Firearm Sales Poised to Eclipse Pre-Pandemic Records

2022 Firearm sales are poised to eclipse pre-pandemic records.

posted on November 10, 2022
US Firearms sales table

Firearm sales in October and September were down roughly 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively, when compared to the same months in 2021—a market normalization experts predicted after the demand the past two years. Pundits, however, didn’t anticipate 2022 would be poised to claim third-place honors in the record books by shattering all pre-pandemic gun-purchase highwater marks.

“[W]ith two more months to go before year-end, this calendar year’s total unit sales are expected to come in at somewhat less than 18 million units, the highest ever save for the 2020 and 2021 Covid-19 pandemic years,” Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) said. October’s total sales, according to his estimate, came in at roughly 1.3 million. In September the figure was about the same, with August coming in at 1.4 million.

“August’s figures show there is a clear and steady desire by the American public for lawful firearm ownership,” Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation said in early September. “Consistently throughout the year, background check figures for firearm sales at retail have put 2022 on pace to be the third strongest year, behind only the outsized years witnessed in 2020 and 2021.”

The resumption of a new normal has impacted handgun sales less than long guns, according to the SAAF’s findings. In October, according to the organization, purchases of the latter dropped 14.1 percent, compared to a 10.2 percent decline in handgun sales. August and September experienced the same trend.

Total figures, regardless of source, are estimates and only present a snapshot of firearm industry health. FBI NICS checks for private transactions and purchases made by holders of a valid carry permit—who’ve already undergone the background investigation—are not mandatory in all regions of the country, making it impossible to determine precise figures.


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