Firearms sales in October declined by nearly 12% year-over-year, with about 1.3 million units sold last month, according to data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. This marks the first time that gun sales fell to a pre-pandemic level: October 2016 saw stronger sales, likely in anticipation of Hillary Clinton defeating Donald Trump in that year’s general election.
Despite the decline, October marked the 38th consecutive month of firearms sales exceeding 1 million units.
According to data from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, or SAAF, the decrease affected the handgun segment (−10.2%) less than it did the long-gun segment (−14.1%). SAAF’s firearms unit sales estimates and forecasts are based on raw data taken from the NICS, adjusted for checks unlikely to be related to end-user firearms sales. The adjusted NICS numbers may underestimate the actual unit sales level by some amount, as currently, 25 states have at least one qualified alternative permit.
However, it still provides a picture of the current market conditions.
“Background checks continue to reflect a steady interest by law-abiding Americans to exercise their God-given Second Amendment rights,” explained Mark Oliva, spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industries trade association.
“Despite the claims of some elected officials that crime is not a national concern, these figures reflect the true sentiment of America,” Oliva told TheTruthAboutGuns.com. ” These gun owners are choosing to protect themselves. This is the 38th consecutive month in which background checks for the purchase of a firearm at retail exceeded 1 million and it continues to put 2022 on pace as the third strongest year for background checks associated with the sale of a firearm.”
Gun Sales: Another Year For the Record Books
Sales are expected to exceed one million per month for the rest of the year, even as inflation remains at record levels. The result would see 2022 continue the trend to exceed pre-pandemic yearly sales.
“With 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,” said SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer. “In terms of firearms purchases adjusted for U.S. population growth, however, this would about match the per capita level for 2016.”
Polymer-framed handguns were all the rage last month, according to sales data from Guns.com. The same report marked the Glock G43X as the top-selling handgun, followed by the Taurus G2C, Sig Sauer P2229, Glock G19 Gen 5, and Sig Sauer P365 Micro-X.
The ATI Omni Hybrid MAXX AR 300BLK was the top-selling rifle/carbine, while the Ruger SFAR, Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II round out the top three – highlighting the continued popularity of the AR-15 platform. The Marlin 1895 Trapper lever-action rifle was the fourth best-selling long gun in October, with the Sig Sauer M400 Tread AR-15 Snake Bike Special Edition taking the fifth spot. Apparently even in the “black gun” era, a classic like the Marlin lever-action still has a loyal following.
A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He 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.
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