More and more companies in the shooting industry are diversifying their product catalogs. It seems that every time I turn around, one company or another has announced a strategic acquisition or expansion into areas beyond the company’s original focus.
Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad. I can certainly understand the desire to expand one’s product offerings in an effort to increase the bottom line. I wonder, however, if there are other influences beyond simple market pressures that are causing at least some of the companies to diversify. For example, there are certainly plenty of political pressures in the United States that make gun manufacturers question how much regulation is in the future. Regulation on the manufacturers – or owners – will have a clear affect on accessory makers as well.
Smith & Wesson has seemingly been quite aggressive in acquiring companies that are associated with the gun industry, and has made it clear in investor calls that these are moves that are profit motivated. But, with pickups of a flashlight maker, tool maker, knife maker and laser maker, I wonder if these could also be a long-term hedge against anti-gun legislation.
Magpul, long known for making AR accessories, diversified a bit more with the introduction of a complete clothing line. I had a chance to speak to Troy McMullen, Magpul’s director of apparel, recently. He made it clear that this is not a small “try it and see” venture by Magpul. He’s brought in experts from all over the apparel industry and they are serious about making performance clothing. Sports clothing would be a nice hedge against legislation that dries up the AR market.
Blackhawk has its roots in making military gear including plenty of firearms accessories. The company has also been involved in clothing for quite a while now. However, they’ve just launched a new line of clothing that is still designed to be functional, but, as explained to me by one of their executives, don’t scream “shoot me first!” Again, this could be opening up an avenue for the company to maneuver should things get uncomfortable in the gun world.
Vista Outdoor, Blackhawk’s parent company, has made larger diversification moves with the addition of companies like Bell, Bolle, Blackburn, CamelBak, Copilot, Giro, Jimmy Styks and others to the portfolio in recent years.
Diversification is considered prudent by many investment experts. Perhaps it makes sense for companies that depend on firearms to drive their bottom lines as well.