SHOT Show 2023:
Data Spotlights Trends


Busy booths and packed aisle ways was a common sight at SHOT Show 2023.

13.9 miles of aisles. 2,400 exhibitors. 800,000+ net square feet of exhibit space. The 2023 SHOT Show, held Jan. 17–20 at The Venetian Expo and Caesars Forum in Las Vegas, represented a “return to normal” for the industry’s largest gathering in the post-COVID era.

At the onset, the starkest difference between SHOT 2023 and SHOT 2022 event was the return of significant “buzz” from attendees. NSSF reports more than 50,000 industry professionals were in attendance this year — and the crowded aisles and packed booths in the Venetian Expo and Caesars Forum provided ample evidence.

While serving as a launchpad to propel the industry into the new year, SHOT Show 2023 was staged just a few days after ATF released its disappointing Final Rule on pistol-stabilizing braces (a measure that will be challenged by the industry) and at the start of what dealers predict will be a pricing battle this year.

Research Puts 2023 In Context

One of the popular forums provided by NSSF was the SHOT Show Research Breakfast, which put current market conditions into context through featured data from NSSF, Southwick Associates, NASGW SCOPE and

Salam Fatohi, NSSF manager of research, previewed upcoming projects that stand to benefit industry businesses. Among them, a firearms magazine ownership estimate from consumers will be key as NSSF seeks to emphasize the “commonly owned” aspect of standard capacity magazines. Other research projects on the horizon include a first-time gun owner perception study, 2023 retailer survey and 2023 range survey.

Southwick Associates’ Rob Southwick predicts firearms retail sales will mirror 2017. While 2017 was the first of the “Trump Slump” years it was a better year compared to 2019 — our industry’s last “normal” year. Southwick predicts with rising inventories, discounting will be more common this year.

In addition, Southwick noted branding will be very important for manufacturers this year as consumers bought “what was available” in 2020–2021. To stand out today, brands will need to understand how consumers perceive them compared to competitors — and deliver on expectations. (See Southwick’s additional forecast for 2023 here.)

NASGW’s SCOPE data initiative, which tracks distribution sales and retail point-of-sale data through its SCOPE DLX and SCOPE CLX platforms, respectively, provided additional perspectives on the market.

Tom Hopper, NASGW senior data analyst shared five trends to watch for in 2023:

1. Handgun shipments will continue to soften, but the trend line is leveling.

2. MSR shipment decline will level off in 2023.

3. Rifle shipments will be on par with 2022, increases due to assortment recovery.

4. Shotgun shipments will return to normalized seasonal selling.

5. Centerfire ammunition shipments will slow, but are still double 2019 levels.

In short, although Hopper anticipates year-over-year declines, there are signs 2023 sales will trend above 2019 levels.’s Tim Lafferty used the passage of Oregon’s Measure 114 as a case study to show how swiftly consumer interest in firearms can jump following anti-gun legislation. Analytics observed on showed interest from women increased significantly after Measure 114 was passed. (Battles at the state level figure to be prominent in 2023, with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing House Bill 5471 into law Jan. 10 — banning the sale of ARs and standard capacity magazines.)

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