Vista Outdoor considering dropping assault-style firearms, helmet, and SUP brands

The announcement comes only a few months after the global gun control debate that resulted in REI and MEC dropping Vista brands from store's shelves.
Publish date:
Savage Arms MSR 15 Competition

Savage Arms Modern Sporting Rifle 15

Today, Vista Outdoor Inc. reported that it’s exploring the idea of selling off Savage Arms, the maker of semi-automatic weapons and the brand that was at the heart of a boycott back in early March.

According to a press release issued by Vista’s media relations department, the move is part of a strategic business transformation plan. The corporation wants to focus on growing its ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, hydration bottles and packs, and outdoor cooking products.

Not semi-automatic, assault style weapons.

The announcement follows a tumultuous start to the year for Vista, when after a school shooting in Florida, REI and Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op dropped Vista’s outdoor brands, including CamelBak, Camp Chef, and Bollé, following major pressure from members.

“Many of you have told us you want us to immediately stop carrying products from any brands owned by Vista Outdoor, because of their support for the NRA and ownership of other brands that manufacture automatic weapons and ammunitions,” MEC wrote on Twitter on Feb. 26. “We’ve also heard from many of you who disagree: members who still want to be able to buy brands like CamelBak at MEC, and who think purchasing decisions should be up to individual consumers.”

According to Vista’s news release, the “strategic business transformation planning” began long before the debate, in November 2017 as a result of a comprehensive strategic review. The implication is that this is decision is not a reaction to the boycott movement.

In fact, Vista Outdoor Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz said during an investor conference call that the boycott had little effect on the corporation. He said that the impact of REI's decision represented less than 1 percent of the company's total sales. 

"Vista Outdoor began its strategic review in November 2017, when our new CEO Chris Metz joined the company," spokeswoman Amanda Convington told SNEWS. "He enlisted management and highly recognized consulting firm to analyze and review the strategic process and plan. Chris told our investment community in November and early February that we would share our plan in early May during our full-year earnings call. Our plan is a thoughtful and reasonable approach based on data, and we believe this will help us realize the company’s full potential."

It explains why Vista has been mum throughout the controversy, despite REI specifically asking for a statement from Vista in a March 1 blog post.

“This morning we learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action," said REI. "As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds. Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead. We encourage Vista to do just that.”

Vista’s new emphasis will be clear and focused on its core, according to today's statement.

"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."

“Our review identified product categories that are core to the company’s long-term business strategy,” said Metz. “We believe future investment should focus on categories where Vista Outdoor can achieve sustainable growth, maximize operational efficiencies, deliver leadership economics, and drive shareholder value.”

Specifically, Vista is considering splitting from its Sports Protection Brands—Giro, Bell, and Blackburn—and Jimmy Styks paddle boards, and Savage and Stevens firearms.

Reached Tuesday, an REI spokesperson said the cooperative has no update on whether or not it will reconsider its hold on ordering products from brands under Vista.

In conducting the strategic review, Vista Outdoor evaluated brands within its current portfolio based on their ability to do the following:

· Serve the company’s target consumer – the outdoor enthusiast

· Create cross-selling and other similar synergy opportunities

· Achieve market leading positions and leadership economics

· Demonstrate omni-channel distribution capabilities

Separately, Vista (VSTO) reported that sales were down 9 percent at $2.3 billion this fiscal year compared to the prior year. The decline, according to Vista, 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.


REI storefront on a sunny day.

REI drops CamelBak, Giro, Bell, Camp Chef and other Vista brands (at least temporarily)

REI has placed a hold on future orders with Vista Outdoor brands, such as CamelBak and Giro, as a global gun control debate mounts. The U.S. cooperative's decision comes the same day as its counterpart in Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op, severed ties with several outdoor brands more

grid representing action shots of vista outdoor brands

Breaking down the Vista Outdoor boycott

"Excuse me. Can you tell me where the CamelBaks are?" I asked a hovering, green-vested employee in a big metro REI store last fall. "We don't carry CamelBak anymore," she said. Obviously well-versed, she continued, "Their parent company also owns a semi-automatic rifle more

hunting silhouette

Guns and the outdoor industry: Where do we go from here?

When Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President Land Tawney reflects on the history of land and wildlife preservation in the U.S., he notes how great things have been accomplished during times of darkness. In the early 1900’s market killers were wiping out big game to put food on more

Vista Outdoor headquarters

Will REI, MEC drop brands owned by NRA-supporting Vista Outdoor?

Two giant outdoor retailers — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — are facing increasing pressures from members to cut ties with several brands under the parent company Vista Outdoor, which also owns a semi-automatic rifle manufacturer. In the aftermath of the Florida school more

climber stemming up a crack

Industry Buzz: Vista Outdoor sells Savage Arms, new climbing map, CLIF, Patagonia, Arches, and Denali closes for good

Keep up by reading Industry Buzz. Here are today's top headlines: Have a news tip? Email us at It's official: Vista Outdoor today completed the sale of Savage Arms and Stevens firearms. A financial buyer bought the brands for $170 million. The sale is part more

Anna Segal in the Instinct helmet and Tsar goggles by Bollé

Vista Outdoor selling eyewear brands. Is Savage Arms next?

Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO) is selling off its eyewear brands, Bollé, Cébé and Serengeti. An entity controlled by a significant European private equity fund entered into a definitive agreement with Vista Outdoor, according to a company news release. Earlier this year, Vista more

Two men in Giro gear, one of Vista Outdoor's brands

Vista Outdoor cuts jobs in bike division

Vista Outdoor recently laid off 14 people at its Scotts Valley, California, facility, the headquarters for Bell, Giro, and Blackburn. The cuts—about 10 percent of the workforce at the facility—come even as the company reinvests in its bike division. Layoffs touched people in all more

Clouds create shadows over the Grand Canyon

The top 10 outdoor industry stories of 2018

This year was evidence that change is upon us, whether it's how and where we do business, learning to live without a handful of outdoor industry icons, or recognizing just how much influence the outdoor industry has in local communities and across the globe. Through all the more

Cliffhanger Poster

Industry Buzz: Vista Outdoor, David Labistour, Cliffhanger film, OIA events, and a new Colorado gear shop

Keep up by reading Industry Buzz. Here are today's top headlines: Have a news tip? Email us at Granby, Colorado, recently saw the opening of Two Pines Supply, a "multisport outdoor store" stocked with all your rental gear needs. Hanna and Chris Olivier, more