Surpassing the 100 Million Mark

More than 100 million firearms have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1986.  Surprise.  Didn’t know?  You didn’t miss headlines or fireworks.  Very quietly in the way that is the way of the firearms industry and the ATF, this milestone came and went…and was nearly unnoticed but for a little bit of math.

Every year the ATF publishes its “Firearms Commerce in the United States – Annual Statistical Update.”  A multi-page report, “Exhibit 1. Firearms Manufactured” displays “total firearms” by calendar year, broken down into categories of pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous.  Although a number of the ATF tables have grand totals, this one does not. 

But if you take the annual total firearms, plug those figures into Excel and hit sum, you’ll realize that in 2011, the 100 millionth firearm came off a line or left someone’s skilled hand and entered the stream of commerce.  The reason we’re pointing to 2011 data as if its news is because the 2013 report, issued last June, is the most recent report.  All data compiled from ATF Form 5300.11 is delayed from release by one year.  It’s all a long way of saying that a major milestone went by…more than two years ago.

If you’re reading this blog wondering about our description of this special firearm as coming off a production line or from “someone’s skilled hands,” then we might do to share a quick primer on manufacturing reporting requirements.  Plain and simple:  ATF Form 5300.11 must be filed on an annual basis by an FFL manufacturer, regardless whether the FFL runs high-speed lines or hand crafts a single firearm.  The report is due every April and it is required to reflect data for the prior calendar year.

Looking through the production history since 1986, there was a good amount of fluctuation between a low of 2,932,655 in 2001 and a high of 5,173,217 in 1994.

From 2004 through 2009 there were steady annual increases.  Then, after a slight dip in 2010, there was a significant jump in production by more than 1.1 million units per year to an all-time high of 6,541,886 total firearms manufactured in 2011. 

Considering the sales reports and production shortage reports from last year, it will be interesting to see the production figures for 2013…when they are released in June 2015.

Let’s end with one detail about the ATF production reports:  figures exclude military production but include law enforcement production as part of with civilian (consumer) production.

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