How Many American Own Guns?

two persons on Gun Range

New data released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) shows firearm ownership in America continues to rise. The organizations’s “Firearm Production in the Untied States” report reveals important data showing just how many Americans own guns.

How Many Americans Own Guns?

The study compiles the most up to date information based on data sourced from the ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports (AFMER), reporting 2021 data. It shows an estimated total number of firearms grew to 473.2 million. Domestic firearm production totaled more than 12 million in 2021, an increase of 28.6 percent over 2020.

Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), led no doubt by the ubiquitous AR-15, swelled to 28,144,000 in circulation since 1990. The market saw a production increase of 32-percent from 2020 to 2021.

In 2021, a whopping 21,037,810 total firearms became available to the U.S. market in 2021. Finally, firearm and ammunition manufacturing accounted for more than 12,400 jobs and produced more than $5.6 billion in goods shipped.

“This report demonstrates the strength and durability of the U.S. firearm manufacturing sector and the U.S. firearm sales markets,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF’s President and CEO. “The data continues to show that the Modern Sporting Rifle is the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today with over 28.1 million in circulation and being used for lawful purposes every day. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves and their homes, and to participate in the recreational shooting sports.”

Clearly, the gun industry remains an important cog in the great American engine.

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Firearms Report Data

  • The estimated total number of firearms in civilian possession from 1990-2021 is 473.2 million, according to data in reports such as ATF Firearms Commerce in the United States, ATF Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Reports and Congressional Research Service and including the collective ATF Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) reports up to the 2021 edition.
  • Total domestic firearm production reported in the 2021 AFMER was 12,521,614 – an increase of 28.6 percent over 2020 reported figures.
  • Data indicates that 28,144,000 Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) are in circulation since 1990.
  • MSR production increased 32 percent from 2020 to 2021. This increased the estimated amount of MSRs produced (since 1990) by 15 percent from 24.4 million to 28.1 million.
  • In 2021, 21,037,810 total firearms were made available for the U.S. market, which includes firearms that were domestically produced plus those imported, minus exported firearms. Of those, 12,799,067 were handguns, 4,832,198 were rifles and 3,406,545 were shotguns.
  • An interim 2022 estimate showed a total of 11,217,388 total firearms were domestically produced. Of those 6,148,877 were pistols, 830,800 were revolvers, 3,575,322 were rifles and 662,389 were shotguns. Those are interim reports and will be updated when complete reports are available from the ATF.
  • Firearm and ammunition manufacturing accounted for over 12,400 employees producing over $5.6 billion in goods shipped in 2021.
  • From 1990 to 2021, 254,753,372 firearms have been made available to the U.S. market.

On May 3, 2023, Tactical Life reported:

New data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) shows the massive economic impact of the firearm and ammunition industry in the US. Those numbers increased to a whopping $80.73 billion in 2022, swelling more than $60 billion since 2008. Gun sales accelerated dramatically during the pandemic, skyrocketing through 2020, and the number of just how many Americans own guns today continues to grow.

Gun Ownership in America

So just how many Americans do own guns? Well, we actually don’t know for sure. Several estimates put the total amount of guns owned in America somewhere around 393 million. But we did come across another statement recently that estimated recent buying surges put total guns closer to 466 million. A University of Chicago study estimated those firearms split across 46-percent of American homes. Numbers also suggest somewhere around 80 million Americans own at least one blaster. Studies take time and are not exact. But it’s clear, a lot of folks own a lot of guns here in the USA.


The NSSF’s most recent data comes from the 2023 Firearm and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report. focused on the economics of firearms. That data shows a 322-percent increase in economic impact. Our industry provides nearly 400,000 full-time jobs to Americans.

Putting America to Work

The value of the firearm industry keeps growing year-over-year, generating business for companies that don’t even necessarily appear to operate in this segment. While administrations bloviate about creating jobs, the firearm industry actually delivers. From retail to metal cutters to gun builders, the firearm industry–and our purchase dollars as consumers–put America to work.

As such, our guns continue supporting our local communities as well. The firearm and ammunition industry paid more than $7.48 billion in business taxes in 2022. Another $1.15 billion went to federal excise taxes, which drives nearly all wildlife conservation in this country.

The coronavirus pandemic caused guns sales to surge in 202.

“Our industry’s economic input is undeniably contributing to every state and every community. This milestone achievement of over $80 billion in economic impact proves that the American firearm and ammunition industry is strong,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO. “Ours is an industry that is consistently growing and innovating to meet the American demand for the highest quality firearms and ammunition for lawful firearm ownership. Over 4.2 million Americans from all walks of life, for the first time, discovered and exercised their right to lawful firearm owners and safely participate in the recreational shooting sports last year. This growth equals more jobs that add to our local economies, averaging $65,000 in wages and benefits, up from $56,900 reported last year. Since 2008, federal tax payments increased by 266 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 226 percent and state business taxes by 46 percent.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic Effect

We’ve all watched the Obama effect or the Biden effect or the mass shooting effect play out on firearms sales. Political upheaval and frivolous bills introduced to the Senate floor certainly drove a metric ton of gun sales over the last decade. But arguably nothing moved the needle quite like the coronavirus pandemic.

March 2020 introduced a panic and fear we’ve not felt in this country in most of our lifetimes. It paired with the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing radical stifling of law enforcement across the country. Prisons emptied. The cops were handcuffed from taking action. And the people took to the streets to riot. Crime surged across the country.

So millions of Americans decided to arm themselves in order to ensure the protection of their families. Gun sales surged. It turned out that record numbers of first-time gun owners joined the flock. Women, minorities and people of all walks of life bought their first handgun or rifle. They hit the range and got some training. It changed the conversation on guns in so many way.

Diversity in Numbers

“It’s a totally different type of gun ownership now,” John Roman, a senior fellow in the Economics, Justice and Society Group at NORC, a research organization based at the University of Chicago, told “Five percent of Americans said they bought a gun for the first time during the pandemic, which is a huge number. Those buyers were younger, they were more likely to be renters, they were more likely to be women, they were more likely to be people of color.”

People of color and women bought guns in record numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between March 2020 and March 2022, 18-percent of all American households purchased a firearm, according to And the lion’s share were black guns or pistols aimed at defense. “It’s not a rifle stored away somewhere that you take out twice a year to go hunting. It’s a handgun, probably a semiautomatic handgun, that you keep in your bedside table or in your glove compartment, or that you maybe carry around with you,” Roman said, reported

There are powerful lessons in these numbers. When panic and hard times hit, while law enforcement proved it couldn’t or wouldn’t defend the people, the people turned to arming themselves.

Power to the People

The next time politicians or anti-gun groups rush to use tragedy as their stump to cry for more gun control, remember the data. Remember just how many Americans own guns today. Americans choose to own firearms. The 2nd Amendment guarantees that right to do so. Retaining those rights are the fight we must all pledge to eternally endure.

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