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Last month, the FBI racked up to the highest number of NICS checks for any January on record: 2,545,802. A bit less than 1.9 million new firearms entered the market. Globally, the United States is home to the highest number of firearms on the planet, approaching 1.25 for every man woman and child in the United States. Where will it end? That depends on how you define “need” and “want” . . .

The United States advanced beyond “needs” a long time ago. Most “poor” people in the United States would be upper middle class in most of the rest of the world. People do not “need” central heating, air conditioning, television, cell phones or microwave ovens. In the U.S., such things are taken for granted. As a consumerist society, we divide our disposable income into things that we want, rather than things we need to survive.

Some firearms, for some people, some of the time, are a clear “need.” But most firearms, for most people, most of the time, are a “want.” Which works perfectly for the firearms industry.

As you know, firearms have many different, sometime overlapping categories of utility. In times of normal ammunition availability, a .22 rifle and pistol are ideal for practice and training. A centerfire handgun is the favored tool for personal carry. Hunters prefer centerfire rifles. Some rifles are well-suited to home defense and neighborhood security during times of unrest. Shotguns also work well for hunting and home defense.

In that short paragraph, I’ve listed six types of firearms. It’s not unreasonable to think that many if not most gun owners would want to own one more more example of each firearm type. (Remember: needs are finite. Wants are infinite.) For people who “want” to explore and enjoy firearm ownership, owning a hundred firearms is not unusual. And why not? There’s little downside. Firearms are fun, easy to store and maintain their value. They are also safer than swimming pools, stairs and bicycles.

Let’s do the math . . .

There are about 237 million adults in the United States as of the end of 2015. Six firearms types times 237 million is 1.4 billion firearms, about 3.5 times the current number. Even at the current fevered pace, the industry’s “only” producing 17 million firearms per year. It would take roughly 50 years of such production to meet the measly 1.4 billion minimal “limit” that I have arbitrarily set — provided the U.S. population remains flat. Which it won’t.

That said, firearms are not like most consumer products. They seldom wear out. Given moderate care and use, they last centuries. In fact, it’s likely that completely different weapons technology will eclipse firearms before the modern stainless steel and composite stock firearms wear out. It’s one of the reasons that the current number of firearms in the United States exceeds 400 million.

Even so, there is little reason to believe that the U.S. is anywhere near market saturation for firearms sales. Nor will it be for decades to come. Again, human “want” has no limit. What guns do you want?

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Gun Watch

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        • .950 JDJ has a “sporting exception” from the ATF, even though I think one person may have fired one round of it once, and then everyone gave up on ever shooting that cartridge again (in addition to horrendous recoil in a hundred pound single-shot bolt-action, it costs $40 for each lathe-turned solid brass boolit).

  1. To answer your question: All of them.

    Joking aside my current needs are met, the only thing I’m just dying to get my hands on at the moment is a CZ SP01.

    • I was to young to remember the 80s but I want one of those too! They are pretty cool and I really wish select fire was a possibility but nope I’ll never own one. Even a cheap one will cost as much as the next car I’ll buy. Too bad the feds love to restrict rights to those with money.

  2. I have 50. Because I have a collection. For example I have 7 different Tokarev. and 4 different Makarovs. Ones from each country where they were made. 30 Hand guns. 20 rifles. 17K of Ammo. Ready for end of world or zombies or what ever else comes. Personally. I could easier do another 50

    • Without a doubt. I’ve suggested my customers focus on mag fed, semiauto anything until further notice. There will be time for pumps, levers, bolts, and revolvers.

    • If hitlary does half of what she wants those wants might turn into needs. The question of “who needs a 30 round magazine” can be answered by “free people exercising liberty or slaves fighting to be free”.

  3. What guns do I want? I want a brush gun, like a lever action 45-70. I’d like a PWS rifle also.
    I actually have most everything I need, but as we all know, more is better.

      • Second… er, thirded! I keep seeing a stainless Marlin lever gun in .45-70 at “Loopholes R Us” AKA the gun show. I either don’t have the money for it or there is something else for which I’m shopping when I do.

  4. My wife’s patience with my “hobby” is reaching its limit. As is the capacity of my safe.

    I will say that, living in CT, I do sort of have a “buy now or maybe buy never” attitude, born mostly from extreme frustration at missing out on the SCAR 17 and Tavor thanks to the 2013 legislation. Also, if I had a do-over I’d be getting threaded barrels for most of my pistols, and a few spare naked lowers.

    • Currently there are a couple of pistols I’d like to get – but am not really lusting over. I’d also like a .45-70 lever gun, because awesome and Sam Haven of MHI. A Walther CCP for the wife would be good to.

      If the USSC strikes down CT’s AW ban, then it’s Katy bar the door / credit card.

    • You can buy threaded barrels for many popular pistols. Or did you mean those are illegal now where you are also? If so, my condolences.

      On a completely different note, I don’t believe most barrels are serial numbered, are they?

      • When the new AW law came in, each handgun with a threaded barrel had to be registered (or really double registered) with the State as an AW by the end of 2013. But the moment the law changed, it was illegal to “create” further AWs by purchasing any additional threaded barrels. So you’re stuck with whatever you had on the day that the law changed.

        Which is why I can’t really get too keen about the whole silencer thing – I can’t use them on the majority of my pistols, and the only local place to shoot is a noisy indoor range.

      • If it is just the “total number of guns”, that would suggest that it is ok to sell a “low end one” and buy a “better one”.

        Under that philosophy, I could sell my $129 Heritage Rough Ryder .22 revolver and buy a $800 Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum revolver.

        I could sell my $200 Hi-Point 4095TS and buy a $1700 Tavor.

        I could sell my Pardner Pump and buy a Benelli.

        I could live with that policy.

    • Dang, missed the edit window. Re safe capacity…

      If you haven’t already found them, Rifle Rods are great for long guns.

      For handguns I’ve been using Armory Racks and think they’re great for anything over .22 cal:
      As a project I’m intending to mount a few of the large ones on a slide-out tray.

      For handguns that won’t fit on the racks (e.g. Ruger Redhawks with 7″ barrels) Velcro holsters on the safe door work surprisingly well if you get the good ones.

  5. Nah, Like in “Lords of War:” “There is enough firearms to arm 1 out of 11 people in the world. Question is: How do we sell to the other 10?”

  6. I celebrate diversity. Isn’t that the preferred way?

    Big ones, little ones, short ones, fat ones. Oh wait having an Eric Burdon “Spill The Wine” song moment.

    Point being, those who can celebrate diversity, will…. For example,
    I had two Moisins in the safe, next thing I knew, I had four, they were like rabbits. Sheesh.


  7. Several C&R rifles still elude my collection. Several nice 1911’s are somewhat different to acquire in The People’s Democratik Rupublik of Kalifornistan. Because the government has the right to determine what firearms we can possess. Just like it can determine what religion we can worship and what Koran we can read. A new M45 would be cool.

  8. No. As my multiple minor children are not yet fully provided for with minimal essential stock (long gun, hand gun, hunting/”marksman” rifle, personal defense shotgun, hunting shotgun, 22 training long gun, 22 training handgun, air rifle, extras). I assume sometime in the not that distance future they will be acquiring dependents of their own so there is no “DONE”.

    A new million illegals and a couple hundred thousand islamist males of military age per year will also “need”/desire firearms. THAT’S ECONOMIC development Hillary.

  9. Will it end soon? NO, 2A babies are born every minute and every hour, 9 months after a trip to the range. The trend will continue into infinity and beyond.

  10. For those of us that have to live behind enemy lines, our wants are outstripped by what’s allowed. After I return to friendly lines, I may expand my sights somewhat. The tricky part is always proper budgeting. Time is of the essence–especially due to the pending election. Anybody but a Demoncrap. That and it always seems that the disarmers have legislation pre-written for the next “catastrophe” so that they can “do something.” And so it goes, around and around, ad nauseam.

  11. There are many categories of guns I am basically “done” with, no interest in buying more (in some cases, I don’t have any, and don’t want any). Many others, on the other hand….

    Someone posted an article here that said, basically, of all the people who own at least one gun, 3% are serious collectors/accumulators who have 25 or more. Among the other 97 percent of gun owners, the average count is five. (I don’t know how they collected that data, but I would be interested in seeing what the 98th and 99th percentile figures are. How many more do I have to get to be in the top one percent?)

  12. We need to take that 1.25 Guns pro Man woman and child in this country, and Ray that number to a solid 8 guns per person in this country Once we do that I think we’ll be there! I guess that pretty much Keeps ourCountry safe From invading forces!

  13. I’m currently down to 6 firearms, although my wife has 5 of her own. I have plans on purchasing at least another 3 as soon as the money starts burning a hole in my pocket. By my count you need at least 8 firearms to cover the bases.

    – .22 pistol
    – .22 rifle
    – semi-auto centerfire handgun
    – .357 magnum revolver
    – .44 magnum (or larger) revolver
    – semi-auto centerfire rifle in a caliber suitable for defense
    – bolt action rifle suitable for deer sized game
    – 12 ga. shotgun

    Once you’ve got those covered you can start thinking about collecting.

      • If I were to expand that number out to 12 I’d definitely include at least one matching lever gun. I’d also add that it would make an excellent substitute for a semi-auto rifle, especially if you live in a not so AR friendly state.

    • Can I substitute lever action rifles for the bolt action category? If so, than I’m more than covered in each category with the exception of the 44 Mag revolver. Oh well, guess you just gave me an excuse to go buy a Smith Model 29. Thanks Gov.!

      • Don’t forget to get the five Clint Eastwood instructional videos for the S&W Model 29. Though for some reason, they’re done under the name “Dirty Harry.”

      • If it shoots MOA, absolutely. You need something to practice those longer shots. Otherwise it’s still a worthy addition to a small collection.

        If you want an indestructible .44 magnum on the cheap I’d recommend a Ruger Super Blackhawk. Then you’ve got SAA covered and still have plenty of coin left to pick up one of the .22s (compared to S&W).

    • “I’m currently down to 6 firearms, although my wife has 5 of her own.”

      Although I have no desire to trade my anti-gun wife cause love is strong with her, Sometimes thoughts drift about a pro gun woman saying hey big guy, meet me at the range, new gun in your future if you play your cards right.

  14. a Henry .45-70, a Mossberg MVP, a Kel Tec PM-30, something chambered in .41 magnum and a Glock 40 MOS are all on my short list at this time, I’m also lusting over my grandfather’s pre 64 model 70 feather weight and his model 43 .218 bee that are in the possession of my uncles.

  15. The gun shop where I work Is selling the heck out of subcompact Pistols And revolvers. The ar-15 market has gone in the dumpster In our store I wish we could see some more Sales Of the modern musket! Anybody else out there Find this statement to be true in their store as well?

    • Ah yes, the subcompact revolver! You didn’t say whether it was magnum, but I’ve shot both an SP101 with .357s in it and a .500 S&W. The former was by FAR the more unpleasant of the two.

      I lean towards the idea that under most circumstances (yes, I know there are some circumstances where what I am about to say is not true) the only real advantage of a revolver is the magnum loads. If you’re going to put something ballistically like 9, 40 or 45 into a handgun, it might as well be a (reliable!) semiauto with the higher capacity. To say nothing of the fact that a snubbie with a magnum load is excellent for converting the magnum part of the charge into a fireball. So to me, a compact revolver is just a non-starter.

      As always, mileage will vary.

  16. 237 million people shooting 22LR could easily afford to buy a 5000 round case each (not even considered hoarding yet). That’s 1.2 trillion (letter T!) rounds to fill that casual need/want. So don’t expect to see 22 ammo replenished anytime soon, anywhere.

  17. They like to pretend that these numbers are just gun owners prior – buying more guns and the % of gun owners stay the same. Which is far from it. I know many first time gun buyers.

  18. This is my rifle, there are many others, and someday, they will be mine too.

    Don’t worry about anyone having too many firearms, until you find them growing additional arms.

    If they arm their friends against you, watch out. They might call themselves your government and try to tax you.

  19. I’m really very happy with what I have, and don’t have time to shoot them all.

    However, I would like:

    – a lever gun (.357 Henry)
    – a nice wheel gun (.357 Dan Wesson, but more likely a Ruger)
    – a couple small/inexpensive .357 wheels for strategic placement around the house
    – another bag of AR lowers and parts for gun room play-time fun
    – OH! and that one right there! The shiny one with the thing that goes up

    • ‘– a nice wheel gun (.357 Dan Wesson, but more likely a Ruger)’

      You can’t go wrong with a GP100. And you can probably buy 3 for the price of a Dan Wesson.

        • “I’ll second the GP100.”

          Yep. That was the Ruger I was thinking of. The DW was just a high-end dream.

          I’d LOVE a 6″ Python, but that’s never gunna happen either.

  20. more than 70% of my collection is more than 100 years old and I shoot them frequently… and most of then rest are my Fathers WW2 bring backs examples of most of the side arms of the european powers of the first 1/2 of the 20th century. only about 8 or 10 of my guns are modern enough to show up in an statistics of fire arms ownership based as they are on US manufacturing and import data of the last half of the 20th century.

    I bet that if you count functionel firearms of the 19th century (and a 1886 winchester in 45/70 is just as much a weapon as a new Henry Steel series in the same caliber). (and if I shoot a whitetail with my 1860s vintage .58 cap lock Springfield rifle it is just as dead as one i might shoot with my AR-18. ) the number of firearms in private hands in this country is far higher than the generally accepted estimate….

    • Indeed.

      I’m not old enough to have picked up anything pre-serial-number-and/or-papers-required, but this is a good point.

      For that matter, even black powder (still no papers required) can be quite useful and interesting, though (to me) that does push over the line to genuinely obsolete for defense of self and liberty.

  21. The math never adds up for me. So since the NICS checks there have been over 228,000,000 checks. I get that not every check is a new gun but at the same time every check could have 3 new guns. So to say there are 228 million new guns since 1998, I’m comfortable with. But this is where I don’t understand. I keep reading about there are roughly 350 million guns in the US. But in 18 years there are 228 million. So in the 220 years before the NICS there were only 220 million firearms purchased? All the firearms sold per year equal what was sold in December of 1998? Now I get the variables and that there weren’t as many people and there weren’t as many guns but they don’t tend to end up in landfills either. Look, people find them growing in trees a hundred years later. And when you compare it to the amount of guns supposedly made and imported it gets screwier. roughly 1/3 of background checks would have nothing to do with the purchase of a new gun. I was told there would be no math today and I’m confused.

    • By my estimates, going by NICS data, imports and manufacturing, some time in 2015, the US had over 400 million firearms in personal possession.
      That’s even a conservative estimate, there could be millions more, but it is somewhere north of 400 million at this point.

    • I’m guessing you meant 120 million before 1998 (228 +120 = 348)…which would be even more absurd–your point is stronger.

      Another source of counting errors would be the states that don’t use the FBI database (Colorado uses CBI, for instance), and states that require no background check at all if you show them your carry permit. Neither of those purchases will show up in the NICS stats.

    • Members of the WW2 generation say that there were piles of Mausers and Arisaka rifles available for the GIs to bring home. For long guns the policy was pretty much “help yourself.” Pistols had a little more control on them – you needed a permission slip signed by your CO, but that was no big deal. Those are the ones that came home “legally”. Lots more – including full auto toys – came home without any documentation at all. There are lots of old Peacemaker Colts and lever action Winchesters floating around but probably more hardware store brand double barrel shotguns are still out there. My dad grew up in the dirt poor coal mining country of northeastern Pennsylvania and about everybody owned a beat up old side by side 12 or 16 gauge. Those guns are still around and still serviceable. I guarantee they’re not on anybody’s radar or guesstimate of firearms numbers.

  22. I already own a Remington Model 700 that does what I need but for some reason I am lusting over a Ruger SR762.
    Do I need it, naaa, do I pay close attention to ads about it or reviews. Guilty as charged. Soon my precious you will be mine.
    To which the wife would reply.
    But you already own 5 rifles why do you need another. Then the handguns will get mentioned.
    So will a SR762 fit in a doghouse ?

  23. New gun owner here. Last month I purchased a Glock 19 and a Taurus 85 Poly Protector. Not done there. Trying to get my grandpa’s long gun stash from my dad, then I’ll assess what I still need. Guns are a rock solid investment. Won’t lose much value, and if the financial system collapses, surplus guns will be worth more than just about anything on earth. I don’t like to hunt, but I love to shoot. So I’m working on honing the skills necessary to harvest food when I have to.

    • Welcome aboard. I’ve long owned a couple of guns, but sometime in the last 4 years, my interest in firearms got sparked and now I’m slowly amassing more and more. Careful, though. It’s easy to spend more money than you realize!

  24. Gee I didn’t own a gun until 2011. I’m old and I figure there’s a LOT of folks like me. I don’t think it will slow down at all. Quite the contrary especially with the hildebeast and things like FB flucking us…not to mention bury soetoro.

  25. Don’t have any belt-fed stuff yet….

    And plenty of room for another gun safe and ammo locker….

    Not to mention there are still some people I know who don’t have one yet, bless their hearts.

  26. I have four, all handguns. They are just enough for my local club’s practical pistol, .22 and center fire bowling pin matches. I would need more to enter their cowboy action, 3 gun and bench rest matches.

  27. I’d like to see the website trends for TTAG before and after incorporating that nasty nail fungus advertisement into the right side of every page…

  28. How many guns is enough?
    I had an SKS, AK’s, AR’s, an M 14.
    I then felt the need to get a Steyr Aug.
    Last year my wife took back her Walther PPK/S, so she bought me a Bersa Thunder cc with lasergrips to replace it.
    A few years ago she bought me an Arsenal AK 47 after I raved about how nice it was after my boss got one. (what a great wife!)
    Our next gun is going to be revolver for her as I noted last night at the range she had trouble racking the slide on the Walther.
    I have been wanting to build a target AR in .308 for the fun of it.
    I will slowlyacquire the parts as I see them on sale online
    Another vote the rifle rods, they make a lot more guns fit in the same safe space.
    It seems that we always just need another!

  29. Globally, the United States is home to the highest number of firearms on the planet, approaching 1.25 for every man woman and child in the United States.
    But the real question is how do we get 3 guns per person in the United States?

  30. I want an m16a2 and m16a4 clone, a good .22 pistol and rifle, a mossberg 590a1 (to go with my 500 *currently my only gun*) a .357 mag revolver and rifle, a .30-06 bolt action, a .300 AAC Blk sbr, and two m&p9’s(one full size and one compact). In addition bayonets, optics, magazines, spare parts, weapon lights, night sights, ammunition, and several suppressors. I’m 18 and can’t get most of those since you have to be 21 for handguns and sbr’s. Oh and I have many other expenses.

  31. The great thing about a free country is that you shouldn’t be forced to pick and choose what you want to get before a curfew or ban – because those shouldn’t be possible.

    Having said that, however, if people will actually take the time to get out and vote this year, think of what can be done! The Hearing Protection Act may pass and that would take suppressors off of the Class III list. We could do that with SBRs too and maybe repeal the 1989 ban on assault weapons imports.

    That’s a long way to go for me to say I really, really want a HK MSG-90 and a HK MP7A1. Alas, that seems ridiculously unlikely under the current regime.

  32. Yeah, me too! Been looking for the SP-01 tactical in 9mm for a few months. Unfortunately, no one has it; they seem to be non-existent for the time being. Thinking of settling for the SP-01 Phantom or maybe even a P-09…

  33. Approaching the limit? Absolutely not. There is quite a lot on the life-and-liberty *need* list, and quite a bit more on the “wouldn’t it be fun to have…” list. If I weren’t severely restricted by space at the present, I probably would have doubled my inventory by now.

  34. nobody needs more guns than they want…except, it is probably a good idea to have one gun more than you want because you always need a spare in case one is out for maintenance.

    and no stinkin’ retention holsters !

  35. Limit reached? Hardly. There are a few more handguns I need to top off my collection, a custom bolt action rifle from GA Precision, and a Knight’s SR-25….because I want one.

  36. I finally got the M&P9 Shield I’ve had my eye on for a few months to keep my customized M&P15 component. Now for a carry license in the future.

  37. What guns do I want…. …sigh…

    Okay, here goes. BTW, at the current rate of ‘new acquisitions’, my wife will likely surpass me early 2016. Sad, I know.

    Luger P08
    Lever gun
    Black Powder wheel gun(s) (the wife)
    .44 Magnum wheel gun (the wife)
    1911 ( I know, I know. I’ve led a sheltered life…)
    Decent trap gun (haven’t decided which way to go yet)
    Bigger safe/second safe (might have a hard time finding a place for the second one, but it’s a challenge I’ll gladly undertake)

  38. What do I need: viable self defense guns for my wife and myself. That’s long ago covered.

    What I want….those new Henry’s in 41 mag, with a matching revolver. So much want

    A *really* nice moderately hefty 308 with a Vx2 scope. But those are wants, cant’ remotely justify them as needs.

    Oh and an AR 15 in 338 federal for kicks and grins

  39. Picked up a 22/45 lite the other day, big mistake. After all the awesome comments above, does it make me lame that the little Ruger is going to be my next purchase? I think guns are like Pokeman…Gotta Have ‘Em All! Gonna pick up that Ruger Friday!

  40. guns, i’m “needed” out of and “want” has waned for much beyond what I have. Now as for ammo… you can never have too much.

  41. I am impressed with the listings some of you have provided and I think there’s no saturation point, so I hope each and every one of you get the guns you want.

  42. I’m digging Walthers right now and may collect their current pdoducts, along with a few recent models. Not interested in the antique stuff.

  43. “Last month, the FBI racked up to the highest number of NICS checks for any January on record: 2,545,802 million.”

    That’s 2 trillion 545 billion 802 million which when you think about it is a very round number.

  44. What guns do you want?

    Smith & Wesson Model of 1891 single action top-break revolver.

    Quad .50, or at least one Ma-Deuce.

  45. US gun ownership by household is likely WAY up the past ten years.

    We know from the peer reviewed social science that people are less likely than ever to answer direct survey questions on matters they consider private. EG questions on whether a woman has had an abortion are about 80% undercounts in responses. with primary reason for guns ownership having gone from 50% hunting and 40% self/home defense in 1970, to 80% self/home defense today one can expect less and less people saying they have a firearm at home since training includes being told not to tell anyone.

    So on direct questions gallup (phone) shows gun ownership down to about 45%, and GSS (face to face with your name and answers recorded on a form) shows 34%.

    BUT every “indirect” question, which the peer reviewed science say is more accurate on privacy related matters, points to long term INCREASES in the number of Americans and households with guns. Look:
    (blips up after a major event, but consistent downward trend in support for more gun control)

    NRA approvals:

    • come on, everyone. there are guns available at less than $200. lets each and all buy one of those in february and drive those numbers beyond 3million ! just for the fun of it, because we can.

      the fact that it will drive the liberals completely nuts is a bonus, not a goal.

  46. I’m broke and will be for the foreseeable future yet I have a long list of “wants”, the top of which is another handful of suppressors! A few take apart 45acp, 9mm and 22lr cans to start with. On the gun side I’d like a Glock 19 MOS with RMR, a 308 AR build, AICS magazine bottom metal for my savage 110FP and a nice 338 Lapua bolt gun. That should keep me going for a few more years.. 😉

    If GOA succeeds in getting the 1986 Hughes admendment struck down I’ll probably instantly go bankrupt just from the pile of 200$ tax stamps I immediately file for! Lol

    • I have been waiting for Suppressors To become legal where we can just buy them like a muffler for my car. And then I may go a little nuts Lol!

  47. I still need a Colt M16 lower for a Block II clone, a Glock, a nice1911, a M1 Garand, and at least a nice Benelli semi-auto shotgun…

    • I used to be a Benelli shotgun man. If I was you I would check into getting a Mossberg 930 SPX I just picked one up And I’m very very much impressed! It’s the fastest firing semi automatic shotgun in the world right now And I am very impressed I can empty the magazine tube In literally less than 2 seconds. Very fast firing shotgun.

  48. I would really like to get a Nighthawk custom T 3 In stainless.I’m looking for one right now I just hope to be able to afford it once I find it lol!

  49. Really as long as disposable income holds up, meaning as long as the economy is good, there’s no saturation. If six guns is what most owners think is the “right” number to own, ten will just replace six as the new number, and so on. When everyone in America owns two guns for every conceivable use, and the collectors have collected to the point where they don’t want to collect anymore, then we could conceivably have market saturation, but I really doubt we could ever reach that point.

  50. I currently have 13 Guns in my house hold of 3 people so that breaks down to 4.33 guns per persons. There are several more guns on my want list. So I am doing my part to get me up to 18 guns total in my household.



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