Handguns represent the largest percentage of firearms sold annually, followed by rifles, but according to a National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) report released last month, shotgun sales are claiming more market share. In 2019, the last complete year before the pandemic and social unrest suspended normalcy, 8.5 percent of the National Instant Criminal Background System Checks conducted by the FBI were related to the sale of a shotgun. During the first nine months of 2022, by comparison, that figure was up to 9.7 percent.
A shift of 1.2 percent may sound minor to the average enthusiast, but the figure reflects total volume of firearms sold. From a shotgun manufacturer’s perspective, it translates to more than a 10 percent increase in orders at a time when ramping up to meet demand remains plagued by a labor issues, shipping backlogs and raw material price increases.
There’s also been a decided shift in the type of shotgun purchased. In 2021, tactical/home defense shotguns accounted for 55.8 percent of sales. This year, the figure has dropped to 40.4 percent, so far, according to the NASGW Scope report.
Field models suitable for hunting are selling fastest this year, holding the advantage at 59.6 percent of all shotguns sold. Those looking for a semi-automatic version to put under the Christmas tree this year may find it hard to find the right model, though.
“Participant growth and consumer demand continues to be elevated in semi-auto shotguns coming out of the COVID period,” Ryan Link, GMM/Director of Merchandising at Big Rock said in the Scope report. “The supply in the semi-auto segment to meet this new demand, while improving, continues to be constrained.”
Home and self-defense concerns fueled record-breaking firearm sales during 2020 and 2021, but the swing back to field shotguns reflects a renewed focus on sporting applications, according to the report. It also notes models suitable for the pursuits run roughly $200 more than pump-action tactical shotguns.
Our food bills indicate there’s another catalyst NASGW failed to mention. When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the price of food has risen 10.7 percent in the past 12 months, nationwide, deer, duck and turkey hunting’s ability to put meat on the table makes them much more than simply a recreational pursuit.