Gun manufacturer American Outdoor Brands Inc., formerly Smith & Wesson, says the current hunting boom is poised to outlive the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a bold claim, but the firearms giant’s immense uptick in sales for 2020 is among one of many reasons outdoors experts are predicting America’s modern hunting boom to outlast the current pandemic. And while American Outdoor Brands Inc. isn’t nearly as iconic a name, the company is the current form of Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation – and one of the largest gun manufacturers in the world – giving them hefty clout when it comes to such bold claims.
The U.S. based firearms manufacturing behemoth changed its name in 2016. The conglomerate owns 18 brands, many of which are household names, like Smith & Wesson. The latter continues on through its gun sales division today.
And those sales are absolutely booming, as are all of its products. The company’s CEO, Brian Murphy, says “there has already been a wallet share shift.” The shift Murphy references come as indoor activities – such as dining out and movies – fall to the wayside due to health concerns from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and social distancing pushes a mass return to outdoor activities, instead.
“Obviously, there’ll be some return [to indoor activities] once a vaccine is widely distributed,” Murphy continues to Fox Business, “but it’s people, at least, again, what we’re seeing, intend to continue this, now that they have this newfound activity that a lot of times, they didn’t have the time for before or to even try.”
It is this massive shift that has fueled the modern age of American hunting, and a powerful resurgence in the popularity of outdoors sporting. A trend which, at the moment, shows no signs of slowing down.
America’s Modern Hunting Boom is Here
While social distancing became mandatory in much of the U.S., hunting license sales saw an enormous boost alongside gun purchases. America produced a 12% increase nationwide in new hunters, The Wall Street Journal cites via the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This alone will put 1 million or more new hunters out into nature for 2021. Come next month, all of these hunters aren’t simply going to disappear. In fact, AOB’s sales continue to climb, pointing toward even more hunters registering in 2021 – a trend that will lead to America’s hunting boom (hopefully) outlasting the current pandemic.
As a result of this unprecedented, renewed interest in outdoor sports and activities, American Outdoor Brands is raising their projections for the coming fiscal year. And in no small manner.
For AOB alone, estimates for their 2021 sales have now risen to $235 to $245 million. This is a staggering jump from their prior projection of $195 million. To put this in perspective, AOB has seen a rise of 66% in revenue in 2020 from previous years. In 2019, the company saw an almost $400,000 loss. 2020, however, brings them a $7.3 million profit in comparison.
Gun Sales Records Factor into Nationwide Ammunition Shortage
One unforeseen consequence of the sales, however, has been the current national ammunition shortage.
Astronomical gun sales are resulting, however, in a national ammunition shortage. Fellow firearms manufacturer Vista Outdoors Inc. reveals that they are working through an “unprecedented” $1 billion backlog. This entire backlog is comprised of ammo orders.
Moreover, Vista Outdoor CEO and Director Christopher Metz warns that the shortage will last well into 2021.
“We currently have over a year’s worth of orders for ammunition in excess of $1 billion,” he clarifies through a quarterly sales briefing. “This is unprecedented for our company. With demand far outstripping supply and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing.”
Metz adds that the volume of new shooters the industry is seeing is a driving factor.
“According to data from the NSSF, there are 6.2 million new shooters in 2020,” Metz continues. “This rate is more than twice the number of new shooters in the former surge. Anecdotally, there is no shortage of reports of sold out shooting ranges and backlogged firearm safety classes around the country.”