President's Message: How's the Market

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 6/17/24 5:22 PM

Kenyon Gleason, NASGW PresidentOne of the most frequent questions I get asked by members and non-members alike is, “How are things going in the firearms industry?” I always find it to be a great question and depending on who is asking, the reason for the ask and what they hope to hear can be quite different.

Some folks ask because they’re interested in what I think about the political world, current legislation and politics. They want to know what the mood is in the industry and how folks are feeling about the upcoming elections, particularly in Presidential election years such as this one. My answers tend to vary depending on what’s happening at the time, but I’ll always encourage them to get involved, vote, contribute to good candidates, volunteer, etc. Despite what any of us thinks about the political process, and what can be very frustrating political leaders and processes, you can’t change or fix what you don’t take part in. If you’re not in the game, it’s pretty hard to impact the outcome.

Others I talk to are more interested in what’s happening in the courtroom. They’ve seen or heard about a recent court case and they’re curious, whether the ruling was good or bad, if it’ll stick or face an appeal, or if the ruling will actually make a difference in the overall shooting sports industry. One thing I can say for certainty is that each and every court case we win or lose matters. If we lose, those who want to see our industry go away get more bold, and they get more committed. When we win, as we’ve been doing rather often lately (fortunately), we give our supporters hope and courage to fight the next battle in court, because there most certainly will be one. Our friends at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, American Suppressor Association, National Rifle Association and some of our greatest allies in private practice like the folks at Renzulli Law Firm, and others, are fighting dozens of battles in courts across the country on a daily basis. A win for one of these groups is a win for all and every time they step into the courtroom or file a legal challenge or brief means we are still in the fight and still working toward a stronger future for our industry and protection of the 2nd Amendment rights we have. I encourage all of you to learn about the battles these groups are fighting on our behalf and consider how you might be able to support them. Nothing can be left to chance. The other side often is playing with house money (ie, your tax dollars) and they simply have one goal in mind, the eradication of our industry. I believe many times they couldn’t care less if they actually win, their hope is only to bankrupt and punish our industry while trying to scare us into compliance with their agenda. I’ll say this, it’s pretty hard to argue that 2024 is an important year for our future.

Finally, when asked about the state of our industry, many questioners are simply curious how sales are doing, what’s the hot sector or what are the hottest products. They want to know if our manufacturers are doing well, or struggling. Most of the time I rely on solid feedback I’m receiving from our members to help me answer these questions. Often though, I utilize other indicators, such as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and of course NASGW’s own SCOPE™ data program. Together, the conversations I’m having, backed by the data, can give a pretty good picture of what’s taking place in the market. In 2024, it’s definitely been slower than 2023. We’re seeing a pretty solid 7-10% decline in firearms sales year-over-year, although lever action and bolt action rifles have been selling well and shotguns are holding flat. Ammunition is still selling strong, and some calibers are still rather tricky to find. (Ask me how I know.) Wholesale inventory levels of ammunition are also still fairly tight. Optics too are holding strong in sales for 2024, when compared to 2023. Even with a recent slide, shipments are still up about 3% over last year’s trend, based on our most recent reporting.

One of the non-work related questions I get, and usually it’s from my Dad, is “Why are you so bad at golf?” Just kidding, he doesn’t ask me that. I usually ask it of myself right around hole number three of 18 when he’s already beating me by three strokes. And to this question, I really have no good answer. Love the game, but just have never been able to put it all together out there on the course. I did have the opportunity to golf with my Dad last week and I picked up the tab because, well, Happy Father’s Day. So it kind of stung just a little bit more because I actually paid to have my Dad kick my butt. At least when I was little, and did something stupid enough to have him kick my butt for, I deserved it, and I didn’t have to pay for it. Luckily my Mom appreciates that I send her flowers for Mother’s Day and doesn’t likewise punish me by beating me at golf. Though she too would probably win.

Anyway, I want to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. I hope you know how important you are in the lives of your kids. I hope you know how important and critical your leadership and love is to their future. I’m the luckiest man in the world. God and my wife blessed me with five sons, all of whom are grown and now living their own amazing lives and hopefully will someday make me a grandfather as well. (They hate it when I mention that grandfather thing.) It’s truly the best thing ever, being a Dad. And if I’ve got to make my kids pay the green fees to have me beat them at golf, well, then so be it. :)

Enjoy your summer folks. We continue to make plans for our 50th Expo celebration in Kansas City this year and I’m excited to see you all there. It’ll be here before you know it.

Until next time,


Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President

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