Guns & Ammo Circulation Continues Decline

In News & Opinion by TWANGnBANG

The cover of the February 2017 Guns & Ammo magazine.

I owe Guns & Ammo what I am today.  When my mother would drag me to the Acme grocery store, I’d often wait at the magazine rack, and just like you’ll find today, gun magazines were displayed on the bottom rack… right where a curious boy could gawk and dream about owning a gun one day.

My family wasn’t anti-gun by any stretch.  It’s just that firearms weren’t a big part of my dad’s adult life.  We only owned an Armalite AR7 jam-amatic and a S&W Model 53 in 22 Remington Jet.  Both are sitting in my safe about 5ft from me as I write this, in fact.

So, Guns & Ammo and its writers truly shaped my interest in firearms from that little kid who could only look at the bottom rack right up until I was old enough to buy firearms for myself.  I even had pages of an article on the brand new Glock G20 10mm cut out and tacked on my dorm room wall.  16 shots of 41 magnum in a semi-automatic pistol?!?  Yes, please!

A G20 was thus the first handgun I bought, and I loaded it with the Winchester Black Talons also prominently featured in Guns & Ammo and other gun rags at the time.  When G&A taught me about merits of the new Big Dot sight from Ashely Outdoors in the late 90’s, I went out and got a set for that G20.  I also still have that G20 wearing a fading 20-year old Big Dot and about five boxes of 10mm Black Talons.

Guns & Ammo self-reported circulation (accessed February 7th, 2017).

It’s only natural that I thus use Guns & Ammo as a metric for how well I’m doing in reaching my audience.  I’ve been tracking their circulation for four years now, long enough to see a trend that likely surprises no one.  They’ve been losing about 5% of their circulation every year since I’ve been watching.  With their most recent adjustment to their figures, my subscriber base of 320,000 puts me at 82% of Guns & Ammo’s circulation of 386,190.  Many other gun channels dwarf that figure, but even much smaller gun channels are growing in popularity as that of gun print media declines.

Guns & Ammo ad rates (accessed February 7th, 2017).

With even a 1/6th page ad in G&A listing for $16,158, it should come as no shock that advertisers are also leaving print for new media.  A print ad is extremely limited in what it can show about a product, gets almost no exposure after about three months of being published, and will never show up in a search engine return.  New media articles, pictorials, and videos are published where the whole world can access them 24/7/365, and they show up very high in search engine results when people look for information online.  YouTube videos show up at the top of all Google searches, in fact, since they are owned by and generate advertising revenue for their mutual parent company (Alphabet).  This creates reach for a manufacturer’s investment in new media that print media never had with costs that even a small upstart can afford.

The decline of print gun media isn’t something I relish, though I do appreciate being on the rising side of the ledger.  Though I don’t subscribe, I still enjoy thumbing through the latest issue of Guns & Ammo and other print magazines anytime I find myself waiting for my wife or daughter to do their shopping.