Mapping The Imports And Exports Of Guns & Ammo

The Peace Research Institute of Oslo have produced a visualization of the imports and exports and military and civilian weapons and ammunition. I have seen many of these types of visualizations before, but this is the first one I have seen that allows you to filter out military weapons so you only see civilian weapon data. You can click on any country and see where they export civilian (or military) weapons to and from where they import them.



One interesting country is Zimbabwe. They import civilian weapons from the Czech Republic and from the UAE and exported some of them them to North Korea. A Zimbabwe arms broker must be procuring hunting weapons on behalf North Korean elite (I am 99.99% sure regular civilians can’t own guns in North Korea) in order to get around sanctions.

If anyone else sees interesting data hidden away, let us know in the comments.

You can filter out military weapons by clicking on the appropriate dots in the bottom right hand corner.

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.


  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Really interesting. It definitely bears further research and discussion.

  • HowlingMadMurphy

    Really surprised to see that of all the EU nations, Russia, and China, its actually Austria that imports the most stuff to the US? Besides Springfield, who else produces firearms in Austria?

    • Fred Johnson

      Springfield XD guns are Croatian. So I guess that’s a boatload of Glocks. 😮

    • billythorton


    • aweds1


  • billythorton

    Malta exports as much as it imports as far as firearms and I’m pretty sure they aren’t making them. Also they hold on to all the ammo that comes in.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      That’s really intriguing. The firearms import/export business doesn’t surprise me too much — it’s a cost-efficient way for a very small nation to earn hard currency. However, holding on to all the ammunition that is imported seems a little surprising, unless the Maltese are banking on earning extra dollars via distribution at a time when there is a perceived ammunition shortage, especially here in the United States. Have you lived in Malta yourself? The reason why I’m asking is that I once knew this wonderful couple from Texas who bought a sailboat and spent many post-retirement years voyaging to many different — and sometimes forgotten or little-known — places around the globe. They spent a lot of time in Malta as well as the Mediterranean in general and told me some great stories about the place.

      Either way, thanks so much for sharing your information :)!

  • Micki Mahoney

    Thank you Steve! Been looking for something like this for a while.

  • J.T.

    2.42 Million worth of “civilian” firearms imported into the DPRK in 1999. 335k worth of “civilian” arms from France and Switzerland in 2008. 450k worth of ammo coming from the Swiss and Chinese that year as well. 60k worth of ammo in 2005 from France and Canada of all places. Through the 2000’s there was a surprising amount of weapons heading there from western Europe even though there were sanctions in place.

  • Alex Nicolin

    Romania exporting big time to Afghanistan and … USA :

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      WASR AKs. I did not know Afghanistan was importing them.

      • Alex Nicolin

        In fact is probably the USA on behalf of the Afghan Army. They are equipping them with soviet style weaponry, since it’s cheaper, and more robust.

  • Drew Wood

    peace research institute of oslo mapping arms and weapons is not biased. sorta like the nobel peace prize.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      They are most definitely not pro-gun. But I doubt they have any incentive to alter the data. There is not much incentive for doing so.

      The raw data is what I would be suspicious of. Countries like North Korea are known to frequently smuggle weapons in and out. There is no way to really know how much is moving in and out.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        I don’t think the Institute is pro- or anti-gun, based on what I have seen of their data compilations. They simply try to present the facts as best as they can based on available screened data.

        You are right to be suspicious ( at least until confirmed otherwise ) of the raw data but, as we all know, such raw data is often both almost impossible to verify and also constitutes all there is to go on. The political objectives of nations like North Korea, or any other nation on Earth for that matter, sometimes preclude the release of undistorted facts.

        • Drew Wood

          I checked their site and as best i can tell, i can not find their individual raw data matched to sources in any form and barely any reference to the 37 sources they claim. they have a “source” available, but it is simply the database of points for their map. i doubt they lied about the data or changed it once they picked a source, but they do not indicate whether 37 is all the sources possible or if chose not to use some sources and why. if you cherry pick your sources, you can make the outcome look like whatever you want.

          i realize that any information about weapons import/exports to unfriendly regimes is non inclusive, but the educated guesses vs. documented routes should be identified. hell, even france does not report all their transfers:

          their FAQ does mention limitations and caveats, however, they knowingly include the data on their map without highlighting or indicating that the data is incomplete at best.

          the map is a neat visual for seeing the flow of small arms, and could make it much easier to identify possible nations that are straw men purchases for embargoed countries.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Very good points, Drew — thanks for the input! As I have said, the Institute seems to be quite honest and straightforward with its data presentation, and appears to do the best that it can with what it can access, but the sources may not be so easily verified. This leaves the Institute in the position of having to make do with what they have by inference, which probably includes some deductive reasoning which may or may not generate end results that are on the mark. I think we have all had to offer our best, most-educated guesses more than once concerning various topics, and the Institute is probably no different. It’s really hard to accurately track firearms transactions when the parties involved go to great lengths to avoid exposure. When those parties are well-resourced governments with adept intelligence / security agencies under their control, the problem is greatly magnified.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      I agree. The institute simply tries to present to the best of its ability the current situation map detailing arms distributions throughout the globe. This is based on available information that has to be sorted and vetted as it is received, and there is no guarantee that said information is 100% foolproof, so they can only do their best with what they have to work with. Having said that, they are still able to achieve a reasonably accurate dynamic picture of the overall situation, which is no mean feat in itself given the complications that have to be dealt with.

  • DanTSX

    WTF is up with Thailand? Those guys must love guns, or they are a traficking hub…..

    It is interesting that you can see the effects of the bans on Chinese imports into the USA on the timeline quite vividly. Also, other political moves such as the South African laws limiting exports of military surplus (I love you .308 and 5.56 PMP battle packs) are quite visible as well