One thing I'm noticing is that people who were lucky enough to buy the long-neglected EBR are starting to think more seriously about a proper system of defensive weapons. A carbine will be most useful under end-of-the-world conditions, but odds are a handgun will be needed more often before that ever happens. So now new gun owners are coming back to look at handguns.
Despite differences in prices, and quality, an AR15 is a pretty simple choice, and hard to go wrong. Handguns come in infinitely more varieties and prices ranges. A perfect choice for one person may be a poor one for another. It's an embarrassment of riches, best solved by having a friend, or gun dealer, that you trust.
After the sticker shock of buying an AR15, comes the even bigger shock that some handguns cost even more, with some people not even blinking when it comes to price. Others are looking at saving as much money as possible, while still being adequately armed. And lots of other reasons in between.
The important thing to remember is there is crap out there in all price ranges, as well as gems in all price ranges. A gem is a handgun that you have complete confidence in, is accurate and foolproof, and comfortable enough to encourage you to get plenty of trigger time without getting discouraged at your first attempts.
I'd like to mention a brand-new model that was announced at the 2013 SHOT Show in January, and just arrived at my favorite store. It's the Walther PPX, and offers Walther quality (and bragging rights) at an entry-level price of under $500.
It's an economy version of the Walther PPQ, and available in 9mm, .40S&W, stainless slide, and threaded-barrel options. The economy comes from extensive use of Pressed Powdered Metal parts, including barrel and slide. Plastic is plastic.
This new(er) technology allows exotic alloys to be pressed under high temperatures and a controlled atmosphere to produce near-net parts that may require no further machining.
I can't say any more about it, because handling one has been my closest contact. If you don't know what you're looking for, you may never notice it. And it's big enough, and ugly enough, to say it means business, especially if someone is on the wrong end of it.
I may own something like this some day, but if I was in for something that can get some vey series business done, it's one I'd look hard at before looking at Walthers, or other prestige brands, at twice the price.
I kinda like that little Walther. Would not mind adding one of those to my toy box. hmmm... Thanks for the update!