March Firearm Sales, NICS Checks for 2022 are Third Highest on Record

Millions of law-abiding citizens submit to background checks, as intimated by the president's comment to reporters. (Dave Workman)
March Firearm Sales, NICS Checks for 2022 are Third Highest on Record

U.S.A.-(– March 2022 firearm sales and National Instant background Check System (NICS) checks done by the FBI are both the third-highest on record. The NICS system started record-keeping in 1998. There are  24 years of data for March.

The 2022 firearm sales and NICS checks are starting to show a trend of the third-highest after 2020 and 2021. In March of 2022, firearm sales were about 1.62 million. In March 2020 they were 2.37 million. In March 2021, they were about 2.0 million. The next highest March was in 2013, with about 1.47 million firearm sales.

The NICS checks for March 2022 are also much reduced over the previous two years. In 2022, they were 3.08 million. In 2020, they were 3.74 million. In 2021, they were 4.69 million. The next largest number of NICS was in 2018, with 2.77 million Checks.

Lines are data from 2021. Bars are data from 2022.

The NICS checks do not correlate well with firearm sales because large numbers of NICS checks are used for weapons carry permits and carry permit rechecks.  The reform of the Firearm Owners ID (FOID) system in Illinois has significantly reduced the number of carry permit checks and rechecks done in Illinois. At times, the permit and permit rechecks in Illinois were as much as 23% of all NICS checks done in the United States. In one month, there were 640,000 NICS checks for permits and permit done in Illinois.

March of 2022 continues strong firearms sales, close to the capacity of manufacturers to produce the firearms desired. A trip to a local gun store showed a significant amount of product on the racks and on the shelves.  March traditionally has higher sales than January or February. In ordinary times, after March, sales tend to slump until September.

These are not ordinary times. The war in Ukraine may affect demand in the United States in unexpected ways. The uncertainty in American political institutions may cause a spike in sales.  Uncertain times result in increased demand for firearms and ammunition.

If ammunition manufacturers are able to meet and start to exceed demand, increased availability of ammunition could lead to more firearm sales. Increased availability of ammunition should lower prices. Inflationary policies of the Biden administration may offset such a trend.

With the 1.62 million firearms sold in March of 2022, the total number of privately owned firearms in the United States is approximately 484 million.

If the current trend continues for all of 2022, the 500 million mark will be passed near the end of the year; almost certainly by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Much of the demand is from new gun owners. A significant number of new gun owners are minorities and women. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates 13.8 million first-time gun buyers purchased firearms in 2020 and 2021 combined.

The estimate for the number of privately owned firearms in the United States is derived using the method created by Newton and Zimring. Gary Kleck extended the estimates through 1986 in his award-winning book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. This correspondent has extended the estimates through 2019 using the same methods.

There is a delay in reporting the numbers of firearms manufactured in the United States to preserve proprietary information. For that reason, 2020, 2021, and 2022 numbers are estimates using the number of firearms sold with NICS checks.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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If this is any indication that anti-gunners are actually against gun ownership (and don’t have guns), then there are far fewer of them they would have us believe. Obviously, the data included in these statistics don’t include the number of guns purchased without documentation. This appears to indicate that there are way yonder more citizens in support of the 2nd amendment than there are in opposition. Yet the antis seem to think the supporters should have no say in the matter. Democracy at work?


I like to cut these clowns out and buy my firearms through private sales . My March firearm purchase is none of thier damn buisness.


M454 – I’ sure you have seen the bumper stickers or posters saying ‘I like my guns like the democRATs like their voters – undocumented’. What the NICS data tells me is that there are LOT of first time gun buyers, estimates are on the order of 10 million (likely many more) who have purchased from FFLs – no telling how many have done so via private sales. BTW – the bats have grudgingly ‘admitted’ that they have nearly one BILLION firearm transactions ‘on record’ even thought they are prohibited by law from maintaining such records. THAT tells me there… Read more »


Nobody knows how many firearms are owned in our country only the ones sold legally can be counted. Those joining the shooting world welcome remember follow the rules of firearm safety take a class or two knowledge is everything. There are some here that have valuable information to share and surely would be happy to assist.


John – correct, remember that prior to serial numbers being required there were a bunch of guns manufactured/sold with no ‘record’ of who bought them


Remember back in the day after WWII. Monkey wards and sears would sell guns that were military surplus for about 150 bucks. You could buy it out of the catalog. No real tracking record of sale back then and there are literally thousands in the USA today that have passed on to friends and family without background checks before checks were required. I remember back in 1981 buying a 270 for myself and a 243 for the wife from a store no longer in existence. Nothing illegal about it back then but today I guess it would be considered a… Read more »

Wild Bill

You are describing freedom that future generations will never know.


That’s a shame too. When I’m having a discussion with the younger generations on this very topic I can tell by the expressions on their faces that they just don’t believe it or are in shock about the freedoms we once had.


I can remember back in the early sixties when the Western Auto catalog that came by mail, had military surplus guns like the Carcano, you know the ‘one’ that killed Kennedy. One could buy one out of the catalog and it would arrive at your door in less than a week……and really cheap too!


S&H green stamps once had a catalogue and many people in the late 50’s through most the 60’s actually purchased firearms with S&H green stamps.


Well in the sixties I was a very young boy almost 10 in the late sixties, but I remember going to the hardware store with dad to get electrical stuff and plumbing stuff and they always had a rack full of rifles behind the counter with stacks of ammo and guess what! None of it was locked up with a cable and when you walked by the store at night leaving the rexall next door and looked in when the store was closed you could still see the guns in the rack. I remember my dad buying a rifle on… Read more »


When the GubMINT fears the people there is Liberty.

The State is the coldest of all the Cold Monsters. Everything it has was stolen from the people. While it cries out I am the people.