The Changing Market For Handguns


The handgun market has many different types of consumers, each wanting to buy for different reasons and uses. With high rates of representation across women, minorities and communities along the urban edge, many of these growth segments report little knowledge of firearms and limited shooting experience — but high rates of interest.

Southwick Associates and NSSF recently published a new report, “Handgun Consumers: An In-Depth Exploration.” This report examines the demographics, firearm-related activities, motivations, needs, purchase drivers and shopping habits of those who own a handgun and those looking to buy one. This study, a supplement to the “Consumer Segmentation Analysis on the Commercial Firearms & Accessories Market” takes an in-depth look at two distinct groups:

1) Handgun Owners: Defined as those who owned a handgun as their first firearm and/or recently purchased a handgun in the past 5 years.

2) Intending To Buy: Defined as those who plan to buy a handgun in the next 5 years regardless of whether they currently own a handgun or not.

According to the study — compared to current and traditional handgun owners — the new handgun consumer is younger, skews female and is ethnically diverse. More than half of women and Hispanics who owned a handgun as their first firearm are most likely to express interest in buying another in the next 5 years. There are also active target shooters and hunters who want to purchase a second handgun or buy their first one. Although they come from different backgrounds, their passions for home- or self-protection and the desire for proficiency are driving them to put a “handgun, especially a semi-automatic” on their shopping list. Many of these new segments are seeking reliable firearms from reputable brands, and are most likely to talk with friends, family and co-workers, and read reviews to determine which brand best meets their needs. They’re also likely to try different firearms at a range before buying. Overall, the handgun market has a growth opportunity by engaging young urban women and minorities.

“With emerging audiences wanting to purchase a firearm, it’s important to really understand why they want to own a firearm and the specific features they look for in a handgun. The insights from reports like this will help manufacturers and retailers improve their strategic and tactical marketing decisions,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates.

The “Handgun Consumers: An In-Depth Exploration” report is designed to help companies better understand the factors that motivate consumers to buy a firearm and why they select specific models. This report identifies the major consumer segments that make up over half of the U.S. handgun market and highlights an array of actionable insights to help manufacturers and retailers increase sales through targeted communications to these select audiences.

In today’s “new normal” it’s important for dealers, and the industry, to look beyond the traditional segments of consumers and speak to their core motivations and needs — which will help ensure better sales and growth.

The landmark consumer segmentation study was based on responses from more than 100,000 detailed surveys. The Consumer Segmentation pages at provide greater detail on all the different information available from the study. Consult the webpage or contact Nancy Bacon, Southwick VP, at to learn how to access the full report. Discounts are available to members of NSSF.

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