July 9th, 2019

Big News — Savage Arms Sold Off by Vista Outdoor

Savage Arms Management Sale Vista Outdoor divestiture sell-off buy-out

Big news for the shooting community! Just six years after it acquired Savage Arms, outdoor industry mega-corp Vista Outdoor is selling off Savage Arms. The firearms-maker will be acquired by a private investment group led by Savage’s current management. When the sale is complete, Vista Outdoor, parent company of dozens of outdoor brands such as Bushnell, Bell Helmets, CCI, Camelback, Federal, RCBS, and Weaver, will no longer produce firearms of any kind. The sell-back to the Savage management group will include Stevens Arms*, which primarily produces shotguns.

There were multiple reasons given for the sale, which include:
1. Cutting costs, reducing corporate debt, and consolidating operations at Vista Outdoor.
2. Focusing more on the ammunition brands Alliant, CCI, Speer, and Federal.
3. Giving Vista Outdoor’s “ammunition brands flexibility to work with any industry partner”.

In addition, we suspect that, given the current political climate and media antagonism towards gun-makers, Vista Outdoor’s leadership deemed that owning Savage was bad for the company’s overall image. The potential profits from Savage were simply not worth the negative press as well as the potential liabilities from gun-related lawsuits.

By the Numbers: Vista Outdoor acquired Savage Arms (and Stevens) in July 2013 for $315 million. The July 2019 sell-off of Savage Arms (and Stevens) for $170 million represents a $145 million loss for Vista Outdoor. That’s not a good business model.

Savage Arms Management Sale Vista Outdoor divestiture sell-off buy-out

Founded in 1894, Massachusetts-based Savage Arms is one of America’s oldest gun-makers. While it has produced a wide variety of firearms over the past 125 years, Savage is now best known for its affordable bolt-action hunting rifles that feature barrels attached by a barrel-nut. In recent years, Savage has also moved aggressively into the “black rifle” market producing its MSR series of AR-platform rifles in a variety of chamberings. Savage also produces a popular semi-auto Rimfire rifle, the Savage A17/A22 series.

Savage Arms Management Sale Vista Outdoor divestiture sell-off buy-out

Here is the official Press Release covering Vista Outdoor’s sale of Savage Arms to a group of investors headed by Al Kasper, Savage’s President and CEO (emphasis added):

Vista Outdoor Announces Sale of Savage Brand
Vista Outdoor Inc. (“Vista Outdoor”) (NYSE: VSTO) announced today that it has completed the sale of the legal entity operating its Savage Arms and Stevens firearms brands to a financial buyer for a total purchase price of $170 million, comprised of $158 million paid at closing and $12 million to be paid upon maturity of a five-year seller note issued by the buyer to Vista Outdoor in connection with the transaction.

The sale is part of Vista Outdoor’s previously announced transformation plan, which outlined the intent to reshape the company’s portfolio by cutting costs, consolidating leadership, paying down debt, and divesting certain brands, including both its eyewear brands and firearms brands, in order to pursue growth in product categories where the company believes it can be market leaders. As the company now looks forward, the focus is on ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, hydration bottles and packs, outdoor cooking products, and cycling/ski helmets and accessories.

“Divesting our Savage brand was a key aspect of our transformation plan,” said Chris Metz, CEO of Vista Outdoor. “While it was a difficult decision to sell such an iconic brand, I remain confident that this was the correct choice to help Vista Outdoor grow in those categories where we can have leadership positions. Savage is a fantastic business, and it deserves to continue to evolve into other firearms categories. At this time, however, we simply do not have the resources to transform Savage into the full-service firearms company that it deserves to be and, therefore, we determined the brand would be better off with a different owner. We’re excited to see Savage reach its full potential under new ownership.”

Savage was acquired by Vista Outdoor’s predecessor, ATK, in 2013. ATK’s sporting business – which included Savage, Bushnell, Federal and CCI Ammunition, and dozens of other hunt/shoot accessories brands, spun off in 2015 to become Vista Outdoor.

“The Savage acquisition helped create Vista Outdoor, and we’re grateful for all the success the brand brought to our company over the past six years,” said Metz. “However, this divestiture now gives our ammunition brands flexibility to work with any industry partner to create the best products and meet our consumers’ needs.”

At closing, Vista Outdoor received gross proceeds from the divestiture of $158 million. Vista Outdoor will use the net after-tax proceeds of the sale to repay outstanding indebtedness.

“Reducing our debt is a key part of turning around our business,” said Metz. “Selling Savage and further reducing our overall leverage will improve our financial flexibility and better position the company for long-term growth. We’ve now rebuilt the company’s foundation to provide a more stable base upon which to grow. We have a portfolio of brands that all have the potential to be strong, market leaders in their respective categories and I’m proud of my team’s efforts in reshaping the portfolio over the course of the past year.”


*American firearms manufacturer J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company, now part of Savage Arms, introduced the .22 Long Rifle cartridge in 1887. Savage Arms was founded in 1894 by Arthur Savage in Utica, New York. Within 20 years Savage was producing rifles, handguns, and ammunition. Savage introduced the first hammerless lever-action rifle, the Model 1895, derived from Arthur Savage’s Model 1892 rifle that he had designed for Colt.

Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting, News 6 Comments »
May 2nd, 2018

Vista Outdoor May Sell Off Savage Arms and Stevens

Vista outdoor divesting selling Savage Arms Steven rifles strategic reorganization

Vista Outdoor Announces Strategic Business Transformation Plan
Big news. Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO) may be selling off gun-makers Savage and Stevens, declaring it will “explore strategic options” for those brands. However, Vista Outdoor will retain its businesses that produce ammunition and reloading components: Alliant Powder, CCI, Federal Premium, and Speer. The sell-off of Savage and Stevens is not a sure thing yet, but Vista’s new CEO Chris Metz has been looking hard at the “bottom line” and he says that the gun-making brands have not been as profitable as expected. This is not just an exit from gun-making. Vista Outdoors executives have analyzed the company’s full portfolio of brands, and decision-makers have targeted other brands for sell-off. READ Vista Outdoor News Release.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “The company [Vista Outdoor, VSTO, -13.07% on 5/1/18] said Tuesday it would pare its brands to focus on business lines including ammunition and shooting accessories, water bottles and packs and outdoor cooking ware. It will explore the sale of several brands including Bell bike helmets, Giro snow goggles, Blackburn handlebar tape, Jimmy Styks paddle boards, and Savage and Stevens firearms[.]”

Notably, Vista Outdoor remains fully committed to the ammunition and components businesses. In an official news release, CEO Metz stated: “Vista Outdoor is excited about the potential of each of our core businesses, particularly ammunition, which is our largest core business. An increased focus on our heritage ammunition business will manifest itself in more innovative and breakthrough new products introduced over the next few years. We also anticipate that by prioritizing this business, we will be able to invest more capital to further enhance and expand our global leadership position.” Metz denied that the sell-of of Savage and Stevens was a response to a boycott by the REI outdoor retail chain. The CEO said that REI represents less than 1% of the company’s total sales.

CEO Metz acknowleged that revenues were down substantially for the past fiscal year (ending 3/31/18), and reduced gun sales were one reason: “Sales were $2.3 billion, down 9% from the prior year. The decline was caused by lower volume in Shooting Sports across all ammunition categories, lower pricing across the portfolio, and lower firearms sales as a result of decreased demand impacting the shooting sports industry. Additionally, Outdoor Products declines were caused by market conditions affecting shooting-related categories, including hunting and shooting accessories, optics, and tactical products.”

Vista outdoor divesting selling Savage Arms Steven rifles strategic reorganization

Vista Outdoor currently has a large portfolio of brands, including guns, gear, eyewear, ammunition, camping equipment, and much more. Top brands for guns and shooting, after Savage and Stevens, are: Alliant Powder, American Eagle, Blazer Ammunition, Bushnell, CCI, Federal Premium, RCBS, and Speer.

Vista outdoor divesting selling Savage Arms Steven rifles strategic reorganization

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, News 7 Comments »
February 3rd, 2013

Leupold Factory Tour Video — Plus Counterfeit Scope Warning

Leupold & Stevens, producer of riflescopes, spotting scopes, and laser rangefinders, offer an interesting two-part video showing the production process at Leupold’s Beaverton, Oregon manufacturing facility. Leupold is one of the world’s largest scope-makers. Each year, the Leupold factory machines over two million pounds of aluminum. Laid end to end, as extruded, this aluminum would stretch over 400 miles. That’s a lot of scopes. To see how Leupold produces its riflescopes, using high-tech machinery (as well as old-fashioned human craftsmen), watch the videos below.

Leupold Tour Part One
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Leupold Tour Part Two
YouTube Preview Image

Leupold Issues Warning About Counterfeit MK4 Scopes
In related news, Leupold has issued a “customer alert” regarding counterfeit Leupold scopes illegally imported from the People’s Republic of China. These products bear many of the marks and trade dress of current Leupold riflescopes making them very hard to distinguish from authentic Leupold products.

Leupold MKIV Fake

Counterfeited Leupold Mark 4® riflescopes have begun to arrive with increasing regularity at Leupold’s headquarters for service. These products are not manufactured by Leupold and are not covered by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee. Leupold employs serial number tracking for all its riflescopes, so if you have a suspect scope, call 1-800-LEUPOLD with the SN, and Leupold can immediately confirm whether the optic is genuine or not.

Most of the counterfeit scopes appear to originate from the People’s Republic of China, and have “Leupold Mark 4” laser engraved on the bottom of the turret in a silver etch, while the black ring on the objective is etched in white and does not include the name “Leupold.” The scopes also do not bear the Leupold medallion, a mark all Leupold scopes will always possess. An authentic Mark 4 riflescope will always be engraved black on black and have the name “Leupold” engraved on the black ring.

Identifying Marks (Click for photos): Turrets | Objective | Bottom Label

This story was originally posted in late 2010.
Permalink - Videos, Optics 5 Comments »
April 20th, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Hunting Videos Are Protected by First Amendment

U.S. Supreme CourtThe United States Supreme Court today struck down a federal law banning depictions of “animal cruelty” on the basis that the law violated the Free Speech protections of the First Amendment. In its 8-1 ruling in United States v. Stevens, the High Court upheld a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision voiding the conviction of Robert Stevens for violating 18 U.S.C. 48, which prohibits depiction of animal cruelty.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion was authored by Chief Justice Roberts, who declared that that the law was overbroad, and could potentially be used to ban TV shows about hunting, as well as educational videos. At issue was a 1999 federal law that makes it a crime to create, sell or possess videos and other depictions of cruelty to animals. The case arose over the conviction of Robert Stevens, who received a three-year prison sentence from a Western Pennsylvania court for selling videos that included scenes of hunting with dogs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction on constitutional grounds, accepting Stevens’ argument that his videos were protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court upheld the Third Circuit’s decision. Had the Third Circuit’s decision been overturned, all images of legal hunting and fishing could have been deemed illegal under the law.

The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) took a lead role in bringing journalists and outdoor industry organizations together in support of the First Amendment argument presented before the Court by Robert Stevens’ attorney Patricia Millett. “POMA is grateful to the Court for this important decision,” said Laurie Lee Dovey, POMA executive director. “The First Amendment rights of traditional outdoor sports journalists, those who cover legal hunting and fishing and promote the enjoyment of these American heritage sports, are protected. The impact of this decision on POMA members, all journalists, and the outdoor industry can not be overstated.” The ruling in U.S. v. Stevens was a setback for animal rights groups and the Obama Adminstration’s lawyers, who asked the Supreme Court to overrule the Third Circuit and send Robert Stevens to prison.

CLICK HERE for full text of Decision in U.S. v. Stevens

Permalink News 1 Comment »
December 26th, 2009

30% Off Older Model Leupold Riflescopes

Speaking of Leupold scopes, Midsouth Shooters Supply is running a big sale on genuine Leupold scopes, 2008 modelsr. A wide selection of these 2008-vintage Leupolds are discounted 30%. Note: These are new, full-warrantied scopes, not factory refurb or “blemished” models. All 2008 close-outs are being sold at 30% off to make room for the 2010 inventory.

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm Duplex Reticle Matte: $615.99 (reg. $877.99)

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm German #4 Reticle Matte: $650.99 (reg. $929.99)

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm Boone & Crkt. Reticle Matte: $671.99 (reg. $959.99)

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics 2 Comments »