National Firearm Survey 2015: Are you a “Hardcore Super Owner”?

There’s a new word out there.  I’m sure T-shirts, stickers and morale patches are being produced as you read this.

The word is Hardcore Super Owner and apparently we – I am one(!) – are on the rise.

To join the club, you have to own 17 or more guns.


The B&T shop in Thun, Switzerland is a Gold Mine for Super Hardcore Owners.


The survey results from the study made by public health researchers at the Harvard and Northeastern universities are still unpublished, but through the Guardian we get a preview into some of the results.

I’m far from being an expert in statistics, but I’ll begin with saying that I don’t think a survey done on less than 4 000 people (Americans) conducted online by a market research company can tell the truth.

There is also a national panel being paid (or “compensated”) represented in the statistics. There might be “indications” in the survey, but we’ll never get the truth.

The market research company that conducted the tests was: GfK


B&T APCs in a whole range of calibers (9 mm and .45 APC) and version.


According to the numbers in the Guardian, the estimation is that America’s gun stock has increased by 70 million guns since 1994, to a total of around 265 million guns.

Surprisingly – if we trust the figures – the amount of owners has decreased from 25% to 22%.

More guns in fewer hands, according to the study. I have a feeling that gun ownership is on the rise, not decline, and spreading to more individuals.




According to the estimates, 133 million of the 265 million guns (about 50%) are owned by only 3% of the Americans.

So if you own 17 or more guns, you are classified as a Hardcore Super Owner!

I think the survey may have missed something and that is gun collectors. There must be plenty of collectors out there who own a lot more than 17 guns, pushing the figures up?

Collectors and competitive shooters, in need of several setups, are mentioned, but not sure how those figures are computed and analyzed? I’m also not sure how gun dealers, shooting galleries, museums etc. are calculated.

Also I haven’t double checked the percentages, not sure how they ended up with the figure of the 17 guns?

Some more “facts” from the study:

The average American gun owner owns 3 guns.

Almost 8 million Americans own between 8 and 140 guns.


This concentration is not unique however, it is common for about 20% of the consumers to account for 80% or a product’s sale. Just think of Apple products as another example of this, how many do you own?




Female gun ownership is also on the rise. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing, as the reason for the rise is said to be that women buy guns (and mostly they only buy one) is because they are afraid and feel they need to protect themselves.



Handguns, handguns, handguns. Most gun-owning women own only one.


I would prefer that people (not only women) bought guns not because they’re afraid, but because they want to practice target shooting or other shooting sports and feel the joy associated.

I would rather have gun ownership related to happiness than fear, but I guess it is all related to the society we live in.

Also, women are more likely to own one handgun only and no long guns at all, which is an indication – to me at least – that they have bought the gun for protection and self-defense.


Nine AR-15 in a row. STAG Arms to JP Enterprises.


If you read the article in The Guardian in its whole, there’s a lot of demographics involved.

Everything from age, sex, race, community, education, annual income to whether you’ve done military service or not is hacked into graphs to analyze who owns a gun and how many.

The survey also states that about 400 000 guns are stolen each year.

If so “few” owners have firearms, how come there’s an estimated 400 000 guns being stolen each year? That’s almost a thousand guns being stolen each day. The USA is a large country, but not sure I can get those figures working in my head, or if there are other reasons?


B&T APC 9 from Switzerland.


The Trace has also run an article (with a pretty cool animation from Michael Murpy’s work) about the National Firearm Survery 2015. The pitch is a bit different than The Guardian’s and I don’t think you’re going to like it.

We will have to wait for almost a year (autumn 2017) until the final results from the Harvard & Northeastern gun ownership study are released.

I’m surprised that it takes almost two years for a study made in 2015 to be released, as the results would feel old already.

My favorite quote from The Guardian article is this:

“Interviews with Americans who own at least 17 firearms revealed a wide range of reasons for accumulating so many guns.

Some super-owners are dedicated collectors with special rooms to display their assortment of historic firearms. Others are firearms instructors, gunsmiths, or competitive shooters, who need a variety of firearms in the course of work or competition. Some gun owners have a survivalist streak, and believe in storing up weapons, as well as food and water, in case of a disaster scenario. Others simply picked up a handgun here, a shotgun or hunting rifle there, and somehow ended up with dozens.”

Now do we have any readers recognizing that last sentence? Hands up?

I feel compelled to ask, hand on the heart, how many Hardcore Super Owners do we have on here at TFB?

I need that morale patch now.

Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with an European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatic firearms, optics and sound suppressors. Owning the night would be nice too.


  • Garandman

    Double that 17 number and you’d get close…

  • Jess Johnson

    17 is a good start to a collection.

  • Joshua

    I don’t own any guns.

    • PK

      Your browsing, searching, and credit purchase history very likely says otherwise. Technology is neat.

      • QuadGMoto

        But technology can have a difficult time accounting for those pesky boating accidents that keep happening to gun owners. ?

        • Roy G Bunting

          They’ll issue the warrants based on the evidence they have, like:
          Posts talking about ownership, credit card receipts and checking records to gun stores, ammo sellers and others, 4473 searches based on those credit card receipts.

          Unless you’ve only used cash to buy ammo, gun parts, 80% receivers and private transfers without a NICS check, or you haven’t bought anything gun-related in the last 20 years they can know who you are and what you own and they can find out pretty quick if there are likely to be guns around.

          “Boating accidents” only protect people that are presumed innocent.

          • n0truscotsman

            With the mass storage of metadata, I also have no reason to believe that our national security apparatus wouldn’t also be turned against us. Kind of like the DEA’s war on drugs exceptions that only gained more muscle following 9/11 provisions.

            If it ever gets to that point, the consequences will be historical.

          • Bill

            Fortunately, most if not all the times, dating back to Tea Pot Dome and Tammany Hall, if not earlier, every time the government tries something scurrilous, they muck it up. See:
            NSA data hoovering
            Katrina gun seizures barred by a court
            Tonkin Gulf
            etc…A congressman can’t even email/text photos of his Weiner without getting caught.

            The government is evil crowd never seems to cite the really horrible examples of government misconduct, like the internment of Asian American citizens by The Finest Generation during WW2, Native American Boarding Schools or the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. I wonder what those things don’t have in common with gun owners?

          • supergun

            Like the civil war?

          • I think you greatly overestimate the work ethic of government employees.

          • Roy G Bunting

            Perhaps. But perhaps you underestimate the power of the tools revealed in the Snowden leak and the information sharing system law enforcement calls “Fusion centers.”

            I doubt that it will come to mass confiscation, but they do have the tools to find gun owners, even by type of gun without registration.

          • codfilet

            Gov’t employees? They will get the young kids who run Social (ist) media to run the operation, and they will do it willingly, and will gleefully root you out.

          • There’s about 100 million gun owners, and so many YouTube videos on the brangelina breakup. Who has the time?

          • supergun

            Like Mr. Goober?

          • Lee Attiny

            I sold them all at gun shows.

          • supergun

            At the flea market?

          • supergun

            Or they know something?

        • gunsandrockets

          Which is why Commiefornia, uh I mean California, just made it a crime to falsely report lost firearms.

          • QuadGMoto

            They do seem to be working towards registering all firearms, even if the current laws are not quite there yet.

          • gunsandrockets

            California already requires the registration of all firearms purchased in or imported into Commiefornia, uh I mean California.

          • It should be a crime to file a false police report in any case, for fairly obvious reasons.

        • supergun

          Or e-mails?

      • Swarf

        Good luck. I’m behind 7 proxies!

        • Justin

          that’s a good start. but did you use a pre-paid card when you buy online or only cash at the LGS…. 🙂

          even a check card is ran through a centralized system so the data is out there.

          I gave up a long time ago considering how many different databases I’m in due to Military service, security clearances and work.

          • PK

            The only comfort I can offer, since I’m in a similar boat, is that there are so many people who own suspicious/dangerous items and have suspicious/dangerous hobbies and voice suspicious/dangerous opinions that there’s no real way to put any of the information to actual use.

            I feel fine.

          • Holdfast_II

            I was in a similar boat too. Unfortunately, that boat capsized and now my super collection of super firearms is at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Oh well.

          • Porty1119

            When everyone’s special, nobody is. It’s not actionable information.

          • Bill

            We tend to over-inflate our own sense of importance to others. The Million Mom march was a flop, because nowhere near a million moms actually cared.

            Right now the government is too wrapped around the axle about inept would-be terrorists, who in the greater stream of things are a minor threat at worst, to worry about anything else more pressing, like flood control and seat belt compliance.

          • PK

            I absolutely agree. Most governments, both national and on a more local level, seem to have priorities at odds with reality these days.

        • 11b

          So was Bin Laden 🙂

      • iksnilol

        Uhh… credit purchase history doesn’t apply to “private” purchases 😉

        • QuadGMoto

          Here in Pennsylvania, the State Police require a record of all handgun sales to be sent to them for entry into their “database of sales”, including private sales.

          Note that it is illegal for any government agency in Pennsylvania (according to state law) to maintain a gun registry, but the PA Supreme Court let them get away with claiming that it is somehow “not a gun registry” even though it is.

          I suspect other states may have similar illegal “requirements”.

          • iksnilol

            You really didn’t understand what I meant with “private” purchase.

        • PK

          You misunderstand, not the guns. The accessories. The cleaning supplies. The ammo. Targets. Memberships.

          Anything gun-related points to a gun owner. Enough hits and the reliability of the method as far as certainty of a particular individual owning firearm(s), what kind, how many, even if every one of them was bought cash or built by the individual, becomes clear!

          • iksnilol


            So I am smart enough to acquire a firearm sans papers, but stupid enough to order ammo and cleaning supplies?

            You youngins today, too dependant on cards and interwebs.

          • PK

            The very fact you’re on this website is a data point. Looking up videos or reviews. Manuals. Thousands of different things.

            Young’un? Fair enough, not 40 for another few years yet.

          • iksnilol

            Doesn’t prove anything. And how do you know I am not covering my tracks?

          • PK

            Oh, of course. I’m aware it doesn’t prove a thing, it’s just a data point as part of the whole profile being looked at, if that makes sense. Enough data points saying probably gun/car/drug/whatever user, and it’s considered a fair bet that the person is likely to be in line with what the data says.

            In general, it seems to work, but in specific instances it can certainly be wrong.

            As far as covering your tracks, okay. Not really needed when an enormous portion of the world overall is somewhat interested in firearms and likely to own them, legal or not. It’s akin to people worrying about covering their tracks as far as drug use of any kind. It’s a fair bet that any given person in the world uses some kind of drug, at some point. Finding that out from information online doesn’t really mean much.

            Still, the whole concept is fascinating, to see how close and individual the call can be made from a general cloud of search/purchase history. An awful invasion of privacy, but fascinating all the same.

          • iksnilol

            In the end… I guess the only way to be entirely sure is by going off grid. Just live in a cabin 20 miles into the woods… try not to go insane one day.

          • PK

            Wait, you don’t have your messages carried into a city by pigeon messenger (the lag is awful) to be transcribed and then posted here? I thought that was fairly common as a simple precaution.

            Seriously, there are so many people interested in so many things that so many officials in so many governments find concerning that we’re all pretty much lost in the noise. So far as I know, no effective sorting has been developed that allows anything to be done with any of this information.

            Until and unless that happens, I remain unconcerned other than feeling mildly annoyed that all of us have our privacy invaded as a matter of routine.

          • iksnilol

            I can see that one, I just prefer to be a step ahead potential enemies.

          • Bill

            Yeah – I pity anyone who monitors my activities, could not be more boring. And I subscribe to a lot of radical stuff, just to keep up on what the opposing team is up to.

          • Search Palantir.

          • Bill

            I dunno – walk into any small town and they’ll tell you about the weirdo who lives in a school bus on abandoned strip mine land with no utilities…I figured out that I needed to stake a digital claim, so to speak, so no one else could assume my identity online. I should be the only Bill in the interweb pipes.

          • iksnilol

            That’s why you move to another town. Only way people will know you exist is if they stumble into your pot crops.

      • tts

        I’d be real careful extrapolating personal actions or opinions like that. Just because you and some of the other commenters here would lie to the pollsters doesn’t mean the poll data is incorrect.

        Without better information that contradicts the results so far in this poll its silly to dismiss this and other similar polls. This is the 3rd poll (Gallup and GSS are the other ones) that I’m aware of that shows that gun ownership is generally on the decline even though gun sales increase due to enthusiasts buying more firearms for their collections.

        When you start getting multiple pollers getting similar results you can’t reasonably dismiss the results anymore.

        • Paul White

          What kills me is that the data on the face of it makes a fair degree of intuitive sense.

          Most of the people I know with guns have somewhere from one to maybe 4 or 5. Very few have a dozen, and only 2-3 have more than 20. Guns are expensive, particularly good guns! This isn’t an unexpected thing or at all atypical for other recreational goods. There’s always that smallish minority that accounts for a disproportionate amount of sales. If its those people that buy triple AAA computer games at release, or a new luxury car every year, or whatever. Why should guns be markedly different?

          • tts

            Yup. Its only reasonable to expect people who like guns to own more than 1 or 2. Just like some ladies who like to buy lots of shoes or guys who are car fanatics who own more than 1 vehicle.

            Only real surprise for me about these polls is the number of people who own 10 or more guns.

          • I’m more surprised that people admit to anyone outside of their social circle to owning more than a dozen.

          • codfilet

            How old are you? If you are in your 60’s, and have been interested in firearms for almost 50 years, you can become a “super hardcore” without even noticing.

      • supergun

        How about the doctor asking how many you own?

    • Anonymoose

      Nope, no guns around here, boss! Just an empty boat trailer…

    • Eric Atkinson

      I don’t own so many guns it is ridiculous. And they don’t take up any space either.
      I never spend any money on ammo and never waste any time cleaning my nonexistence firearms.

    • supergun

      Most people don’t according to these articles. But someone owns almost 300 million guns. They must think we are stupid.

  • Dougscamo

    Hmm, 17 guns? Starter kit…

    • PK

      Exactly! The same reasoning is behind my distrust of surveys and polls as far as drug use/legalization support goes. If it’s illegal, or questionable, or a hotly debated topic, you simply can’t get people to answer truthfully often enough for polling to have much of a connection with reality.

    • Pseudo

      Perhaps if you consider what you just wrote it won’t seem as much like a deliberate hack job by researchers and more like an intractable sampling problem for which they can’t control. I lament that it’s so hard to get good statistics, but here a significant portion of the gun community is the source of the problem.

      • Dougscamo

        I resemble that remark…

      • Bill

        You hit the nail right on the head. More proof that we are our own worst enemies. We complain that the data is skewed and faulty, and then go out of our way to make it just that.

    • Paul White

      I wish I had 17 guns. Only a few more to go 😀

  • PK

    I broke into three digits over a decade ago and I expect that some day I will own quite a few more than I do presently.

    “Super owner” nothing, I like collecting old and novel machinery. Firearms fit right into that, of course, and my enjoyment of fixing things means I didn’t have to spend every cent, either.

  • Swarf

    4 to go.

    I didn’t think I needed any more, but those anti gun ownership kids at The Trace have given me a goal.

    Good job, The Trace, way to encourage firearm purchases!

  • Chatterbot

    1) GFK is a reputable market research and intelligence company.
    2) 4000 is sufficient for a well designed survey to land you within a few percent points of the TRUTH.
    3) At the same time, GIGO.

    • Schnee


    • Dougscamo

      I just realized that I have officially reached Old Fart status; had to google GIGO…

      • Paul White

        GIGO dates from at least the 80s….

        • Dougscamo

          And your point is…………?

          • Scott Tuttle

            get off his lawn!

          • Dougscamo

            Dang tootie! And SLOW DOWN! And TURN DOWN THE DAMN MUSIC! Have I forgotten anything? Of course I have! I fart dust!

        • FarmerB

          GIGO was well in use when I started in IT in 79.

    • Paul White

      Yeah, the number isn’t bad, assuming they selected it properly, and it’s not a fly by night company AFAIK. And frankly the results *shouldn’t* be shocking.

      You can’t own less than zero guns, but you can own practically infinite guns. I used to have a great-uncle that had 50+ *handguns* and I don’t know how many long arms. That skews the average pretty hard, and accounts for a lot of gun sales.

    • Joshua

      Like I said…I don’t own any guns.

  • Andrew Miller

    Ponder this.

    Phone rings, strange number on Caller ID.
    “Hi there, I’m Bob, you don’t know me from Adam. I was doing a survey on how many guns you owned if you had any.”


    • Martin M

      Strange number on Caller ID? Let it go to voicemail.

      • anonymous

        Strange number on Caller ID? Let it go to voicemail.

        When called by an unknown number, answer the phone and say “It’s been done. But there’s blood everywhere” and hang up.

        • Russ Kell

          Oh, I am so using that one.

        • supergun

          That is good also. Call 911.

      • My voicemail message is a melodramatic delivery of The Phantom’s power up catchphrase from Defenders Of The Earth: “By jungle law, The Ghost Who Walks calls forth the POWER of TEN TIGERS!!!“; I reckon anyone who leaves a message anyway has already passed an entry level test for holding my attention, and anyone who was put off by it wasn’t worth talking to in the first place.

      • supergun

        Joe’s Bar?

    • codfilet

      Only a very few family members, and a couple of like-minded friends even know I own A gun. I don’t talk about them, or belong to Facebook gun groups, or display anything on my car or clothing that would indicate a gun owner. I’m certainly not going to talk to some stranger on the phone.

    • Jtrain

      The survey was anonymous and performed online because, you guessed it, they found that gun owners were not responsive to in person/phone surveys.

      • jerry young

        do you really believe when you answer an anonymous poll online that it can’t be traced back to you?

        • Jtrain

          Yeah, like commenting on the on a progun sight…

          • jerry young


      • Andrew Miller

        Because the Internets are anonymous.

      • LetsTryLibertyAgain

        From what I read, the poll was conducted among people who have signed up to be paid to take surveys. I think that significantly biases the results. It seems likely to me that the people who sign up to be paid to take surveys are probably under representing gun owners… even if they attempted to hire a representative number of self identifying “progressives” and “conservatives”. Overall, the survey methodology looked fairly lame to me.

        • supergun

          They have very clear instructions before they are paid. Kinda of like all the polls calling all the democrats and asking who they are voting for.

      • supergun

        Maybe that is the reason they feel fewer people own guns. They just don’t have a clue,,,do they? Let them keep spreading those lies. They are more stupid than we think they are.

    • supergun

      That is good. It is almost like they are asking how does your wife look, naked.

    • silentfor56years

      LIE like a Progressive Democrat. Guns? Guns? We no got no stinking guns.

  • PeterK

    I’m actually one of the weirdos who only owns one. :p I used to have two, but have never been average gun owner. Which I am okay with.

    At least now I have something to shoot for.

    • Bill

      Beware the man with one gun…

  • ClintTorres

    Yes, I am a Hardcore Super Owner…but I better get another one just to make sure.

  • Pedenzo

    Yep….count me in…..

  • Pseudo

    Scrub here. I’m only at 10. Stupid graduate student salary…

  • BrandonAKsALot

    I had some guns and then I got into AKs and the collector force runs strong in my blood. Now I’ve lost track and don’t feel like counting.

  • LazyReader

    I try but they don’t accept monopoly money!

  • claymore

    Count me in and I have more than 17 suppressors and more than 17 NFA firearms LOL.

    • Dougscamo

      Can I come over to your house and play?

    • PK

      It’s astounding what a decade and more of gradual collecting does, isn’t it?

  • KestrelBike

    Oh hell yeah I’m an HSO

  • Max Müller

    How to create hate against your enemies 101:
    Make them seem like a small group of extremists that no sane person could like and make everybody believe that they do not have any significant political/social power.

    • Goody

      I’ve got a 30 caliber magazine clip chock full of social power.

    • Bill

      How to create your own enemies: perceive everything as a plot that’s out to get you.

      • Edeco

        Do you agree with the study or think it’s an honest mistake?

        The numbers don’t sound right to me and the method is probably flawed so I don’t believe the findings. I can’t imagine a group from such an esteemed institution just sending it out half baked due to not knowing any better. Also in a quote in another article on this study, one of the researchers, Miller, shows he’s biased against private gun ownership, takes neutral data as a thing against it.

        • Bill

          First, no one can really determine the reliability, rigor and validity of a study by reading an article about the study: How can you disbelieve the findings of a study without actually reading the study? I’d rather read the study, look at some of the peer reviews, and then decide what it’s worth.

          FWIW, I guess I’m a superowner, but I have weird purchasing patterns. Until this year I hadn’t bought a new gun in at least 7 years. But for whatever reason by the end of this year I will have bought at least five, due to assignment changes and frankly a couple screaming deals I couldn’t pass up. Somewhere in there I also inherited a passle of sporting and collector guns I’ll never use and need to get rid of. None of my purchases were prompted by politics, though if one party gets elected I’ll be investing in a crossbow because by the end of the term I think we’ll all be living at the base of Imortan Joe’s citadel.

          Two things do stand out in the article. First, while gun sales may be increasing, violent crime is going down, and has been prior to the relatively recent surge in gun sales. It’s really indisputable. If you don’t believe the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report there’s the National Crime Victim’s Survey. People who claim the gutters are running with blood have a political agenda and need to convince the public that the barbarians are at the gate. Second was Gary Kleck’s quote at the end of the article, and he’s a respected researcher with no agenda:

          “But Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist and firearms researcher, said the concentration of most guns in the hands of a relatively small proportion of gun owners was “old news”.

          “It’s probably true for just about any consumer good,” he said.”

          • Edeco

            Interesting. So you believe the 3%/50% thing, or are refraining from forming an opinion?

          • Bill

            I just have no idea and never really considered it. I think locally most guys have a “couple,” but that would include a .22, and shotgun for deer and turkey shoots, and probably a handgun or couple. I’m not a competitor or hunter, so I don’t know what kinds of quantities those guys and gals have.

            Then I know a guy who collects S&W revolvers: if 17 is a super owner, he’s a maxi-mega owner. I’m not sure sheer bulk of numbers does anything to marginalize us, just thinks how many stamps or coins THOSE types have.

            We need to be a little circumspect when it comes to research, seeing as how the pro-gun lobby has successfully prevented really skilled research agencies like the CDC from studying gun issues, and how the pro-gun lobby has also bought into crappy research like John Lott’s.

          • Edeco

            OK. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it since 2004, but in other terms; we’ve been crowing with good reason about more guns in more hands. This kind of study/survey, saying more-guns/fewer-owners has been a genre in about the last 3 years that I know of, trying to control the narrative of record sales.

            Late 90’s we were close to going out forever; Lon Horiuchi was running free, the pro-gun side ineffectual fudds conflating it with social-conservatism, large guns already dealt with pocket were guns being demonized. Gun Culture 2.0 are my people. These studies saying we’re just a few extremists or as you point out something like stamp collectors are pages of microaggression against us.

          • Bill

            I guess I look at a larger longitudinal window, having purchased my first handgun in 1979, and shooting as a kid well prior to that. The “good old days” had nowhere near the range and availability of things like ARs, purpose built fighting handguns, suppressors and NFA weapons present today, nor the number of jurisdictions with carry laws.

            A potential follow-on to this study would be to look at the patterns of criminality of these super owners. Anecdotally the average mass murderer, spree killer or terrorist wouldn’t fall into this category, though some right and left wing violent extremists might. I’m guessing that the average would be my friend with the J-Frame fetish whose a cop. Or the NRA Museum.

      • David Harmon

        In this they are actually after our guns, and they have been pretty candid about it.

    • Edeco

      Yup, like when one has a hammer, things look like nails. Make it look like our thing could be outlawed effectively without hurting anyone who matters. Then promise any kind of payoff, like if it saves just one life… People with spine and principle wouldn’t do it anyway of course, but the majority have soft, empty heads.

  • MindMelder

    I guess I am underachieving with 7 boom sticks.

  • gunsandrockets

    In case you don’t know “the trace” is a ‘news source’ funded by Bloomberg with the express mission of advancing the cause of gun-control.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Exactly, no Erik, I’m not going to like what The Trace has to say because they are a BS propaganda website.

  • gunsandrockets

    How can they tell if ownership rates are increasing or declining, since the data from 1994 used a completely different method of collection?

    • Data Venia

      Ding Ding Ding!

      They are ASSUMING a representative sample. So, if you contrast the GSS (downward trend) Gallup (no trend) as our ongoing surveys with the one shot surveys in 1994 and 2004, there is no agreement. For the 1994 estimate, it’s well outside the margin for error. As in 4-6 times the margin for error to get to the GSS number. All we really know as that we get different results from all the polls. I’m reserving judgement til I see the actual numbers and methodology, but the Brexit polls recently taught us indisputably that online and phone surveys are now significantly different. The impression I’m getting is this is online only which means comparisons to previous estimates may not be warranted.

      • The mere act of surveying by phone already borks the results, because they can’t get a list of cell numbers (or landlines with unlisted numbers) without obtaining them by some method which inherently preselects for certain demographics. If they even wanted to be in the same city as reliability and lack of bias– much less in the same ballpark– they would need to be conducting the same survey in as close to the same way as possible using additional different collection methods, such as streetcorner canvassing and online questionnaires. You can’t really draw many valid conclusions from surveys that only collect data from one source.

    • Paul White

      yeah, *that* part of the data is questionable. But the assertion that a relatively small number of people have a large percentages of the guns shouldn’t be shocking to anyone.

      I know a lot more people with a rifle, shotgun and CCW and not much else than I do people with 15+ guns.

  • Paul B.

    In some cases people accumulate guns through inheritance–shooting/hunting is passed down from one generation to another, and when the older generation dies, the younger folks inherit their guns and often don’t want to sell them due to sentimental value. Combine that with “pick up a pistol here, a rifle there,” and it adds up.

    Or friends/relatives who find a gun in the attic or whatever and don’t know what to do with it, so they give it to the “gun nut” in the family or their circle.

  • Joel

    Math whizzes at the Guardian: a decrease in ownership among men of 25% is significant. An increase in ownership among women of 33% is not significant.

    • Cymond

      But men are more likely to own guns than women.

      Imagine a hypothetical town/place where 1000 men and 100 women own guns. If male ownership drops 25% (250 men disavow guns) and female rises 33%, (33 women buy a gun) then the total effect is a decrease of 217 gun owners. And maybe it’s just me, but 250 seems more significant then 33.

  • Martin M

    I’d plead the 5th for obvious reasons. I’m surprised the study was even completed. It’s well known that gun-owners largely refuse to answer questions concerning their gun ownership. How can you even begin to factor in such an unknown variable?

    Of course, the real purpose of the study is to determine what motivates people to purchase a firearm in the first place. Then they can begin to modify people’s behaviors to eliminate the desire to own a gun. Social engineering requires data.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      What makes me want to own a gun are strangers calling me up and asking about my guns.

      • Set the phone on the counter, rack the slide of a shotgun over it, and whisper menacingly, “…Who’s askin’?“.

        • Gary Kirk

          Same scenario but, Shoot a sack of taters with a suppressed pistol.. Then ask what they’d like to know..

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          Nah I don’t want to be on anyone’s radar. If somebody wants to count my guns they can get a court order or do it after I’m dead or out of ammo.

          • Gary Kirk

            Only if being out of ammo, and dead happen at the same time.. Otherwise mine Will be spread over a large group..

      • Gary Kirk


  • stephen

    Personally I would never tell someone how many guns I have. Yes with today’s tech anyone motivated enough can find out just about anything but I’m going to voluntarily tell them.

    What I find funny is reading all the people here who are posting how many firearms, suppressors and other items they have. Personally I think thats not smart – after all this is blog and posts can be tracked to server, router and computer IP.


    • Gary Kirk

      Think you forgot a “not”.. Otherwise, any firearm purchase you have ever made through an FFL is already noted. As well as all of the parts, accessories, and whatnot.. That everyone orders online anymore..

    • codfilet

      I frequently get random phone calls asking my opinion, or wanting me to answer a survey. They all get the same reply: ” no, thank you, goodbye” *click* These folks might have called me, but I never let them get past their opening pitch before I hang up.

  • Dougscamo

    In light of the distrust we feel about strangers asking about our firearm ownership I see exhibited in comments below, I have adopted an avatar of my state’s anti-gun Senator being removed from a children’s playground by 2 helpful police officers….I was also suffering from avatar envy:)

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Proud Super Gun Owner at the ripe age of 22! and have been since 21!

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Imagine the difference in calling, NYC, upstate NY, Raleigh NC, Tulsa OK, Dallas, rural Texas, and Bozeman Mt.

    Calling just 4k people is crazy and like another posted said “who tells a phone surveyor how many firearms they own?”

    • Paul White

      depends on how they selected them.

      But really, this sort of distribution shouldn’t be that shocking. We’ve *all* known guys with absurd, drool inducing amounts of guns, but I also know a lot more people with 2 or 3 or 4 guns.

      • Gary Kirk

        Hey, I might just have 2+,3+, 4+, and plus.. And still drool over other’s pieces.

        • Paul White

          yeah, but you got what I mean right?

          That guy that’s got a room full of various guns ranging from flintlocks to NFA items that you just drool over….but they’re certainly the exception. I only know one or two like that out of the dozen plus gun owners I know

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    I guess given these numbers, I’m a Hardcore Super Duper Ultra Mega Owner.

  • LazyReader

    Everything looks better with Quad rail

  • Anomanom

    Must be nice to have more money than you know what to do with.

    • Cugel the Clever

      Must be awful to think you know what’s best for everyone else.

    • L. Roger Rich

      I spend my extra money on my hobbies. Who does not?

  • raz-0

    Other than the author being highly suspect and repeatedly shot to hell on peer review combined with the fact that info from this study was “leaked” before submission to peer reviewed journals, there is the biggest glaring problem with the study.

    Their estimates of total ownership are entirely wrong, Or the ATF has records of arms being imported and manufactured that have never been sold to anyone in multiple millions of units…. each year…. for over a decade.

    This greatly changes the ratio of how many owners “large” collectors represent.

    Additionally, they report a lower rate of ownership than even the onerous to take general social survey.

    In short, basically every leaked stat has some seriously well documented reason for questioning it in a manner that doesn’t involve anything about “feeling” nor partisan politics.

  • Andy Leach

    Come on guys, this “Study” is so LAUGHABLY flawed that I’m embarrassed for you that you wasted bandwidth on it.

    That study claims about 100 Million FEWER guns than estimates from LAST YEAR, which DIDNT take into account the INCREASING manufacture and development of 80% weapons.

  • Ranger Rick

    I would love to be a “Super Owner”!!

  • Edeco

    Aw, 17!? You a-holes, I feel left out. Hang in while I buy a bunch of Cricket rifles.

  • If anyone was wondering why they chose such an unusual number as 17 for their arbitrary division between “normal gun owner” and “WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!?!”, almost every instance where questionable quotas are used is an example of Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics; what it probably means here is that the number of respondents who owned 10 guns was so high that it didn’t fit the unmistakable bias of the article towards presenting multiple gun owners as weird and dangerous edge cases, but the number of those who owned 20 or more was so low that it didn’t support the article’s yellow journalism fearmongering.

  • andrey kireev

    something something over 30….

  • The State of Texas literally sells your contact information to any company that pays them a discovery fee; any and every time I update a state license or remit any kind of tax or fee to the state government, my mailbox is stuffed with junk and my voicemail stacked with robot spam two weeks later.

  • Mrt

    …and I thought you just stop counting after the 10th one…..kinda like how smokers never calculate how much they spent on cigs every year. /s

    If anything, with all the media coverage about gun control, and demonizing gun owners, I would expect far less people willing to admit to owning guns via a phone survey.

    If I had to compare my coworkers at my current job, and my last job, (white collar/technology/legal field/college degrees/+middleclass pay/etc type of demographic) the surveys numbers do not jive. However what has also been consistent, nobody broadcasts that they own firearms. And this is across the spectrum, be it collectors, hunters or single-gun owners. Unless someone knows you are a gunowner as well, nobody offers up that they own firearms, in the work-environment.

  • Gary Kirk

    I have no idea what you’re talking about..

  • Matt

    How many guns do I own? Nice try, ATF, but not this time

  • Tom Currie

    Bad arithmetic — in the article, that is.

    If we believe the survey, those super gun owners owned an AVERAGE of 17 guns each — which means that they included folks who had considerably fewer than 17 guns (along with folks who had considerably more). The actual bottom threshold would have certainly been no more than ten, and might well have been as low as five.

    • Brent

      It’s actually bad math in the original report too. If you take the current us population as 320mil, * 3%, you get 9.6mil. 133mil guns owned by that 3% would be just under 14 average, not 17.

      Also, the original report is the one that mentioned the 17+ owners as the “super-owners”. So the TFB article writer is cleared there too.

      So a 17+ gun super-owner (ignoring the bad math), then you are above average *in the 3%*.

  • Bill

    “This concentration is not unique however, it is common for about 20% of the consumers to account for 80% or a product’s sale. Just think of Apple products as another example of this, how many do you own?”

    This – so what? I have a dozen pieces of art pottery, 3 brush cutters, 4 vehicles, in various states of repair, and a bunch of cameras.

    I also have a bunch – that’s the scientific term of camera lenses, and firearms. They each tend to have specific purposes. For firearms enthusiasts, its obvious they’ll have multiples, as opposed to a woman who buys one for protection only.

    Again, the emotional valence that gunners place on perceived attempts to paint them in a less than glorious light tends to cloud their perception of any information they themselves don’t generate.

  • Cymond

    Putting the questionable “statistics” aside, apparently, yes, I am a HSO if we count all the bare receivers, unfinished projects, and wall hangers I have.

  • Broz

    I lost count a LONG time ago…I’m a collector (and accumulator) so that should explain it…

  • jerry young

    I don’t believe in poll results at all, poll results can be manipulated to the takers desired outcome just look at all the political polls, that being said I would never take a poll and give someone anyone even if I knew them information on how many guns or what kind of guns I own or don’t own! that is my business not the public’s or the governments, the guns if any I have bought new are a matter of record the guns or if any I have bought used are my business! when I take a poll or someone asks about my guns I say guns what guns!

  • Goody

    The average American gun owner owns 3 guns? Lift your game, America, I bought 4 in my first year and I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA.

    Bro do you even AMERICA?

    • Tassiebush

      Yeah I’d be an above average American too.

  • Heckler_und_Koch ✓ᴰᴱᴾᴸᴼᴿᴬᴮᴸᴱ

    I have no guns at all, Hillary. It was that unfortunate boating accident….

  • lbeacham

    3 more and I’m in the club! Any extra credit for 20,000 rounds of ammo and a 300 yd. range in the backyard?

    • Realist

      No extra credit, but a lot of envy for a backyard that doubles as a 300 yard range…Bravo!

    • uisconfruzed

      I’ve got 300yrd range off the back door as well.
      I’ve found by keeping plates at 50, 75, 100, 200 & 300 marks, I frequently fire 10 rounds & put that gun up. It’s great to stop, fire a few rounds, & go back to what I was doing 😀

      • lbeacham

        Life is good.

  • Mr. C

    Lost all mine in a boating accident, real tragedy.

  • Silverado

    Guns? What guns?

  • RSG

    Bullsh!t. There’s been 230 million NICS checks in the last 17 years. What percentage have multiple firearms on each check? Probably enough to offset the amount of used firearms? I’d say there’s conservatively 230 million new stock added to the already existing 200 million firearms (in the mid 90’s). That leaves us with around 400 million firearms in the US as a best educated guess.

  • Will

    Hilarious how a mere 8 guns is considered a huge number.

  • Russ Kell

    Yep, but mine are stored at the bottom of the lake. I figured they kept falling in on those boating trips, now I just save the hassle and dump them in.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    When I first read about this survey and their “super gun owner” group whose members own, on average, 17 firearms, I thought, “Pikers!” 🙂

    There should be 17 gun stickers for gun safes, sort of like the flags painted on fighter planes to designate enemy planes shot down. You could be the gun owning version of the WWII ace seven times over.

    Or maybe special recognition for achieving super gun owner status in a year. That’s just one and a half guns a month, which is probably about average for readers of TheFirearmBlog.

  • Dorothy Gale

    Why the hell would you need 17 guns…. or more?

    This is why most people think gun nuts are certifiably insane.

    • L. Roger Rich

      Why do you need to live in a big house when a 2 room flat will do?

    • Realist

      Last time I checked, there weren’t any laws prohibiting or limiting the number of firearms one can own.

      How many pair of shoes do you own…or better yet, how many aprons do you own? Shouldn’t you get back to ironing clothes or making breakfast???

      • Dorothy Gale

        You can own as many guns as you want, and I will support you in that, but how many do you really need? By hoarding guns all your doing is driving up the price for everyone else.

        The state is going to be your real enemy, and for that kind of money you could of bought a real weapon like a howitzer, quad 50, or minigun. Small arms are going to be wholly inadequate, to protect yourself from the police state.

        I own 3 pair of shoes and 2 aprons. And one gun. A 22 rifle that pretty much lives in a closet, because of all the tools I own (including cooking utensils), it’s the least useful. It does one thing… shoots bullets… and that’s not terribly useful in day to day life.

        Most men, I think, would be better off investing in a power drill, a miter saw , a hammer, a table saw, and a metal cutoff wheel… and maybe a welding setup… like my dad… who pioneered our farm… instead of this horseshit of lots of useless guns that do nothing but kill people.

        In a prepper SHTF scenario, it’s better you invest everything into food, not guns. Think about it. If SHTF, you want to hunker down and stay home where you are at and have all kinds of resources and all your food, and ride it out… rather than hitting the streets out there with you guns trying to steal and kill from people that don’t have any.

        Those 17 guns you bought… you can’t eat them… and you’ll find its a lot harder and more dangerous trying to live off shooting wildlife when everyone else is out these hungry trying to do the same.

        Buy food, not guns.

        Then, instead of shooting your neighbors cow and start a war, you can barter with them and trade them some beans and rice… and even help some survive, that were less prepared than you.

        • Dougscamo

          I believe that people that work in firearms factories have to eat too…if we didn’t buy them, then who would take care of them? It’s an honest living…..but when the SHTF, I don’t think your .22 in the closet is going to help you much…though your food will be appreciated by someone, even if it isn’t someone you intended.
          If you don’t like firearms and can’t understand why others do, then why are you even on this blog? Inquiring minds want to know….Troll.

        • codfilet

          Buying tools? I have so many tools of every type that I tell people that even my tools have tools. There is very little I pay other people to do for me. I rebuild cars from the ground up, and I gut houses and rebuild them from the bare stud walls. Most “Gun Guys” I know are pretty handy. I like mechanical things-I have old cars, old motorcycles, and yes, old guns,too. Food? I live on a small suburban “farm”-my wife grew up in another country, and saw hunger up close and personal. There isn’t a thing growing on our place that can’t be used for food in some way (other than the grass, I guess). We preserve lots of what we grow using her old-country ways,too.
          “hoarding” drives up prices for others? Tough. The guys I buy some old Civil War musket from are happy with what I pay-why should they give it away?
          For your last premise, if you think that in some SHTF scenario, everyone will be nice and safe in their homes stocked with food, think again-you will have to defend your food, or lose it all to predators. I certainly don’t wish for that to ever happen, but I don’t wish to be a helpless victim, either.

    • codfilet

      People collect guns, just like they collect everything else under the sun. Is Jay Leno “certifiably insane” for having so many old cars and motorcycles? Are coin collectors insane? How about stamp collectors or baseball card collectors? What about those 50 cats in your house?

  • L. Roger Rich

    I am a super dooper owner…LOL. Liberals however consider 3 guns with 500 rds. of ammo an arsenal. Who the hell would answer such a poll?

  • Realist

    “Hardcore Super Owner”?

    Guilty as charged your Honor…

  • whamprod

    I have no documentation to prove this assertion, but I recently read somewhere that of the AR15 platform alone, upwards of 20 million have been sold into private hands since the gun first came onto the commercial market in 1963. IF that number is true, and given that firearms as a class of objects have a very long shelf life, it would be reasonable to assume that almost all of the AR15 platform rifles ever sold into civilian hands are still in civilian hands. That’s a lot of AR15s. And that’s just one firearm type. How many .30-30 lever actions have been sold in the last 100 years? How about pump-action 12 gauge shotguns, or .30-06 bolt actions? 1911 pistols? .38 Special revolvers? We have more guns than Croesus.

    Does anybody know if that “20 million +” figure for AR15s is correct?

  • Drake_Burrwood

    I am actually a sword collector, I only had two firearms and my wife one. When Obama was elected and we heard quote after Quote of the silent President’s associates. Suddenly my son and wife started collecting, as did I. Voila.. super – owner household.

  • Aldo1887

    I’ve got more than 17 fishing poles, (there are LOTS of different types of fish) well, I hunt too, and there are lots of types of game… PS. Not a chance in hell I am going to tell ANYONE how many firearms I own, phone survey, doctor, insurance company, I don’t owe anyone that information because they WILL use it against me eventually.

  • uisconfruzed

    Unbeknownst to me, I’m in a new club!

  • Greg Tag

    When I took Political Science 207 – Political Analysis and Statistics at Texas A&M, during our very first discussion about the data sets and demographic research the professor said : “gun owners lie about owning guns. ” We were told that it’s well known that you must use secondary or even tertiary techniques to get data on firearms ownership because most people consider that information private and privileged.
    The methodology described here is flawed on its face- participants self select. How you fix that bias I don’t know- I actually don’t think it possible. My own observations while working as Chief Range Instructor at a large facility in Dallas was that more and more newbies were buying firearms- we did an enormous amount of ” Intro to Handgun” training. The demographics were wildly unsterotypical _ soccer moms, kippah – wearing rabbis, blue haired and tattooed millennials, you get the idea. I look forward to looking at the methodology of this study, until then my first reaction is BS.

  • Landiss

    Any guns I might have owned were lost on a boating accident years ago. Yes, all of them.

  • AirborneSoldier

    17? Meh.

  • SwarthyMan

    Currently the count is 20. Like the sayin’ goes, “How many guns does one man need? Just one more”. Have stores for about 4-8 months if needed, generator…etc.

    • Dougscamo

      Looks like Larry is going to classified as a HSO……

  • GRComments

    I thought the number was 8-140 guns with the average being 17. The 3 levels in the original article were interesting. I wondered why the cutoff at 140.

  • Dc9loser

    I have no guns whatsoever. They are dangerous to have in the house. I buy thousands of rounds of ammo because I … Um nevermind.

  • CountryBoy

    Hand up.

  • Sam Bowles

    No, I don’t own any guns.

  • Matt Wilder

    I guess I’m just a Super Owner, and not quite at Hardcore yet, because I only own 12. Give it time, give it time. I use to own 15, but gave a black powder pistol to a dear friend as a going away gift, and gave a rifle and a small auto-pistol to my wife. But, I now have a daughter on the way, so she’ll be needing a rifle of her own in a few years time, and daddy will need one too since she’ll be getting one, so…

  • JoelM

    Many are rightly assuming that some of those polled lied about not having guns. I have a feeling many of those polled also lied about having more guns than they actually do have. Really… I doubt there will ever be an accurate poll of gun ownership. It’s a private topic, and a political topic, and many people on both sides of it just won’t be honest about it no matter how anonymous the poll is.