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Why are AKs so expensive?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by wojownik, Nov 15, 2016.

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  1. wojownik

    wojownik Member

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    In a rare moment of quiet, I was thinking about the AK rifle and where things may go in terms of supply and market pricing over the next few years, but really how pricing today got to where it is.

    The last time I bought an AK was a good number of years ago, where I acquired some ROMAKs in the $200 range, a Romy G build sub-$400 and a few years ago a Saiga SGL in the $500 range. Looking at AKs again (and yes, I literally feel like I'm stepping out of a time warp or bubble) the prices have exponentially increased. I was looking at some of the products at Atlantic Firearms, and just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger (so to speak) on another AK at these prices ...

    Have parts kits really dried up that much? With import restrictions (e.g. no barrels), is the US cost of labor and parts that high to drive these things above the $1k mark? I'm not looking for the simple generic supply vs. demand answer - I want to dig into the drivers. The contrast, of course, is the dip in AR pricing ...

    (I want to leave future forecasting out, such as speculating what happens if Executive Order 13661 is rescinded.)
     
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  2. wojownik

    wojownik Member

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    oops ... double tap.
     
  3. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    I was just on Bud's and wondering the same thing. $730 for a WASR is ridiculous.
     
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  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't you know it, but as long as they are selling, I doubt they'll come down.
     
  5. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Member

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    Import restrictions, having to fit barrels to trunnions (as opposed to having them already mated), inflation, and supply and demand. It's that simple. 20 years ago hardly anyone wanted an AK. Even 12 years ago when I bought my first one, I only knew one guy that owned an AK. Now, about 1/2 of the shooters I know own one. I used to know so many people that didn't even know they could own an AK. The internet has opened up a lot of knowledge to people.
     
  6. wally

    wally Member

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    My pre-Obama AKs have ended up being a much better buy than have my pre-Obama ARs :)
     
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  7. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Yeah I had debated getting one right before the election "just in case" but the price put me off (I actually bought my first AR back in 2008 - same mindset :)). I think now though even if they don't necessarily come down, they'll at least not rise sharply at this point.

    Definitely odd though that these days an AR is cheaper than an AK. While one has inched down the other has inched up :).
     
  8. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Vendors/Distributors kept ratcheting up the prices and folks kept paying them.

    The prices long ago passed what I was willing to pay.

    Good thing for me that I still have a few kits (and receivers) on the shelves downstairs. :)
     
  9. jhb

    jhb Member

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    good question. was wondering the same thing when wasrs went from high 400s not that long ago to what they are now.
     
  10. lxd55

    lxd55 Member

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    Kinda like a 650.00 dollar ar today compared to a 1500.00 ar
    4 years ago? I think the imports are going to start to flow again.
    In some places the market prices are already reflecting a brighter future.
     
  11. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    Years ago I bought the first izmash saiga for $150 brand new.
    People pay a lot today because the demand is high like it happens with everything else in the supply chain.
    During the crazy I heard some people even paid $120 for a brick of 22LR that one could otherwise find for $18 under
    normal conditions.
    The prices some firearms have today are way above their actual value while others continue to be ignored
    and put in the back of the store. Curiously 9mm had been relatively stable and reloading cost even came down
    for a while with the amazing fmj value packs from hornady and speer.
    some desperate people would have paid for a brand new 9mm carbine for plinking including a press and the ammo.
    I always say buy when the prices are right, shoot some and always save for a rainy day because those days will come.
    If the price is not right then don't buy. Free market right?
     
  12. kozak6

    kozak6 Member

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    Century initially raised the prices on WASR-10's to make their C39 series more competitive, and all the panic and fearmongering the past few years allowed them to keep the prices up. Prices will probably still remain high in order to promote their RAS47's.

    Obama banned the Saiga series from import, so their prices are sky high. SGL prices are particularly silly.

    Arsenal's strategy was always keep their AK's at about twice as much as everyone else's, but that hit a wall pretty quick and hasn't been working so well lately, especially considering the corners Arsenal has been cutting on their rifles.

    Also, political unrest overseas has consumed and will continue to consume a lot of surplus weapons and ammo that otherwise might be brought stateside. It's reported to be a major factor in the dry-up of 7.62x54r.
     
  13. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    Did Romania actually stop exporting WASR 10s to the US months ago?

    Gun shop staff three/four months ago told me that they were either difficult or impossible to order from suppliers.
    This same info has been reflected on a few gun websites such as THR, SKSboards etc..

    kozak6's comments about 'political unrest overseas' might be connected to the Romanian govts' decisions, or Romanian company decisions, it this is the reality.
     
  14. Quentin

    Quentin Member

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    Boy, you can say that again! I only have one AK, a WASR bought in 2007 for about $250. They've since gone way up while entry level ARs have gone way up in quality and down in price.
     
  15. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    For the money/value, a decently home built AR simply cannot be beat in todays market. I'd take my home built $500AR over a $750 Wasr anyday.
     
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  16. jeff-10

    jeff-10 Member

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    I think it is more that AR-15s are so cheap than AKs being expensive.
     
  17. highpower

    highpower Member

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    The ones from Eastern Europe were inexpensive because the equipment used to produce them was given to them by the Soviet Union and the workers aren't being paid American union wages.

    An AK is not a plug and play gun like an AR. The domestic manufacturers have found out that producing a quality AK is more expensive than an AR where everyone and their brother makes AR parts. Then there is the double whammy that AK prices took when Cugir stopped US imports in favor of producing units for foreign military sales and Century lost interest in bringing in foreign AK's due to trying to push people into buying the crap that they make. I think that
    Century holds the contracts for importation on WASR's and Yugo's so don't look for a large influx of either in the near future.

    Prices will come down as the wholesalers and retailers that bought up quantities of guns in the expectation of the Hilldebeast winning the election and the resulting panic buying that was sure to take place. Now that the threat to the second amendment has passed for the moment, I expect that the prices of AK's is going to go down some. But, remember that this is not 2008 anymore, prices of everything have gone up and I expect that AK's will never come down to what they were a few years ago.

    AR's are cheap because so many people make parts for them that the market has been pushed down because of an oversupply of inventory. If the Hildebeast had won the election, I can almost guarantee that the prices on all firearms would have risen dramatically.
     
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  18. wojownik

    wojownik Member

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    Reasonable points. Though everybody and their 2nd/3rd world brother, sister, cousin and great auntie makes (or at one point made) AK parts. So this circles back to import restrictions that are, at least in large part, fueled by EO.

    Not exactly. The Soviets provided their Warsaw Pact allies with schematics and technical assistance, but the individual countries had to manufacture the equipment themselves. (p.s., in the 1940s and early 1950s, the Soviets continued to strip anything of interest from the satellite nations, and bring it back to the USSR). However, inarguably, the production costs (labor) in these countries were lower than in the US.


    But she didn't, so this is - thankfully - irrelevant.
     
  19. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    I predict that the cost of AK's will fall sharply over the next few years. I imagine Russian imports of ammo and AK parts will be free flowing before too long. Just shoot your AR's for a little while as the AK price falls. Election Economics. :cool:
     
  20. BP Hunter

    BP Hunter Member

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    Sad to say, but economists call this - inflation. Nothing we can really do about it...
     
  21. Llama Bob

    Llama Bob Member

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    There's two things going on - first, ARs are well specified with cleanly interchangeable parts. That drives pricing down because you have direct competition and every concievable tool of modern manufacturing can be brought to bear.. AKs don't have that. Second, it's the supply side of supply and demand. Problems with importation, drying up supplies, etc have limited supply.

    At this point, buying an AK makes no sense. You can get the exact same ballistic performance, better accuracy, and better optics mounting and furniture in an AR for far less.
     
  22. wojownik

    wojownik Member

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    I would LOVE if this was just inflation - because then those $200 AKs we bought in 1997 ... we could still buy for $298. Inflation the general increase in price levels over time.

    But this actually takes me in a different direction. Gasoline was about $1.20 in 1997 (with my $200 AK). AKs have increase fourfold in pricing, greatly in excess of inflation. Gas is now around $2.15 per gallon (while $1.20 is equal to about $1.78 in todays terms). BUT, we had several major gas price spikes, fourfold of 1997 pricing.

    Gas pricing is driven by four things - crude prices, refining, distribution, and gas-specific taxes. AK pricing is driven by - component parts, assembly, distribution, and demand. Component parts have skyrocketed, as KansasSasquatch noted, assembly costs maybe(?) are higher (but I doubt this, since the same guys are building a $1000 AK, that had been building a $500 AK just a few years ago). I guess its the component market (I was just looking at Romy kits, and these parts are twice what I paid for a full rifle). The Romanians are not exporting to us for some reason (really want to figure out more about this) and Russian imports are blocked.
     
  23. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    This might shape up to be the best time since Bush Senior for sportsmen and hobby shooters.
     
  24. gbeecher

    gbeecher Member

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    Probably for the same reason (s) that a Mosin rifle is now selling for $279.95! I bought my Mosin in April 2010 for $89.95!
     
  25. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    My AK, an Hungarian SA-85M went for $279.95 back in 1986; currently there's a couple of them on Gunbroker in similar condition to mine starting at $2200 and going up from there!
     
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