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The Gun Safe

What Guns and Rifles Are Americans Buying (At Near Record Numbers)?

Image: Creative Commons.

American firearms sales have remained strong throughout this year. Even as July saw a slight decline from the record-setting numbers of 2020, when a combination of factors including lockdowns from the pandemic and increased social unrest served as a catalyst for the best year the industry has had, it was still the second-highest July for overall firearms sales, ever.

Who Is Making Money?

Firearms makers big and small have reported increased sales, and last month Springfield, Mass.-based Smith & Wesson reported that its sales more than doubled in its last fiscal year to $1.1 billion. The company’s sales certainly remained strong into July, when the company claimed the top spots on top firearms sales charts for the month with its M&P 15 Sport II Optics Ready, an AR-style modern sporting rifle that the company noted was engineered for a wide variety of recreational, sport shooting and even professional applications.

Chambered for .556mm NATO and .223, the M&P 15 Sport II has been seen as an affordable AR with an MSRP just under $800, while according to sales could be found online for less than $700. In addition to being the top seller according to, the rifle was also the fourth-best selling semi-automatic rifle on the online firearms auction platform

Other Strong Sellers

Despite the recent calls from the Biden administration to ban the sale of AR-style semi-automatic modern sporting rifles – or more likely perhaps because of those calls – the popular category of consumer firearms has continued to see strong sales.

The Kel-Tec SUB2000, Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle, the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport, and the Ruger AR-556 rounded out the top five for semi-automatics in July; while reported that the German-designed and manufactured Heckler & Koch HK416 was its top seller for the month, followed by the Ruger PC Carbine and Ruger 10/22 in the second and third spots respectively, with the Hi-Point Firearms 995 in fifth position.

The H&K HK416 has been an in-demand firearm for months.

It is notable that while it features a design based on the AR-15 class, notably the Colt M4 carbine, it also utilizes a proprietary short-stroke, gas piston system that was developed by H&K’s from its earlier G36 family of military rifles. The military version of the H&K 416 is currently used by the German Army, the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, and the Irish Ranger Wing. The civilian variant was released in 2007 with several sporterized features. It has remained one of the pricier modern sporting rifles on the market today, and currently retails for around $1,800, while even used models were being found for more than $1,000 according to

Joe Biden AR-15 Tax

AR-15. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

.22s Still Selling as Well

When ammo supplies are low, as they are this summer, it isn’t surprising to see .22 LR firearms jump in price, as shooters look to fill the void with the smaller (and typically cheaper) caliber to use at the gun range. These are not the average “plinker” guns, however, and the top-selling Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 Sport is essentially the little brother of the top-selling Sport II.

As with larger AR-style rifles, this rifle can be customized with various accessories, including M-LOK-compatible products. It is currently available from dealers with an MRSP of $475, and could be a good alternative for sport shooters who want to get to the range and not break the bank with the more expensive 5.56 NATO or .223 ammunition right now.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.