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.

"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