The Size of the Firearms and Ammunition Industry in America

When we talk about firearms and ammunition manufacturing in America, it’s not as easy as one might think to get a complete picture. The data is delayed, it is either in aggregate or in pieces, and it doesn’t come wrapped in a context of the national economy. To paint a numerical picture, here are some data points:

  •  – according to the ATF, in 2009, 5,555,818 firearms were manufactured in the US (excluding production for the US military, but including firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies)
  •  – according to the ATF, in 2010, there were 4,293 licensed manufacturers of firearms and 1,759 licensed manufacturers of ammunition
  •  – according to the Census Bureau, North American Industry Classification System, in 2007, there were 31,196 employees in the firearms and ammunition industries with an annual payroll of $1.544 billion, creating a value of shipments over $8.343 billion
  •  – US gross domestic product for 2007 was $13.811 trillion

 The ATF statistics on licensed manufacturers of firearms and ammunition is taken from aggregate data on FFLs. Generally, one obtains a separate license for the manufacture of firearms when performing operations which create firearms or alter firearms for resale for the purpose of sale or distribution in as a regular course of business. This data is delayed one year to comply with the Trade Secrets Act.

 Manufacturers are required to complete ATF Form 5300.11. Different sections of the form relate to manufacture and sale, differentiated from manufacture and sale to another FFL to finish assembly.

The Census Bureau NAICS codes used to compile these statistics were 332992 (small arms ammunition manufacturing), 332993 (ammunition, except small arms manufacturing), 332994 (small arms manufacturing), and 332995 (other ordinance and accessories manufacturing).

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