Firearms Industry Surpasses $17 Billion in Pittman-Robertson Excise Tax Contributions to Conservation

by Vern Evans

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Firearms and ammunition manufacturers have topped $17 billion in excise tax contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since its inception in 1937, the NSSF reported. When adjusted for inflation, the total is more than $27.38 billion. The latest Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) Collection report released by the Department of the Treasury, covering the 4th Quarter Calendar Year 2023, indicates that firearm and ammunition manufacturers contributed more than $222 million.

“The entire firearm and ammunition industry celebrates this milestone that demonstrates our commitment to wildlife conservation for all Americans,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “The firearm and ammunition industry knows the conservation of wildlife and the habitats in which they thrive are invaluable. They are critical to future generations taking part in hunting and the recreational shooting sports traditions and learning about their vital importance. This manufacturing industry, which produces firearms and ammunition for law-abiding citizens, also produces the funding upon which our wildlife depends and is vital for future generations to enjoy.”

The firearm and ammunition industry added $1 billion in conservation tax contributions in just one year. NSSF announced Firearm and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) contributions have totaled more than $1 billion annually for the past three years.

The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson fund, is funded by excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers on their products, as well as archery equipment manufacturers. The excise tax is set at 11 percent of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition and 10 percent of the wholesale price for handguns. The excise tax, paid by manufacturers and importers, applies to all firearms produced or imported for commercial sales, including recreational shooting, hunting or self-defense. The tax is administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Department of the Treasury, which turns the funds over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

USFWS deposits the Pittman-Robertson revenues into a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund administered by the USFWS. These funds are made available to states and territories the year following their collection based on a statutory formula. Earlier this year, NSSF announced that USFWS apportioned over $1.6 billion to the states for wildlife conservation projects, of which $944 million was sourced from Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers.

These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation and related purposes. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition, hunters and the industry are the greatest source of wildlife conservation funding.


— Courtesy NSSF


Editor’s Note: Most people agree P-R funds are a good thing and the law was even championed by sportsmen back at the time it was passed in 1937. Still, some diehard gun guys among our crowd might bemoan the fact that all taxes ultimately get paid by the consumer, and why should they have to pay taxes that just benefit the hunting community. But that’s not entirely true, P-R funds, while used largely for wildlife management and education, are also used to build and maintain public shooting ranges. So, there are some benefits to those who want to see people simply have a place to go shoot.

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