"Don't bring a knife to a gunfight," goes the old saying. Well, Remington Arms isn't making that mistake. In a firearms industry that seems to get more concentrated by the day, Remington has decided it's a good idea to bring two guns.

The nearly century-old gunsmith announced yesterday that it will acquire long-guns maker Marlin Firearms for an undisclosed amount, in a move that mirrors Smith & Wesson's (NASDAQ:SWHC) decision to buy Thomson/Center Arms around about this time last year. The terms of that deal, by the way, were disclosed: S&W paid $102 million cash to bring Thomson's $70 million in annual sales in-house.

You can't shoot what you can't see
While we don't know much about Remington's deal to buy Marlin, here's what we do know:


Trailing-12-Month Sales (Millions)

Trailing-12-Month Profit (Millions)













Sturm, Ruger




Glock GmbH



*Both Hoover's and Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) agree on this figure being Marlin's annual sales, but because the company is private and does not disclose its finances publicly, take the number with caution.
**Same caveat, but Capital IQ has better data on these two private players.

A look in the chamber
So what are we to make of the above? Of primary importance is that we now know Remington is king of the hill, with a machine-gun nest planted at the crest. Its annual sales of nearly half a billion dollars through such distributors as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV) dwarf those its next biggest rival in the firearms sphere -- and that divide is only going to get wider as Remington incorporates Marlin into its portfolio.

Turning to profitability, we see that Ruger sports a profit margin about 80 basis points higher than S&W's. Then again, with so many of the biggest names in guns being privately owned, it's difficult to say whether Glock, Beretta, or even Marlin has an edge over Ruger.

One thing's for sure, though: The bigger Remington gets, the easier it should be for this gunsmith to turn the economies of scale to its advantage. Remington could then pressure its rivals -- and, most important to us, its publicly traded rivals -- on margins, should it be so inclined. And judging from what S&W told us about price competition in the industry earlier this month, I suspect that Remington just might be so inclined.

What did we expect out of S&W last quarter, and what did we find in the chamber? Read about it in:

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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.