Ammunition and firearm sales are dominating the industry news, but they aren’t the only items in demand. Gun gear and accessories may not be vanishing at the same speed, but comments made by Brian D. Murphy, president and CEO of American Outdoor Brands (AOB), during a quarterly earnings conference call this week indicate equipment that enhances performance or makes range sessions more productive is also selling fast. He also said there are reasons to expect the trend to continue.
The publicly traded firm specializing in outdoor-related equipment spun off from Smith & Wesson earlier this year, which made the SEC-mandated question-and-answer period only its second on record. Participants were understandably eager to learn how this year’s record number gun purchases translated to return on their investment.
“This new and larger installed base of owners suggest strong future participation in shooting sports and the need for accessories,” Murphy explained in opening remarks, noting that the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates 40 percent of gun purchases this year were by first-time buyers—around 8 million people so far. AOB’s latest figures reflect the fact that firearms and ammo were not the only things on their shopping list. The company’s quarterly net sales were up 65.7 percent when compared to the same reporting period in 2019.
Murphy said the volume of new gun owners is a trend that “…certainly impacts brands like Crimson Trace, which is all about aiming solutions and really helping, in particular, new buyers as they enter the market. And then as they go to the range and practice firing that new firearm, brands like Caldwell, which is all about owning the range and helping them eliminate variables that makes the miss. Caldwell, Tipton Wheeler, Frankford, gunsmithing tools, gun cleaning, all of those are part of that kind of Phase II, after that initial buyer purchases that firearm.”
As for the long-term impact on sales Murphy said he’s reviewed a number of surveys, “And it appears the overwhelming majority, at least the studies that I’ve looked at, show that people still intend to engage in these activities. And, also, I believe that there has been—there’s already been—a vault shift…there is a massive drop off in kind of March to April time frame. And then it begins to slowly come back up to really pre-COVID levels, it’s pretty remarkable. And to me that says that there is already been a wallet share shift of sorts, where some of those folks were spending that money on other areas of entertainment, maybe it’s going to a movie theater, going to sporting events and obviously there’ll be some return of that once a vaccine is widely distributed. But [the people]…we’re seeing intend to continue this, now that they have this newfound activity that a lot of times they don’t have the time for before or even try.”
A breakdown by company was not included in the quarterly report or conference call, although sales were up in every brand. Firearm-related companies that are part of AOB include Caldwell, LaserLyte, Crimson Trace, Wheeler, Frankford Arsenal, Lockdown and others.