gun excise tax pittman-robertson
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We’ll go over this again because lots of gun owners aren’t aware of it. Since 1937, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, anyone buying a new firearm or ammunition pays a 10 or 11% federal excise tax. That’s totaled more than $12 billion over the years.

Those dollars are distributed to the states and are used for conservation, to fund hunter education programs, maintain public shooting ranges and more.

Courtesy Howard Communications

Along with the number of NICS checks, those tax numbers are a good barometer of the general trend in gun sales. A couple of numbers to note: 2018 fourth quarter taxes were down almost 8% over the fourth quarter of ’17. On an annualized basis, the 2018 tax total was 2.4% less than 2017.

Looking at the larger picture, you almost have to disregard the panic buying years of 2013 (the post-Sandy Hook gun control push) and 2016 (Hillary a shoe-in election year). Those aberrations aside, while 2018 was down, it was still a very healthy year for gun sales historically (see the 20-year annual chart below).

Look at the 2012 to 2018 tax (sales) numbers vs. the previous decade and you see the effects of the expansion of concealed carry permits and constitutional carry as well as the work of the greatest gun salesman in American history.

Here’s the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s report . . .

Following are the results of the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) collections report for the 4th Quarter Calendar Year 2018. These figures cover the period of October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.

Tax Collections Taxpayers
Pistols and Revolvers: $48,454,145.58 163
Firearms (Other) / Long guns: $51,072,698.56 239
Ammunition (shells & cartridges): $47,923,518.07 265
TOTAL: $147,450,362.21 667


These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation. To date, nearly $12.5 Billion has been administered through this successful Act. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition and hunters are the single-largest source of wildlife conservation funding.

Fourth Quarter Excise Tax Obligations for 2018 Down 7.7 Percent Over Last Year

The latest Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax Collection report released by the Department of the Treasury indicates that firearm and ammunition manufacturers reported tax liabilities of $147.5 million in the 4th calendar quarter of 2018; down 7.7 percent over the same time period reported in 2017.

The report, which covers the time period of October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, shows that $48.5 million was due in taxes for Pistols and Revolvers, $51.1 million for Firearms (other)/ Long Guns and $47.9 million for Ammunition (shells and cartridges).  Compared to the October to December quarter 2017, tax obligations were up 0.1 percent for Pistols and Revolvers, down 5.1 percent for Firearms (other)/ Long Guns and down 16.7 percent for Ammunition (shells and cartridges).

Translation to sales:

Using the latest tax liabilities reported as an indication of sales, a projection of $1.38 billion was generated for the 4th Quarter calendar year of 2018.

Pistols and revolvers:  $ 48,454,145.58 / .10 = $ 484,541,455.80 = $ 484.5 million for Pistols and Revolvers

Firearms (other) /Long guns:   $ 51,072,698.56 / .11 = $ 464,297,259.64 $ 464.3 million for Firearms (other) / Long guns

Ammunition (shells & cartridges):  $ 47,923,518.07/ .11 = $ 435,668,346.09 $435.7 million for Ammunition (shells & cartridges)

Total estimation of sales for the quarter:  $1,384,507,061.53

– – – – –

Annual Excise Tax Obligations for Calendar Year 2018 Down 2.4 Percent Over Calendar Year 2017.

Firearm and ammunition manufacturers reported total annual tax liabilities of $643.6 million for 2018; down 2.4 percent over the tax liabilities reported in 2017.

Compared to calendar year 2017, the 2018 taxes due for Pistols and Revolvers were up 0.2%,Firearms (other)/ Long Guns were up 3.3% and Ammunition (shells and cartridges) was down 10.0%.


Courtesy NSSF

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  1. If I was a coyote I’d think I was looking at two big white eyes. Take that sht off them caps and the bipod don’t do much for the concealment factor either. Hide them hands too

    • seems as though gun ownership is tied to hunting…which really isn’t the case nowadays…

      • Neither myself nor the 10+ people I’ve turned into gun lovers hunt. We shoot IDPA and Steel Challenge.
        Hunting is boring.

  2. Oh scuse me they’re Turkey hunting, well same same. Gloves need longitudinal stripes

    • There I was… I had just gotten off duty and thought I’d do a little scouting before I went home and turkey hunting the next day. There was a nice gobbler feeding back and forth along the edge of a small pond. I slipped out of my patrol car, dropped a Federal Gold Medal 7 1/2 in my Scatter Gun Technologies 870. (I always kept a couple in the car for snake calls.) Swear to God. Put my best Indian sneak on that bird. Feeding away advance. Feeding to me freeze. Killed him with 7 1/2s cyl. bore in full uniform. Silver badge, collar brass, name tag, no gloves/face mask, etc. I did turn off my radio though. 10′ beard, 1 1/4′ spurs. Camo ain’t everything. Sometimes it’s woodcraft.

      • Gadsden Flag…..With a “10foot” beard and “1-1/4foot” spurs, you should have waited for back up and taken out the .338LM!!!!! We have big birds in Northern Missouri, but that’s a mutant freak!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Just pullin’ your leg…..I hit the wrong keys also with my old thumpers. You are correct though. Camo is largely for the hunter’s eyes……and good business. Game mostly notices movement and sound and smell. I’ve made some nice kills in street clothes. Really wear camo just to look good and piss off Liberals en route to/from the farm. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Keep on sneakin’ them birds.

        • Educated a coyote when he spotted my white hands. Started creating gloves. Calling coyotes had an eagle coming to the call(;mouth blown) it flared when it saw my camo glove moving slow Mo to continue calling, I wanted to see if I could get him to circle me. Watched a Jake take off when he spotted my cigarette smoke. Caught a Tom turkey by hand during a rain storm when it ran into a hog wire fence. Birds see color, you can get lucky.

      • I agree. Camo is not the be all, end all of hunting. The only time I go full camtard is when calling crows. Those fellows can see all. I even do the face paint when after them.

  3. As the above points out, cherry picking is meaningless. The trend is still going way up over the last decade.

    In your daily NRA talk, the reason people like Allen West are rightfully concerned about LaPierre billing AM for his jet setting lifestyle, who then billed the NRA: per the WSJ
    “Nonprofits are supposed to be run in the best interests of the organization, not for the benefit of board members or executives, legal experts said. Under New York’s nonprofit law, among the toughest in the U.S., the attorney general could seek to remove directors or officers, and claw back as much as DOUBLE any improperly obtained benefit.”

    I bet there’s a big pile of cash buried somewhere in case they eventually get LaPierre.

  4. Well, I’m certainly doing my part. I have no adult supervision in my life. C’mon guys and gals, how about a little continuing help with those guns and ammo purchases? What a great way to PISS OFF A LIBERAL!!! Remember, if you know how many guns you have……you don’t have nearly enough!!!! Guys, there is never an issue about size or color if you buy your lady a couple boxes of ammo for her Happy Thursday Thinking of You Reminder. She will never ask you if that gun or ammo makes her derriere look big. Even if you mistakenly got the wrong caliber for one of her hopefully several firearms…..what better reason to buy her a new gun in the caliber to match the ammo?!?!?!?! Call it a Happy Friday Thinking of You Reminder……works with Dani every time!!!

    • “A gun a girl” is the old expression.

      I need more daughters. 😉

      I only know how many guns I have as friends asked, I answered, they called BS and made me write them all down.

      Oh, the “guns a girl” (per daughter) is a common expression at work. I was asked how many I owned, answered “a gun a girl.”. They told me how many I owned (based off # of children) and I replied, naaaa… I need a dozen more daughters. 😉

  5. Sales have dropped off because we don’t currently believe gun rights are in serious jeopardy.

    Get a Leftist in the White House and watch for a repeat of the 2012 Newtown panic buying…

  6. I’ve bought more guns and ammo since Trump has been in office then I have ever before. It’s a buyers market right now. You can buy ARs and mags like you used to be able to buy combloc stuff (almost). I’m getting close to where I’ll have enough ammo to ride out the next panic while still being able to shoot regularly. During which time I can conclude I’ll be the only one at the range. If your putting off and not buying now then you’ll regret it later during the next panic.

  7. Not sure what the industry is crying about. Ran numbers through an inflation calculator. In 2009 the dollar amount was just about 100 million. with inflation that would be about 119 million in 2019. last quarter was about 150 million. Or about a 26% real increase over 2009 figures. Sure it is below the high but still very good. During the panic buying years the public was getting over charged. Now we are getting back to some reality in prices. If firearms and ammo industry is loosing money I would put the blame on management.

  8. So what you’re saying is to combat “climate change” we need to buy more guns and any politician trying to make it more difficult or impossible to buy guns and ammunition is a “climate denier.”

    • Interesting analogy. There’s also been a cooling trend over the past 3-4 years. But record highs are due to climate change, and cooling trends are due to weather, or something like that. 😉

  9. As with the last article, and the prior, and the prior about the gun industry not losing money, but not making as much, why are we supposed to care?

    These companies didn’t care during the ‘panic buying’ when they pushed their prices through the roof.

    Keep that supply and demand BS to yourself it was greed.

    They should have saved/invested for a rainy day. Its not always going to rain cash, pretty basic life lesson.

  10. GUNS for the environment! Boo-lits for beaver! Shotgun shells for skunk!😄😊😏

  11. We’re full. No need to buy more for the present. Trump just appointed a justice to the 9th circus. If we can get him a second term we’ll have constitutional carry nationwide.

    At that point the gun companies won’t be able to keep up with demand as folks that would never have thought of buying a gun will want one for fear of the whole ‘blood in the streets’ tripe which will not happen.

  12. As with all statistics. Missing info ruins the batch.

    Don’t forget to add in that firearms are not a consumable commodity, ammo is, but the firearm itself is not, I can easily see a decline in sales, Firearms don’t yet have “planned obsolescence” built into them yet.

    They’re still built to last a lifetime or longer, most of them…

    Not to mention, after several panic buys, people need to replenish cash supplies and focus on other things for a bit. Can’t keep splurging on stockpiling if the pile doesn’t get used and ignoring those leaking rain gutters and bald tires on the wifes mini van.

    • I need a larger home before buying more ammo. Just saying… And I only buy 5 calibers. Although, I’m thinking of adding one more caliber…

  13. I’ve bought 4 new guns, 12 additional mags and boxes of ammo because it’s all on sale……

  14. Could some of this be bc so many people are building ARs? Maybe I am misunderstanding (and I am about 5 fingers in on the Buffalo Trace, to be frank) but wouldn’t the tax haul from a build be much lest (just the price of the lower)?

    • You don’t pay excise taxes on ‘parts,’ only on complete firearms. If a complete firearm is sold disassembled it is still considered a complete firearm. So it is also somewhat common for retailers to charge the tax on a receiver and any combination of parts that fit that receiver if they are purchased together. It might not technically be correct but is safer and easier for them if they are audited.

      So, to avoid the tax you just have to be careful how you do your shopping. If you buy a stripped lower and a parts kit all in one order you should be charged the excise tax. If you buy a stripped lower in one order and then buy a complete parts kit in another order you don’t pay the tax (bare frames aren’t considered a firearm for tax purposes). That’s one of the reasons it’s often cheaper to buy this way.

    • Or more 80% lowers taking a dent in the tax revenue? I load and store bulk ammo, but don’t buy alot other than .22.

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