NSSF: 2020 Gun Sales Up 95%, Ammunition Sales Up 139% Over 2019 First Half Totals

By Jim Curcuruto

Firearm and ammunition retailers have been busy — really busy — during the first six months of 2020. And they are not just selling to what many thought to be the traditional customer, older white males, as new NSSF research shows customers of all demographic backgrounds are part of this ongoing sales surge.

NSSF’s adjusted NICS data shows that a record 10.3 million firearm transactions have been processed by retailers nationwide in the first half of the year. No matter how busy NSSF retail members are handling these millions of transactions, we are thankful that they are always willing to take the time to let NSSF know what they are seeing first-hand in their stores and at their counters.

Thanks to retailers’ insights early this year, news outlets across the globe have been reporting that millions of Americans became first-time gun owners during the first four months of 2020. In early July we reached back out to retailers to learn more about who these surge customers were.

First off, approximately 90 percent of retailers reported an increase in firearm and ammunition sales during the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019. How big are those increases? Responding retailers noted that they are seeing a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.

It has been well known inside the industry that purchasers of guns and ammunition have long had diverse demographic backgrounds. During the first half of 2020, retailers noted that the overall makeup of their customers consisted of 55.8 percent white males, 16.6 percent white females, 9.3 percent black males, 5.4 percent black females, 6.9 percent Hispanic males, 2.2 percent Hispanic females, 3.1 percent Asian males and 0.7 percent Asian females. The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from black men and women who show a 58.2 percent increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year.

Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of. No matter who they are or the reason for their purchase, we must continue to practice and promote the rules of firearm safety and be sure to add a +ONE and invite some fellow enthusiasts with us to the range or field during National Shooting Sports Month and the upcoming hunting seasons.

For additional insights on the firearm industry, visit www.nssf.org/research. Please click here to print and share an infographic outlining the results of this survey.

 

Jim Curcuruto is the Director of Research and Market Development for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

comments

  1. avatar No one of consequence says:

    No wonder AR food is running upwards of $0.40/round. (That’s just the standard kibble, mind, not an exotic diet.)

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      I noted a month or more ago that it was my opinion that continuing to shoot like it was “normal times” or assuming that “normal” would return again soon was a bad idea.

      I was derided for saying it then. Now people are complaining they can’t get primers and ammo is hard to find. Color me shocked.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Practice is great. Until you practice all your ammo away.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          Yup.

          Which, based on recent comments here on TTAG, is exactly what some people did.

          The brutal truth was, and still is, if you’re in a position where you really need 500 rounds of practice ammo and you don’t have it set aside specifically for such a time along with secondary and tertiary supplies… then you fucked up in multiple ways and started fucking up long ago.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          strych9,

          I learned my lesson in the previous ammunition drought and squirreled away as much ammunition as I could when I found it at reasonable prices.

          While it stung financially at the time, I do not regret doing it.

        3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          @uncommon,

          Yup. As I’ve mentioned here several times, I started slowly stacking as the budget allowed in late 2012 when Obummer was re-elected, and went into overdrive into literally thousands of dollars by backing up the truck with our former Gov. Brown signed AB 63 (part of the infamous “Guncopalyse” package) in 2016, which took effect in 2019.

          BTW, as for practice training, Californians can still buy ammo with a BGC if purchased at the gun range and used there, albeit at the range’s markup pricing. So if you typically expend 400 rds during a trip to Steel Plate Disneyland, you can extend it by shooting only 200 of your own and buying the other 200 there.

          But yes…stock ’em and stack ’em whenever you can, especially when demand and prices are low. Because – as we’ve all learned by the Great Panic of [ammo, guns, TP, canned foods, paper towels, etc.], things can unexpectedly change in a short time. Don’t get left out in the cold due to poor planning.

        4. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Ugh. I really gotta get better at this. I’m so excited to toss my 2 cents into the conversation, I don’t always proofread.

          “…without a BGC…”

      2. avatar SoCalJack says:

        That and the shift towards shooting more 22LR and air guns for plinking/training.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I got an air rifle during the last big ammo shortage. Works great for practice. I keep saying I need to get an air pistol and I always back burner it and then I still don’t have one.

        2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          I use a Glock-licensed full action G17 BB gun, and a Sig Sauer licensed full action AR-15, both modified to “shoot” only puffs of air without needing to insert the BBs. Makes for GREAT(!) indoor room clearing practice without the concerns of a real gun.

      3. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        I knew then ,you were 100 corect,which in just a short amount of time has proven those that discounted your warning, with out ammunition and thus SOL.

      4. avatar former water walker says:

        I haven’t been shooting since last December. I didn’t plan on that. I never made fun of you Strych9…as a result I’m in far better ammo shape than ever before-and my LGS has reasonably priced ammo!. I’m waiting on glasses & cataract surgery so it’s cool. I realize I’m on my own as my local 5-O suck badly.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          “I’m waiting on glasses & cataract surgery”

          fww, I had both eyes done about 20 years ago (not at the same time). Smartest thing I ever did. A friend who was legally blind for many years in one eye (20/400) had both of her eyes done this year. She’s now 20/20, shoots like Annie Oakley, and says it’s the best thing she ever did.

          Just get yourself a doctor who’s done a ton of ’em and don’t sweat it. Each eye should take ten minutes, and the experience is strange but not scary at all.

          Good luck, my friend!

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          I never suggested that you did, Mr. water walker and I know that you didn’t. Had you done so I still wouldn’t have said so here.

          I don’t put people on blast by name if they’re not present and unless someone is actively posting in a section I assume them not to be present and I don’t criticize them since that would, in my estimation, be unfair since it’s essentially talking behind their back.

          Also, best wishes for your surgery and a quick recovery. The people I know who’ve had the surgery you speak of have told me that it greatly enhanced their lives. I hope it does the same for you.

        3. avatar former water walker says:

          Thank you! It’s a real pain as it’s connected with Medicare and it’s very slow to happen. I quit driving at night too. Oh well…no need to explain about idiot’s dissing your opinion. My AR is pretty much set up,running great and I got plenty to feed it. Ditto my handguns.

  2. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    Prices for 9mm, .40, .45, and .357 are now about equal to SIG 357.

    1. avatar D.B. Cooper says:

      I can get all the .40 I want at prepanic prices, its 9mm and .45 that are gone or are commanding .357 SIG prices

  3. avatar Lee says:

    Sounds good, but consider who’s buying.

    (HINT: Same folks running around in the streets wanting to enslave White people and end Western civilization.)

  4. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I have a family member who just started working at a local Sporting Goods store that also sells firearms. According to my family member, buyers are purchasing firearms for self-defense in almost every (if not every) case. (Buyers do not appear to be purchasing for recreation, hunting, nor collecting.)

    And my family member reports that many/most have never owned a firearm before.

    Keep in mind: this is happening in a liberal enclave that would give Berkeley, California, a run for its liberal money.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Correction:

      I checked again with my family member who reports that something like half of buyers appear to be first time gun buyers/owners.

      In case it is not clear, “something like half,” is significantly less than, “most,” which I stated incorrectly in my comment immediately above this.

  5. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    For the life of me I’m having difficulty trying to decide if this current situation is caused by the Wu Flu tyranny or Burn,Loot,Murder or perhaps just your ordinary run of the mill criminal activity . It matters not,arm up America !

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      It’s a mix IMHO.

      Look into the “Sunrise Movement” and their open talk of “created” and “outside” opportunities, they’re a “green” movement for high school kids. In reality they appear to be a mix of Leftist political agitators (borderline terrorists IMHO) and gangs using kids because they get lighter sentences.

      “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. It provides the opportunity to do things that were not possible to do before.” is not just one guy’s opinion. It’s a long-running theory in certain circles. It hinges on the idea of being prepared to leverage anything bad that comes down the pike.

      1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        YuP the mix and then the next shoe that we know will drop, the upcoming presidential election, to say nothing of the possibility of braindead Joe or what will come if not.

        Tomorrow I’m planing on blowing 500 ads. of 22 lr. between pistols and rifles however I have ample supply since before Newtown,heck during that shortage I set several folks up with 22 fodder till the supply normalized.

  6. avatar Leigh says:

    Wait and see… if Biden get’s elected these numbers will be NOTHING.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Further proving strych9’s warning.

      1. avatar enuf says:

        True that.

    2. avatar enuf says:

      POTG will go absolutely dog nuts crazy. Ape Shit to the nth Degree. People will be buying bigger shovels and bigger fans to empty port-a-potties with.

      But the real scare will be if the Senate flips. Doesn’t have to be a big blue tsunami, just a simple majority flip will amplify the buying frenzy. You know ….

      Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

      1. avatar Doug says:

        Remember $150 normal capacity Glock magazines and $1500 Bushmaster “pre-ban” AR-15’s during the 1994-2004 AWB? If Biden wins and the Democrats control both houses of Congress, how high will they go this time, especially if they pass a new AWB prohibiting transfer and sales? Could we see $400 magazines and $3000 bottom of the line AR’s in the months leading up to enactment of such a bill?

        1. avatar enuf says:

          Unknown, depends on so many factors. The potential of a Biden win may be increasing but I find it hard to believe the down ticket would be blue enough for all those Hoplophobic wet dreams to be realized. He would surely have to try, but would there be sufficient newly elected Democrats to overcome a Senate filibuster?

          Seems unlikely.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          Well, inflation since 1995 is at around 68% so add that to your guess, bare minimum.

        3. avatar Anymouse says:

          They don’t have to overcome a filibuster. They can change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster. It’s a traditional rule, not a Constitutional requirement.
          They did it for judges in 2013 under Harry Reid (the “nuclear option), and he’s advocating eliminating it entirely. McConnell got rid of it for Supreme Court Justices in 2017 for Gorsuch. If Dems take House, Senate and President, expect them to totally eliminate the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court to 20ish and pack it (especially if Trump gets to replace RBG), pass severe gun control, economic and climate reform, etc.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      I don’t pretend to have precog abilities and I cannot prove what I’m about to say. It’s also fairly incendiary which is why I haven’t said this in the past, though I’ve been thinking it for months. I’ve gone as far as alluding to it by saying I think JWM is very likely right, and I still think that he is.

      I don’t think the Left plans to win this election. If they do obviously they’ll take it, but there’s way, way, way too much data going in the other direction. It doesn’t get talked about much outside polisci/political consulting circles but it’s there in large quantities. The Primary Model, with it’s with it’s 96.3% accuracy rating is but one example. Overall there’s a lot of quite good data here, provided you know what you’re looking at and don’t listen to people trying to sell you a story. The Lefties know this. They have the best advice that money can buy.

      IMHO there’s an effort here by certain people to attempt to create a situation similar to Algeria ~1953 specifically so that they can have Algeria 1954-1962. I call this “the scramble”. It’s a pattern of behavior common in wrestling, jiu jitsu and politics.

      The longer such behavior goes generally undetected the better chance it has of creating the situation it desires, “the scramble”. I’d like to say I think this is unlikely but at this point avoiding it would be hard if a fuck-load of people shared my suspicions. They don’t, and that means behavior to “bring down the temperature in the room” is unlikely.

      “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” comes to mind.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        strych9,

        I don’t think the Left plans to win this election.

        I was reading your comment a second time and a very strange — although very interesting — thought came to mind. I wonder if the Left is purposely trying to throw this election in a fiendishly clever ploy to whip up their base into a frenzy that cannot possibly be stopped. Think of it as the Hard Left losing the battle of 2020 in order to win the entire WAR in 2024.

        How many times have you heard Conservatives say, “Don’t anyone intervene in the Democrat dominated cities that refuse to stop the rioting — let the Democrat controlled cities burn because they deserve to reap what they have sown and THAT will finally teach them that should reject the Democrat party.” Perhaps Democrat leadership have the same mindset here: let the Republicans win in 2020 so that everyone can finally fully see, once and for all, how destructive/horrible the Republican party is and then vote for Democrats next time and into the foreseeable future.

        Look at how that worked for the Democrats in the United States House of Representatives — they lost in 2016 but took a solid majority in the midterm election of 2018. And why did they get that majority? Because the masses got to see what happens when they get lazy and let Republicans win elections.

        And yet another angle kind of along the same vein: what if Democrat old-guard leadership despises this recent ultra-far Left garbage and knows that it is a loser? And yet they are unable to quash it internally. So the old-guard leadership says, “Fine. We will go ultra-far Left this election cycle and let the entire Democrat Party see that this ultra-far Left garbage is a losing strategy. Then we will return to our more centrist winning platform in 2024 and never lose another election again.”

        Meanwhile, the Democrat Party was hedging its bets and went through the motions on Russia and impeachment on the off-chance that those would succeed — and recently capitalized on COVID-19, shutting down as much as possible for as long as possible to maximize damage to our economy and hence minimize the chances of Trump winning re-election (and Republicans regaining a majority in the House of Representatives).

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I believe that what we are witnessing is the, at the very least, democratic party splintering into two parties. The worst case, for them, scenario is the complete destruction of their party. Either way the dems will not be in position in 24 to win a national election.

          All this violence. All this passionate attempt to destroy all of American history is laying right at the feet of the democratic party. They allowed radical elements to invade their party.

          They believed that hillary was going to sweep into office and they would have unbroken control over the whole thing. And when that did not happen they threw a national shit fit.

          This will lead to a right wing election backlash.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          jwm,

          I agree that the rise of the Extreme Radical Far Left threatens to split the Democrat party in two: that is consistent with my hypothesis that the Old Guard Democrat leadership knows that and is willing to throw this election under the bus (hence losing this battle) in order to win the next election and every election thereafter (hence winning the war).

          Consider this:
          Old Guard Democrat leadership knows that our voting population has been trending left for 80+ years with no end in sight — hence time is on their side and they will regain total control at the federal level in perpetuity IF they can stop their party from splitting. Of course the Extreme Radical Far Left does not want to relent at this time. Old Guard leadership knows this, knows that they lose the Far Left voting bloc if they stay centrist, and knows that they lose moderates and centrists if they go far left. In other words Old Guard Leadership knows that they cannot win this election at this time. So, why not take advantage of the current situation? Thus, Old Guard Leadership lets the party embrace Extreme Radical Far Left platform in order to PROVE that they cannot win a majority at the national level. Then, Old Guard can move forward at the next election with a more centrist platform — telling the Extreme Radical Leftist elements in their ranks that Democrats tried their extreme agenda and it did not work.

          Meanwhile, Democrats have moved the Overton Window quite a ways left yet again.

        3. avatar jwm says:

          Uncommon. What if the extreme far left decides they’ve had enough of the centrist and split off from the party? If they blame each other as much as Trump for their loss in 20?

          Either way, when Trump gets his second term the parts of blue cities that have not yet burned will be at risk.

          Except for the gun issue I’m more left of center than right. And the idiots in the dem party have driven me to the right.

  7. avatar Steven says:

    It’s Not Just Guns and Ammo, has anybody tried to buy rubbing alcohol, tires anything like that… ?the prices are excruciating and the selections are next to zero

    1. avatar enuf says:

      “tires”? As in car and light truck tires?

    2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Haven’t seen rubbing alcohol on the shelves since January.

    3. avatar Jeremy B. says:

      I’m the tire purchaser for a medium sized Honda service center and we have no problem getting tires.

  8. avatar Bigus Dickus says:

    I am proud to say I helped the statistics we added the following to our firearm inventory during the first half of the year:
    -Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 380 EZ
    -Mossberg 500 Tactical
    -Kel Tec Sub 2000

    Also several thousand rounds of various calibers added to the ammo closet.

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