Over 27.5 million background checks were performed in 2016, up 19% from the prior year, more than double levels from a decade ago, and three times the number of checks performed in 1999, the first full year the FBI began tracking these statistics.

Working overtime to keep pace

To keep up with rising demand, the industry’s manufacturing capacity has expanded along with it. Each year, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives lists the total number of guns sold in each category — pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns — along with how many each manufacturer made.

Annual Firearms Manufactured

Pistols

Revolvers

Rifles

Shotguns

2007

1,219,664

391,334

1,610,923

645,231

2008

1,387,271

431,753

1,746,139

630,710

2009

1,868,258

547,195

2,248,851

762,699

2010

2,258,450

448,927

1,830,556

743,378

2011

2,598,133

572,857

2,318,088

862,401

2012

3,487,883

667,357

3,168,206

949,010

2013

4,441,726

725,282

3,979,570

1,203,072

2014

3,633,454

744,047

3,379,549

935,411

2015

3,557,199

885,259

3,691,799

777,273

Data source: BATFE. Table by author.

As can be seen, production spiked in 2013 as gunmakers sought to catch up with demand in the wake of calls for more gun control following the Sandy Hook shootings, and then finding a stable, but steadily growing base afterwards. It should be noted that the BATFE-reported data is delayed by one year to protect trade secrets.

If you guessed Smith & Wesson, you were close but wrong. It came in second with almost 1.5 million firearms manufactured in 2015, while Sturm, Ruger (NYSE:RGR) once again reprised its role as the biggest gunmaker in the country with almost 1.7 million firearms.

ManufacturerPistolsRevolversRiflesShotgunsTotal Volume
Sturm, Ruger748,364256,185662,4448271,667,820
Smith & Wesson989,853274,136209,1801831,473,352
Remington Arms36,0490774,180333,4421,143,671
Sig Sauer459,655036,5630496,218
Maverick00125,814347,658473,472
Savage Arms00381,69513,161394,856
Henry RAC00306,6070306,607
Wm C Anderson00300,3900300,390
Glock252,145000252,145

But the picture changes when you look at each product category. For example, Smith & Wesson, which just this year changed its corporate name to American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ:AOBC) to deemphasize its focus on firearms, is the undisputed leader in pistols and revolvers, making a total of 1.26 million handguns in 2015, compared to Ruger, which produced a little more than 1 million.

At these volumes, Smith & Wesson accounted for 28% of all of pistols and 31% of all revolvers, making its offerings some of the most well-known and most widely-owned firearms today. Ruger was second, with 21% and 29%, respectively. Where Ruger was able to surpass Smith & Wesson, however, was in rifle category with over triple the volume.

by Rich Duprey at The Motley Fool

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Featured Photo courtesy of Guns America