The 5 Best-Selling Guns of 2015

Motley Fool

There are probably as many favorite guns among firearms enthusiasts as there are models manufactured. One way to determine what the “best” gun is is to see what people are buying. But that’s not a straightforward endeavor.

Since Smith & Wesson Holding (NASDAQ:SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger (NYSE:RGR) are the only publicly traded gunsmiths, we’re able to gain some insights into their sales, but mostly of broad categories rather than specific models.  


For example, Smith & Wesson reported that fiscal-second-quarter sales were driven 15% higher by demand for its polymer shield and M&P models, while Ruger pointed to demand for its new AR-556 modern sporting rifle and LC9 pistol as reason sell-through from independent distributors to retailers jumped 28% in its last period. But with the bulk of the balance of the industry privately held, it’s hard to get a read on who’s buying what.

So I turned to, the world’s largest online auction site for firearms and accessories, which every month publishes the five best-selling firearms on its site. While it lists the leaders in every major category of firearms sold, breaking them down between new, used, and a combination of the two, for this list I limited the selection to the five best-selling new, semi-automatic pistols. However, doesn’t list specific numbers for the guns sold. No raw unit totals or total dollar values. So what I did was compile all the monthly lists and broke it down into which gun landed in the top spot the most number of times. Then I looked at which was No. 2 most often; which was third, and so on.

I then arbitrarily assigned a value to each slot. A first-place finish got 5 points; second place, 4 points; third, 3, and so on. I then tallied the results and picked out the top five guns for 2015 (January to November). Nineteen different gun models from eight separate manufacturers appeared on the list. Here are the top five best-selling new semiautomatic pistols on my list, in reverse order.

Fourth Place (tie): Smith & Wesson M&P9 and Sig Sauer P938. Neither gun landed in the top spot over the course of the year, but the models were gun buyers’ second and third choices most often. The M&P9 is Smith & Wesson’s direct challenge to Glock in the low-cost polymer frame segment and its lightweight design has helped the gunmaker enjoy tremendous growth as handgun sales have taken off.



In contrast, Sig Sauer’s P938 is a hammer-fired, single-action semi-auto, with aluminum alloy frame and steel slide. It’s super-lightweight and designed for concealed carry.

Third Place: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield. This is S&W’s answer to the concealed-carry gun niche that is exploding. So popular are its Shield models that during the second quarter the gunmaker produced its one millionth model, which it says makes it “the best-selling personal protection and self-defense pistol” on the market.

Second Place: Taurus PT-111 Millenium G2. Yet another gun designed for the concealed carry market, the Taurus PT-111 is available in 9mm and built on a lightweight polymer platform in a subcompact form factor. Its appearance on the list would surprise many gun enthusiasts, but the fact it was the favorite gun four months in a row probably raised even more eyebrows, though it also attested to the gun’s meeting a specific need in the market.

Untitled Spreadsheet Sheet


First Place: Kel Tec PMR-30. This might not have been the gun many would have expected to top the list, but the Kel Tec PMR-30 dominated sales at this year, coming in first place more times than any other model (five), and regularly being a gun buyer’s second or third choice. The Kel Tec was also on the top-five list more often than any other model (eight), and unlike Smith & Wesson, Ruger, or Sig Sauer, which each had three different models appear at any time over the course of the year, it was only the Kel Tec PMR-30 that gun buyers wanted.



What pushes gun enthusiasts to want the Kel Tec is its light weight. Even fully loaded with 30 double-stacked .22 Magnum rounds (.22 WMR), its glass-reinforced nylon Zytel frame is lighter than many polymer-frame guns, yet there’s a distinct lack of recoil when fired. It’s also pretty accurate.

Gun sales have never been greater. The FBI is on track to conduct more background checks on gun buyers this year than at any other time, even more than the record number of investigations performed in 2013. While will release its best-selling firearm for 2015 next month, there’s a good bet it will be one of those here. And considering how often the Kel Tec PMR-30 has topped the lists so far, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the overall choice of gun buyers everywhere.

6 thoughts on “The 5 Best-Selling Guns of 2015

  1. Maybe you should change your title to “according to gun broker”…because the way you have it now is pretty misleading as you really have no idea what the top 5 selling guns were. Just a thought…

  2. It’s good that people are buying guns, but I wish more people would buy on the basis of known quality, rather than “it looks badass” or “it feels good in my hand.”

    Price should be a secondary consideration, as a few hundred bucks pales in comparison to the cost of ammo over time if you’re practicing as much as you should be.

    A great place to get the scoop on which handguns hold up and which don’t is A lot of pigs post there, but so do trainers who shoot guns for a living. They have a lot of inside knowledge and have done some revealing torture tests.

    For a new SHTF semi-auto handgun I’d go with an HK or maybe an M&P9. The HK45, HK45c, and P30 in 9mm are hard to beat, especially with the “light LEM” trigger. The striker-fired VP9 might also be really good. It’s newer and less proven, but so far it gets great reviews.

    The S&W M&P line have had some issues in the past (accuracy, rusting), but the bugs seem to have been resolved. I don’t hear many complaints about them anymore. This is worth researching.

    Even with a top-notch gun, spare parts are a must. Better yet, have a spare identical gun or two, and dedicate one for practice.

    Glocks have been iffy over the past five years or so, mostly due to erratic ejection. I wouldn’t trust a new one. The XD line is also problematic. And I won’t even start on Taurus or (gasp) Kel-Tec.

    A good Ruger GP100 revolver isn’t ideal for all-out combat, but it will probably last forever, especially if you mainly shoot .38 +P rounds through it.

  3. “One way to determine what the “best” gun is is to see what people are buying.”

    Whatever sells the most is certainly the best, oh yeah.

  4. Well I have to comment on this one. The best handgun is the one you are most comfortable with and can constantly hit your target with and is reliable. The maker is unimportant as long as it is well Made. I like the Taurus millenium but in .45. To each his own.

  5. That Taurus PT-111 can suck it. My hands are 2x as big as that whole gun. I hated trying to hold that thing and the trigger pull was a mile long.

    I looked into that PMR-30 for a rucksack mounted back-up but they sell used for nearly twice the MSRP and are never available. Surprised to see it listed because it is a cheap-o 22wmr.

    Remember, Handguns are just to get you to a real gun.

  6. my 2 cents

    had a bad experience with M&P 40 cal

    pistol was purchased by a family member , after 20 to 40 rounds the firing pin spring plate on the back of the slide moved down out of position and would not allow the slide to advance fully forward , thus not allowing the next round to go into full battery, thus the weapon stopped cycling

    instant death in a fire fight for your life , needless to say it went back to the factory, and when it came back without adequate info from S&W as to why this happened , the pistol was sold back to the store, and another brand of firearm was purchased

    just FYI, your results may vary

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