The Most Popular Semi-Automatic Rifles in America
In recent years, handguns – specifically semi-automatic pistols – have overtaken rifles as America’s favorite firearms. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, nearly every year since 2009, pistol sales have dominated. Nonetheless, certain types of rifles have surged in popularity in recent years – specifically semi-automatic rifles, like versions of the controversial AR-15. The modern sporting rifle (MSR) – also commonly known as the assault or assault-style rifle – in particular has found a large and growing market in the U.S.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the ATF, AR-15-style MSRs accounted for 23.4% of all firearms manufactured in the U.S. in 2020, up from just 1.2% in 1990. Used for home defense, target shooting, and even hunting, this style of rifle is owned by an estimated 16 million people – or about 1 in 20 American adults.
Using a report from Gungenius, which compiled sales data from GunBroker.com, an online firearms marketplace, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 most popular semi-automatic rifles in America. Guns are ranked on 2022 online sales, though exact sales numbers were not provided.
Over half the firearms on this list are MSRs, which are typically built on automatic weapon platforms used by militaries around the world, including the M16 and AK-47, but without the fully-automatic and burst-fire capabilities of their military counterparts. Though popular, MSRs are politically divisive, having been used in 10 of the 17 deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. in the last decade. These guns were banned at the federal level from 1994 to 2004, and several states still have standing restrictions or outright bans on MSRs. (Here is a look at the nine states that have banned assault-style weapons.)
Though most guns on this list are classified as MSRs, the best selling semi-automatic rifle in the U.S. is not. The Ruger 10/22, chambered for .22 LR ammunition, is a small rifle, seen by many as an ideal choice for familiarizing youth shooters with firearms. Notable for its affordability, quality, and reliability, the 10/22 was first introduced in 1964, and in the more than half-century since, Ruger has sold over six million of the rifles. Last year, the gun topped sales charts once again. (Here is a look at the world’s 50 most popular guns.)
Click here to see a ranking of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in America.
Click here for a detailed methodology.
It is important to note that this list was compiled using online gun sales only. Unlike most items purchased online, firearms are generally not shipped directly to your door. Typically, the process requires buyers to have their gun shipped to a Federally Licensed Firearm Dealer – usually a local gun store – which will then run a background check before transferring the gun to the customer. Still, as is the case with online shopping in general, the convenience and inventory offered by online retailers is a major draw for gun buyers.
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