More than 28.1 Million Modern Sporting Rifles in Circulation

by Braxton Taylor

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recently released a “Firearm Production in the United States and the Firearm Import and Export Data” report which indicates that 28,144,000 modern sporting rifles (MSRs) have been put into circulation since 1990. MSR production increased 32 percent from 2020 to 2021 alone.

The figure includes the latest data provided—up to and including 2021—by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (BATFE) Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports. “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,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO. In addition, he added, “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.”

In 2021, according to the findings, more than half of the 21,037,810 total firearms made available for the U.S. market were either pistols or revolvers. In all, 12,799,067 were handguns, 4,832,198 were rifles and 3,406,545 were shotguns. The figure includes firearms domestically produced plus those imported (minus exported firearms).

Total domestic firearm production reported in 2021 was 12,521,614—an increase of 28.6 percent over 2020 reported figures. Firearm and ammunition manufacturing accounted for more than 12,400 employees producing over $5.6 billion in goods shipped in 2021. “This report demonstrates the strength and durability of the U.S. firearm manufacturing sector and the U.S. firearm sales markets,” Bartozzi said.

As for more recent figures, BATFE’s interim 2022 estimate showed a total of 11,217,388 domestically produced firearms. Of those 6,148,877 were pistols, 830,800 were revolvers, 3,575,322 were rifles and 662,389 were shotguns. The Bureau’s interim report will be updated once complete figures are compiled.

In all, NSSF estimated the total number of firearms in civilian possession from 1990 to 2021 is 473.2 million.

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