U.S. sanctions against Russia over Ukraine have caused the average price of a civilian Kalashnikov rifle in the U.S. to jump from $600 to $1,500, as gun owners rush to buy genuine Russian weapons before they disappear from store shelves.
Kalashnikov Concern, the company that produces the most popular line of civilian-use Kalashnikov rifles, the Saiga, was blacklisted by the U.S. in July. By September, U.S. distributors reported that their stocks of genuine Russian-made Kalashnikovs had been cleared.
"As a result, an active resale market for Kalashnikovs has arisen," Russia's new trade representative to the U.S., Alexander Stadnik, said in an interview published Tuesday by news agency TASS, Though there are several non-Russian Kalashnikovs still available in the U.S., American gun owners want the real thing, he added.
Stadnik said the average price of a Kalashnikov rifle in the U.S. on the resale market has already hit $1,500, compared to its previous off-the-shelf price of $600.
Kalashnikov Concern was best known for its Saiga hunting rifle, a modified version of the famous AK-47 assault rifle that is considered low-end but reliable.
Even before the U.S. imposed sanctions against the Kalashnikov Concern, the largest Russian manufacturer of the iconic weapons, consumer demand in the U.S. for Kalashnikov rifles exceeded supply by almost 200 percent.
Sales of civilian Kalashnikov rifles made up about 50 percent of Kalashnikov Concern's sales before sanctions.
Another Russian manufacturer, Molot, produces the high-end Vepr line of Kalashnikov rifles, which cost about $900. Molot has not been sanctioned by the U.S.