ATK to Buy Savage Arms

John B. Snow Avatar

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Big news in the sporting world today. ATK, which already owns large swath of the outdoor industry’s leading ammunition and shooting accessories brands, has announced that it is acquiring the company that owns Savage Sports Corporation for $315 million in cash. This purchase is ATK’s first foray into firearms production.

The name of the company being purchased is Caliber Company, which is the parent of Savage Arms, Bowtech and other brands in the hunting and shooting world–though the deal only includes the Savage and Stevens firearms brands and Savage Range Systems and does not include the archery company Bowtech. According to ATK, the purchase should be finalized prior to June 30, 2013.

Officials from both ATK and Savage offered upbeat assessments of the deal.

“The acquisition will complement ATK’s growing portfolio of leading consumer brands,” said Mark DeYoung, ATK President and CEO. “This opportunity will allow us to build upon our offerings with Savage’s prominent, respected brands known for accuracy, quality, innovation, value and craftsmanship.”

Meanwhile, Savage’s president and Chief Operating Officer, Al Kasper, had similarly nice things to say.

“Savage offers customers a unique value proposition that is unmatched by any other firearms manufacturer and will be a tremendous complement to ATK’s existing ammunition and shooting accessories portfolio,” Kasper said.

The official announcement at said that ATK will integrate Savage within its Sporting Group business.

And, in case you were wondering just how big ATK’s Sporting Group is, the release offered this helpful description of the brands it currently owns: “ATK’s ammunition brands include Federal Premium, CCI, Fusion, Speer, Estate Cartridge and Blazer. ATK’s accessories brands include Blackhawk!, Alliant Power, RCBS, Champion targets and shooting equipment, Gunslick Pro and Outers gun-care products, and Weaver optics and mounting systems.”

The acquisition of well-known firearms brands by larger companies has often not worked out well for the firearms companies in question. Though, in this case, there’s reason not to panic. ATK has demonstrated an ability to bring new brands into the fold without uprooting those brands’ production facilities and personnel in the name of consolidation and cost savings, and has therefore avoided some of the errors that have plagued similar business deals.

My fervent hope is that Savage’s new overlords at ATK will proceed with a light touch. Savage is one of the most clear-cut success stories in the gun world in recent memory and its example should be emulated and not tampered with. Savage, which a couple decades ago was on death’s door, reinvented itself under former CEO Ron Coburn, and turned into a most improbable gun maker: namely, a profitable firearms company located in the heart of the anti-gun and heavily unionized Northeast that makes accurate and affordable guns for every-day shooters. (And for the record, no, I don’t equate the success of the AR guys, which is due to circumstance more than business acumen, with what Savage has accomplished.)

Likewise, I hope that Bowtech doesn’t languish in limbo as a result of this either. I can understand why ATK might not have been interested in acquiring the bow maker–to date, ATK’s brands have been focused purely on the shooting side of hunting and Bowtech was a tiny fraction of Savage’s business. Even so, it has been a remarkable and innovative force in the archery business and I hope that whoever ends up with it (I can’t imagine it will stay part of the financial group it is currently with for very long) treats it well.