Privately owned firearms surpass 500 million in US after third-highest October for gun sales on record

The total of privately owned guns in the United States is estimated to have passed 500 million after gun sales for the month of October were the third-highest on record.

A year-over-year increase in gun sales for October 2023 signaled a new landmark for private gun sales in the United States. Ammoland reported approximately 1.33 million firearm sales, an 8.3% increase from October 2022, which has pushed the total number of privately owned guns in the country over the 500 million mark.

As well, October 2023 was the third-highest October on record in terms of gun sales.

Sales for 2023 have surpassed 12 million, and after correcting for resales, the number of total new purchases comes to about 10.4 million firearms.


The data comes from the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System that saw roughly 2.26 million background checks in October 2023.

However, background checks do not equal the number of guns sold. Many more checks are done than sales, and one check can be used to sell multiple guns, as well.

Gun sales reportedly spiked after both the Hamas attack on Israel and the mass shooting in Maine.

“We are seeing a spike in sales of concealed carry handguns, as well as tactical shotguns and AR-15s; very similar to what happened during COVID, but on a smaller scale,” said Justin Anderson, marketing director for Hyatt Guns of Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We expect this bubble to continue to grow, along with our regular bump in sales going into the holidays,” he added, according to the Washington Examiner.


Personal protection has historically been the reason Americans give for owning guns, with a Gallup poll from 2013 showcasing that as the top reason at a response rate of 60%. Hunting was second at 36%, while recreation or sport was third at 13%.

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