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Anti-Gun Activists Focus on Big Names. But Small Makers Are Thriving

With the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, which saw a bomb threat to the school, as USA Today reported, attention is again back on gun availability and use in the U.S.

The industry has been taking heat from activists. But much of that has been focused on big manufacturers, such as Remington Outdoor Company, Sturm Ruger & Company, and American Outdoor Brands, which owns Smith & Wesson, Reuters reports. Remington emerged from bankruptcy last May, according to Reuters.

But smaller companies have taken over market share from the large ones, often with a focus on semi-automatic rifles frequently nicknamed assault weapons. Smaller companies focus on variations that go beyond what the larger companies offer.

For example, one makes a rifle that fires 9mm handgun ammunition and that folds down to fit into a backpack. Another manufactures a semi-automatic rifle that fires.308-caliber rounds rather than the .223-caliber from an AR-15.

Reuters quoted data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives stating that each of the 28 companies made at least 10,000 rifles in 2016. In 2011, the figure was 20 companies.

In 2011, the three largest manufacturers held 57% of the rifle market. By 2016, the share had slipped to 44%.

According to ATF figures, U.S. manufacturers made more than 4.2 million rifles of all types other than shotguns in 2017, up from 3.7 million in 2016.