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By The Numbers: Shotgun Sales in the United States

By The Numbers: Shotgun Sales in the United States

Shotguns like the TriStar Arms Compact shown above, introduced in 2018, make up the growing number of imported guns produced in Turkey, the largest exporter of foreign-made shotguns into the US, according to 2016 numbers released by the ATF.


Figures compiled by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from the record-setting gun sales year of 2016—the latest numbers available—indicate there was a total 11,497,441 firearms manufactured and offered for sale in the United States. Another 5,137,771 were imported, which brings the total to 16,635,212.

Only 1,585,099 of them were shotguns, and 736,482 of those were made in another country. The figures convert to a total shotgun marketshare—the same year the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated 15,700,471 NICS checks were processed by the FBI for a gun purchase—of 9.5 percent.

The figure is down significantly from 1987, when 1,200,062 freshly minted scatterguns accounted for 26 percent of the 4,623,176 new firearms offered for sale in the United States. Buying preferences may have changed, but total shotgun sales volume has still improved by 385,037 in the 30-year period.

The landscape among top manufacturer, however, is also different. Going back only a decade, to 2007, the leading shotgun manufacturers in the country were Mossberg (317,042), Remington (238,245), H&R (73,145) and Beretta (4,455) and Ruger (2,479). The 2016 list has a few of the familiar names, but newcomers as well. It includes Remington (385,871), Mossberg (367,542), Kel-Tec (29,329), Beretta (28,067) and Savage Arms (16,170).

The approaches are vastly different, too. Mossberg’s new Shockwave line could probably reclaim the company’s 2007 title, were it not for the fact that its short stature means figures will probably wind up in BATFE’s pistols category. Kel-Tec wasn’t even making shoguns in 2007, yet it’s clawed into the top three at a scalding pace by producing a radical take on pump-actions in versions like the KSG-25.

Even the trio of countries where the most imported shotguns originated have changed, significantly. BATFE’s 2010 figures (the earliest available on foreign makers) put the top three at Brazil (169,136), Italy (139,181) and Turkey (122,721). In 2016—in descending order—they were Turkey (335,190), Italy (182,396) and soon-to-be-tariff-saddled China (149,091).

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