Special Report

How Many Guns Americans Bought Every Year Since 1986

AFP Contributor / AFP via Getty Images

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, more than 250 million new firearms were manufactured in, or imported to, the U.S. between 1986 and 2019. Of those, more than half hit the market in 2009 or later. Now, estimates by the Firearm Industry Trade Association put the number of civilian-owned firearms in the U.S. at around 434 million, or 1.7 for every adult – making the U.S. the only country in the world with more civilian-owned guns than people. (Here is a look at which Americans own the most guns.)

Using data from the ATF’s 2021 report Firearms Commerce in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. identified the number of new guns that were either manufactured domestically or shipped to the U.S. each year since 1986, the earliest year of available data. American-made guns that were sold overseas are not included in totals. 

Every year since 2012, over 10 million new guns have hit racks in the United States. The number of new guns peaked in 2016 at 16.3 million – 11 million of which were manufactured domestically, and the remaining 5 million were imported. For context, the number of new guns on the market never exceeded 10 million between 1986 and 2012, and it was below 5 million for most of those years.

Firearm manufacturing and import data reveals how American tastes have changed over the last several decades. In most years from 1986 to 2009, rifles dominated domestic firearm production. However, that changed in 2010, when pistols – not including revolvers – overtook rifles in domestic production and have held the top spot every year since, with the exception of 2015. (Here is a look at America’s top pistol companies.

For most years between 1986 and 2019, handguns – a category that includes both pistols and revolvers – were the most popular foreign-made firearm type with American shooters. And when it comes to demand for American firearms abroad, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and pistols have each ranked as the most popular exported firearm type in at least six of the last 34 years.

Click here to see the no. of new guns in the US each year since 1986.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: blackwaterimages / E+ via Getty Images

1986
> New guns on the market: 3,524,486 – the fewest in 34 years (19.9% imported, 80.1% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (31.9% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Rifles (38.4% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (48.1% of all exported firearms)

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Source: zim286 / iStock via Getty Images

1987
> New guns on the market: 4,335,131 – 30th most in 34 years (24.5% imported, 75.5% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (28.3% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Rifles (38.9% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (46.7% of all exported firearms)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1988
> New guns on the market: 4,982,963 – 21st most in 34 years (25.6% imported, 74.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (28.9% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (48.7% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (38.6% of all exported firearms)

Source: Bob Riha Jr / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1989
> New guns on the market: 5,164,892 – 18th most in 34 years (19.5% imported, 80.5% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (31.9% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (43.7% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (29.3% of all exported firearms)

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Source: JamesYetMingAu-Photography / iStock via Getty Images

1990
> New guns on the market: 4,442,152 – 28th most in 34 years (19.0% imported, 81.0% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (34.6% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (53.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (29.5% of all exported firearms)

Source: Mishella / iStock via Getty Images

1991
> New guns on the market: 3,882,598 – 33rd most in 34 years (18.6% imported, 81.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (38.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Rifles (43.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (29.4% of all exported firearms)

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1992
> New guns on the market: 6,618,755 – 15th most in 34 years (43.0% imported, 57.0% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (40.0% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Rifles (50.0% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (29.5% of all exported firearms)

1993
> New guns on the market: 7,667,754 – 12th most in 34 years (39.7% imported, 60.3% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (41.4% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Rifles (52.3% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (39.8% of all exported firearms)

Source: Scott Barbour / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1994
> New guns on the market: 6,649,646 – 14th most in 34 years (28.3% imported, 71.7% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (38.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (48.7% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (36.2% of all exported firearms)

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Source: arinahabich / iStock via Getty Images

1995
> New guns on the market: 4,995,525 – 20th most in 34 years (22.1% imported, 77.9% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (32.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (64.0% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Revolvers (31.0% of all exported firearms)

Source: guruXOOX / iStock via Getty Images

1996
> New guns on the market: 4,404,020 – 29th most in 34 years (20.0% imported, 80.0% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (37.0% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (55.6% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (29.3% of all exported firearms)

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Source: UltraONEs / iStock via Getty Images

1997
> New guns on the market: 4,257,838 – 31st most in 34 years (22.1% imported, 77.9% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (34.8% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (50.5% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (31.4% of all exported firearms)

Source: bagi1998 / iStock via Getty Images

1998
> New guns on the market: 4,510,056 – 27th most in 34 years (22.2% imported, 77.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (41.4% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (53.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (44.1% of all exported firearms)

Source: BostjanT / E+ via Getty Images

1999
> New guns on the market: 4,719,228 – 24th most in 34 years (18.9% imported, 81.1% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (38.8% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Shotguns (43.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Shotguns (30.6% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Getty Images / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

2000
> New guns on the market: 4,717,696 – 25th most in 34 years (23.2% imported, 76.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (41.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (42.5% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (28.8% of all exported firearms)

Source: Vadimborkin / iStock via Getty Images

2001
> New guns on the market: 4,126,940 – 32nd most in 34 years (33.1% imported, 66.9% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (43.8% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (52.0% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (29.4% of all exported firearms)

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Source: William B. Plowman / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2002
> New guns on the market: 4,845,376 – 23rd most in 34 years (33.6% imported, 66.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (45.0% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (45.5% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (40.2% of all exported firearms)

Source: Chris Livingston / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2003
> New guns on the market: 4,632,994 – 26th most in 34 years (31.7% imported, 68.3% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (43.2% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (43.0% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (44.1% of all exported firearms)

Source: Jeff Swensen / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2004
> New guns on the market: 4,869,964 – 22nd most in 34 years (39.2% imported, 60.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (42.8% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (43.9% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (44.6% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

2005
> New guns on the market: 5,153,487 – 19th most in 34 years (40.9% imported, 59.1% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (44.2% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (41.7% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (47.3% of all exported firearms)

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2006
> New guns on the market: 5,718,325 – 17th most in 34 years (42.5% imported, 57.5% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (41.0% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (47.9% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (39.4% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Pierdelune / iStock via Getty Images

2007
> New guns on the market: 6,461,824 – 16th most in 34 years (42.5% imported, 57.5% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (41.1% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (50.5% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (39.4% of all exported firearms)

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2008
> New guns on the market: 6,876,842 – 13th most in 34 years (37.9% imported, 62.1% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (38.6% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (56.3% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (45.8% of all exported firearms)

2009
> New guns on the market: 8,968,180 – 10th most in 34 years (40.2% imported, 59.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (40.5% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (60.6% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (31.4% of all exported firearms)

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Source: RichLegg / E+ via Getty Images

2010
> New guns on the market: 8,057,210 – 11th most in 34 years (35.2% imported, 64.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (41.4% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (62.8% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (33.1% of all exported firearms)

Source: zim286 / iStock via Getty Images

2011
> New guns on the market: 9,497,402 – 9th most in 34 years (34.2% imported, 65.8% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (39.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (53.0% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (40.8% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2012
> New guns on the market: 13,135,646 – 3rd most in 34 years (36.9% imported, 63.1% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (40.7% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (54.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (44.6% of all exported firearms)

Source: jfmdesign / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

2013
> New guns on the market: 15,991,210 – 2nd most in 34 years (34.6% imported, 65.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (41.0% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (55.9% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (42.6% of all exported firearms)

Source: guruXOOX / iStock via Getty Images

2014
> New guns on the market: 12,254,962 – 7th most in 34 years (29.6% imported, 70.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (40.1% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (60.3% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (49.4% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

2015
> New guns on the market: 12,945,416 – 4th most in 34 years (30.4% imported, 69.6% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Rifles (39.4% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (62.8% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Rifles (46.5% of all exported firearms)

Source: Erich Schlegel / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2016
> New guns on the market: 16,258,394 – the most in 34 years (31.6% imported, 68.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (41.1% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (71.5% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (45.8% of all exported firearms)

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2017
> New guns on the market: 12,331,748 – 6th most in 34 years (36.4% imported, 63.6% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (44.3% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (73.2% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (56.4% of all exported firearms)

Source: U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. C.T. Michael

2018
> New guns on the market: 12,804,242 – 5th most in 34 years (33.6% imported, 66.4% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (42.9% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (68.3% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (60.1% of all exported firearms)

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2019
> New guns on the market: 10,681,126 – 8th most in 34 years (37.3% imported, 62.7% U.S. made)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type: Pistols (43.4% of all U.S. made firearms)
> Most popular foreign-made firearm type in America: Handguns (65.1% of all imported firearms)
> Most popular U.S.-made firearm type abroad: Pistols (43.7% of all exported firearms)

Methodology

To identify the number of new guns in the U.S. every year since 1986, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the ATF’s 2021 report Firearms Commerce in the United States. Years are listed in chronological order but ranked by the number of new guns that were either manufactured in, or shipped to, the U.S. each year since 1986, the earliest year of available data. The number of American-made guns that were sold overseas were then deducted from that total. 

Total firearm manufacturing tallies includes miscellaneous firearms, such as pistol grip firearms, starter guns, and firearm frames and receivers. Firearms produced for the U.S. military are not included, but firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies are. 

We also considered the most popular firearm types each year that were manufactured domestically, imported to the U.S., or exported from the U.S. It is important to note that for firearms manufactured domestically – including those that end up being exported – firearms are broken into four specific categories: pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and rifles. Meanwhile, for imported firearms, there are only three specific categories: handguns, shotguns, and rifles, as pistols and revolvers are not distinguished. 

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