How Many Guns Americans Purchased Every Year Since 1986

The United States is the world’s largest civilian market for firearms – and consumer demand is growing. Over 250 million new firearms were manufactured in, or imported to, the U.S. between 1986 and 2019 – and according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, over half of them hit the market in the last 10 years. 

With millions of new firearms proliferating each year, there are now an estimated 434 million civilian-owned guns in the United States, or about 1.7 for every American adult, according to the Firearm Industry Trade Association. 

Using data from the ATF’s 2021 report Firearms Commerce in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. identified the number of new guns that were either manufactured domestically or shipped to the U.S. each year since 1986, the earliest year of available data. American-made guns that were sold overseas are not included in totals. 

Beginning in 2012, more than 10 million new guns were made in or imported to the United States each year. The number of new guns peaked in 16.3 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of new guns on the market never exceeded 10 million between 1986 and 2012, and were below 5 million for most of those years. (Here is a look at the most popular guns of all time.)

Gun manufacturing data reveals how American preferences have evolved in recent decades. In most years from 1986 to 2009, rifles dominated domestic firearm production. However, that changed in 2010, when pistols – not including revolvers – overtook rifles in domestic production and have held the top spot nearly every year since. (Here is a look at the most powerful handguns.)

Click here to see the no. of new guns in the US each year since 1986.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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