What Were the Big Firearms Trends in 2021?
These several trends helped define 2021.
This year was quite a year in the world of firearms. Gun sales dipped from the record highs of 2020, but still surpassed every year prior; meanwhile, owners of firearms continue to become more diverse with young buyers, women, and minorities expressing their Second Amendment rights.
These several trends helped define 2021.
The Great Ammo Shortage of 2021
Americans saw the greatest demand for ammunition in history this year. In fact, supplies for ammunition were so bad that it impacted everything from hunting season to how much law enforcement personnel were able to spend on the firing line. It was brought on by several factors, including the nearly eleven million buyers in 2020 and early 2021. But it was made worse by the global supply chain bottlenecks.
As those supply chain issues will likely continue, the availability of ammunition likely won't be able to meet demand at least through most of 2022.
Retro Rifles Made a Comeback
The old saying “everything old is new again” rang true in 2021. Colt revived its legendary “Snake Gun” lineup including the King Cobra, Cobra, and Python Series, while the 1911 platform remains as popular as ever.
“From a product release perspective, 2021 saw a number of trends, including the 6mm ARC, Gen 3 Glock clones, and red dots for micro-compact pistols,” David Reeder, editor at The Mag Life, explained to the National Interest.
“The two big things I noticed from a popularity perspective, however, were 'retro' rifles and tactical lever guns,” Reeder said. “Neither are new ideas, but there was a noticeable surge in the popularity of both. It’s a surge that continues not just directly but in secondary and tertiary effects. It’s pretty easy to see what I’m talking about. The proliferation of the hashtag #carryhandlegang on Instagram, the popularity of Bad Moon Armory’s XM177 and GAU parts, and the appetite for KE Arms' monolithic polymer receivers all demonstrate 2021’s clone love.”
There have been some other trends that may have slipped under the radar.
“Although a lot folks are paying attention to the expansion of ‘tactical’ lever action rifles and accessories, there has been at least as much growth in the lineup of inexpensive SAA 22lr revolver models,” Mike Searson, a contributing editor to Breach-Bang-Clear, said.
Shotguns Take Aim
Shotguns were also big in 2021.
“We saw some new expansions of older, classic shotgun lines this year, but when it comes to the gauge I'd say the big thing was the increasing availability of eight pellet defensive loads from ‘budget’ ammo companies, an expanding market of shotgun accessories—not just from big companies like Choate and Streamlight, but smaller ones like Jawbone Tactical as well,” Reeder said. “And an increasing number of optics that can withstand the sort of beating a shotgun delivers and continue to function of course.”
Perhaps the year 2021 isn’t the year of the shotgun, “but it is the year that shotguns made a serious comeback," Travis Pike, a regular columnist for the GunMag Warehouse’s The Mag Life blog, said.
“This was at least partially spurred by so many new gun owners—and in some cases AR owners—buying shotguns when the AR market plummeted or it could be just one of those times when the popularity the gauge cycles back around,” Pike said.
Pike said he noted a variety of companies producing new versions of their favored shotgun models.
“Mossberg released the 590S series, Beretta has released a number of 1301 models aimed at the tactical crowd,” Pike said. “That included some non-922R-neutered models. Savage released two new models of the Renegauge, including a tactical and 3-gun variant. Those are hardly the only examples. Even Remington shotguns are making a comeback.”
Good Year For The Second Amendment
President Joe Biden campaigned on a gun control platform and made it a centerpiece of his agenda last spring. But it seems that the Republicans in Congress, along with a few moderate Democrats, have managed to derail efforts to erode the Second Amendment this year.
Teresa Mull, the editor of GunPowderMagazine.com, noted that “2021 has been a remarkable year for the Second Amendment.” There were “momentous strides in the gun rights sphere with Constitutional Carry gaining popularity in many state legislatures and finally being passed in Texas,” she said.
“We also watched as President Biden's pick for chairman of ATF—unabashed anti-gun activist David Chipman—crashed and burned during confirmation proceedings,” Mull said. “What’s more, the Biden administration has been unsuccessful in getting any sort of gun control passed at the national level, and recent polling shows how more and more Americans are rejecting the lies the mainstream media spreads about guns being a problem—a truth backed up by record-setting gun sales and an unprecedented surge in first-gun, minority, and female gun buyers.”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.