The Facts About Vista Outdoor’s “Strategic Transformation”

What the potential sale of Savage Arms really means and how long the decision has been in the works.

You’ve undoubtedly seen somewhere in the news or on social media this week that Vista Outdoor, which owns a plethora of companies, is putting Savage and Stevens Arms up for sale and that it will be concentrating its focus on other areas of its business, like manufacturing ammunition.

Let’s break down the facts to make sure we’re understanding this correctly, which requires a little more than a headline. After all, we’re talking about a company that owns over 50 major brands.

First, according to a Vista press release, “…the plan is a result of a comprehensive strategic review, which began in November 2017.”

That means this is part of a long-term plan and not a reaction to a recent decision by outdoor retailer REI to no longer carry any Vista brands such as Giro, Bell, Camelbak, and Camp Chef because Vista also owns Savage, nor is it a response to any online petitions.

Furthermore, as part of Vista’s plan laid out in the release, Savage and Stevens are not the only brands being put up for sale.

“Vista Outdoor is excited about the potential of each of our core businesses, particularly ammunition, which is our largest core business.” said Metz. “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.”

As part of its new focus, Vista is also exploring “strategic options for assets that fall outside of these product categories, including its remaining Sports Protection brands (e.g. Bell, Giro, and Blackburn), Jimmy Styks paddle boards, and Savage and Stevens firearms.”

Additionally, Vista plans to use this transformation to focus more on its ammunition brands like Federal Premium, American Eagle, Speer, CCI, Blazer, Estate Cartridge, and Force N Force—along with its other brands that are adjacent to actual guns and ammo, like (take a deep breath): Bushnell, Bushnell Golf, Weaver, Simmons, Millett, Tasco, Night Optics Primos, Blackhawk!, Gold Tip, RCBS, Champion Range And Target, Butler Creek, Uncle Mikes, Eagle, Hoppes No. 9, Gunslick Pro, Outers Alliant Powder, Camp Chef, Camelback, Final Approach, M-Pro-7, Gunmate and Redfield.

All these facts serve as evidence that Vista is not shying away from the shooting and hunting industry in the least, but rather consolidating it’s focus on the brands listed above that are harmonious and exploring options for the outliers.

And if you consider Savage on its own, it’s a well-respected gunmaker with a stellar history and reputation, but it’s somewhat specialized.

They make rifles and shotguns, mostly for hunting and target shooting applications, with only a few obligatory tactical configurations in their pump gun and MSR lines—and they don’t make handguns of any kind. (They have a number of bolt-action rifles with “tactical” in the name, but those are really long-range guns with modern, cool-looking chassis and features that happen to be favored by long-range target shooters and snipers alike.)

If Savage wants to expand, it’s going to need a lot of resources to say, break into the handgun market, and that’s asking a lot of a company that only owns one firearms company.

You can read Vista’s full statement on the matter here.