Special Report

America’s Most Popular .22 Caliber Handgun Companies

Ask any American gun owner the firearm they learned to shoot with, and odds are it will have been a .22 caliber rifle or handgun. A low-cost ammunition with little to no recoil, .22 Long Rifle, or . 22 LR, is an ideal cartridge not only for beginners, but also for small game and varmint hunters, plinkers, and those who want to hone their skills at the range without breaking the bank. 

With such a broad range of applications, it is little wonder that .22 caliber rounds are among the most popular in the United States. And in recent years, .22 caliber handguns – revolvers in particular – have surged in popularity. According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the number of .22 caliber revolvers produced in the United States climbed from 131,545 in 2010 to 597,014 in 2020 – a more than 350% increase. Including both pistols and revolvers, American gunmakers produced over 1.5 million .22 caliber handguns in 2021 alone. 

Using data from the ATF, 24/7 Wall St. identified the companies behind the best-selling .22 caliber handguns. Companies are ranked on domestic production of .22 caliber handguns in 2021. Data on the location of each company’s production facilities and total firearm manufacturing output in 2021 are also from the ATF. 

While the majority of .22 caliber handguns made by the companies on this list are chambered for rimfire, .22 LR ammunition, several other ammunition types fall under the ATF’s .22 caliber classification – which encompasses all rounds up to the .22 caliber size. These chamberings include, but are not limited to, the .22 magnum, 5.7x28mm, and 5.56×45mm NATO as well as smaller circumference rounds, like .17 HMR and 5.45x39mm. (Here is a look at 27 popular ammunition types, from most to least expensive.)

Though each of the 20 companies on this list manufactured more than 2,000 .22 caliber handguns in 2021, the market for these firearms is largely controlled by only a handful of major gunmakers. The top three brands on this list – Heritage, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson – account for over 67% of all domestic .22 handgun manufacturing. 

For some of these top companies, .22 caliber handguns represent only a small share of their overall firearm production. While Heritage focuses almost exclusively on .22 revolver production, for brands like Ruger and Smith & Wesson, rifles and handguns in a variety of calibers also account for a considerable share of total manufacturing output. Indeed, these gunmakers also rank among the most popular rifle companies in America.

Click here to see America’s most popular .22 caliber handgun companies.

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