A May 5, 2022 report issued by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dives deep into firearm and ammunition purchasing preferences for the period between years 2000 and 2020. The section on pistol trends includes some interesting tidbits.
Among other things, it found, “Pistol manufacturing dominance has continued every year since 2010, with the exception of 2015 when rifles outpaced pistols by slightly more than 1 percent.” The shift to handguns has been dramatic, too. “In 2000, the total rifles manufactured (1,599,890) was 59 percent more than pistols (1,005,198). By 2020, the number of pistols manufactured (5,509,151) was 100 percent more than rifles manufactured and distributed into domestic commerce (2,760,263).”
Three companies dominate the market. “Smith and Wesson, Sturm Ruger, and Sig Sauer parent entities collectively reported manufacturing 60 percent (12,806,696) of all domestically manufactured pistols (21,229,067) between 2016 and 2020,” it states. “In total, 52 parent entities reported producing pistols. Of these licensed pistol manufacturers, the top ten parent entities reported manufacturing 85 percent (18,029,529) of all domestically manufactured pistols that were distributed into domestic commerce during that time.”
Only 9 percent of handguns sold were revolvers in 2020, according to the assessment, but there’s been a dramatic shift in the chambering preferred by enthusiasts during the study period. The report notes, “…the manufacture of revolvers in calibers of up to .22 cal. began to show dominance in 2012. In 2010, the number of .22-cal. revolvers manufactured (131,545) constituted 24 percent of all revolvers manufactured (559,674). In 2020, the number of up to .22-cal. revolvers manufactured (597,014) constituted 60 percent of all revolvers manufactured (993,077).” The demand, it explains, is a 354 percent increase, accompanied by a “…simultaneous downward trend of more than 7 percent in the annual manufacturing of revolvers in all other caliber ranges.”