Gun Imports Jumped in Jan-Nov 2017 After Two Years of Decline

19 Jan 2018

3 min read

Canada Gun Imports

TheGunBlog.ca — Canadian gun imports jumped last year through November after two years of decline. The data were released this month and are the last economic indicators before next week’s annual SHOT Show, where many companies place their biggest purchase orders of the year.

Imports climbed 22 percent to $150.7 million in January through November 2017 from $123.9 million in the same period the year before, according to calculations by TheGunBlog.ca based on Statistics Canada data released on Jan. 5.

The gains were driven by shotguns from Italy, rifles from Finland and China, and handguns from Austria and Turkey. The statistics don’t mention companies or brands.

The increase occurred in what the head of Canada’s main gun-industry group has called “a very fractured year.” Inbound gun shipments surged to a record high in May as companies stocked up before a new import law was to take effect on June 1. Imports then fell for the next six months straight, sinking in November to the lowest level in a year.

Economic Indicator

Almost all the guns sold in Canada come from abroad, and imports provide one of the only windows into the industry’s economics and expectations. Companies order more when they expect consumer demand to rise, or when supplies become available. Companies import less when they expect demand to fall, or when they can’t get all the guns they want.

The assumption behind using imports as a proxy for the market: Companies only import guns they expect people will buy, or what clients have already ordered. It might take months or years, but (almost) every imported firearm ends up in the hands of a collector, hunter, target shooter, police officer, or other end user.

New Stats, Old Outlook

It typically takes three to six months from when guns are ordered until they arrive, and another month until statistics are published. (Data for November were released Jan. 5.) That means the latest stats are the result of decisions made in the spring and summer, when shops were preparing for the autumn hunting season. They tell us about the industry outlook at the time, not about current expectations.

Even though it’s valuable to look at the monthly data to see what’s happening, it’s important not to read too much into a single month. Gun companies might place one or two orders a year with their suppliers. If several shipments arrive in the same month, it would boost that month's imports without reflecting an underlying trend.

Highlights: January to November 2017 (11 Months)

  • Third highest value of imports on record, behind 2014 and 2015.
  • If January-November trend continued in December, 2017 would be the first year in Canadian history that the value of handgun imports exceeded shotgun imports.

Up

  • Shotguns from Italy: +59% (Benelli, Beretta?)
  • Rifles from Finland: +52% (Sako, Tikka?)
  • Rifles from China: +139% (Norinco?)
  • Handguns from Austria: +210% (Glock?)
  • Handguns from Turkey: +287% (Canik?)
  • Handguns from Massachusetts: +97% (Smith & Wesson?)
  • Handguns from Tennessee: +385% (Beretta?)

Down

  • Shotguns from U.S.: -15%

Highlights: November 2017 (1 Month)

Down

  • Total imports fell to $9.2 million, the lowest level in 12 months.
  • Imports dropped for a sixth consecutive month, the longest stretch of declines in at least four years.
  • Rifle imports retreated to $3.37 million, the least since January 2012.
  • Shotgun imports fell to $1.29 million, the lowest since December 2012.

Up

  • Handgun imports rose to $4.47 million, the highest since May. They were boosted by a delivery of 3,030 handguns from Georgia, U.S., valued at $1.5 million. (Perhaps part of the Ontario Provincial Police’s order of Glock pistols?)

Canada Gun Imports November 2017

Top-Five Countries of Origin, January-November 2017, in CAD Million

Overall

Rank 2017 2016
1 U.S., $80.97 U.S., $70.3
2 Italy, $14.3 Turkey, $10.1
3 Turkey, $11.2 Italy, $9.0
4 Japan, $7.1 Germany, $4.7
5 Finland, $7.0 Finland, $4.6

 

Rifles

Rank 2017 2016
1 U.S., $48.9 U.S., $42.6
2 Finland, $7.0 Japan, $5.2
3 Japan, $5.6 Finland, $4.6
4 Czech Rep., $2.8 Russia, $2.4
5 China, $2.6 Germany, $2.0

 

Shotguns

Rank 2017 2016
1 Italy, $10.2 U.S., $10.4
2 Turkey, $9.8 Turkey, $9.4
3 U.S., $8.8 Italy, $6.4
4 Belgium, $1.96 Belgium, $1.9
5 Japan, $1.5 Japan, $1.5

 

Handguns

Rank 2017 2016
1 U.S., $22.8 U.S., $17.0
2 Czech Rep., $3.7 Germany, $2.39
3 Germany, $2.6 Czech Rep., $2.35
4 Austria, $2.4 Italy, $1.2
5 Italy, $2.3 Austria, $0.8

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