Secondly, experience has shown that the upper end of the market takes less of a battering when a sales bubble bursts, as this one will. One of my primary topics of conversation yesterday with industry leaders, especially on the black rifle side of the market, was a frank discussion of how much longer this sales cycle is likely to run, what the implications of a normalization of sales was going to be and how much discretionary income has been leached out of the shooting market by this cycle. I can't go into all the discussions, because a lot of the shared information is proprietary, but there's a general feeling — maybe not strong enough to call a consensus yet — that the market has peaked and maybe begun to cool a bit in recent days. In the absence of another pronouncement by Sock Puppet General Eric Holder that all guns in private hands should be seized and sent to Mexico, the market will exhale.
There is also a similar feeling that the bulging middle of the AR market is close to a saturation point. That is, most of the new shooters or panic buyers are already in. The implication of this for manufacturers is that a percentage of the currently huge backorders for black rifles will disappear as retailers see see the demand slackening.
Conversely, the manufacturers see (and predict they will continue to see) heavy demand for the upper tier of products — .308/7.62 black rifles, gas piston "upgrades," specialized rifles for target shooting and hunting and "super-premium" and/or factory custom rifles. Essentially, some of the new buyers, now that they have a little experience with their guns, will be "buying up" now that they know what they actually want. Additionally, the more experienced AR consumers, who have for the most part sat out this dance, will be moving back into the market as it normalizes.
There are obviously satellite trends — the anticipated boomlet in the accessory market; the anticipated growth in sales of fully finished uppers as a portion of the staggering number of stripped lower receivers that have been sold in the last 6 months start to be built out, etc.
That's where I am now on trends. I'll talk a little later about ammo...and I don;t have anything good to say at all...