United States Firearms Commerce for 2019 – Conclusion: Those are Rookie Numbers!

Luke C.
by Luke C.

Every year the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives dishes out a handy report to grade the gun community on its performance. What I mean is that they’re releasing cold hard facts about how many guns we buy, import, sell, and manufacture. This year’s commerce numbers look like they’re coming up just a little short compared to previous years and Matthew McConaughey is not impressed.


So how’d we do this year as far as manufacturing goes? While the Jury is still out on Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, we have data for 2017. This is because AFMER data is not published until one year after the close of the calendar year reporting period. For example, the calendar year 2012 data was due to ATF by April 1, 2013, but not published until January 2014.

Source: ATF's Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER)
Firearms in the American market are more prevalent than ever. As shown by the graph, beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2013 there was a sharp rise in the manufacturing of all firearms as a whole. Of significant note, Pistols and Rifles accounted for the majority of the firearms made. Shotguns and revolvers seem to have taken backstage and this is a trend you will see throughout the rest of the report. I guess there’s little love left for the ole’ wheel guns and scatterguns.
What’s even more interesting is the drastic decline in 2017 where the previous year saw a record-breaking 11,497,441 firearms manufactured and 2017 only bringing in 8,327,792. I’ll let you muse over why that may be. Firearms, not Politics.

International Imports

Another interesting section of this report is our total imports by country. Sure, we can buy American products all day but variety is the spice of life and exploring other cultures is a healthy habit for everyone. Coming in at number one with nearly a million imports is Austria, a majority of which is handguns. I can only assume which specific firearm manufacturer those handguns came from? Somewhere, far away in the bayous of New Orleans James Reeves is shedding a single tear of joy.

America: Y'all got any more of them... Glocks? Austria: You son of a bitch!

Following close on Austria’s heels, Brazil comes in next with just 100,000 fewer firearms. Then Turkey, Italy, and Germany bring up the next slots respectively. I have my own suspicions about which firearms manufacturers and types of firearms were imported but what do you think? Leave a comment below letting us know what you think we’re buying from other countries.

I wouldn't be surprised if Austria's taxes are almost exclusively paid by Glock.

ATF forms by type

This section to me is important as its directly reflective of how well the citizenry is demonstrating its passion for the 2nd Amendment. A majority of firearms purchased in the United States will be done through an FFL, of which there are well over 130,000. Of those 130,000 FFL holders, only 12,460 have their Special Occupational Tax (SOT). This allows your FFL to transfer and import NFA items such as SBRs and suppressors.

In recent years NFA items have become quite popular, this is a good thing. However, Tax Forms 1 and Form 4 are still staying under the 200,000 mark. This indicates to me that many are not taking advantage of the vast market of suppressors, SBR’s and AOW‘s. Come on people! We gotta get those numbers up.

Gotta get those Form 1 and Form 4 numbers up! Go out and make a gun! Buy a Suppressor!

Of course, firearms manufacturers will take up a majority of the remaining form types and the total number of processed NFA forms has been up overall and seems to be hovering around the same level since 2015 with only a slight decline for 2018.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

Firearms have always held significant cultural value for citizens of the United States. Many of us live and breathe by the guns we own and others are just avid collectors and enthusiasts. Although numbers for overall imports, transfers, and manufacturing seem to be dipping slightly in recent years, that’s no reason not to go out and keep pursuing the hobby you love and supporting the industry that supports one of the core principals this country was founded on.

I believe as a community, firearms owners can do more to support the industry. According to the report, nearly 500 new FFL applications are being put in every single year. That is 500 new people who are out there trying to put more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens! So go on, buy your wife those flowers, let her put her feet up and cook her a nice steak dinner, it’ll help when it comes time to convince her you’re buying that shiny new piece. Or at the very least it’ll make her a little less mad. Better yet, buy your best girl a gun!

The full report from the BATFE can be accessed here.

Luke C.
Luke C.

Reloader SCSA Competitor Certified Pilot Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ballisticaviation/

More by Luke C.

Join the conversation
2 of 17 comments
  • Brett baker Brett baker on Sep 10, 2019

    Well, not having to wait 10-12 months to get your stamp back would help.NFA numbers. Also, pistol braces have really hurt SBR sales.

  • USMC03Vet USMC03Vet on Sep 11, 2019

    Industry is booming. You can pretty much get whatever your heart desires now in whatever caliber too. Long gone are the days of stagnation brought by government regulations. I hope we can continue this because the difference for consumers is amazing.