The design of the modern revolver was patented by Samuel Colt of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1836, and in the nearly 200 years since, the revolver established itself as an iconic American firearm. Perhaps most closely associated with Western frontier in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, revolvers were also standard issue in the U.S. Army from the Mexican-American War through the First World War, and a favored sidearm in police departments, from the NYPD to the FBI for much of the 20th century.
Rugged, reliable, and simpler mechanically than more modern semi-automatic handguns, revolvers are still popular among civilian firearm enthusiasts and collectors. According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. imported over 18 million revolvers from 1986 to 2019. However, American-made revolvers are generally far more popular than their foreign-made counterparts. (Here is a look at the countries exporting the most guns to the U.S.)
Using data from the ATF report National Firearms Commerce and Tracking Assessment, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s top revolver companies. Companies are ranked by total domestic revolver production from 2016 through 2020.
More so than any other firearm type, American revolver manufacturing is concentrated between just a handful of companies. Of the 3.8 million domestically-produced revolvers between 2016 and 2020, over 99% were made by just seven companies. For comparison, America’s 10 largest gunmakers produced less than 70% of all domestically-made firearms – including rifles, shotguns, and handguns – over the same time period. (Here is a look at the biggest gunmakers in America.)
It is important to note that the companies on this list come from ATF data on domestic revolver production from 2016 to 2020, and in the years since, one has stopped producing revolvers and another has gone out of business. These developments are likely an indicator of the market dominance of only a few companies. Indeed, the three largest revolver makers in the U.S. – Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus – account for a combined 85% of American revolver manufacturing.
Click here to see America’s top revolver companies.
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