The global small and medium caliber ammunition market size was valued at USD 8.76 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 10.6 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 4.1% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Ammunition is the projectiles and propellant charges used to ignite the propellant in handguns, rifles, and artillery. They include several expendable weapons, such as bullets and warheads fired or detonated from these weapons, as well as expendable weapons, such as missiles, bombs, grenades, and land mines. Ammunition is both a disposable weapon and one of the major components of other weapons that affect a target. Ammunition comes in various shapes and forms and is frequently created to only function in particular weapon systems. A gun's caliber refers to its barrel's internal diameter (bore). Small caliber ammunition generally refers to projectiles with a diameter of 20 mm or less, whereas medium caliber refers to projectiles with a diameter of 20 mm to 40 mm.
The Asia-Pacific region has witnessed an unprecedented surge in defense spending over the past decade. Rising geopolitical tension and border disputes between the regional powers have been the primary driving factor boosting the defense spending in the region. Further, the growing threat from terrorist activities and separatist insurgency has significantly influenced the region's defense spending. For instance, the Indian government announced a record budget of USD 64.20 billion for defense spending in 2020, witnessing a year-on-year increase of 5.02%. Likewise, the Indian government plans to expand, modernize, and enhance the operational capability of its military on account of rising geopolitical tensions with Pakistan and China.
Additionally, developments and enhancement of military capabilities in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and other African countries are anticipated to increase the procurement of small to large-size weapon systems; this is likely to increase the demand for suitable caliber ammunition. Moreover, a rise in political disputes in the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South American region is expected to increase demand for small and medium-caliber ammunition over the forecast period.
Terrorism and political violence risks are expected to incline due to rising geopolitical tensions and the weakening of liberal democratic governance. Recently, most terrorist and political violence activities were encountered in North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Protracted and complex armed conflicts with multiple states and non-state actors are a major contributing factor to political violence, thereby degrading the security and stability of the regions. Furthermore, a broader shift towards populist nationalism and authoritarian governance is one of the major factors heightening the war and civil commotion risks.
Additionally, five countries accounted for over 75% of all deaths caused by terrorist activities in 2016, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The heightened risks of terrorism and political violence worldwide are expected to impact the security and stability of countries across the globe. Therefore, most nations have initiated efforts to increase their military capabilities to combat terrorism and protect their borders from rising geopolitical competition. These trends are predicted to boost the demand for small and medium-caliber ammunition over the forecast period.
The low defense budget in targeted economies is the major factor restraining the ammunition market. The defense spending in some economies, such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Benin, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Peru, Chile, and others, is low compared to major economies in respective regions. Unstable economic conditions, political disputes, and low industrial output are the factors for low defense budgets in the economies. Moreover, the economies above were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the budget spending on military and armed forces. For instance, in 2019, Malaysia allocated 40% less budget for the defense sector than the budget in 2018, thereby hampering the market expansion.
The market for small- and medium-caliber ammunition is anticipated to expand in the upcoming years. This is because there is a rising demand for these products from the military and law enforcement sectors. The military and law enforcement industries employ small and medium-caliber ammunition the most. This results from the numerous applications for these products, including training, target practice, and actual combat situations. It is predicted that as the world becomes more unstable, demand for these products will increase.
The civilian market is also expected to grow in the near future because more individuals are taking up shooting as a hobby. Likewise, it is anticipated that more people will own firearms. Therefore, the rising demand from the military, law enforcement, and civilian markets creates opportunities for market growth over the forecast period.
The global small and medium caliber ammunition market is segmented by product.
Based on product, the global small and medium caliber ammunition market is divided into 7.62 x 39 mm, 7.62 x 54 mm, 30 x 165 mm, 23 x 115 mm, 23 x 152 mm, 12.7 x 108 mm, 14.5 x 114 mm, and others.
The 7.62 x 39 mm caliber ammunition segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 4.5% over the forecast period. 7.62 × 39mm caliber ammunition, also known as 7.62 Soviet, is commonly used in the AK-47 line of rifles owing to their high knockdown power, moderate recoil, and weight of approximately 8 grams. This type of ammunition can also be used in RPD and RPK light machine guns. These are very affordable due to their high availability and are used by the Soviet Union on a large scale. Several 7.62 × 39 mm caliber ammunition variants are available in the market. Some of these variants include 57-N-231, 7N23, and 57-N-231P. The 57-N-231 variant has a steel-core and ballistic coefficient (G1 BC) of approximately 0.304 and (G7 BC) of approximately.
In addition, the 7.62 × 39 mm caliber ammunition is widely used in the military and in civilian purposes such as hunting medium-sized animals such as deer. The 7.62 x 39 mm caliber ammunition segment led the market owing to its compatibility with the AK series rifles, widespread availability, and affordability. The 7.62 x 39 mm caliber ammunition is also becoming increasingly popular in hunting sports to kill medium-sized animals.
7.62 × 54 mm is a rimmed rifle cartridge originally designed for the bolt-action Mosin–Nagant rifle used by the Russian Czarist Empire in 1891. It remains one of the few standard-issue rimmed cartridges in active military use. The Russian military widely uses the 7.62 × 54 mm ammunition in the Dragunov, SV-98, and other sniper rifles. Furthermore, it finds application in general-purpose machine guns, such as the PKM and Pecheneg machine guns. 57-N-323S, 7N13, 7T2, 7BZ3, and 7N1 are some of the variants of the 7.62 × 54 mm ammunition. The 57-N-323S is a traditional steel core ammunition variant with a ballistic coefficient (G1 BC) of approximately 0.374 and (G7 BC) of approximately 0.187. The 7N13 variant is specially designed to pierce the body, while the 7BZ3 variant targets lightly armored targets.
The 30 mm caliber ammunition is used in various shipboard close-in weapons systems. 30mm caliber ammunition is autocannon ammunition, which includes NATO standard 30 × 113 mm B and 30 × 173; Czechoslovakian 30 × 210 mm Cz; Yugoslavian 30 × 192 mm; and Soviet 30 × 165 mm and 30 × 210 mm. 30 mm caliber cartridges are generally used against fortified bunkers or armed vehicles as well as aircraft. Furthermore, the 30 mm caliber ammunition is used in various shipboard close-in weapons systems, including Dutch Goalkeeper CIWS and the Russian AK-630. The Russian Armed Forces widely use the 30 × 165 mm variant in various application settings such as anti-aircraft guns, light naval guns, and short recoil autocannon. The 2K22 Tunguska is one of the most advanced self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon systems that use 30 × 165 mm ammunition.
The Russian Air Force uses 23 x 115 mm ammunition in various rotary canon applications. 23 x 115 mm ammunition rounds are widely used by the Russian Armed Forces in GSh-23L and GSh-6-23 rotary cannons. It is also used in many CIS countries. The Soviet Air Force still uses the 23 x 115 mm ammunition in aircraft canons mounted on various aircraft, including the SU-24, MiG-31, and Ilyushin Il-76 transporters, despite being replaced by the 30 x 165 mm caliber ammunition.
Based on region, the global small and medium caliber ammunition market is bifurcated into Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant global small and medium caliber ammunition market shareholder and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 5.21% during the forecast period. Rising geopolitical disputes and the increasing threat of terrorist attacks are the primary reasons for the growth of defense industries in the region. Countries like India and China are spending on modernizing their armed forces to battle against violence. These countries procure ammunition for the armed forces and law enforcement agencies to minimize the rising crime rate. These factors are expected to expedite the market demand over the forecast period. The increase in the procurement of bullets is also fueled due to rise in hunting and sports activities in the region. Bullets are the largest procured product segment in Asia-Pacific compared to the other ammunition products, including mortars and rockets.
In addition, strict government regulations related to personal handguns and assault weapons and license policies are curbing the market's growth. Rising environmental concerns regarding the lead bullets used for hunting and sporting activities are other factors that may restrict the growth of the ammunition market over the forecast period.
Central and South America imports most of its arms and ammunition for military and civilian use from the U.S. In recent times. The region has emerged as the new producer of arms and ammunition. Most gun-related crimes are reported in countries like Brazil. The main cause of the rise in these gun-related crimes is due to relaxed law regulations and other societal norms. Some countries in the region have also banned weapons used for civilian, shooting, and hunting purposes, such as semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The ban is expected to hinder the market growth for bullets in the region. However, laws, permission requirements, and illegal trafficking in the region are projected to strengthen the market over the forecast period.
Furthermore, Brazil has a monopoly on the Central and South American market for arms and ammunition, but exports have dropped due to the country's severe economic crisis. This may restrict the market growth over the forecast period. However, the increased demand for hunting, sport, and self-defense will drive the ammunition market in the coming years.
In the Middle East and Africa, the surging demand majorly drives the increase in arms transfer. The Middle East doubled imports from 2007 to 2011, and Saudi Arabia is the world's largest arms importer. Also, a rise of 88% in arms import was witnessed in the region. In 2016, the region accounted for 29% of global imports. The economic growth of the countries and heavy investments in the defense industries due to the rise in cross-border threats are factors that propel the market's growth in the Middle East and Africa. The governments are taking initiatives to strengthen the armed forces to curb the ongoing illegal activities. This would increase the procurement of ammunition over the period and boost the growth of the ammunition market.
In addition, the rise in terrorist activities across the region and the government's initiatives to modernize military weapons are two major factors expected to positively affect the market's growth. The high amount of economic and military aid provided by the U.S. in Israel has led to the development of defense industries and the growth of other relative industries across the country over the forecast period.
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