The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)—the firearm industry trade association—recently updated the industry estimate of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) in circulation in the United States since 1990 to 24,446,000. The number reflects an increase of more than 4.5 million rifles since the last estimate, which the organization released in 2020.
“This is a truly significant figure that demonstrates—again—the popularity of this commonly owned style of rifle,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “The firearm industry responds to market demand and this shows that during the elevated period of firearm sales that began in 2020, this particular style of rifle is the top choice for law-abiding citizens for hunting, recreational shooting and self-defense.”
The MSR remains the most-popular-selling centerfire semiautomatic rifle in the United States today. There are more MSRs in circulation today than there are Ford F-Series trucks on the road.
The estimate is derived from NSSF research, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report and U.S. International Trade Commission data, in cooperation with manufacturers, importers and exporters of MSRs, or AR-15 and AK-style rifles. This most recent estimate includes production figures current through 2020, when the industry estimates more than 2,798,000 of these rifles were produced or imported. This estimate does not include MSRs that were produced and exported or imported and later exported.
The number of modern sporting rifles produced in the United States and sold domestically in 2020 alone was 2,466,000. A total of 332,000 were imported during that 12-month period. The year 2016 takes second place in U.S. with 2,217,000 (another 230,000 were imported).
By comparison, modern sporting rifles produced or imported for sale in the United States in 1990 totaled 74,000. By the year 2000 the figure rose to 216,000 and total volume crossed the one million mark for the first time in 2009.