For most guns, MSRP is a starting point set by the manufacturers, not unlike the window sticker on a new car. The good thing is that you are not haggling to get the best deal on every gun you purchase, unlike a car. Still, there are a few manufacturers, primarily the small ones, that do dictate retail selling prices. I have factory direct on one brand that will not allow their retailers to sell below at a price set by them, which is roughly $20 below MSRP. The gun is a good one at a fair price point to begin with, so I do not have issue with them.
So far during this feeding frenzy going on in the marketplace again, prices have not risen, unless some of my FFL bretheren have decided to take advantage of the situation on a retail level, which in some cases won't surprise me too much. I have noticed that the sale fliers that I received on a pretty regular basis from some of the distributors have mostly stopped coming. This could be due to one of three possible reasons. One, they are taking advantage of the sales increase. Two, they are having shortfalls in inventory, which I do see happening, so it is hard to offer sale prices on what might not be in stock on a wholesale level. Three, all of the above.
I was at a small local gun show over the weekend just past. I did notice that handgun prices had not been jacked up, at least by the vendors selling at this particular show. Now, for other weapons, I found the prices higher than before, primarily, on the AKs and ARs. I do know that these are getting to be in short supply wholesale. I, myself, needed an AK for a client and had trouble finding one. I finally found two IO models available at Grice Wholesale and not at an inflated price either. I was beginning to sweat losing this sale. Out of all my distributors, I never thought Southern Ohio Gun would run out of AK models.
As to finding the common price point for any particular model, it is good advice to shop around, either at places like Bud's or at a couple brick & mortar stores before you buy. You most often will find the highest retail prices at places like Gander Mountain and the lowest at your local mom & pop shop. Online sales speaking, I do know Bud's has a good rep and other places like www.hyattgunshop.com which is Hyatt's in Charlotte's online site is another one I recommend checking if you don't buy local as far as a reputable seller goes. As to places like GunBroker, Guns America, etc., bargains there are few and far between these days. They have gone the eBay route unfortunately. Gun shows are also no longer the places to go for deals, though I have seen a few reasonable deals at a couple of smaller ones I've attended locally. Whether it is coincidence or not that both were held at VFD halls, who knows, but the smaller ones seem to attract vendors that are fairer minded.
Try to resist the impulse buy and become an educated consumer and you should do ok.