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Firearms Manufacturers Move Outdoors

By Karina Masolova

Even as gun sales are rebounding for the first time in years, firearms manufacturers are developing hunting and other outdoor brands to avoid pressure from tightening regulations and extreme sales cycles. Smith & Wesson became the second publicly owned firearms manufacturer to seek out brands in the outdoor recreation industry.

The trend is driven by an growing crossover of consumers between the sports enthusiast and hunting markets. Big-box retailers such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and Sportsman’s Warehouse have been expanding their offerings to meet the demands of an increasingly diversified audience.

To prepare for the acquisitions, Smith & Wesson plans to launch up to three new divisions over the next three-to-five years. The first publically owned ammunitions and rifle manufacturer, Vista Outdoor, has been expanding beyond firearms since 2013 when it acquired optics manufacturer Bushnell Group. Its brand portfolio now includes Bushnell optics, Bollé and Cebe sunglasses and ski helmets.

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