Welcome to the mother-lode of ATF-related data on FFL Applications and Inspections statistics!

Each year the ATF publishes a report that includes data on the number of firearms in commerce (made, exported, and imported) and statistics on NFA firearms (forms, revenue, and distribution) and FFLs (applications and inspections.

In the ATF’s Firearms Commerce in the United States Annual Statistics Update 2017, they share information on:

  • how many firearms were made in the United States,
  • how many firearms were exported,
  • how many firearms were imported,
  • the total number of import applications,
  • a break-down of country of origin for imported firearms,
  • National Firearms Act (NFA) taxes paid,
  • how many of each NFA form was processed,
  • NFA firearms registered by state,
  • number of Special Occupational Taxpayers (SOTs) by state,
  • how many of each Federal Firearm License type are active,
  • a break-down of the number of FFLs by state,
  • a summary of FFL applications by year, and
  • how many ATF compliance inspections occurred.

I told you that it was the mother-lode of data!

In this article, we’ll stick to the FFL information to keep the information manageable.  If you’re interested in the rest of the ATF data, check out our articles on NFA Firearms Statistics and Firearms in Commerce.

Federal Firearm Licensees

The number of FFLs in the United States is starting to grow again after the Clinton administration clamped-down on home-based or “kitchen-table” FFLs in the mid-1990s.

Thankfully, the ATF allows home-based FFLs again!  If you’re thinking about getting one, check out our article on How to Get an FFL License.



Here’s a table breaking-down the number of FFLs in our country by FFL type and year.  If you need a refresher on each type of FFL, please check out our article on  FFL Types.


As you can see, we currently have 137,464 FFLs in the United States.  The slow market may have helped to decrease the number slightly over the past couple of years but you should strongly consider getting your FFL now so that you’ll be ready for the up-swing.


Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) by State

An FFL can become a Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) and pay a flat-rate tax once a year and avoid paying a tax per NFA firearm made or sold.  This isn’t just a benefit, it’s a requirement for most FFLs in order to deal with NFA firearms.

If you’re interested in NFA statistics, check out NFA Firearms Statistics and if you need a refresher on the different classes of SOT and which is right for each type of FFL, check out our articles on Types of FFLs and becoming an SOT.


As you can see, we have 10,513 SOTs as of 2016.  That breaks-down into 5,546 Class 3 dealers, 4,543 Class 2 manufacturers, and 424 Class 1 importers.

SOTs by Type – 2016
Importers (Class 1) Manufacturers (Class 2) Dealers (Class 3) TOTAL
424 4,543 5,546 10,513


ATF FFL Inspections

In the past 5 years, the amount of ATF inspections has stayed fairly consistent.  About 13% of FFLs get inspected every year which is why an FFL can expect to be inspected about every 5-7 years.

Note the difference in the number between total licenses vs the number of licensed business entities.  This means that each business has 1.7 FFLs on average.  If you taken training from us, you know we ALWAYS recommend having more than one FFL and we show you why and how to do it, too.

ATF Inspections of FFLs
Year Inspections Total Licenses Percent Inspected Licensed Business Entities Percent  Inspected
2012 11,420 130.956 8.7% 69,071 16.5%
2013 10,516 139,244 7.6% 74,795 14.1%
2014 10,437 141,116 7.4% 77,815 13.4%
2015 8,696 139,840 6.3% 79,188 11.0%
2016 9,790 137,464 7.1% 80,119 12.2%


You can see a breakdown of this data back to 1975 in the full ATF Report included here below:


If these stats are interesting to you and you’re not yet a part of the firearms industry, you might want to consider it!

You’ll stop having to worry about spending so much money on guns and you’ll start making money with them!

I look forward to having you in our industry,