Big Movers From 2021 AFMER Data


Image: Taurus USA

Sifting through the literally thousands of pieces of data from ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturing & Export Report (AFMER) can get a bit tedious — but one of the most interesting things I’ve found is seeing which companies have experienced the greatest change year-to-year. 

As you (hopefully) saw in this year’s “U.S. Firearms Industry Today” feature, 2021 set numerous records:

• There were more firearms produced in 2021 than in any other year previously. (Nearly 8 million of them were handguns — which would rank seventh in all-time U.S. firearms manufacturing alone.)

• Two manufacturers surpassed the 2-million mark in the same calendar year (Smith & Wesson and Ruger) for the first time.

• As the third-largest U.S. firearms manufacturer in 2021, SIG SAUER produced 1,165,995 9mm pistols — the first time it eclipsed the 1-million mark for 9mm pistols, according to our records.

While the records tell a significant story, we wanted to take the opportunity and highlight some of the top performers outside of the top-three largest manufacturers.

Each of these companies produce quality products — developing passionate enthusiasts as a result.

Notable Movers

The fact Taurus USA was the seventh-largest U.S. handgun manufacturer in 2021 wasn’t particularly newsworthy — it’s been a perennial top-10 producer for years. But how it achieved its ranking in 2021 is worth mentioning. 

In 2020, Taurus produced 9,231 9mm pistols (and only one, at least domestically, in the preceding five years). In 2021, its 9mm production skyrocketed to 177,778 — placing it as the fifth-largest producer in the caliber. The product line that drove this explosion? No doubt, the GX4 — Taurus’ first micro-compact 9mm pistol, which was released May 2021.

From 2020 to 2021, Springfield Armory jumped from the fifth- to the second-largest long-gun producer. Year-over-year, its rifle production came close to doubling from 232,108 to 442,486. Springfield Armory has been very active in the AR market with the SAINT platform (first launched in 2016) and introduced the Model 2020 bolt-action family in late 2020, both made in the U.S.

Not necessarily a “big mover” as it has maintained a steady presence in the top 10 in recent years, Savage Arms’ return as the fourth-largest long-gun maker after not being included in ATF’s 2020 AFMER data was welcome. Comparing its 2019 data to 2021, Savage Arm’s U.S. rifle production expanded from 268,958 to 392,880.

The loss of an iconic brand is tragic for any industry, and the Remington-sized hole was certainly noticeable in 2020 (when only 404 shotguns were produced). In 2021, rebranded RemArms was the 14th largest U.S. long-gun maker, producing 68,721 rifles and shotguns. It ranked as the fourth-largest shotgun producer upon its return.

Other Movers Inside Top 50

Of the largest 50 manufacturers in 2021, there were a handful of companies that made significant year-over-year strides.

IWI US experienced a meteoric rise from 2020 to 2021, becoming the 21st largest firearms producer in 2021 after being the 43rd in 2020. In handguns, it jumped year-over-year from the 50th largest producer in 2020 (6,348) to the 18th (49,094).

Shadow Systems rose from the 44th largest U.S. firearms manufacturer in 2020 to the 28th in 2021. With 59,615 pistols — all in the 9mm category — it was the 14th largest pistol maker and 10th most prolific producer of 9mm pistols in 2021.

Polymer80, which had been subject to President Joe Biden’s efforts to use the ATF to enforce a ban on so-called ghost bans in 2022, was the 47th largest firearms producer in 2021 (up from #82 in 2020).

Each of these companies produce quality products — developing passionate enthusiasts.

2022 Should Be Interesting …

There’s no question: After a record-breaking period, 2022’s production numbers will be markedly different. It will be intriguing to see how companies adapted to the changing market in 2022 and maintain market share while evaluating how other companies looked to fill in the gaps to “meet the need” for consumers. We look forward to diving into the data when it becomes available early next year.

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