In the political watershed year of 2016 that saw a generally pro-gun Donald Trump elected as president and anti-gun candidate Hillary Clinton defeated, the United States’ licensed firearms manufacturers expended a lot of energy making new products.
Based upon statistics provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in 2016 these properly licensed gun makers cranked out 11,497,441 new firearms. This is the last year for which the ATF has current, final and official figures.
The reason for this apparent reporting lag time is that the country’s gun makers have until the following April to notify the ATF of gun production figures for the preceding calendar year. Given that such technical data may have errors or else be in need of further refinement, finalized numbers typically don’t see the light of reporting day for several months after each December 31st, says ATF spokeswoman Suzanne Dabkowski with the agency’s Cleveland office.
It must be stated up front that all figures compiled by the ATF represent the total number of firearms made per gun type classification, not sales. It is entirely conceivable that many of these 2016-made firearms remain in the inventories of wholesalers and retailers, Dabkowski says as well.
Also, ATF-available figures are for firearms made in the United States, not those imported, which is an entirely different set of numbers. For interpretation purposes, firearms production is defined as being “firearms including separate frames or receivers, actions of barreled actions, manufactured and disposed of in commerce during the (documented) calendar year,” the ATF’s report states.
In all, and based upon the most current, finalized data, the United States has more than 11,000 ATF-licensed firearms manufacturers, of which more than 400 are based in Ohio. Every U.S. firearms manufacturer pays a $150 fee to the ATF for a license, which is good for three years, Dabkowski says.
Licensed manufacturers ranged from small gun shops that may have produced only a handful of firearms - or even as few as one – to the big names in the industry on the order of Ruger, Remington, Smith & Wesson, O.F. Mossberg, and Colt.
As a short history lesson and for comparison sake, for 2015 the total firearms production in the United States topped out at 9,358,661 units. In fact, based on ATF data going back to at least 2010, the year 2016 easily eclipsed any other in terms of seeing such a volume of firearms produced in the United States, though perhaps interestingly as well the number of shotguns made in the U.S. has fallen over the past few years.
The ATF even breaks down manufacturing by individual states with the subject matter including the gun maker’s name and hometown and by firearms type made.
A close look at the figures does demonstrate the importance of the handgun market to America’s gun makers. ATF documentation shows that for 2016 the number of new semi-automatic pistols made in the U.S. was an astounding 4,720,075 units while the number of revolvers made here was 856,291. In 2010 those statistics were 2,258,450 and 558,927, respectively.
Statistically refined further, the ATF-supplied numbers showed that for 2016, 9mm pistols ruled the manufacturing roost with some 2.28 million units made in the U.S. This caliber figure-type was followed by .380-caliber pistols at 1.13 million units. The manufacturing of .25-caliber pistols actually outstripped the making of .32-caliber pistols, though each figure was tiny: 13,141 units verses 10,175 units, respectively. And in the “to .50” caliber statistical branch were 837,535 semi-automatic handguns.
The making of .22-caliber semiautomatic pistols stood at 447,315 units in 2016; its sibling revolver category figure being 320,775 units in 2016. Other noteworthy revolver-making figures for 2016 showed that 248,144, .38-caliber wheel guns were made in the U.S. during 2016 while 182,564, .357 Magnum revolvers were produced, along with 51,451 up “to .44 Magnum” revolvers, and 45,506 “to .50” caliber revolvers
Meanwhile, the ATF report states that something on the order of 4.24 million rifles were made in the U.S. during 2016 as were 848,617 shotguns.
As was mentioned earlier, the ATF does list firearms made on a state-by-state basis, adding by type: handguns, rifles, shotguns, and miscellaneous. More on that topic in a moment.
For Ohio in 2016, the number of licensed gun manufacturers producing handguns totaled 26. These handgun makers ranged from eight companies that made one handgun each to the 90,900 handguns made by the Strassels Machine Company of Mansfield, the 32,400 handguns made by the Haskell Manufacturing Company of Lima, and the 24,100 units made by the Iberia Firearms Company of Galion.
Ohio actually had more licensed rifle makers in 2016 than handgun manufacturers. Make that many more rifle manufacturers, though it would appear that the bulk of these gun makers were custom gunsmiths. In all during 2016, the ATF cataloged 62 rifle manufacturers in Ohio although 45 of them produced 10 or fewer rifles each.
The ATF-licensed Ohio-based rifle maker producing the greatest number of firearms in this category for 2016 was the Mansfield-based Strassells Machine Company which reported making 58,600 rifle units in that year.
For shotguns, the number of licensed manufacturers for Ohio numbered only four in 2016, and ranged from just one shotgun made by Delta Group Technology LLC in Belle Center to 1,041 shotguns for the Ithaca Gun Company in Upper Sandusky. Compare those two numbers against the 339,507 shotguns made just by Remington’s historic gun-making plant in Ilon, New York.
In the quirky-sounding – though official jargon of the ATF – are the so-called “miscellaneous firearms.” This is a catch-all classification for items that require an ATF-issued firearms manufacturing permit but which are not products that fit neatly into the handgun, shotgun, and rifle categories, Dabkowski says.
“A couple of good examples are silencers (suppressors) and pistol-gripped shotguns, both of which have become very popular in recent years,” Dabkowski said.
In this category for 2016, Ohio had 14 ATF-licensed manufacturers with the most units being produced by the CBO Acquisition Company of Cleveland, producing 9,035 units.