Skift Take

Thanks to pandemic-driven demand for all things in outdoor recreation, everyone's hearing the call of the wild. Even gunmakers.

American Outdoor Brands, the parent corporation that makes Smith & Wesson firearms, split into two public companies on Monday, with one of them selling accessories for outdoor recreation — the rare growing category in travel.

American Outdoor Brands will offer accessories, such as shovels and knives for camping, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. The other business, named Smith & Wesson, will sell guns.

The split in the Springfield, Massachusetts-based corporation partly highlights the growth in outdoor recreation. The move also underscores volatile shifts in the U.S. supply and demand for firearms.

“There have been significant changes in the political climate as well as the economic, investing, and insurance markets,” Chairman Barry Monheit said in a statement. Smith & Wesson is the second only to Sturm, Ruger & Co. as the largest U.S. firearms maker by sales.

Greater Sales in the Great Outdoors

The pandemic prompted many Americans to take road trips and go camping, with RV and recreational vehicle sales booming. Several outdoor recreation booking and trip-planning startups such as Hipcamp, Outdoorsy, The Dyrt, Pitchup, Cabana, and PaulCamper have claimed booming search volumes.

Before the pandemic, the U.S. outdoor recreation economy, including outdoor sports, yachting, and activities like riding all-terrain vehicles, accounted for about $427 billion in spending, or about 2 percent of all goods and services in 2017, the latest year of interpreted data by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking equipment segments generated U.S. industry sales of about $5 billion a year each.

Other companies are also looking to cash in on the boom. VF (formerly called Vanity Fair), the owner of outdoor brands such as The North Face and Vans, has said it is considering acquisitions.


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Tags: camping, guns, national parks, outdoors, recreation

Photo credit: Anthony Lake in Baker County, Oregon. It's in the Elkhorn Mountains of Northeast Oregon along the Elkhorn Scenic Byway just outside of Baker City. Baker County Tourism

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