FBI Processes Record-Breaking Number of Background Checks

posted on April 2, 2020

On Friday, March 20, the FBI processed a record-setting 210,308 National Instant Criminal Background Check System checks (NICS). The previous title holder for the most in any 24-hour period was Black Friday 2017 with 203,086. Although some of those were for general administrative use and concealed carry permits and other duties, the figure is considered a relative barometer for overall firearm sales.

In addition, the week of March 16 to March 22 also took top honors in volume for a seven-day period, when nearly 1.2 million NICS checks were performed. That shattered a high-water mark that stood since December of 2012, which didn’t even manage to break the one-million barrier.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced this week that its estimates—based on NICS checks and backing out other known uses of the system—indicate firearm sales for the first quarter of 2020 (compared to 2019) are up 41.8 percent. Last month’s sales volume was 80.4 percent greater than a year ago. 

Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF), which uses a slightly different statistical model, estimates total firearms sold in March at 2,583,238, an 85.3 percent increase over March 2019. Handgun sales accounted for the bulk of the purchasing, with 1.84 pistols sold for every long gun. That’s the highest the ratio has been since the NICS checks system launched in 1998.

Although the system is a good relative gauge for the industry’s health, enthusiasts need to keep in mind that not all firearm sales are reflected in the numbers.

The NSSF explained in its press release this week that, “Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.”


riflescope facing right
riflescope facing right

First Look: Zeiss LRP S5 FFP Riflescope

Zeiss recently announced the launch of the new LRP S5 series of first-focal-plane riflescopes.

Review: Zev Technologies Core Duty Rifle

Zev Technologies has steadily increased its footprint in the firearm industry. Best known for placing its unique design spins on components for the most popular Glock and SIG Sauer pistols, this Centralia, WA-based company is also in the AR market.

First Look: Birchwood Casey 36-Inch Single Gun Case

Birchwood Casey is known for their targets and shooting support gear, and now they have just released a soft-padded case ideally suited for AR-15 and AK-pattern rifles, called the Single Gun Case 36 Inch.

I Carry: IWI Masada 9 mm Pistol in a KSG Armory Holster

In today's episode of "I Carry,"we have an IWI Masada 9 mm pistol with a Meprolight MicroRDS red-dot sight in a KSG Armory holster.

What is the Greatest Defensive Skill?

You can say what you want to about your favorite defensive school or those advanced-fighting techniques you learned, but the greatest defensive skill that a person can develop is simply awareness. I will freely admit that developing effective awareness is anything but simple, but being able to spot trouble before it is close enough to get in your face will certainly save you from a lot of trouble and possibly even some pain and grief.

Fightin' Iron: The Guns of George Mathews

Sometimes, custom gunsmiths don’t get credit where credit is due.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.