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Ruger: Bolt action rifles more popular than usual

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The Ruger Precision rifle is a long range, bolt action target rifle at over 8 lbs. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Sturm, Ruger and Company Chief Executive Officer Chris Killoy said last week the gun maker’s bolt action rifle sales saw an unanticipated bump during fall hunting season last year.

“Frankly we did much better on some of the non-standard calibers, things like the 450 Bushmaster, bolt-action American rifle, as well as the 6.5 Creedmoors and things of that nature, rather than the traditional calibers like 30.6’s and 270’s,” he said during a conference call with investors Thursday. “So, it was a very good. Good for Ruger in terms of bolt-action sales in the hunting season, but it’s a little atypical in terms of which products were moving through.”

Killoy first mentioned the popularity of Ruger’s bolt action products in November, calling it “a real bright spot” during an otherwise average start to hunting season.

“Last year we saw people with the discretionary dollar spending that on modern sporting rifle category, and maybe passing over their bolt actions,” he said at the time. “This year … we’ve seen a decent amount of bolt action sales, particularly in some of those non-standard calibers.”

Ruger reported annual net sales of $522.3 million last year, down 21 percent over 2016 — the biggest on record for federal background checks and by proxy, estimated gun sales. Fourth quarter sales dipped 27 percent to $118.2 million, according to regulatory filings published Wednesday.

The latest round of earnings caps off a lean year for Ruger. Killoy told investors the company slashed 700 positions over the last 13 months in order to bolster its success in 2018.

“We had to make some difficult decisions,” he said. “We developed a strategic plan focusing on not selling positions vacated through attrition and the reduction of overtime while carefully monitoring our headcount.”

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