,000 gross today. That equates to $14,230.45 in 1975. So put another way, the AR-15 in 1975 represents 2.64% of your yearly wage while it is only 1.6% of your current wage. So yes, the monetary price is higher now but you're paying less. :)


*edited to add - TarpleyG typed it out faster. :) It's funny that we both picked 1975 . . .

Lou629
March 2, 2006, 08:52 AM
The guns themselves may be more expensive, but it's not all in the guns themselves. Most of the increases over the past 20 years, after allowing for inflation, are due to liability issues at both the manufacturing & retail levels. These guys have to be insured out the wazoo to protect themselves, there are only a few insurers out there that will even consider writing a policy for a firearm related business, and the premiums cost big money. The rest of it is "what the buyer will bear" in the terms of the margin the retailer is trying to make, and where you're located.
If you're in a gun-friendly state like Pa., you will pay a little less for the same piece than you will if you're unfortunate enough to live in DPRNJ ( Democratic Peoples Republic of New Jersey ) for example. The dealers over in NJ are fewer and much further between, and charge (or try to) a premium accordingly, because they know they have a captive audience, at least in terms of handgun sales.
The thing that has caught my attention though is that I've seen more of an increase in the price of ammunition on a % basis over the past 20 years than in the guns themselves. Again, this is probably due to liability issues, and a little due to retailers trying to boost their margin.

PlayboyPenguin
March 2, 2006, 09:11 AM
Lou629, here in Oregon dealers are only able to charge a 10% increase over their cost for a firearms due to competition. Lets say you place a special order and lets say the price from the distributor is $400. You pay $465. That is a $40 mark up and then $25 per item for shipping. :)

Lou629
March 2, 2006, 09:14 AM
Do you have an extra bedroom to rent me till i can find a place for myself out there?

Camp David
March 2, 2006, 10:02 AM
So the short answer is; because there are plenty of people who will pay the prices.

So if nobody buys guns the price will fall? Ok guys... no gun purchases for the next month... I have my eye on a new S&W;) !!!!

I don't think macro-economics is quite that simple...

When laptops first came out they were several thousand dollars, now you can get one for $400....however when sneakers were first introduced by Converse and Nike they were poor man's shoes and cost $5.00... now you can't get a good pair for less than $75.00... cost is not based simply on what people are willing to pay, as their is society's demand and market break-even point...While I agree with your point that some prices are based on what people are willing to pay, there is escation and deescation of prices due to socialogical factors as well... try to sell a "pet rock" today... yet a decade ago they were in style... lot's of other examples as well.

depicts
March 2, 2006, 10:23 AM
funny how things don't make sense.

I can buy a nice Ruger MK111 for the same price as a 10 Speed bycycle, both have lots of parts and last a long time.

Why does a pair of frames for my glasses cost just as much and only last a year?

Sistema1927
March 2, 2006, 10:28 AM
Guns are expensive?

30 years ago, it was tough to cough up the cash to purchase one gun. Even a couple of boxes of .22 shells took some budgeting.

Today, I can buy darn near anything I want, and don't blink an eye at spending multiple hundreds to get what I want. And I do. At last count, my firearms collection is around 50.

If there weren't people like me, with ready cash and a desire to spend it, then the price of guns would go way down. (Yep, you can blame me.)

Creeping Incrementalism
March 2, 2006, 12:26 PM
Sistema1927, I'm guessing you make more now than you did back then.

Regarding guns being expensive, they're not. Quality optics and tac lights will sometimes cost more than the gun, and ammunition, cheap or expensive, will probably end up costing more than the gun by around the time you need a new barrel. Then there's cleaning, various fees and taxes, the cost of driving to the range/to the woods, etc, gunsmithing to repair, etc. The nominal cost of the guin will become a faction of the total cost of shooting it.

zahc
March 2, 2006, 02:21 PM
Guns are CHEAP! I have friends that spend thousands on PAINTBALL guns. Guns last practically forever and generally hold value somewhat.

I'll say it again. Guns are CHEAP.

Sistema1927
March 2, 2006, 04:16 PM
Sistema1927, I'm guessing you make more now than you did back then.

Yep, there has been just a bit of Creeping Incrementalism in that department. :)

However, the fact remains: Sellers get what the market will give them. They didn't have to sell to me for the tiny amount that I could offer them 30 years ago when there were others who had more dough, and the desire to spend it. Same today.

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