Charting 9mm’s
Dominance In 2010s


Introduced in 2017, the mid-size Ruger Security-9 shares several features with
the LCP II, such as the trigger and full-length guide rail. (Image: Ruger)

The 2010s gave us the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, GLOCK 43, SIG SAUER P320, Ruger Security-9, SIG SAUER P365 and Springfield Hellcat — to name a few. What do these all have in common? Besides being top-selling lines, they’re each offered in 9mm — which has grown into the go-to caliber in the U.S. pistol market.

It probably won’t surprise you, then, to learn 9mm pistols were the most prolifically produced caliber in the 2010s. Thanks to the ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturing & Export Report (AFMER), which breaks down pistol production by caliber, we’re able to quantify the scope of its dominance.

9mm Proportional Jump

In 2010, pistols produced in 9mm constituted 27.9% of the segment (630,217 of 2,258,450 pistols in the U.S.). Fast-forward to 2019, the proportion of 9mm’s market share increased substantially, rising to 56.8% (the top mark of the decade) when 1,729,834 were produced.

For the entire decade, 9mm pistols made up 42.8% of all pistols produced domestically (15,111,566 of 35,315,097). Using advanced math, that’s four of every ten pistols made in the U.S. in the 2010s were chambered in 9mm. For added perspective, 9mm pistols made up 18.6% of U.S. production from 2000–2009.

Top Producers

Smith & Wesson was the top maker of 9mm-chambered pistols in the 2010s, with 3,976,014 produced. It was the lead 9mm producer for five consecutive years (2013–2017), peaking at 823,260 pistols in 2016, a record mark (and more pistols than the entirety of 2005). The M&P Shield was a primary driver during this period, taking just three years to reach the 1 million production plateau after its 2012 debut.

The second-largest 9mm producer, SIG SAUER grew at an impressive rate during the 2010s — no doubt led by its P320 Modular Handgun Series and high-capacity, micro-compact P365. Its mark of 615,757 9mm pistols in 2018 ranks second in the record books.

Four of every ten pistols made in the U.S. in the 2010s were chambered in 9mm.

Rounding out the top three, Ruger produced 2,666,216 9mm pistols in the 2010s. Sharing some of the same characteristics of the LCP II, the mid-size Security-9 was a notable introduction late 2017.

SCCY Firearms and Kimber Mfg. achieved notable growth in the 2010s. In 2010, SCCY produced 8,641 9mm pistols (12th largest 9mm producer), achieving its best return in 2016 with 160,676 pistols (5th). Up until 2019, all of the company’s pistols were in 9mm. Exemplifying the growth in demand of 9mm 1911s, Kimber produced 5,241 9mm pistols in 2010 (14th largest 9mm producer), peaking at 113,224 in 2018 (6th).

Hi-Point was another strong performer in the 9mm category thanks to its economically priced Model C9, which is available in several variants.

In total, the top 10 U.S. producers commanded 89.8% of the domestic production in 9mm during the 2010s.

The trends observed throughout the past decade point to continued dominance of the 9mm caliber. We’ll get our first look at the new decade when ATF’s 2020 AFMER data is published next January.

Revisiting The Congressional Fly-In

Continuing a tradition established by Shooting Industry Publisher Emeritus Russ Thurman, I’ve had the privilege of representing FMG Publications at every NSSF Congressional Fly-In since 2016. While the virtual-only element of this year’s Fly-In was markedly different than years past, it was no less valuable.

The chief aim of the Fly-In is to give industry professionals an opportunity to interface with elected members of Congress and share the industry’s legislative priorities. Additionally, they can provide firsthand examples on how discriminatory practices from lenders and insurance providers impact their business, as well as the “why” behind certain requests — such as why the industry supports additional funding for NICS and opposes President Biden’s nomination of David Chipman to lead the ATF.

“As a retailer, I was able to share some of the challenges we face.”

Mike Brown, Founder & CEO Frontier Justice

The largest firearms manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and accessory makers regularly attend these events. This year, only one dealer participated: Mike Brown, founder and CEO of Frontier Justice, which operates three stores in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. As a first-time attendee of the Fly-In, he shared his impressions and why it’s important to have a dealer presence at future events.

“It’s a great opportunity to attend; it’s an amazing program NSSF has set up. You get to speak directly with Senators and members of Congress who are impacting the laws that affect the Second Amendment,” he said. “As a retailer, I was able to share some of the challenges we face with legislation — whether it’s selling firearms, working with 4473s, compliance and ATF issues — and get their support.”

When asked if the Fly-In was beneficial to his business, Brown didn’t hesitate.

“I can’t say enough great things about it. Retailers should take advantage of it if they can and be a part of it because it was a great opportunity for us,” he concluded.

NSSF announced the 2022 Fly-In will be held April 5–6 (subject to changes in the Congressional calendar). If you’re a dealer reading this, I highly recommend inviting your local Congressional representative in for a visit (“Take your politician to work day,” as NSSF’s Larry Keane describes it) — and maybe even consider attending the 2022 event.


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