Industry News: 2009 Firearms Importation Review
By Robert M. Hausman

A review of selected commodity categories from the past year

Military rifles

A total quantity of 100,467 rifles of heading 9307 (military) except those imported with telescopic sights were imported into the U.S. during the year 2009. These had a U.S. Customs value of $5,252,388 and a value of $5,323,897 after insurance and freight costs were added.

The largest quantity, 63,300, came from Russia and landed in St. Albans, Vermont. These had a total Customs value of $1,521,610 and a value when insurance and freight costs were added in of $1,550, 826. These shipments (totaling 24 in total) made up well over half of the imports in this product category alone.

The United Kingdom was the source of origin for some 15,714 rifles in this category with a U.S. Customs value of $557,797 and a value with insurance and freight of $567,612. Most of the imports went to St. Albans, Vermont (2,507 rifles) and to Buffalo, NY (13,200 units).

Germany was another major source for this category during the year with 12,864 rifles valued at $2,675,807 for Customs purposes and at $2,678,519 with insurance and freight costs considered. A total of 277 of these rifles went to St. Albans, VT, 1,678 to Savannah, Georgia, 10,900 to Los Angeles and 9 to Minneapolis.

The Ukraine was another major supplier with 6,300 rifles valued at $87,300 for Customs purposes and at $108,817 with delivery costs. These arrived in just two U.S. ports during the year, Charleston and Savannah.

Finally, Switzerland supplied 1,744 rifles in this category with a Customs value of $274,670 and a value of $279,991 with delivery. These arrived in the ports of New York City (1,343 units), 3 in New Orleans, 29 in Chicago, and 2 in Cleveland.


A total of 410,156 revolvers were imported during 2009. These had a total Customs value of $75,449,040 and a value with insurance and freight costs added of $76,470,757.

Brazil was far and away the largest source. A total of 368,128 revolvers were imported into the U.S. from Brazil during 2009 with all of them going to Miami. These had a Customs value of $68,114,485 and a value after insurance and freight costs were added of $68,986,502.

Italy was next with 16,929 revolvers. These were valued at $4,366,707 before insurance and freight costs and $4,434,352 after. The largest quantity, 7,486, arrived in Baltimore valued at $1,998,371 before delivery costs and $2,006,858 after. Some 5,271 revolvers were sent to Dallas that were Customs valued at $1,247,699 and $1,276,426 after delivery expenses were calculated. A total of 3,034 were received in Washington, D.C. Customs valued at $815,745 and $837,103 with delivery costs. Another 909 were received in Los Angeles U.S. Customs valued at $248,371 and at $257,135 after delivery expense was considered.

Germany was the source country for 9,367 revolvers during 2009 Customs valued at $1,028,973 and $1,077,120 with delivery costs. All of these landed in Tampa in fifteen separate shipments.

The Czech Republic was the source for 6,287 revolvers which were all received in St. Albans. These carried a Customs value of $498,481 and $500,804 with delivery expense added in.

The Philippines was the exporting country for 6,127 revolvers during 2009 with a U.S. Customs value of $795,138 and $813,722. These comprised a total of 1,000 units going to Tampa (Customs valued at $242,295 and $251,602 with delivery costs) and 5,127 units going to Los Angeles (valued at $552,843 and $562,120 with delivery costs).


A different picture emerges regarding semiautomatic pistol importation with 1,777,813 imported into the U.S. during 2009.

The largest exporter was Austria with 602,146 units for the year. The great majority of these (598,226) landed in Savannah, Georgia. These had a U.S. Customs value of $165,227,516 and a value after insurance and freight costs were added in of $167,318,672. There were also 3,920 Austrian-origin pistols exported to New York City with a Customs value of $704,447 and a final landed cost of $774,743.

Brazil was in second place with exportation of 285,116 pistols. These had a U.S. Customs value of $57,009,223 and a final cost to import of $57,832,173. The majority of these Brazilian imports went to Miami (254,416 units) and carried a Customs value of $50,469,134 and value of $51,214,784 after delivery expense. Another 30,600 went to Chicago with a Customs value of $6,529,973 and $6,607,047.

Belgium was another major pistol supplier with 33,195 total units valued at $16,483,307 before considering delivery expense and $16,906,662 thereafter. The majority (32,744) went to St. Louis carrying a Customs value of $16,411,431 and $16,832,837 after insurance and freight costs.

The information above was derived from IFT’s U.S. Firearms & Ammunition Import Report ‘A’.

S&W Reports 3rd Qtr. Gain but Gun Sales Down

A modest third fiscal quarter sales gain is reported by Smith & Wesson. Net sales of $89.4 million for the quarter ended January 31st were $5.7 million, or 6.8% higher than net sales of $83.7 million for the comparable quarter last year.

Commenting on the results, Michael F. Golden, President and CEO said, “Our third quarter revenue results reflect ongoing growth at Universal Safety Response (USR), partially offset by anticipated year-over-year declines in our firearms division. USR revenues grew by 70% over the comparable period last year, which was prior to our acquisition of USR.

“Firearms division sales of $74.7 million were within our expected range, declining on a year-over-year basis caused in large part by overall market conditions. Within our firearms sales channels, sporting goods sales declined by 18%, law enforcement sales increased by 32%, and international sales grew by 28%,” Golden concluded.

Further commentary on the financial results was offered by William F. Spengler, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “Firearms division sales decreased by 11% versus the year ago quarter,” he began. “Revolver sales decreased 19% due to limited inventory at the beginning of the quarter, combined with a return to more normal levels of demand in the industry.

“Overall pistol sales decreased 33%, partially as a result of declining industry demand,” Spengler continued. “While sales of our Sigma line of polymer pistols declined 63% year-over-year, sales of our premium M&P polymer pistols declined only 12%.

“Walther product sales grew by about 8%, aided by the introduction of the PK380 combined with increased production and availability of Walther’s products manufactured in Germany. We achieved 18% growth in tactical rifles in the quarter, driven by the introduction of our new M&P15-22. New product offerings of our Performance Center Pro Series handguns helped drive premium product sales growth of 40%. Hunting products grew in the third quarter, aided by sales of accessories. Sales of black powder rifles achieved a slight increase over the prior year comparable quarter. Thompson/Center Arms branded products continued to perform well, more than offsetting other hunting products sold or closed out in the prior year.

“Firearms order backlog was $74 million at the end of the third quarter, approximately $22 million less than backlog at the end of the second quarter. This reduction in backlog largely reflects cancellations as the market moved toward more normal levels of demand and production,” Spengler concluded.

Gross profit for the quarter was $25 million, or 28% of sales, which includes approximately $2 million in Walther-related warranty expense. The company said the current quarter also benefitted from reduced promotional spending and improved efficiencies at the Rochester, New Hampshire manufacturing facility.

Selling a Handgun & Long Gun to a Non-Licensee

ATF reminds licensees that when a handgun and a long gun are purchased at the same time by a single transferee who is subject to a waiting period for the handgun, but wants to take the long gun at the time of sale with both firearms being on the same 4473, the dealer should wait until the end of the waiting period and transfer both firearms at once.

The licensee in this type of situation should not effect a partial transfer (transferring the long gun, but retaining the handgun until the waiting period is met). Since the licensee must sign and date at the time the transfer takes place, there would be no place to sign and date the second transfer. As an alternative, the transaction could be completed utilizing separate 4473s.

What Constitutes a Gun Show?

A gun show or other qualifying event is actually defined in 27 CFR 478.100(b) as “a gun show or an event is a function sponsored by any national, state, or local organization, devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms, or an organization or association that sponsors functions devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms in the community.”

Thus, the two main qualifiers of what makes an event a gun show, according to federal regulations, are:

  • The event must be sponsored by a national, state or local organization. (and)
  • That the sponsoring organization be devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms or that the sponsoring organization is one that sponsors functions devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms.

    ATF Permission Not Needed to Transport Silencers Interstate

    While 18 U.S.C. 922 (a)(4) of the 1968 Gun Control Act requires that permission be obtained from ATF for the transport across state lines of a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or destructive device, no such permission is needed to move a silencer or firearm classified as an “any other weapon” across state lines, ATF advises in its latest (issue dated November 2009) FFL Newsletter.

    Also, 27 CFR 478.28 exempts FFLs who can deal, import, or manufacture firearms and who have paid the applicable special occupational tax from obtaining ATF permission before transport and also exempts those licensed as collectors of curios and relics if the firearm being transported is a curio or relic.

    NICS Surpasses 100 Million Transactions

    On Saturday, April 4, 2009, the 100 millionth NICS transaction was initiated by a Type 01 FFL. This landmark transaction was initiated one day short of the 2-year anniversary of the 75 millionth transaction, initiated on April 5, 2007.

    February NICS Checks Are Second Highest Feb. Ever

    Data released by the FBI’s NICS shows 1,243,211 checks in February 2010, ranking the month the second highest February (eighth highest month overall) for NICS checks. This figure, while being a 1.3% decrease from the 1,259,078 checks conducted in February 2009 - the early stage of an ongoing surge in firearms and ammunition sales - is an increase of 21.7% over checks in February 2008. The total number of background checks reported since the beginning of NICs is 112,380, 272.

    Browning Holiday Close to Approval in Utah

    The governor’s signature is the only hurdle remaining for a holiday memorializing the late Utah firearms genius John M. Browning. The Utah House recently voted 64-0 to commemorate the inventor with a holiday beginning on January 24th, 2011.

    ATK Realigns Business Structure

    Alliant Techsystems will realign its business structure, effective April 1st, into four operating groups: Aerospace Systems, Armament Systems, Missile Products and Security and Sporting.

    The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. Visit www.FirearmsGroup.com. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

    This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V13N10 (July 2010)
    and was posted online on March 23, 2012


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