Q3 NICS Background Checks Continue Upward Trend


If NICS background checks are any indication, interest in firearms and firearms ownership remains strong through the first three quarters of 2021. Admittingly, it’s just one measure of current market conditions, but background checks have continued at a robust rate throughout 2021. Sept. 2021 NSSF-adjusted NICS totaled 1,350,754, down 17.3% compared to Sept. 2020 (1,632,918).

Despite the year-over-year drop, Sept. 2021 maintained a trend observed throughout 2021: it represented the second strongest September on record. In fact, every month in 2021 has followed a similar pattern — ranking in the top three in the monthly NICS record books.

January 2021 (2,052,130) and April 2021 (1,694,118) represent top monthly marks in the system’s 20+ year history, while March (2,044,136), May (1,324,419), June (1,279,300), July (1,291,298) and August (1,328,518) of this year each achieved the second-highest monthly figure. The only month not placed in the top two was Feb. 2021 (1,387,076), which trailed Feb. 2013 (1,634,309) and Feb. 2016 (1,487,274).

So far in 2021, NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks have totaled 13,751,749 — a figure topped only by (no surprise) Jan. 1–Sept. 30, 2020, when 15,458,033 were recorded.

Interest in firearms ownership doesn’t show signs of slowing down: Q3 2021 (July–Sept.) recorded 3,970,570 checks, the second-best Q3 to date. While down 23.1% from Q3 2020 (5,165,308), Q3 2021’s total is still some distance ahead of the third highest Q3 on record, Q3 2016 (3,519,371).

In short, customers are still exercising interest in the Second Amendment and self-defense — but product availability continues to be a factor to fully satisfy the market.

Dealers, have your say: what trends in buyers have you observed at your store? Let the SI team know at [email protected].