The Evolving Firearm Company Landscape

by
posted on December 17, 2023
As The

Heraclitus is credited as the first to put the concept that nothing is constant but change in writing. The prediction by the Greek philosopher, who lived sometime around 500 B.C. and is noted for melancholy observations, still rings true. The firearm industry is not immune to change, but the vast majority of what’s going on today is good news for enthusiasts.

The current headline grabber is Czechoslovak Group’s (CSG) offer of $1.91 billion to purchase the Sporting Products business of Vista Outdoor. A definitive agreement was reached between the two companies in October that, if completed, would see ownership of some of the industry’s biggest names in ammunition—including Federal, CCI, Remington Ammo, Speer and Hevi-Shot—change hands.

On November 22, Colt CZ Group countered with a proposal valued at roughly $1.7 billion, according to some financial experts. The Vista Outdoor Board rejected it in early December and stated in a press release that, “The Vista Outdoor Board is continuing its recommendation to follow through on the definitive agreement to sell its Sporting Products business to CSG. The acquisition of the Sporting Products business by CSG is expected to close in calendar year 2024, subject to approval of Vista Outdoor’s stockholders, receipt of necessary regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.”

In a letter sent to leaders at Colt CZ, the Vista board explained the its offer “ … would not be more favorable to Vista stockholders from a financial point of view than the transactions contemplated by the CSG Merger Agreement and does not provide a basis for engagement with Colt CZ.” Undervaluation of Vista Outdoor stock was cited, as well as the proposal not “ … taking into account the significant stockholder value that is expected to be created by the separation of the Outdoor Products and Sporting Products segments of Vista into two independent companies, each with its own dedicated strategic focus, enhanced ability to attract and retain top talent, tailored capital allocation philosophy, and set of competitive advantages…”

Until all financial and regulatory hurdles are cleared, other offers could appear. We will keep readers updated, but the change isn’t necessarily negative. The CSG deal, for example, keeps manufacturing in the United States at the famed, historic sites that have served the respective firms so well.

Keep in mind, as well, if there’s a lesson to be learned from the Remington Outdoor Company bankruptcy and sale of its different brands to high bidders, it’s that change can be a good thing. The firm built a huge stable of legendary firearm firms under its corporate umbrella that included Remington Firearms, Remington Ammunition, Marlin, Bushmaster, DPMS, Barnes Bullets and others. On paper, it was a powerhouse, but behind the scenes, a huge debt loomed. Machinery was rarely replaced. Upgrades and maintenance took place on the minimal schedule dictated by a restricted budget, if at all. Production and quality suffered noticeably.

Vista Outdoor was the high bidder for Remington Ammunition. In the months after it took over, the factory was rejuvenated, raw materials flowed back in and the line returned to its historic prominence.

Marlin had been ignored far too long by the previous owners. Ruger claimed ownership of it in the bankruptcy sale and reinvigorated one of the gun industry’s most popular brands. It’s no accident that historic brand is once again available at FFLs nationwide and selling fast. In true Ruger fashion, it was resurrected in a calculated manner, ensuring everything that comes out of the factory is of the same quality that built the legendary name.

Other changes make solid business sense. In October 2023, Olin Corporation, for example, entered into an agreement to reacquire the assets of White Flyer Targets. After the transaction, it became part of Winchester Ammunition, a division of Olin. That’s where it was until 1979, when the company sold it. There’s synergy in that move.

Other changes have recently taken place, although they are far less attention-grabbing than any of the above. True Velocity, for example became owner of Delta P Design, a suppressor manufacturer, in July. CBC Global Ammunition acquired SinterFire in August. Amigen became part of Sionyx earlier that month, and GSM Outdoors acquired Camillus Cutlery.

There’s no doubt there are more changes on the horizon, each underscoring the wisdom of Heraclitus 2,500 years ago. Change is inevitable and often an improvement—even in a firearm industry so steeped in tradition.

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