20 Million Modern Sporting Rifles and Counting

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posted on November 19, 2020
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The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released the 2020 edition of its Firearm Production Report to members this month, and among its findings is the fact that civilian interest and ownership of modern sporting rifles continues to skyrocket. Since 1990, according to the study, an estimated 19.8 million have been manufactured and put into circulation.

Forty-eight percent of all firearms produced in the United States or imported in 2018 were modern sporting rifles. Despite the manufacturing focus, inventories remained low across the nation, and this year’s firearm sales pace has left many retailers without models to sell.

There are approximately 79.2 million rifle magazines capable of holding 30 or more rounds in circulation—nearly all of them modern sporting rifle versions. The potentially lifesaving advantage of not having to reload during a criminal encounter isn’t overlooked by pistol owners, either. Roughly 71.2 million handgun magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges are owned by enthusiasts today.

“These figures, combined with the record-breaking 17.2 million NSSF-adjusted background checks for the sale or transfer of a firearm in the first ten months of 2020, demonstrates that Americans have a strong desire to continue purchasing firearms for lawful purposes,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF president and CEO. “The modern sporting rifle continues to be the most popular rifle sold in America today, and with nearly 20 million in circulation, is clearly a commonly owned firearm that is being used for lawful purposes every day in America. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves, their family and homes, as well as to participate in the recreational shooting sports.”

Current estimates place the total number of firearms owned by civilians in the United States at 434 million. Firearm and ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 employees producing more than $3.9 billion in goods shipped in 2018.

The NSSF document’s figures were compiled using the latest information available from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports and information from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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