With firearms sales this year obliterating all previous records, it's not surprising ammunition maker Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO) saw sales jump in the fiscal second quarter.

On Thursday, the ammo and outdoor gear maker reported consolidated revenue jumped 29% higher as shooting sports sales, the bulk of which is ammunition, jumped 26% to $380 million. Because outdoor product sales also surged 35% to $195 million as people sought out entertainment activities that allowed them to socially distance, Vista notched an especially robust quarter even in the midst of a pandemic.

Dollar sign on pile of bullets

Image source: Getty Images.

On target 

The FBI has conducted over 32 million criminal background checks on potential gun buyers in 2020, almost 4 million more than for all of last year. Even when the numbers are adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to eliminate duplicate checks, such as those performed on existing concealed carry permit holders to see if they're still eligible, it remains in record territory.

The NSSF data gives a better indication of consumer demand for firearms and it shows over 17.2 million background checks have been performed through October, or 10% more than were done in 2016, the previous record year.

It's not surprising that Vista is seeing ammo sales soar. Olin, which owns the Winchester brand of ammunition, reported a 10% rise in sales this morning.

Vista Outdoor owns the industry-leading Federal brand, but recently also acquired the Remington brand, when the storied gunmaker went bankrupt again and auctioned off its assets to pay its creditors.

CEO Chris Metz said in a statement, "With the balance sheet now in excellent shape, we can move to deploying our capital to further fund our future growth including innovation and select tuck-in acquisitions, like Remington."

As personal protection, not gun control, has been the driving force of gun sales, Vista Outdoor may see the trend continuing.

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