NSSF Survey: 21 Findings About Modern Sporting Rifle Owners

Users Are Passionate about their AR-style Firearms

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Owners of modern sporting rifles (MSR)--those rifles based on the AR platform--are among the most passionate gun owners.

Most shoot their rifles often and wish they had time to shoot them even more. Most use them for target shooting. Most own multiple modern sporting rifles. Most enjoy accessorizing them.

Given these and other insights into ownership, it's no wonder MSRs were among the hottest sellers during the firearms sales boom from late 2008 through early 2010.

With so many MSRs purchased during that period, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, wanted to learn more about owners' use and attitudes related to these firearms. A survey conducted in 2010 on behalf of NSSF by Sports Marketing Surveys has been compiled into the NSSF Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) Comprehensive Consumer Report. The complete survey and a description of the methodology used are available at www.nssf.org/MSR/facts.cfm.

"The findings give NSSF a baseline for future research into the ownership and use of these popular sporting firearms," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF's director of industry research and analysis. "Our goal was to learn more about this category, and we certainly did."

Included in the survey findings are these 21 fascinating facts about owners of modern sporting rifles who responded to the survey:

  • 60 percent of MSR owners that responded to the study own multiple MSRs, with the average owned being 2.6.
  • 30 percent of all MSR owners purchased their first rifle in 2009 or 2010.
  • 99 percent of all MSR owners owned some type of firearm prior to their first MSR purchase.
  • 9 out of 10 owned a handgun prior to acquiring their first MSR, and 34 percent of those under age 35 owned a paintball gun before owning their MSR.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of MSR owners are current or former military or law enforcement members.
  • 51 percent of MSR owners have a shooting-range membership.
  • 8 out of every 10 MSR owners purchased their MSR new.
  • 39 percent of all MSR owners purchased their most recent MSR at an independent retail store, with the average purchase price being $1,083.
  • 3 out of every 4 MSRs most recently purchased were chambered in .223/5.56mm.
  • MSR owners consider accuracy and reliability to be the 2 most important things to consider when buying a MSR.
  • 84 percent of MSR owners have at least 1 accessory on their rifle, and they spend an average of $436 on after-market accessories and customization.
  • 71 percent of MSR owners use a scope or red-dot as their primary optic. Older owners prefer scopes; younger owners prefer red-dot optics.
  • One-third of MSR owners use a 30-plus round magazine most often in their MSR.
  • The 3 most-owned accessories were a rifle sling (81 percent), soft carrying case (70 percent) and mounted rifle scope (68 percent).
  • 25 percent of those who own 3 or more MSRs describe their MSRs as heavily accessorized (4-plus accessories).
  • Recreational target shooting (8.9 out of 10) was the No. 1-rated reason for owning a MSR in terms of importance. Home defense was next (7.7/10), followed by collecting (6.28/10) and varmint hunting (6.23/10).
  • 95 percent of owners said they have used their MSRs in the last 12 months, and 29 percent of owners shoot their MSRs more than once per month.
  • 25 percent of owners shot more than 1,000 rounds out of their MSR in the last 12 months.
  • 8 out of 10 owners feel they have not been able to shoot their MSR as much as they would like in the last 12 months.
  • Not having enough free time and the cost of ammo are the 2 main issues preventing MSR owners from shooting as much as they would like.
  • The typical MSR owner is 35-plus years old, married and has some college education.

NSSF has led the way in educating sportsmen and the public about modern sporting rifles. These AR-style rifles are sometimes incorrectly referred to as assault rifles or assault weapons. They are not. (The AR stands for ArmaLite, the company that developed the rifle in the 1950s.) The rifles do resemble military firearms such as the M4, but the similarities are cosmetic only. The AR-style rifle functions like other semi-automatic sporting firearms, firing one round with each pull of the trigger. Since the 19th century, civilian sporting rifles have evolved from their military predecessors, and the modern sporting rifle follows that tradition. Gun owners who want to be accurately informed on the subject can learn more at www.nssf.org/msr.

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