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Why are AR-15's so expensive?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Remander, Oct 1, 2006.

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  1. Remander

    Remander Member

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    I have a Bushmaster AR-15 (love it) and was carrying it the other day when I looked at it at wondered why such a light, simple rifle costs so much.

    The patent has expired, so no licensing fees to Colt.

    I thought about the many other guns that cost so much less and seem to be as complex or require as much material. Most all revolvers, basic semi-auto pistols, bolt hunting rifles, basic semi-auto shotguns and the like cost much less than the basic AR, which looks like it could be stamped out in a tin can factory.

    I'm not dogging AR's, I love them, but why do they cost so much?

    And don't say supply and demand. I know that is what all prices come down to, but there are plenty of AR suppliers out there these days. Why can't one of them get the price lower for the product.

    I'm not bitching. I've got mine. I am genuinely curious. There must be something about the construction/compostion that keeps the price up there.
     
  2. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    Because they are machined out of a single billet of aluminum and they have fairly close tolerances that must be respected in order for the finished gun to work properly.

    AK's can be stamped (rivet holes and all) in a big press all day long and then assembled for a few dollars of labor per receiver.
     
  3. Handgun Midas

    Handgun Midas Member

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    There are sub-$500 kits complete except for the stripped lower receiver available online, and said receiver can be had for around $50.

    So one could expect a complete AR for around $550, less than I paid for my Kimber, which is just a simple, old pistol design.

    I don't have my AR yet, but this is the entry I was planning on. Correct me if I'm mistaken.
     
  4. beardownwildcat

    beardownwildcat Member

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    how about the m14 or m1a? i love the design, but i have not clue why just a simple new one is over 1000 bucks usually. and they don't lose value. i think the FS posts are great. FS- used M1A, put couple thousand rounds through it. i paid $1400 for it six months ago. asking.......$1395. where does that money go???? are they carving the recievers out of ivory with a dull butter knife?
     
  5. Raygun

    Raygun Member

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    Not exactly. While AR receivers have been made using several methods, most are made from aluminum forgings. You take an aluminum billet, stick it in a big hammer machine with dies in the basic shape of an upper or lower receiver, squish the billet between the dies a bunch of times, and you get a few solid receivers out of one chunk of aluminum. The excess is cut away (look inside your trigger guard) then the forgings are machined as necessary. While there are a few smaller shops that do it, machining a receiver straight from a billet requires quite a bit more time and thus expense than doing so from a forging.

    As for tolerances, they don't have to be mind-bogglingly close, at least not in this age of CNC machining. Certainly the AK is a more cost-effective design, but they also tend to be made in places where the labor is cheaper. Those that are "made in the US" (Arsenal, for example) tend to be assembled from imported parts with only the furniture and trigger group (read: relatively inexpensive to manufacture) parts being made here. And those also tend to be some of the most expensive AKs of the lot (perhaps justifiably so).

    My answers are going to have to be politics and economics. Politics is the reason why all guns are as expensive as they are here, the scary-looking ones especially so. Economics because most AR parts are made in the US, and US labor isn't as cheap as it once was. We pay $1200-1500 for a US-made M1A, Canadians pay $360 USD for a Chinese knock-off. Why? Slave labor and no trade embargo.
     
  6. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    RAYGun: your comment about the chinese M1A's makes me think that a trip to Canada is in order.... I live just a boat ride away.
     
  7. Kenneth Lew

    Kenneth Lew Member

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    RAYGun: your comment about the chinese M1A's makes me think that a trip to Canada is in order.... I live just a boat ride away.

    Illegal in so many ways.
     
  8. Raygun

    Raygun Member

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    There are some laws on both sides of the border that are designed to deter you from following through with that particular plan. But so long as you're not opposed to fracturing them a smidge, maybe Ricky and Julian can hook you up. ;)
     
  9. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    The M14 pricing is a simple law of mass production. The more of something you can sell the cheaper each one will be. M14/M1A's just don't make the large quantity cut needed to drive the price down.

    Compare an M1A to a Smith and Wesson Model x29 for example. I'd bet there is a 10 or 20 to 1 ratio of Smiths sold to M1As, maybe more.
     
  10. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Glocks cost about $80 to make. An AR is probably around $250. Both are sold for what the company can get people to pay. Welcome to capitalism.
     
  11. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    You said that you didn't want to hear about "supply and demand", but the simple answer to your question can be summed up in two words: "Market Forces".

    Sellers will sell for whatever buyers will pay.
     
  12. baz

    baz Member

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    That's not an entirely satisfactory explanation. If markets are competititve, and Glocks can be manufactured for $80, and AR's for $250, then why aren't competitors making knockoffs to bring the market price closer to the cost of production?

    I can think of some reasons, but I'd like to hear what explanation others might have first.
     
  13. 2TransAms

    2TransAms Member

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    The answer really is supply and demand,or in this case the answer is simply demand. There's no shortage of rifles,but we continue to pay top dollar because they're selling what we want. This isn't the forum for an Economics 101 discussion,but I don't blame the AR manufacturers one bit. It's not greed,it's capitalism...and most of those companies aren't making a fortune to begin with.
     
  14. 2TransAms

    2TransAms Member

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    Glock still owns the patents for their designs.Nobody else can make one,but we can come close(XD).

    AR's are for the most part made in America,which quite simply has a higher cost of labor and benefits to the workers. If Taurus made an AR15 it would be $500.
     
  15. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    With todays dollar and basing the manufacturing cost on a basic rifle with no frills, the cost of production of a single M16 is about $425.00 US
    The AR15 cost runs slightly less because there are fewer parts involved and a few less machining steps, about $400.00.

    Mind you these are basic rifles, add machining for flat top receiver, special forend assemblies, special muzzle attachments, ancillary accessories, attachable sighting systems, etc. and the price goes up from there.

    If you look you can find brand new AR15 rifles available for about $700.00 with machined, not cast, receivers.

    Add 35% manufacture profit, 20% distributer, 10% shipper, and 15% retail markups and the rifles are really not at all expensive in todays market.
     
  16. DougW

    DougW Member

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    +1 to waht 2TransAms said. It is totally the market. Look around and you will see it in all areas. Why is ammo getting so much higher? Why does it cost more today (by nearly X2) than it did only one year ago? Are the ammo makers still working off the same profit margin, or have they jacked it up and are involved in "gouging" us? Hmmmmmmm.......

    People underestimate the power of the free market. If a manufacturer wanted to they could produce a perfectly functional AR for around $350.00. But, what would be the motivation? When the next downturn in the market occures, watch to prices of AR's and ammo drop drastically.

    Just to stay on topic, the 5 AR's that I have built range in cost from $575 to over $1200.:D :D :what:
     
  17. erict

    erict Member

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    What about the "It's what our military uses" factor.

    You know how some guys see a certain weapon in a movie and they just "got to have it". I think the same theory holds true with military issued weapons.

    It might not drive the price up as much as things mentioned above but it still has to have some factor in the equation.
     
  18. P99guy

    P99guy Member

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    I remember the month preceding the AWB, brand new Colt SP1's retailed for about 425-450.00 and in the course of a week...dealers hung 1200.00 (and up!)pricetags on those very same guns, and the distributers soon followed.
    People was buying them left and right(end of the world, hurry get the last one ever made) and the price never came down after the dust cleared...soon it just become the accepted price. While there has been some lowering of price by a few manufacturers down to the 8-900.00 range...
    its still the same 450.00 weapon it was.....and they sure dont charge military customers 1400.00 for a basic M16A2. I love AR15's but there was no good reason for the price of a weapon that is copied by almost as many companies that make M1911 knockoffs, and never once went out of production at any time....its not inflation as the price of making them didnt quadruple overnight, not something that "HAD" to be sadly passed along to the end user like a fuel sircharge. it was simply price gougeing like sheet plywood before a hurricane...that never reverted back when the storm turned out to a neusense rather than a world ending event.
    yep, I remember those 900.00 Mini 14's and was rightly sure somebody was freebasing.
     
  19. Medusa

    Medusa Member

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    Well, the cost is a relative thing.

    For example, I envy you guys tremendeously, since I can't get my hands on a AR-15 type gun anyhow. I'd love to have a Bushmaster M4 flat-top type rifle, or AR-10A4 from Armalite, to get it accurised to create a pseudo-SR25, or heck, go big, and get the real 20in SR-25.

    The cost for SR-25 I saw was 3,000 bucks or so. Expensive? not too much for me. For example, if I asked from the Sako importers for the cost of TRG-22 Green, they told me that the regular TRG-22 is running on 5,000+ bucks, and it is a discount prize they told me, since usually it's over 6,500 for regular version and a grand more for Green/Stealth model. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? EDITED: We're around 100 km south of Finland.

    Only things I get for 600 bucks in rifles are CZ and Walther .22LR ones, or cheap IZH in centerfire calibre.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2006
  20. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    AR's are overpriced because they can be. Now I'm no basher, as i own a Bushmaster XM15 and spent plenty of $$$$ on it. Bottom line is, if it's over your price range dont buy it. Get something else like the Kel-Tec .223, the poor mans AR.
     
  21. Spencer

    Spencer Member

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    Yeah except the milled ones are better than ARs.

    I think ARs are overpriced.
    The aluminum receiver could not make it cost that much more, and the stock is plastic.
    I think the reason they are overpriced is because when some idiot sees them in a movie and thinks they look cool, or because the military uses them, they want to go out and buy one. Then they get the real AR.
     
  22. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    Wonder what the price of product liability insurance is? Most likely a pretty high amount for American manufacturers.
     
  23. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    That's why you can't buy a small Cessna airplane anymore, it probably has a lot to do with guns as well.
     
  24. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting Member

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    I have asked myself this same question over and over again. But then I take a trip down to my local AR dealer. He carries everything from >1K Bushmaster/Colt rifles to $600 Oly plinkers. He never keeps plinkers in stock long and I have seen the same high-end guns in there for over a year now.

    An A1 plinker is on my short list as soon as I get this house sold. I just have to wait for it to come in.

    So yes, there are budget AR's out there, they just get bought up quicker. It is economics.

    Oh, and like we used to say in motorcycle racing when I was younger, what wins on Saturday, sells on Monday. People will forever buy what they percieve the winner is. Even if that winning bike, NASCAR, boat, plane or rifle was so heavily modified the only thing matching the "normal" one was the name on the side, people don't care. It is all about the name. That is why ARs are more popular than AKs. Each has thier strong points, I have an AK myself but my wife wants the AR. What can you do?
     
  25. Spencer

    Spencer Member

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    Key word, what they PERCEIVE the winner is. This is because it's used by the military and seen on television. Truth is there are much better guns than the AR out there.
     
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