Ruger’s versatility in camo, finish and barrel options enables the company to introduce variations of established product lines throughout the year. Sales of new products accounted for 30 percent of Ruger’s total firearms sales in 2018.
Ruger Reports 2018 Earnings, Q4 2018 Sales
Feb. 20, Ruger reported its Q4 2018 sales, as well
as its total net sales from the 2018 calendar year. Ruger’s 2018 sales totaled $495.6 million (down 5.4% from 2017, when net sales reached $522.3 million), while its Q4 2018 sales outpaced the corresponding 2017 quarter by 2.5 percent (from $118.2 million to $121.1 million). Cash generated from operations during 2018 was $119.8 million, increasing the company’s cash to $152.8 million — with no debt.
In a Feb. 21 earnings conference call, Ruger President and CEO Chris Killoy shed some light on how his company is approaching today’s softened market — as well as his insights on the industry.
“Despite this apparent reduction in overall industry demand, the estimated sell-through of the company’s products from independent distributors to retailers in 2018 was essentially unchanged from 2017,” Killoy said. “We believe this is primarily due to strong demand for some of the company’s products, particularly those introduced December 2017.”
Impact Of New Products
New products continue to be a strong sales motivator for customers, which Killoy confirmed during the call.
“In the area of new product development, we believe new products remain a key driver of demand and likely the reason for outperformance of NICS in 2018 [down 6 percent from 2017],” he said.
Sales of new products represented $145.6 million (30%) of Ruger’s total firearms sales in 2018 — garnering a higher share than in 2017, when they accounted for 27 percent of sales ($137.8 million). The Pistol Caliber Carbine, Precision Rimfire Rifle, Mark IV Pistol, LCP II, Security-9 and EC9s were introduced last year.
One of Ruger’s notable new developments in 2018 was the emergence of the Ruger Custom Shop, which launched with two high-end performance variants of popular models — the 10/22 Competition Rifle and SR1911 Competition Pistol. While Killoy shared the Custom Shop’s offerings will expand, the company is not looking to overload the market with new options.
“We’ve got some other great platforms you’ll be seeing from us in the not-too-distant future. We want to make sure we do it right, so it’s not something we’re trying to flood the market with a lot of SKUs right now. We’re trying to do it slow and make sure if we launch a Custom Shop model it’s really good value,” he said.
Flexibility in new product development today is vital, Killoy informed.
“When people look at the overall market, the key is making sure you’re flexible enough to be in the right categories and [continue] the stream of new product introduction to try to drive demand,” he said.
Niche Categories Perform
Niche products continue to excel for manufacturers and dealers invested in those segments, with Ruger a beneficiary of this trend.
“We’re seeing a lot of demand for niche calibers, niche cartridges,” Killoy said in the earnings call. “Certain categories are experiencing category or Pistol Caliber Carbine. The niche products and line extensions are really key to keeping volumes up and grabbing market share.”
Killoy also highlighted how the addition of Magnum calibers to the Ruger Precision Rifle (.338 Lapua, .300 Win. Mag.) and Ruger Precision Rimfire Rifle (.17 HMR, .22 WMR) platforms addressed another
growing niche in the marketplace.
Role Of Special Makeups
Special makeups (SMUs) represent a vital cog in Ruger’s product development, with slight modifications to existing platforms — such as a new camouflage pattern, caliber, stock, etc. — providing more options for its sales partners.
“It really keeps things exciting for our distributors and retailers, as well as hopefully allows [them] to get a few extra points of margin for something a little bit different, a little bit unique — and maybe the other gun store down the road doesn’t have,” Killoy said.
Killoy shared Ruger has also done some SMUs for individual retailers, as well as larger independent stores and retail chains. He underscored the importance of these unique combinations in 2019.
“It’s a key strength of Ruger: The flexibility we have now — be it products like Cerakote, the camouflage dipping process, as well as our ability to make an infinite number of barrel and stock combinations — has been a key factor in our success and I see it increasing,” he said.
Umarex Expands Official License With Smith & Wesson
Umarex GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Germany, announces the expansion of Smith & Wesson licensed replica offerings with the addition of airsoft and paintball categories. Umarex USA has been Smith & Wesson’s license partner for BB and pellet guns since 1996.
“The Smith & Wesson brand is an iconic brand enjoying worldwide reputation. We are proud and honored to be Smith & Wesson’s partner since 1996. As the leading manufacturer and provider of replica airguns, we will give the new Smith & Wesson airsoft and paintball lines our utmost attention to please enthusiasts worldwide,” said Eyck Pflaumer, managing partner of Umarex.
“Our quality, consistency and service have set airsoft industry standards to a whole new level, and with the addition of Smith & Wesson to our strong assortment of licensed brands, we will continue to dominate the replica airsoft gaming market in six millimeter,” said Cliff Eisenbarger, national sales manager for Umarex USA’s Elite Force airsoft division.
Umarex USA innovates, develops and markets products under brands owned or licensed by its parent company, Umarex GmbH & Co. KG. Those brands include Axeon Optics, Beretta, Browning, Colt, Elite Force Airsoft, GLOCK, Heckler & Koch, Hornady, IWI, Optical Dynamics, Ruger, RWS, Smith & Wesson, Umarex, Walther and others.
Koola Buck Purchases Viper Archery Products
Koola Buck, producer of state-of-the-art meat-processing products and inventor of the Koola Buck portable refrigeration system, announced it has purchased privately owned Viper Archery Products of South Point, Ohio.
This acquisition adds a number of U.S.-made archery products to the Koola Buck portfolio. Products acquired through this transaction and marketed under the Viper Archery Products name include Driver Series sights and scopes, Venom sights, SX Hunter and Viper stabilizers. The terms of the sale were not disclosed.
For the past 17 years, Viper Archery Products has been a well-known name in the archery industry, offering premium-performance products in a wide variety of categories. The company manufactures and assembles all of its products in the U.S., and plans to add broadheads, drop-away arrow rests, quivers and releases for 2019.
“[This] announcement represents a tremendous opportunity to advance and grow the Viper Archery Products company, develop and introduce powerful new products and bring the company to the forefront of the archery market once again,” said Brad Lockwood, president and owner of Koola Buck. “We’re committed to offering the best new and innovative products tailored to meet the specific needs of our customers.”
Koola Buck maintains autonomous control over the Viper Archery Products brand and operations, which will remain in its South Point headquarters. Rick Clark, founder of Viper Archery, will stay on to oversee manufacturing, while Lockwood will take on the roles of president and brand manager for the company.
SIG SAUER TANGO6T Awarded Contract
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has selected SIG SAUER’s Electro-Optics TANGO6T 1-6×24 Second Focal Plane (SFP) Riflescope and ALPHA4 Ultralight Mount for use by Special Operations Forces.
“The TANGO6T riflescope line combines ruggedized MIL-SPEC810-G mechanical systems and HDX high-definition optical design with advanced electronic technologies. We are firmly committed to supporting the Department of Defense with this riflescope to provide greater adaptability, increased lethality and enhanced target acquisition for our Special Operations Forces,” said Andy York, president of SIG SAUER Electro-Optics.
The TANGO6T 1-6×24 riflescope is a second focal-plane, ruggedized riflescope with a Flat Dark Earth anodized aircraft-grade aluminum maintube. The riflescope features an M855A1 Bullet Drop Compensation illuminated reticle with holds for CQB to medium-range engagements and an ultra-bright red Hellfire fiber optic illumination system for fast daylight target acquisition, among other features.
The DoD award also includes the new ALPHA4 Ultralight Mount, which was designed specifically by the SIG SAUER Electro-Optics division for the TANGO6T series of riflescopes to attach to a MIL-STD-1913 rail. The mount is machined from a single piece of 7075 aluminum for added strength and weight reduction, and is hardcoat anodized to provide additional environmental protection.
SureFire Celebrates 40 Years Of Business
SureFire LLC, manufacturer of illumination tools, suppressors and tactical accessories, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Founded in 1979 as Laser Products Corp., the company took tactical innovation into uncharted territory when it introduced the LPC Model 7. Incorporating a laser sight atop a Colt Trooper .357 Magnum, it was the world’s first commercially available laser-aimed firearm.
The LPC Model 7 created an entirely new market, and Laser Products went on to develop other groundbreaking laser sights for a variety of weapons. As this technology became favored by military and law enforcement agencies, the company responded to their needs by developing weapon-mounted lights for handguns, followed by integrated WeaponLights for shotguns, submachine guns and rifles. Those products fostered the development of the first compact, high-intensity flashlight, the Model 6P.
“We made our mark with laser sights and tactical illumination tools, but we didn’t stop there,” said SureFire President and Founder Dr. John Matthews. “Our basic mission has always been to produce products to help good guys who go into harm’s way, and we’ve never stopped innovating to give our customers the advantage they need and deserve.”
SureFire is also known for its extreme-duty illumination products and tactical tools, including innovative hands-free lighting, Ear Pro brand hearing protection and communication devices. Its battlefield-proven SOCOM suppressor is the official suppressor of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Forces Special Operations since 2011, a contract that was renewed in 2017.
Aided by several successful new product launches in 2018, Leupold & Stevens set a new company record in riflescope production last year.
Leupold Sets Riflescope-Building Record
Leupold & Stevens Inc. announces a new company record after manufacturing more riflescopes in its Beaverton, Ore., factory in 2018 than any previous calendar year.
New 2018 launches like the Mark 5HD and VX-Freedom line were adopted immediately by consumers throughout the marketplace, and quickly became award-winning products. The company’s top-tier Gold Ring riflescopes, the VX-5HD and VX-6HD were also in demand, as were the VX-3i and VX-3i LRP lines.
“Our core consumers continue to demand more every year, and our entire team responded with a relentless effort. Every Leupold riflescope comes straight from our Beaverton factory, and I’m proud to say more than 700 hardworking Americans came together to help make 2018 the single most productive year the company has ever had. I want to sincerely thank our retail partners, distributors — both domestic and international — and our loyal Leupold consumers for their support,” said Bruce Pettet, Leupold president and CEO.
Leupold began building riflescopes more than 70 years ago.
“We’ve built our riflescopes in Oregon since the very beginning, and that’s not going to change,” Pettet said. “Every Leupold product meant to be mounted on a firearm is designed, machined and assembled right here in the United States, and there’s no other major optics manufacturer in the industry who can say the same.”