More than 1,000 companies from some 100 countries produce small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. Only about a dozen countries produce advanced guided light weapons.
Procurement analysis suggests that within a 50 year period, world production of military assault rifles, carbines, pistols, and light and heavy machine guns would range between 36 million and 46 million units, with an annual production of small arms alone (firearms, rather than light weapons) averaging 700,000—900,000. Research suggests that close to 80 countries currently produce small arms ammunition for pistols, revolvers, rifles, carbines, sub-machine guns, and machine-guns. Producers with the capacity to make the equipment necessary to manufacture small arms ammunition are far less numerous, however.
More than 60 countries currently produce complete light weapon systems or components. More than half of them are known to manufacture either parts or entire man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) or anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs).
The granting of licenses and production rights and the spread of technology have enabled many countries to produce small arms and light weapons without undertaking expensive or time-consuming research and development programmes. The Survey estimates that 530,000 to 580,000 military small arms are produced annually either under licence or as unlicensed copies.
Most of the top manufacturing countries are also the top exporting countries. Some countries, however, such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea, also have substantial small arms industrial production capacities to accommodate sizeable domestic markets.
Craft production of small arms refers principally to weapons and ammunition that are fabricated largely by hand in relatively small quantities. These weapons, produced in dozens of countries across the globe, are often used in crimes and against government targets.