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Celebrity helps push Lewiston ammunition

by ELAINE WILLIAMS/ Lewiston Tribune
| August 27, 2020 1:00 AM

An outdoor lifestyle celebrity whose adventures are featured on Netflix is part of Vista Outdoor’s push to sell rimfire ammunition manufactured in Lewiston.

CCI’s Copper-22, Mini-Mag and Maxi-Mag loads were recently named the official rimfire ammunition of MeatEater, a brand with a Netflix series of the same name, a Sportsman Channel show, podcasts and a website starring Steven Rinella, a 40-something hunter who’s known for eating what he harvests.

“These three loads are what fills Steven Rinella’s freezer with small game,” said CCI Rimfire Product Director Rick Stoeckel in a prepared statement.

The partnership with MeatEater is one of numerous efforts underway at Vista Outdoor to bolster the bottom line of the company, which posted four consecutive annual losses before rallying in its most recent quarter with a $40.5 million profit.

The company wants its products to appeal to its traditional base and aims to introduce them to individuals who have never picked up a firearm.

Its connection to MeatEater will help Vista Outdoor market the Lewiston ammunition often used to shoot squirrels, rabbits or tin cans as well as some of its cartridges made at its other ammunition plant in Minnesota.

Among those are the new Federal Premium Bismuth, shotshell ammunition made with a nontoxic material that’s almost as dense as lead that meets requirements for waterfowl hunting.

MeatEater crews often film Rinella on trips with his buddies or celebrities, crafting homespun phrases to describe where he is or what’s happening to him.

In an episode about hunting mule deer in Nevada, he describes the setting as a place where “you can roam all you want and soak up the lonely.” At one stage in the hunt, he worries about scaring the deer because the gravel he’s kneeling on sounds like Frito-Lay corn chips breaking when he moves.

“He has a good sense of humor,” said Brian Kelvington, a media director for Federal, CCI & Speer ammunition.

That appeal could be enough to keep people watching and get interested in trying hunting for themselves.

“He has a broad base of followers across all of his (media) platforms,” Kelvington said.

So far, the approach is working well, but he declined to share how much it is helping the company’s bottom line.

“From all indications, it’s been a very positive relationship,” Kelvington said.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.