Annual gun sales grew dramatically to 20 million between 2020 and 2021. These figures may only continue to rise if previous sales and production trends are any indication. Here’s the history of 30 years of gun manufacturing in America.
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Although gun sales have been strong in recent years, the ambiguity around COVID-19 has been beneficial to the firearms business.
From 2010 through 2019, an average of 13 million weapons were lawfully sold each year in the United States. Annual gun sales grew dramatically to 20 million between 2020 and 2021.
While the United States imports millions of weapons each year, the majority of firearms sold in the country are made in the United States. Nick Routley of Visual Capitalist delves into the numbers underlying America’s multibillion-dollar gun manufacturing sector.
Gun Manufacturing in the United States
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States has manufactured about 170 million firearms over the last three decades, with manufacturing increasing dramatically in recent years.
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Although American gunmakers produce a wide range of firearms, they are normally divided into five categories: pistols, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and other firearms.
The following is a list of firearms manufactured in the United States over the last 30 years, organized by type:
Pistols (36%) and rifles (35%), respectively, are the most popular firearm types, with the former becoming the most common recently.
In 2001, pistols accounted for 21% of all weapons manufactured. Pistols now account for roughly half of all weapons produced.
Who is Producing America’s Firearms?
Although there are many firearm manufacturing businesses in the United States, production is controlled by a few major ones.
Here are the top ten gunmakers in the United States, which account for 70% of total production:
Two publicly traded parent firms, Smith & Wesson (NYSE: RGR) and Sturm, Ruger & Co., account for one-third of total output (NASDAQ: SWBI)
Some of these players are particularly powerful when it comes to specific sorts of guns. As an illustration:
- Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and SIG SAUER produced 58 percent of pistols between 2008 and 2018
- Remington*, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson produced 45 percent of rifles between 2008 and 2018.
*Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020, and its assets were divided and sold to a number of different buyers. Vista Outdoor now owns the Remington brand name (NYSE: VSTO)
The Geography of Gun Manufacturing
The ATF issues Type 07 licenses to companies that produce firearms. There were around 16,000 Type 07 licenses in the United States in 2020.
Because these manufacturers are spread around the country, these figures are partly representative of the population. Large states like Texas and Florida, unsurprisingly, have the most licences.
When you sort by the number of licensees per 100,000 persons, you get a different picture. Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho come out on top in this category.
These figures may only continue to rise if previous sales and production trends are any indication.