The National Rifle Association is perhaps best known for gun-ownership rights and lobbying hard against any efforts to limit those rights. How many individuals consider the NRA a great publishing house? Apparently, the answer to that is more than one million. This is also a testament to just how strong gun sales have been up until recently.
The NRA announced that it has now sold its one millionth copy of the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. One million? This is the Basic Pistol handbook used by many (if one million isn’t a lot, what is?) for responsible pistol use and as an at-home reference guide for gun owners. The NRA also calls this book the foundation of the NRA’s Basic Pistol and FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation courses.
On top of selling one million books, we see that the book was first published in July of 2009. Has anyone ever seen this on the New York Times list of best sellers? The guide sells for $11.00 at the NRA website, but it can be purchased both individually and as part of a NRA Instructor-led course from the NRA’s Program Materials Center. It is discussed at the NRA website review as follows:
“This full-color handbook on revolver and semi-automatic pistol shooting is one in a series of NRA publications on the basics of shooting. It is the student text for the Basic Pistol Shooting Course and includes such topics as pistol parts and operation, ammunition, using a pistol safely, operating a pistol, cleaning, storing and transporting a pistol, shooting fundamentals, shooting positions, improving and maintaining shooting skills, and buying a pistol.”
Gun sales and ammunition sales were on fire at the end of 2012 and well into 2013. That demand has tempered since then, although stores are either not stocked as well as they used to be or the prices have been permanently raised versus a year ago.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) was able to raise guidance more than once over strong demand in the last ten months. It was even able to conduct a large share buyback. At $10.78, the 52-week range is $7.67 to $13.38 and the market cap is now about $675 million.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is up closer to its high than rival Smith & Wesson. Its market is higher at $1.25 billion based upon a share price of about $64.50. Sturm, Ruger shares have traded in a 52-week range of $40.00 to $70.32. Sturm, Ruger even has NRA-branded pistols.
Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) is the largest American ammunition maker, selling to the armed forced, government, law enforcement, and the public. Its shares just hit a new high of $110.57. With a $3.5 billion market cap, Alliant has been trying to diversify away from being so dependent upon large government orders. Still, a new high in the stock price has to be a testament to something that has permanently changed about its business.
If you want proof that gun and ammo sales have backed off of a frenzy level, look no further than Cabela’s Incorporated (NYSE: CAB). Its earnings a week ago were plagued by falling gun and ammo sales even if the net profit was up. Cabela’s has a market value of more than $4.2 billion based upon a $59.85 share price, but the stock was up over $62 before the earnings report.
To hear about one million of these NRA books being sold may not sound like much when you compare the sales to Stephen King or Anne Rice books. Now consider that most people who buy new things often do not read the handbooks and manuals that come with them. That is true for cars and other big-ticket items, and is true for guns as well. And how many people go out and buy a handbook on a new product that they have to pay for? Now imagine how many pistols were sold in the last couple of years if there have been one million of these books sold just for pistols.