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Industry News: May 1998

By Robert M. Hausman

BATF: Machine Gun Manufacture, Exportation Rose In 1996

During 1996, both machine gun manufacture and exportation showed increased activity compared to 1995, the latest available Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report issued by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms shows. Rifle manufacturing also rose slightly during 1996. However, U.S. manufacturing of both pistols and revolvers - as well as shotguns, continued in a downward spiral during the year. Manufacturers produced a total of 22,020 machine guns in 1996, compared to 9,185 in 1995, and 10,248 in 1994. A total of 410 “Any Other Weapons” (which can include such products as pen guns, wallet pistols, smooth bore revolvers) were made in 1996, in comparison to 110 in 1995, and 572 in 1994. Machine gun exports climbed to 33,875 in 1996, up from 19,259 in 1995, and 16,729 in 1994. Any Other Weapon exports rose to 223 in 1996, from just 27 in 1995, and 56 in 1994. The total exported “miscellaneous” firearms grew to 6,055 in 1996, from 2,495 in 1995, and 3,222 in 1994.

Total pistol production decreased to 985,533 during 1996, from 1,195,266 made in 1995, and the 2,014,336 produced in 1994. Revolver production dropped to 498,944 in 1996, from 527,664 in 1995, and 586,450 in 1994. The total number of shotguns manufactured in 1996 amounted to 925,732, down from 1,173,645 in 1995 and 1,254,926 in 1994. Rifle production climbed to 1,424,319 for 1996, up from the 1,331,780 produced in 1995, and the 1,349,116 made in 1994.

Handgun Caliber Comparisons

By caliber category, pistols chambered for cartridges in the 9mm segment continued to lead the pack in 1996 with 319,696 being produced, as compared with 398,467 in 1995, and the whopping 752,801 manufactured in 1994. Pistols in the .50 caliber segment came in at second place with 233,364 made in 1996, in comparison with 283,693 units in 1995, and 350,580 in 1994. Diminutive .22 pistols were produced in a total number of 204,819 in 1996, compared to 260,059 in 1995 and 456,490 in 1994. Pistols in the .380 range dropped further to production of 165,789 in 1996, from 182,802 in 1995, and 313,915 in 1994. Pocket pistols in .25 caliber went down to 41,156 in 1996, from 51,025 in 1995, and 110,732 in 1994. And .32 caliber pistol production came in at 20,709 units in 1996, in comparison to 19,220 in 1995 and 29,818 in 1994.

In the revolver segment, the .357 Magnum category lead the way with 134,910 produced in 1996, compared to 210,379 in 1995, and 170,856 in 1994. Wheelguns in .22 caliber came in second with 127,119 made in 1996, compared to 99,578 in 1995, and 133,990 in 1994. The .38 Special came in third with 115,432 such revolvers made in 1996, in comparison to 92,913 in 1995, and 146,630 in 1994. Production of revolvers in the mighty .44 Magnum category totaled 80,456 for 1996, while in 1995 the total was 90,144, and for 1994, 89,713. The .50 caliber revolver category showed 27,944 units made in 1996, compared to 30,269 in 1995, and 36,101 in 1994. Finally, .32 caliber revolver manufacturers made 3,083 guns in 1996, compared to 4,361 in 1995, and 9,160 in 1994.

Export Figures

All categories except the aforementioned machine gun, Any Other Weapon and “miscellaneous” firearms, showed export declines in 1996. Pistol exports dropped to 64,126 in 1996, from 97,969 in 1995 and 95,036 in 1994. Revolvers declined to 90,058 being exported in 1996, from 131,634 in 1995, and 78,935 in 1994. Rifle exports went down to 74,555 in 1996, from 89,053 in 1995, and 82,226 in 1994. Shotgun exports decreased to 97, 173 in 1996, from 100,894 in 1995 and 146,524 in 1994.

The top three pistol exporters in 1996 were led by Smith & Wesson Corp. with 45,462 units, versus 66,689 in 1995, and 57,442 in 1994. Much of S&W’s pistol production, particularly that of its Performance Center, is exported to Germany. Colt’s Manufacturing Co. finished in second place in 1996 with exports of 4,078 pistols, compared to 10,351 in 1995, and 12,890 in 1994. Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. finished as the third place pistol exporter with 3,935 units shipped overseas, in comparison to 6,399 in 1995, and 5,185 in 1994. Other pistol exporters included: 502 units by Arcadia Machine & Tool, compared to 487 in 1995, and 533 in 1994; Taurus International Manufacturing’s 546 units in 1996, compared to 917 in 1995, and 1,637 in 1994; and, Springfield, Inc.’s 1,158 units in 1996, versus 1,695 in 1995, and 2,424 in 1994. The top three revolver exporters in 1996 were: Smith & Wesson Corp. occupying the lead position registering 74,851 units, having shipped out 113,899 in 1995, and 56,980 in 1994; Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. in second place with shipment of 7,268 wheelguns in 1996, versus 8,636 in 1995, and 9,383 in 1994; and, Colt’s Manufacturing Co., Inc. in third place with shipment of 4,012 units in 1996, in comparison to 5,388 in 1995, and 5,105 in 1994.

The top rifle exporter during 1996 was Remington Arms Co., Inc., with shipment of 19,452 examples during the year, compared to 32,315 in 1995, and 26,973 in 1994. Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., came in second with exports of 18,226 rifles in 1996, versus 22,503 in 1995, and 18,764 in 1994. The Marlin Firearms Co. finished third with 18,181 units in 1996, compared to 22,951 in 1995, and 14,174 in 1994.

Top Pistol Makers

The top pistol makers in 1996 included Smith & Wesson Corp. in the number one position with 179,899 units in 1996, compared to 241,906 in 1995 and 269,549 in 1994. Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. finished in second place with 134,791 pistols in 1996, as compared to 197,486 in 1995, and 299,647 in 1994. Beretta USA Corp., came in at third place with 89,702 pistols produced in 1996, in comparison to 158,858 in 1995, and 201,517 in 1994. Manufacturers of lower-priced pistols, who had been negatively affected by the Brady Law’s imposition of a five-working-day wait on consumer purchasers as well as the gun buyer background check fees charged in some localities on gun buyers, continued to experience diminished sales demand and consequent lower production.

For example, industry leader Lorcin Engineering made 87,497 pistols in 1996, up from the 83,463 manufactured in 1995, but still a far cry from the total of 151,208 it produced in 1994. Bryco Arms, produced 47,316 pistols in 1996, compared to 56,727 in 1995, and 227,924 in 1994. Davis Industries made 39,093 units in 1996, down from the 45,171 made in 1995, and the 85,124 produced in 1994.

Top Revolver Makers

The top revolver maker in 1996 was Smith & Wesson Corp. with 225,491 units, compared to having made 258,223 in 1995, and 255,216 in 1994. Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. finished second with increasing wheelgun production of 166,123 units in 1996, in comparison to 148,439 in 1995, and 136,394 in 1994. Third place honors go to North American Arms, Inc., with the manufacture of 39,832 of its fine .22 caliber mini-revolvers in 1996.

Other higher volume makers include Colt’s Manufacturing Co., Inc. with 27,582 revolvers, Heritage Manufacturing, Inc. with 28,075 and H&R 1871, Inc. with 8,772 pieces.

Top Rifle Makers

Sturm, Ruger & Co.,Inc. emerged as America’s number one rifle maker in 1996 with 417,310 units, compared with 407,785 in 1995 (also the top rifle producer in that year), and 354,355 in 1994. Holding second place in 1996 for rifle manufacturing was The Marlin Firearms Co. with 350,897 units, in comparison with production of 396,215 in 1995, and 358,372 in 1994. Coming in at a close third place was Remington Arms Co., Inc. with 319,628 rifles in 1996, versus 242,706 in 1995, and 204,496 in 1994.

Other notable makers in the rifle segment in 1996 included Weatherby, Inc. with 16,360 units, Colt’s Manufacturing Co., Inc. with 15,903, US Repeating Arms Co. with production of 119,105, and Savage Arms, Inc. with 87,115.

Top Shotgun Makers

Among shotgun manufacturers in 1996, Remington Arms Co., Inc. finished the year as the top producer with 307,803 units, compared with production of 426,442 in 1995, and 403,012 in 1994. Remington has held the number one position in shotgun production for each of the three years under study. The second place position for shotgun manufacture in 1996, was held by O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.’s 286,033 units, versus 339,881 in 1995, and 373,512 in 1994. However, if Mossberg’s Maverick Arms Inc. division’s 1996 production of 46,355 scatterguns is counted together with Mossberg’s total, the figure makes O.F. Mossberg the number one shotgun maker in 1996. Third place shotgun honors for 1996 go to H&R 1871, Inc. with production of 167,584 units, in comparison to 165,813 in 1995, and 216,360 in 1994.

Of note in the scattergun category is The Marlin Firearms Co. with 4,093 units, US Repeating Arms Co.’s production of 84,229, Savage Arms, Inc.’s manufacture of 4,198 units, and Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s manufacture of 10,634 examples.

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