A Profile of the Average AR-15 Gun Owner

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearms industry, puts out some interesting stuff once in a while. Their latest piece is a survey called “21 Findings About Modern Sporting Rifle Owners.” By “modern sporting rifle” what they mean are rifles based on the AR platform. There was a boom in sales of AR rifles from late 2008 through early 2010 (the post-Obama election firearm buying frenzy).

Eager to learn more about owners of AR-style rifles (for marketing purposes, I’m sure), they conducted a survey. Included in the survey are 21 interesting facts about AR gun owners.

  1. 60% of AR owners own more than one, with the average being 2.6
  2. 30% purchased their first rifle in 2009 or 2010
  3. 99% of owners owned some type of firearm prior to their first AR purchase
  4. 90% owned a handgun first, and 34% of those under the age of 35 owned a paintball gun first
  5. 44% of owners are current or former military or law enforcement members
  6. 51% of owners have a shooting-range membership
  7. 80% of owners purchased their AR rifle new
  8. 39% of owners purchased their most recent AR rifle at an independent retail store, with the average price being $1,083
  9. 75% of the ARs most recently purchased were chambered in .223/5.56mm
  10. AR owners consider accuracy and reliability to be the 2 most important things to consider when buying an AR
  11. 84% have at least 1 accessory on their rifle, and they spend an average of $436 on after-market accessories and customization
  12. 71% of AR owners use a scope or red-dot as their primary optics. Older owners prefer scopes; younger owners prefer red-dot optics.
  13. The 3 most-owned accessories were a sling (81%), soft carrying case (70%) and mounted scope (68%)
  14. 33% of AR rifle owners use a 30-plus round magazine most often on their rifle
  15. 25% of those who own 3 or more ARs describe their ARs as heavily accessorized (4-plus accessories)
  16. Recreational target shooting was the No. 1-rated reason for owning an AR in terms of importance (89%), home defense was next (77%), followed by collecting (63%) and varmint hunting (6%).
  17. 95% of owners said they have used their ARs in the last 12 months, and 29% of owners shoot their rifles more than once per month
  18. 25% of owners shot more than 1,000 rounds out of their AR rifles in the last 12 months
  19. 80% of owners feel they have not been able to shoot their rifle as much as they would have liked in the last 12 months
  20. Not having enough free time and the cost of ammunition are the 2 main issues preventing AR-style rifle owners from shooting as much as they’d like.
  21. The typical AR-style rifle owners is 35-plus years old, married and has some college education.

I don’t know the exact research methodology used, but I’m guessing whatever gun owner data they pulled was probably from a source that contains avid gun owners. That could skew the statistics some. For example, I know that AR style gun owners tend to really like the rifle (you’d have to if you’re spending that much money), but I question whether the typical AR rifle owner actually owns 2.6 of them. That sounds high.

The fact that 30% of all owners surveyed bought their rifle in 2009 or 2010 was a surprise. I knew that number would be high, but not that high. I knew a lot of former military and police would own ARs, but not to the tune of 44%. I guess they liked what they used, or maybe they just like it because they’re already familiar with it.

It wasn’t that surprising to me that the typical AR owner is 35+ with a college education. Nor was it a shocker that younger owners prefer red-dot optics and older owners like scopes.

If you own an AR, do the stats describe you?

– RM

BTW: I searched Google news for “AR-15” to see what turned up. The majority of results fell into 1 of 2 categories, ARs used in crimes, and police departments looking to purchase ARs. Then there was this article, from Maine even, on FBI and state police arresting a man on federal firearms charges. The guy was reportedly obsessed with training to fight and that he had:

… buried “go bags” made out of 5-gallon buckets at strategic locations on his property, and that the bags contained firearms, food, and other equipment he might need if police came to get him.

He supposedly smoked a ton of dope and had an angry streak. The story and comments are interesting – read the article here.