How many guns are there in the USA?

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by a journalist from the Voice of Russia, a Russian state-owned broadcaster, on topic of how many guns exist in the USA. They have just published an English language article based on the interview.

Just for the record, the title of the english-language article they published ‘I don’t believe anyone, including the government, about how many guns there are’ – US Gun Expert is a slightly mistranslation of what I said. What I said was all estimates published by the BATFE and the NRA are out of date and no longer accurate. I can see how my words translated into Russian and then translated back into English might be inadvertently misconstrued. If the BATFE or the NRA did an in-depth study on how many guns exist in the country, I would believe them.

In 2011 an extra 11.4 millions guns were either manufactured or imported into the USA. This excludes military firearms. The often quoted number from 10 years ago of 300 million guns (“one gun per person”) can no longer be correct.  I expect the number today is 400 million+, or 1.25+ per person in the country.

What do you think?

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • 032125

    None at all, agent. I’m afraid I sold them all. Receipt? Aw shucks, I lost the receipt.

    • Nah lost in a boat accident remember?

    • 032125

      I seem to have started an unhelpful (if amusing) trend. I tend to agree with the 400 million estimate, give or take a few thousand that the gov’t has exported to Mexican criminals or trash compacted in the various nanny states. This is not based on anything scientific whatsoever.

    • allannon

      Guns? After all the of incontrovertible facts presented by the President and Brady Campaign, I threw all of mine away. No way I’m having those homicidal machines in my house. They’re just too dangerous!

      I took up free climbing instead. Much safer, right?

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Safer for the guy that wants to rob you for sure.

        • allannon

          I can’t tell if you missed my sarcasm or not…

          • JumpIf NotZero

            …. No, I didn’t. But you definitely missed me being facetious.

          • Got it:-)

          • allannon

            Good. I was kinda afraid people would think I was serious…;D

  • Dave

    They were all stolen years ago, otherwise I’d be happy to give them up.

  • idahoguy101

    Who would report to the authorities they own any guns?

  • Timothy Adams

    What guns? We don’t even know what you are talking about……

  • Steve (TFB Editor)

    haha guys, that is pretty much what I told the reporter. Nobody is ever going to disclose what guns they have. Australia is thought to have a lot of guns buried in the ground after they introduced registration.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Also, can you imagine the vast man power it would take to track 400 million guns! We are talking a large office building, lots of staff, complicated computer systems etc.

      • RobGR

        And that will stop the Feds? Of course they’ll love to throw money into that, maybe create a new bureaucratic system, an offshoot of BATFE. I’m sure it’s in the works. They’ve dismantled the militia system over hundreds of years of legislation via the Militia Acts, it’s not even a consideration when people read 2A, it’s been drummed out, but now it’s all about dismantling the individuals Right to bear arms. Ronnie got it started over here in CA and Feinstein is a bat outta hell.

      • Headscratcher

        “can you imagine the vast man power it would take to track 400 million guns?”

        Oddly enough, while the gun grabbers seem to think they can round up all 400 million guns, our same government claims it can’t fine those 11 million illegal immigrants in our country.

    • Mark

      Sounds like some legit shovel ready jobs are to be had there.

    • Phil Ward

      There are certainly a few in the UK

  • Lance

    There 90+ million gun owners add 3+ guns per person that make a BIG number. Think we have millions of weapons here. Better think twice China before you invade!!! LOL.

    • Drapetomanius Grimr

      It’s not the foreign that concerns me, so much as the domestic.

  • Ben

    How many guns? Its a banana count…….a whole bunch. That’s as close a number as you could get to exact.

  • Andy

    If I was asked, personally, I would lie by a factor of about 300%, and the DOJ would back me up.

    god bless 80% receivers……

  • JT

    enough to get Piers Morgan’s panties in a twist

  • Maurice oligschlaeger

    There is a gun behind every blade of grass now!!!! Be afraid, be very afraid, you ass wipes in Washington…..

  • joethefatman

    I’ve only bought 1 new gun in my life, and that was least week, I have or did have (damn metal eating termites) several. Until last week all the guns I’ve owned have been bought from friends, neighbors, guys selling them locally. And I started buying them In the ’80’s so I wonder how many of those would even show up in that estimate.

  • Joseph B Campbell

    With as many guns as there are in the United States of America alone. And guns killing people? Isn’t it amazing there are any Americans left at all? Let alone racists, and criminals, and don’t forget politicians!!!

  • Paul Hurst

    Suggests we are adding 5-6 million per year

  • snmp

    In fact, Canada, finland & Swiss have more gun by persone in the country

  • derfelcadarn

    I have seen estimates that number into the billions, the more the merrier.

  • Greensoup

    I’d guess it’s very significantly higher. I’d say a lot of people would say they didn’t own a gun if they didn’t BUY the gun. But there are lots and lots of stuff handed down over the last 100 years that’s sitting in the back of the closet.

  • MrApple

    The real question is “How many guns now in the hands of the American public can be directly contributed to the Obama Administration, Liberal policies, and basic distrust of our “benevolent” Government?”

    That’s three for me.

    • Mark

      When I was an insufferable teenager in High School our Econ teacher showed us Friedman videos. Friedman was asked how to combat inflation by an audience member. His reply was that the only combat to inflation was to spend all your money. I have followed his advice and the ammo I’ve stockpiled over the years has proven to be the most resilient, appreciable, and liquid asset I’ve ever owned. I’ve saved every purchase invoice over the last 4 years and my ammo has been averaging a yearly return of 13%. My 401k on the other hand…

      • 032125

        Oh Milton. For such a smart guy, you were so wrong about inflation. Silly monatarists…

  • Mark

    1.25/person? I think it’s a start. Though I must admit That I, like so many others, have lost guns to boating accidents so it is difficult to calculate the true number.

  • Rodford Smith

    That’s a good start. 😉

  • counsel

    Do the “numbers” ever estimate those guns that are destroyed, broken, or lost or do they just assume the number always gets larger?

  • Leonard

    In Germany we recently got a “federal central gun registry” so that all legal firearms are registered in one place. This is the first time we have accurate data on how many legal firearms there are in Germany. Before, estimates ranged at around 10 million firearms (population 80 million), now with the registry we know it is only 5 million.

    Interestingly enough, this was disappointing for Anti-Gun campaigners, as the lower number reduces the apparent threat of guns. Most of those guns will be in .22 lr anyways, Germany’s main shooting sports calibre.

    • Never Again!

      And you believe that all the guns in Germany are registered?

      The last thing on earth I would ever do is tell a German government official about my guns.

  • steveindajeep

    my guess would more than ten?

  • Timothy Chaffee

    *waves hand* these are not the guns you’re looking for……

  • dmac73

    I work at a gun shop in Eastern NC, we had an article about us here on thefirearmblog, and last year we sold $1.6 million and this year so far we are at $2.7 million. Obama has been our best sales person. But estimating how many guns there are would be a daunting task. Most of our customers are very private. The true number would never be known.

  • Erik North

    I have a collection of 22 guns at the moment. I think you are right with the 400+ million mark.

  • Virtually every farmhouse and every other house in the Midwest has a 3 tier gun rack with a 12, 20, or 16 gauge, an old .22 LR, and a scoped .222,.223,.243, or 30-06 and a dozen boxes of old ammo.

    I had one acquaintance I took shooting now and then with my modern AR type rifles and I asked him if he had any weapons and he told me no. One day I dropped him off and he needed help fixing an appliance, on my way out there was a 12 gauge above the door and a .22 LR leaning in the corner. I asked them whose they were and they were his great grandfathers who had been dead for 20 years! I said so their yours right he said no they will always be his great grandfathers he just borrows them to shoot varmints now and then…lol!

    So yeah rural Americans don’t really consider having their own weapons unless they bought them…that I know is a fact.