US Gun Exports to Israel Surge

By John Lindsay-Poland

U.S. companies dramatically increased the number of military rifles, handguns, ammunition and guided missile parts exported to Israel in October, according to official U.S. trade data. The gun export spike occurs at a time when Israeli authorities have been distributing firearms to settlers and "security squads" in dozens of cities and towns, including illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and  and fatal and non-fatal armed attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank have grown. 

The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. International Trade Commission publish data for US exports of goods, including firearms, parts, ammunition and explosives, on a monthly basis. The ITC data for U.S. exports to Israel in October (posted in early December) shows:

  • 2,679 military rifles shipped, valued at $3,091,272 (only 30 had been shipped in the first 9 months of 2023). The rifles originated from Connecticut, home of Colt Manufacturing, which produces M4 rifles used in Israel.
  • 5,515 handguns valued at nearly $2.4 million (more than the annual average for the previous five years)
  • $108 million worth of parts for guided missiles, primarily shipped from New York
  • $50.9 million worth of explosives mostly shipped from Philadelphia
  • More than 2 million bullets worth $4.4 million shipped. 

Half of the handguns exported to Israel in October originated from New Hampshire, which is home to Sig Sauer, Inc., the United States' largest exporter of pistols globally. Handguns may be purchased by civilians in Israel if the firearms are registered.

Earlier this month, U.S. State Department sources said that a license to export U.S.-produced M16 rifles to Israel had been delayed because of concerns about settler violence. Such rifles within Israel would not have been for civilian use. The trade data suggests that Colt exported thousands of rifles to Israel in October, before the Biden administration placed a hold on a rifle export license. Information on companies supplying Israel's attack on Gaza, including Colt and other weapons companies, is compiled here

Most of the U.S. exports in October for guided missile parts and explosives - 72% - originated from Missouri. Boeing has a facility that manufactures guided bombs in St. Louis, Missouri.