While We Were Out

Jan 3, 2018

We’re back. 

And our view after a few days without deadlines is that 2018 looks like it will be another eventful year for the outdoor industry.

Even before the year effectively ended last Friday, new products were being announced for 2018. Ruger, Viridian, and others introduced more than one. 

Of those multiple product announcements Ruger’s announcements of a two new long guns (a pistol caliber breakdown carbine in 9mm and a .22 LR version of their Precision Rifle) got the most discussion among our editors, but it’s worth noting they also introduced new pistols, too. You can read Rich Grassi’s thoughts on Ruger’s new Security Nine in this morning’s edition of The Shooting Wire (www.shootingwire.com). He has some interesting observations on Ruger’s entry into the “high-quality, value price” pistol category.

One of Ruger’s new products is their Security-9 pistol. It’s either one of the final new products of 2017 or one of the first new items for 2018. Yamil Sued photo with permission.

With those introductions, and the new guns we’ve gotten sneak previews of in the past few weeks, it’s safe to say that there will be plenty of new products to check out when the industry gathers in Las Vegas for SHOT Show beginning January 23.

Yes, SHOT Show is that close.  

And the Archery Trade Association’s big show kicks off one week from tomorrow (January 11) at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. They’re expecting around 10,000 attendees to check out the newest offerings from their 650 exhibitors.

Unlike SHOT Show, the ATA offers opportunities to try new products on site. ATA photo with permission

Unfortunately, not everything ahead for all of us in 2018 will be pleasant. If, for example, you’re a Californian who enjoys shooting, you’re already three days into live under another ridiculous regulation. On Monday (January 1), California’s newest firearms regulation went into effect. Without worrying the details to death, this new law requires that all ammunition sales go through a licensed and approved ammunition dealer.

Contrary to what I’ve seen in other places, the law doesn’t mean you can’t buy online or from a catalog, but it must  be shipped to a licensed vendor who will then charge you a processing fee. No background checks required- yet. THOSE go into effect in 2019.

There’s one exception to the online prohibition: it doesn’t cover “unassembled ammunition parts”. 

If you’re thinking about loading up the family vehicle and heading to California with a few hundred rounds of ammo, here’s my advice: don’t. It is now illegal to “import” any ammunition into California.

Here’s something you should note if you’re considering hunting there: the California Attorney General’s office says the 2016 provision allowing hunters to bring in 50 rounds from out of state without going through a dealer was removed by Proposition 63. 

Seems a place that takes great pride in boasting about its “tolerance” is decidedly intolerant when it comes to guns -or the rights of its millions of legal gun owners.

We’re not the only group that’s back for their first day on the job in 2018…Congress (the leadership, at least) reconvenes today after their annual holiday break. No word (yet) on where pro-gun legislation stands today, but we’re already hearing new restrictive legislation is being prepped for this session. With the Republican majority narrowed to a single vote in the Senate following Alabama’s election of their first Democratic senator in a quarter-century, it’s no longer safe to presume that most anti-gun legislation can be turned or delayed there. That’s despite Alabama’s newest senator, Doug Jones having always been considered a Second Amendment supporter. Once “elected representatives” get to Washington, they seem to be susceptible to influences other than those of their constituencies.

As 2018 revs its brand-new engine, virtually all the publicly traded companies in the outdoors segment are hoping their fortunes will change in 2018. American Outdoor Brands, Vista Outdoor, L-3, and Ruger all dropped on the final day of trading last Friday. 2017 was a bad year for most outdoor stocks. Vista Outdoor shares, for example, ranged from a high of $39.49/share to a low of $12.36/share last year, closing Friday at $14.57. American Outdoor Brands (formerly known as Smith & Wesson Holding Company) saw its shares drop by nearly 50% in 2017, from a high of $24.49/share to Friday’s close of $12.84/share.

With one day of trading in the books for 2018, it looks like things may be on the upswing. Vista, Cabelas, L3, Ruger and American Outdoor Brands all were all up at the final bell yesterday.

Industry analysts and ivestors are hoping each of them can rediscover their groove. As one market watcher told me yesterday, “hopefully they’re all realizing their their roots - the gun business- has historically been their strength. Diversifying is one thing; forgetting your history is another thing entirely. Gun owners have long memories.”

We’ll keep you posted.

—Jim Shepherd