Howell Munitions files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

photo of zions bank
Howell Munitions’ financial woes reportedly started when Zions Bank refused to extend the terms of a loan. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

Howell Munitions & Technology has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to public records.

Published reports had previously indicated that the company had laid off staff.

“We would like to take this time to assure our valuable customers of the ongoing commitment to provide affordable ammunition to shooting sport enthusiasts around the country,” wrote Freedom Munitions, a Howell’s subsidiary, on its Facebook page on June 12. “Freedom Munitions will continue to manufacture ammunition, ship orders and provide the best service we possibly can.” A similar message was posted by X-Treme Bullets, another Howell’s subsidiary, on its Facebook page on the same day.

According to the Lewiston Tribune, which first reported the story, the financial problems involve a dispute with Zions First National Bank, which loaned money to Howell businesses and is owed $17.5 million. Zions would not comment.

Both nationally and statewide, the firearms industry has been slowing down. PNW Arms also filed for bankruptcy in July 2016. In addition, according to the Associated Press, Boise Gun Co. has closed. The Idaho Firearms and Accessories Manufacturers Association Inc. no longer exists. Vista Outdoors cited a reorganization involving severance, as well as a goodwill writeoff of $354 million, in its most recent earnings report. “A challenging retail environment and other market pressures resulted in deeper discounting of Vista Outdoor’s accessories products during the quarter ended January 1, 2017,” the company noted.

“I don’t think the announcement has broader implications or signals trends for the firearm industry overall,” said Matt Borud, chief marketing and innovation officer for the Idaho Department of Commerce, which has worked to promote the firearms industry in Idaho for the past few years. A survey earlier this year ranked Idaho as the state most dependent on the firearms industry.