An Early Look At … 2018?

By Jade Moldae

It won’t come as a surprise, but the power of 9mm pistols — like the SIG P365 and Ruger Security-9 — was on full display in ATF’s 2018 AFMER data. One out of every four firearms produced in the U.S. was a 9mm pistol (26.3%) in 2018.

Don’t worry; there isn’t a typo in the title of this month’s column. It’s a nod to an annual staple soon appearing in the July 2020 issue — Shooting Industry’s “U.S. Firearms Industry Today” report. The centerpiece used for the special presentation, the ATF’s 2018 Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report (AFMER), was recently released and we couldn’t wait to dig into the numbers. This report offers insight into the industry’s continued recovery from the peak production years of the Obama Administration.

Encouragingly, total 2018 U.S. firearms manufacturing increased by 5.2% over 2017 (from 7,569,158 to 7,962,655). While not the double-digit jumps the industry experienced in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016, this 2018 figure represents a step in the right direction. 

Encouragingly, total 2018 U.S. firearms
manufacturing increased by 5.2% over 2017.

Pistol and rifle production numbers experienced modest increases, by 5.1% and 15%, respectively. For the second time, 9mm pistol production surpassed the 2 million mark (2,099,319). SIG SAUER powered interest in the caliber, producing 505,749 9mm pistols — representing nearly 80% of its overall pistol production (635,155) and a quarter of all 9mm pistols produced in 2018. The handgun likely behind this surge? Without question: The high-capacity, micro-compact P365, which debuted in January that year.

Rifle production rebounded from a 40.9% year-over-year drop in 2017, rising from 2,504,092 to 2,880,536. Year-over-year revolver production in 2018 slipped 7.8% (from 720,917 to 664,835), while domestic shotgun production dropped to its lowest level in more than three decades — with 536,126 produced in 2018 (a 17.9% reduction from 653,139 in 2017). We’ll explore some of the causes behind this significant drop in the July issue.

At the international level, the U.S. total exports increased from 485,968 firearms in 2017 to 548,111 in 2018 — a 12.8% bump. It likely won’t come as a surprise to learn pistol exports experienced a marked increase from 275,424 to 333,266 (21%), driven largely by GLOCK’s more than twofold boost in exports (47,861 in 2017 to 110,943 in 2018).

This is just a small sampling of the analysis that will be included in one of SI’s most sought-after offerings of the year.

GUNS Magazine Podcast Makes Its Mark

Hosted by GUNS Magazine Editor Brent Wheat, the weekly GUNS Magazine Podcast continues to shine since launching Nov. 2019. (GUNS is Shooting Industry’s sister publication, which is also celebrating 65 years in circulation here in 2020.) 

Wheat has been joined by a number of guests from around the industry, including Savage Arms CEO Al Kasper, Mossberg Director of Media Relations Linda Powell and Ed Brown Products Sales and Marketing Director John May, as well as famous names in the shooting sports such as Jerry Miculek, historical figures like retired FBI Agent Ed Mireles of the 1986 FBI Miami Shootout and Contributing Editors Massad Ayoob and Will Dabbs, MD. 

While these episodes are developed with consumers in mind, they also include commentary on the business side of the industry — giving dealers and industry professionals the opportunity to glean fresh perspectives.

For example, in his interview with Wheat, Kasper shared his ambitions with Savage now privately held.

“I’ve sold the business four times in my 24 years and I don’t plan on doing it again,” he stated. “In fact, the group that’s behind me has no intention of selling. Quite the opposite, they’ve bought into my strategy to continue to accelerate the growth of Savage.”

Powell discussed the power of mentorship in expanding the shooting sports to women — offering advice to experienced shooters.

“What we should all be doing as hunters and shooters is welcoming other people into our sport and taking the time to help introduce them. It’s even beyond the first time at the range. Embrace everyone who’s interested in becoming involved,” she added.

The GUNS Magazine Podcast is available on a variety of popular directories, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Spotify and more. Stream an episode and let us know what you think. /

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