Sturm, Ruger is the country’s largest gun maker, according to the most-recent figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE).
The agency’s “Firearms Commerce in the United States Annual Statistical Update” interim report for 2018 shows that firearms industry manufacturing volume moved up about 4% from 2017 to 2018, from 8.3 million guns made to 8.7 million firearms made last year, or around 2012 levels (8.6 million). The largest companies by manufacturing volume include publicly-traded companies Sturm, Ruger (RGR) and Smith & Wesson (under the holding company American Outdoor Brands Corp., AOBC).
According to the 2017 Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report:
Sturm, Ruger & Co. was the largest firearms manufacturer by volume, in part because it builds many more rifles than second-place Smith & Wesson. Ruger is credited with making 781,704 pistols, 172,104 revolvers, and 661,155 rifles in 2017 for a total of 1,614,963 firearms manufactured
In second place at 1,506,256, Smith & Wesson’s totals were actually larger in handguns (pistols [1,032,450] and revolvers [207,384], but substantially behind in rifles (265,356). S&W also made 21 shotguns and 1,045 miscellaneous firearms that year.
Remington Arms Co. placed third in 2017 with 809,731 total units built, broken down into 58,450 pistols, 448,513 rifles,269,391 shotguns, and 33,377 miscellaneous firearms.
SIG Sauer was next with a 2017 total of 572,694 firearms made, 536,774 of that total being pistols and 35,920 being rifles.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons rounds out the top-five firearms makers, with 80,275 rifles, 311,126 shotguns, and 115,995 miscellaneous firearms for a total of 507,396.
Gun industry data in the Firearms Commerce summaries are compiled from ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report (AFMER).
The AFMER is current only through 2017 because gun manufacturers’ data is not published until one year after the close of a calendar reporting year. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act protects manufacturing data provided by companies or individuals from immediate disclosure.
The largest annual manufacturing total for the U.S. market occurred in 2016, when the agency reported 11,497,441 guns being made in the country during the election season of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That eclipsed the previous record 2013’s total of 10,844,792. The years of 2015 (9,358,661) and 2014 (9,050,626), then 2018’s total of 8,669,259, round out the top-five all-time rankings.
Other gun companies with more than 50K pistols manufactured in 2017 included GLOCK (175,696), SCCY Industries, LLC (150,647); Springfield Armory, (81,377); Taurus Int’l (69,123); FN America (61,510); Florida-based Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc., (58,982); Remington Arms Co. (58,450); Beretta USA (57,411); and Browning Arms Co. (50,331). Other notable brands include Walther at 43,248; Colt’s Manufacturing Co. at 31,987; and Diamondback Firearms at 24,270.
Pistol totals by ammo segment are also included in the AFMER, with the “to 9mm” total being the largest at 1,756,618.
Among wheelgun manufacturers in the gun market, single-action specialist Heritage Mfg. Co. led all makers, producing 226,065 revolvers in 2017, followed by S&W (207,384), Ruger, (172,104), North American Arms (46,138), and New York-based Kimber (21,349). Colt’s made 7,342 revolvers.
Ruger led the rifle-manufacturing segment for 2017, making 661,155 cartridge-firing long guns at various locations, followed by Remington Arms Co. with 448,513. Then came Henry Repeating Arms. Co. at 267,214 and S&W at 265,356, then Radical Firearms LLC at 88,430. Other shooting-sports-product makers above 50K included Maverick Arms (a Mossberg subsidiary), 80,275; Springfield, Inc., 69,352; and Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc., 66,235.
O.F. Mossberg and its subsidiary Maverick Arms combined to make 311,126 shotguns in 2017, followed by Remington (269,391), Kel-Tec (25,413), Outdoor Colors (19,776), and Beretta USA (17,025). Outdoor Colors, LLC is a Rutherfordton, NC–based hydrographic finishing company.
Miscellaneous firearms made in 2017 were led by Wm C Anderson, Inc. with 211,382 units, followed by Maverick Arms, Inc. 115,995; Palmetto State Armory LLC, 128,537; Aero Precision, 78,033; and Remington Arms Co., 33,377.
Not included in these data are imported firearm totals by companies such as Germany’s Heckler & Koch, Austrian-built and imported GLOCK firearms, and Swiss-made SIG products imported to its New Hampshire U.S. affiliate. Where possible, all the brands held by a single entity (such as Bushmaster under the Remington total and Savage Arms under Vista Outdoors) have been merged.
The ATF data is separate from gun sales data compiled by the FBI in the NICS background-check system. Traditionally, while sales may spike after events such as mass shootings like Sandy Hook and Parkland, manufacturing totals lag several months.
Also, political events such as elections — in which candidates use inaccurate terms such as “assault rifles,” machine guns,” and “automatic rifles” to pass gun laws that limit Second Amendment access to modern sporting rifles (semi-autos with common-capacity magazines) — cause sales spikes.