Recession Boosts Gun Sales: Smith & Wesson CEO

Personal protection becomes a bigger worry for Americans during uncertain economic times, and Smith & Wesson CEO Michael Golden said this fear helped fuel a 30 percent jump in quarterly profit for the largest handgun manufacturer in the US.

Smith & Wesson Hits Above Target
Smith & Wesson Hits Above Target   

"As unemployment rises and the economy gets tough, the consumers are buying firearms for personal protection," Golden told CNBC.

Based on a questionnaire distributed to customers, Smith & Wesson determined that 27 percent of its buyers in the first six months of 2009 were purchasing their first gun, compared to only 9 percent a year earlier. This is a direct tie to a desire for personal protection, Golden said.

The company's earnings were also boosted by its recent acquisition of perimeter security company Universal Safety Response, a rise in law enforcement purchases and an increase in international sales.

On Wednesday Smith & Wesson reported earnings of $12.6 million, or 21 cents a share, for the first quarter, compared with $2.3 million a year earlier.

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Reuters contributed to this report