Canada Guns 2020, Part 2: Firearm Import Highlights and Analysis

Imports are one of the only publicly available indicators of the health of the firearm industry.

5 Feb 2021

3 min read

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TheGunBlog.ca — Canada’s gun imports fell for the third consecutive year in 2020, one of the most-turbulent years for the firearm industry.

What’s New: Statistics Canada published international trade data for December 2020 today, providing a full-year snapshot of firearm and ammunition imports.

Gun Imports Data Table: 2020 Vs. 2019

CAD Million

Firearm Type% Change20192020
Rifles+7.2%$74.9$80.3
Shotguns-5.5%$33.0$31.2
Handguns-21.5%$43.1$33.8
Muzzle Loaders-22.8%$1.7$1.3
TOTAL-4.0%$152.7$146.6

Why Imports Matter

Canada’s 2.2 million adults with a federal firearm licence buy almost 1,000 new guns every day on average, and almost all of them are imported. Canada is almost entirely dependent on others for its shooting and hunting supplies.

  • Import statistics are one of the only publicly available economic indicators of the firearm industry.
    • Imports show if the market is growing or shrinking.
    • Gun importers, distributors and retailers order more when they expect sales to rise, and order less when they expect sales to fall.
    • Imports can vary widely depending on product availability, shipping times, and currency fluctuations.
  • Import statistics are the only publicly available indicator of overall buying trends.
    • Imports reflect what people are buying, since every imported gun eventually ends up in someone’s home, or with a government or police agency. (Government, police and military orders are tiny relative to private demand.)
    • If consumers want more of a product, companies order more.
    • If consumers buy less, companies order less.
  • Imports reveal long-term trends, not the current market.
    • The deliveries StatCan reported today are from orders placed 6-12 months ago based on the business outlook at the time.

Did You Know?

Imports are mostly new guns and reflect only part of the total firearm market.

Canadians buy and sell about twice as many used guns as new guns.

2020 Import Highlights

General

  • Fewer Dollars. The value of firearm imports fell for the third consecutive year to $146.6 million, even though it held near historic highs.
  • More Guns. The number of imported guns rose 7.3% from 2019 to 359,324, the fifth-highest level on record.
  • More Parts. The value of imported firearm parts and accessories climbed 7.9% to $45.7 million.
  • Handguns > Shotguns. The value of imported handguns exceeded the value of imported shotguns for the fourth straight year, as pistols rise in popularity for protection, competition and recreation.
  • Import Value. Imports of guns, ammo and parts totaled almost $315 million in 2020.
  • Retail Value. TheGunBlog.ca estimates the retail value after tax of those items is close to $450 million.

Firearms

Key Trend: U.S.A. No. 1

  • The U.S. was the No. 1 country of origin for the rifles and handguns imported into Canada. It’s No. 2 for shotguns.
  • U.S. shipments to Canada rose for all three product types.
  • More than 55% of Canada’s total firearm imports came from the U.S., including almost 80% for handguns.

Key Drivers By Firearm Type

  • Rifles
    • Up: From U.S., +5.6% to $45.3 million
  • Shotguns
    • Down: From Turkey, -11.2% to $9.2 million, From Italy, -16.4% to $7.6 million
  • Handguns
    • Down: From Czech Republic, -76.0% to $1.7 million

Ammunition

  • Ammo: -10.5% to $122.4 million, the lowest level since 2012
  • More than 80% of Canada’s ammo imports came from the U.S.

Where Do Canada’s Guns Come From?

Market Share of Top Five Countries of Origin, 2020

Total Imports: $146.6 Million

  1. U.S.A., 55.2%
  2. Italy, 8.1%
  3. Turkey, 7.4%
  4. Japan, 5.6%
  5. Finland, 5.2%

Rifle Imports: $80.3 Million

  1. U.S.A., 56.4%
  2. Finland, 9.5%
  3. Japan, 8.0%
  4. Czechia, 4.7%
  5. China, 4.1%

Shotgun Imports: $31.2 Million

  1. Turkey, 29.7%
  2. U.S.A., 27.8%
  3. Italy, 24.5%
  4. Japan, 5.5%
  5. Portugal, 4.6%

Handgun Imports: $33.8 Million

  1. U.S.A., 79.3%
  2. Czechia, 4.9%
  3. Italy, 4.3%
  4. Turkey, 2.7%
  5. Germany, 2.5%

In Focus: Currency Fluctuations

  • Statistics Canada reports imports in Canadian dollars. Currency fluctuations can have a big effect on import values.
  • Example: Turkey’s lira sank 17.5% against the dollar from 2019 to 2020, according to the average annual rate published by the Bank of Canada. It plunged by almost 50% from 2017 to 2020.
  • Other things being equal, the import value of a firearm that held steady at 5,000 lira would have been:
    • 2017: $1,782
    • 2019: $1,170
    • 2020: $965
  • Many gun manufacturers price their exports in U.S. dollars or euros to hedge swings in their local currency.

Interactive Import Charts

Following are the interactive charts published at Canada Gun Facts & Stats, near the bottom.


Related

Correction February 08: Corrects to say that U.S. was No. 2 for shotgun imports.

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