Cabela's says strong sales of guns and ammunition helped drive its profit up 73 percent in the first quarter, surpassing expectations and briefly driving its shares to all-time highs.

The retailer operates stores that sell gear for hunting, fishing and outdoor sports.

Consumer demand for firearms has surged in recent months on worries about the possibilities of increased regulation or bans on weapons in the wake of the December slayings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela's Inc. said net income rose to $49.8 million, or 70 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $28.8 million, or 40 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts expected 59 cents per share. Revenue jumped 29 percent.

Shares rose 15.5 percent to $64.93 in afternoon trading, after earlier reaching an all-time high.