I was glancing through the second and third annual Shotgun News Treasury Issues – at that time I was in the habit of buying and saving them for their gunsmithing articles. Those old articles are still good to review, even if the neuropathy has taken a lot of skill from my fingers – but I happened to look at the advertising pages, and thought to compare some of the prices with the advertisements in this month’s issue of Firearms News (the successor to Shotgun News).
The Third Treasury Issue advertised a Rock Island model 1911 for $349 (page 146). The same company advertises that pistol at $499 today – and then knocks off $49. The Turkish-made Tisas variant has a suggested retail price of $449.99 today, so the comparison seems fair. An off-brand AR-15 M-4 carbine for $914.45 (page 131). April’s second issue of 2023 advertises a Smith & Wesson version of the AR-15 at $625 (page 67).
In 2023, the advertisement on page 9 offers a Model 1911 “Builder’s kit” – all the parts for the 1911 except the frame – for $279. The same group of parts in 2003 was $272.95 on page 203.
Frames in 2003 went for $89.95 – this year the stripped frame goes for $179.95.
So if I start comparing things, even disregarding inflation, an AR-15 costs less – about 30% less – today than it did 20 years ago. That Model 1911 .45 is about 30% more. I’m no economist. I can’t begin to explain why the base AR-15 costs less today than it did 20 years ago. But with everything else going up, and the prices of AR-15 rifles going down, I can understand why so many people have bought them.