First Look At 2020
Firearms Production

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Subcompact, polymer pistols powered a dramatic increase in U.S. handgun production in 2020.

First Look At 2020 Firearms Production

In July, ATF published its interim 2020 Annual Firearms Manufacturing & Export Report — providing an early look at U.S. firearms production during a year that shattered several records. (Ben Romanoff, co-owner of Ace Sporting Goods in Washington, Pa., pictured above, memorably declared “It’s like Black Friday, every day,” when recounting his store’s experiences last year.) However, according to these interim figures, U.S. firearms manufacturers produced 9,341,555 firearms — a total bested by both 2013 (10,349,650) and 2016 (10,664,318).

There are two possible explanations why the U.S. firearms manufacturing record wasn’t broken: one, the interim data could be missing a couple of the key players — which has been observed before — and two, part of the demand was quenched by imported firearms, which would not be included in this ATF report.

Despite being “only” the third-highest firearms production total, 2020 production represented a significant recovery from 2019 (when 6,353,124 firearms produced) — a 47% year-over-year jump.

Pistol, Revolver Production Records

There were two notable records set in U.S. pistol and revolver production in 2020.

U.S. pistol production totaled 5,331,355 (a record) — buoyed impressively by 3,189,701 pistols in the “To 9mm” category (another record).

In addition, U.S. revolver production surpassed the 1 million mark for the first time, according to our records, totaling 1,000,226. Nearly 60% of the revolvers produced in 2020 were in the “To .22” category.

Rifles and shotguns climbed above totals observed in 2019, but the increases were marginal — 12.6% (from 2,226,625 to 2,507,293) and 0.5% (from 499,885 to 502,681), respectively.

Total U.S. exports totaled 521,502, not far off from 2018’s record figure of 548,111. Pistol exports more than doubled in 2020 (382,342) from 2019 (138,683).

The ATF’s final report — which will include production breakdowns by manufacturer — will be published early next year. Full analysis will appear in Shooting Industry’s July 2022 issue.

Have a thought why 2020 didn’t set more records? Let us know: [email protected].