If you wonder how ammo is made, starting with raw metal, check out this video from Hornady. It shows how bullet jackets are formed from copper, followed by insertion of a lead core. The jacket is then closed up over the core with the bullet taking its final shape in a die (a cannelure is applied on some bullet types). Next the video shows how cartridge brass is formed, starting with small cups of brass. The last part of the video shows how cases are primed and filled with powder, and how bullets are seated into the cases, using an automated process on a giant assembly-line.
At its 100,000+ square foot factory in Grand Island, Nebraska, Hornady produces millions of rounds of ammunition annually. The Grand Island factory is open for tours Monday through Thursday. Hornady Manufacturing, which now boasts over 300 employees, was founded by Joyce Hornady in 1949. The business is currently run by his son Steve Hornady who took over after his father’s death in a plane crash in 1981.
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Earlier this month, U.S. Representative Bonnie Coleman (D-N.J.) introduced a new bill, H.R. 2283, that would restrict online ammo sales. Coleman’s legislation, dubbed the “Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015″, would not ban online sales outright, but it would impose many restrictions and set up a Federal tracking system to “watch” ammo buyers. While H.R. 2283 would not cap the quantity of ammo someone could purchase, the legislation would impose numerous barriers to sale. Most notably, buyers would have to supply identification in person before the product could be shipped.
Cheaper Than Dirt (CTD), a major online vendor of ammo and gun supplies, says that, under H.R. 2283, ammo would have to be sent to a registered dealer, rather that directly to the buyer. The “Devil is in the Details” says analyst David Dolbee, writing in the CTD Shooters’ Log:
ID Required for Ammo Purchases
If passed and signed into law, H.R. 2283 would force you to submit a photo ID, in-person, every time you made an ammunition purchase. Because you cannot show ID in person online, your order would have to be shipped to an ‘authorized dealer’. Essentially, this would mean your ammunition would be received by a local gun store and have its receiving fee tacked on.
Bill Would Create Federal ‘Watch-List’ of Ammo Purchasers
Another provision of H.R. 2283 states anyone purchasing more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in a five-day period would be reported to the U.S. Attorney General. The bill does not specify how the information would then be used. However, the data would be stored in a database maintained by the Department of Justice. Perhaps the government has failed at a national gun registry, but this is an attempt to compile a list in other ways? H.R. 2283 would also require all ammunition sellers to be federally licensed. How this would affect your ability to reload a few rounds and sell them to your buddy or split a group-buy … is unknown.”
We are often asked, “Can you recommend a good reloading book that picks up where the typical reloading manual leaves off — something that goes into more detail about the processes involved.” There is such a book, and it’s fairly recent: Metallic Cartridge Handloading: Pursuit of the Perfect Cartridge, by M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson. Released in 2013, this 425-page book goes into greater depth than McPherson’s popular intro reloading guide, Metallic Cartridge Reloading. McPherson’s latest reloading treatise covers all aspects of the reloading process: the cartridge case; maintaining, improving and loading the case; the seating and reading of primers; the loading of propellant; bullets and the loading of bullets; accurate load development; internal and external ballistics; bullet making and casting; and reloading presses.
With hundreds of photos and illustrations, this book is a good reference for shooters getting started in precision reloading for accuracy. Compared to some other books on reloading procedures, McPherson’s new resource is more up-to-date, so it references more modern reloading tools and techniques. NOTE: This is NOT a reloading manual containing specific load data. Rather, it is a how-to book that covers the process of cartridge reloading from start to finish.
Reviews by actual book buyers: A great resource for handloaders although a little technical for beginners. I have been reloading for 40+ years and picked up some good ideas. — Loren R.
This is a book intended for people who have been reloading for a while. The book contains very detailed information about reloading. — Kaj H.
About the Author, M.L. (“Mic”) McPherson:
Mic McPherson, Technical Editor of Hand Loader’s Digest, is the author of numerous firearms resource books including Metallic Cartridge Reloading and Accurizing the Factory Rifle. He has written scores of articles for leading gun periodicals including Precision Shooting, The Accurate Rifle, Rifle Shooter, and Varmint Hunter Magazine. Mic also served as an Editor of the 8th and 9th Editions of Cartridges of the World.
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Here’s a great search service that can help you locate hard-to-find ammunition and reloading components — while saving money in the process. Ammoseek.com monitors more than a dozen online vendors — checking current pricing and available inventory, for pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammunition. Need .45 acp ammo for your 1911? Just select “.45 ACP” from the “Quick Seek” list on the right. Likewise you can find .223 Rem and .308 Win Rifle ammo with one click.
Find .22 LR Ammo Quickly
Looking for hard-to-find .22 LR rimfire ammunition? Well AmmoSeek makes it easy — you don’t even have to enter any search words. Simply click on the highlighted links for AmmoSeek’s 22LR Page.
Use Ammoseek.com to Find Reloading Components Too
Ammoseek.com also lets you search for reloading components, including powder, primers, brass, and bullets. This is a huge time-saver. You can instantly check a dozen or more vendors to see if a particular type of powder is in stock. Likewise, you can quickly check for primer availability. If you have a big match coming up and are short on primers — this could solve the problem.
Story Tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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You have to love this — a shooting facility in Western Pennsylvania has its own ammo vending machine. This is the same kind of machine normally used to sell snack foods. But at the Beaver Valley Rifle & Pistol Club (BVRPC), you can get .38 Specials instead of Pretzels. The vending machine offers a wide assortment of pistol cartridges, packaged in 50-round bags. Fifty 9mm Luger rounds cost $21.00 and yes the machine takes credit cards.
The machine was installed by Sam Piccinini, owner of the Master Ammo Company. Sam says the machine is a convenience for club members, who had trouble finding ammo that complied with Club rules prohibiting jacketed bullets: “Most conventional commercial ammunition manufactured today is jacketed, and jackets can separate from the lead when it hits the backstops in gun ranges.” All the ammo in the vending machine features non-jacketed bullets. Piccinini states: “The machine sells pretty much everything — from .22 long rifle to .45 Long Colt and every standard caliber in between except .32 and .25 automatic. It’s got 380, 9, 38, 40, 45, .357 SIG.” (Source BeaverCountian.com)
Mainstream media reports of the ammo vending machine have spurred controversy. ATF rules prohibit an ammo-maker from selling handgun ammunition to persons under 21 years of age. The machine is located inside a locked, private facility restricted to persons over 18. On the machine is the warning: “You must be over 21 to purchase handgun ammunition from this machine.” BVRPC President Bill Fontana states: “It’s nobody’s business, it’s our club, we can do as our members allow us. Legally there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”
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You probably know by now that the ATF is seeking comments on a proposed regulation that would ban the importation and sale of M855 steel-core 5.56x45mm ammunition. The ATF has proposed banning this “green-tip” ammo (and similar products) on the grounds that it is “armor piercing”.
Nobody knows whether the proposed ban will actually go into effect. The ATF is solicting comments through March 16, 2015. The mere possibility of a ban has spurred a feeding frenzy of ammo sales. If you are looking for genuine M855-type Green Tip ammo, suitable for use in AR-platform rifles, Creedmoor Sports recently obtained a large supply. Creedmoor just located quantities of Lake City-produced, American Eagle-brand XM855 in cardboard boxes: “Our team found another source for 5.56 mm XM855F Federal Lake City Green Tip Ammo. This ammo is becoming almost impossible to source the closer we get to the [March 16th end] of the ATF comment period.”
Lake City M855 5.56 62gr Green Tip Ammunition (300 Rounds)
High-quality 5.56x45mm ammo made in the USA by Lake City. This is “XM855″ ball ammo with a steel penetrator in the core, surrounded by a copper jacket. The projectile is color-coded with a green-painted tip as is traditional with US-made M855.
* Manufacturer: Federal / Lake City
* Model: XM855
* Caliber: 5.56 NATO (5.56x45mm)
* Grain Weight: 62 Grains
* Type: Full Metal Jacket with Penetrator
* Units per Case: 300 (in two 150ct boxes)
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is seeking to ban commonly-used 5.56 M855 “green tip” ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition” and is seeking public comment on the proposal. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) urges target shooters and gun owners to contact ATF to oppose this proposed ban.
For decades, under the “sporting purposes” doctrine, commonly-available “green tip” M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition has been exempt from federal law banning armor-piercing ammunition. There is no question that this 5.56 ball ammo has been widely used by law-abiding American citizens for sporting purposes.
Winchester-brand 5.56X45 62gr NATO M855 FMJ Ammunition
The NSSF has an online form that makes it easy to voice your opinion on the proposed ban on 5.56 ball ammo. This form will direct your comments to Congress and/or the ATF. Click the button at right to navigate to the NSSF online form.
Commentary by Jim Shepherd, The Shooting Wire
Should the ATF reclassify surplus (and widely used) M855 and SS109 ammunition as armor-piercing, it would then be illegal for consumer consumption. This weekend, we received word that apparently many gun owners didn’t find this to be a compelling reason to record their objections with the federal government. With only a few days remaining in the ATF’s solicitation of comments, fewer than 6,000 shooters have registered their displeasure with the proposal.That, as one of my least-favorite instructors used to say, is simply unacceptable.”
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Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Watch video review below.
Summary by .22 Plinkster (see 4:30 time mark): “I’m pretty impressed with it … I think it’s a really good deal. For six dollars and fifty cents [per box] you can’t go wrong with a box of this ammo. Out of a good bolt gun, this ammo will drive tacks.”
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Georgia-based PolyCase Ammunition has developed innovative polymer-based composite cartridge cases and injection-molded bullets. With a patent-pending design, the polymer cartridge cases are lighter than brass or steel cases, yet are heat-tolerant, and relatively easy to manufacture. These cases will be initially produced for .223 Remington, plus a variety of pistol cartridge types (.380 ACP, .38 SPL, 9mm Luger). PolyCase cartridge cases blend patented heat-resistent polymers with metal elements in the case base. According to the manufacturer, “the net effects are greatly reduced weight (compared to comparable loaded ammunition), durability… and competitive pricing.” Other companies have experimented with polymer cartridge cases in the past — none have successfully perfected the technology in a commercially successful product. Could PolyCase be the first?
PolyCase Ammunition — Material Characteristics
– PolyCase Pistol Cartridge Cases are 11.5 to 20% lighter than brass-cased ammunition.
– PolyCase Rifle Cartridge Cases are 23 to 60% lighter than brass-cased ammunition.
– PolyCase Cartridge Cases are self-lubricating — a positive factor compared to brass or steel cases.
PolyCase Bullets — Injection-Molded Blend of Copper and Plastic
PolyCase has developed its own unique bullets for use in pistol ammunition. PolyCase Cu/P™ bullets are precision injection-molded from a cutting-edge copper-polymer compound. These molded bullets will be offered in both polymer cases and conventional brass cases. (Early in the design process, PolyCase determined that molded bullets work well in both brass and plastic cases). PolyCase co-owner Paul Lemke (Lt. Col. U.S. Army, Ret.) says: “We are able to use essentially the same molds to produce bullets for brass casings and bullets for our polymer casings”.
PolyCase Pioneers Injection-Molded Bullet Technology
Powdered metal has been around for decades, but blending powdered metal with polymers and injection molding precise parts is a fairly modern process. While processes like sintered metal bullets and pressure-formed shotgun pellets have become commonplace, PolyCase is the first American company to produce and sell a completely injection-molded bullet.
For over a century most bullets have been mass-produced with a process called cold-forming. Lead and copper were shaped with brute force in punches and dies to create projectiles. While this is still a viable and effective way to produce bullets, other manufacturing methods are now available. By applying injection-molding technology, Polycase has developed a new type of bullet that has many advantages, as least for handgun applications. Bullets weigh approximately 70% as much as lead bullets with similar profiles. Lighter weight means higher velocities and less recoil. In addition, PolyCase bullets are lead-free, and low ricochet — two qualities important for indoor and close-range training. The injection-molding process also reduces weight variations (compared to cast lead bullets), and ensures excellent concentricity. Molding also allows unique shapes that are impossible to produce with conventional bullet-making methods (see photo).
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Get an inside look at the how ammunition is made with this step-by-step production guide from Hornady. The video begins by showing the stages in production of a lead-core jacketed bullet with exposed tip, such as the Hornady Interlock. Next, at the 1:38″ time-mark, the video shows how cartridge cases are made, starting with small brass cups (photo right). The brass is lengthened in a series of stages involving annealing, drawing, polishing, and the formation of the case head with primer pocket. Finally, at the 2:40″ time mark, the video shows how bullets and powder are seated into cartridge cases on the Hornady assembly line. In the final production stages, the completed ammunition is tested and packaged.
Watch Ammo Production Video
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What do you get for the shooter “who has everything”? How about a custom-crafted, laser-engraved ammo display case. Technoframes produces a series of ultra-sleek Ammo display units, and high-tech pistol racks. The CNC-machined display boxes, fitted to your choice of cartridge, look great. There are many varieties to choose from, including wood, metal, and plexiglass. We like the fact that many of the boxes are lockable.
Technoframes’ impressive billet-aluminum pistol racks, with magazine-style gun holders (fitted with Neodymium magnets in their bases) put ordinary plastic or wire-framed racks to shame.
Last but not least, Technoframes also makes a plexiglass-sided gun transport box and a double-tiered, two-pistol/six-magazine gun display box with removable inner tray. These units look like they were produced by “M” for James Bond.
Technoframes is the world’s leading producer of high-end CNC-machined ammo and handgun storage solutions. Along with display cases, Technoframes offers Snap Caps and historical replica ammunition. For more info, visit Technoframes.com.
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If you’re a serious shooter, the latest 5th Edition of the Ammo Encyclopedia (released in August, 2014), belongs in your library. This 1008-page book is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date book in print covering current and obsolete cartridges and shotshells. Bussard’s Ammo Encyclopedia is a massive resource work. The 5th Edition now boasts 105 chapters, covering thousands of handgun, rifle, and shotgun cartridges from the past century and a half.
One of the best features is a 12-page color section depicting actual size drawings of 265 current rimfire/centerfire cartridges and shotshells. You won’t find that many “life-size” cartridge drawings in one place even on the internet. Cartridge profiles and ballistic charts have been expanded to include all new factory cartridges. The authors have even included air rifle pellets and historical images and charts. Softcover, 1008 pages.
Comments from guys who bought the book:
“This book contains a vast array of information on many modern and even obsolete ammunition. Definately recommend for any modern reloader novice or experienced.” – Duggaboy460
“It’s a great reference book for individuals who reload their own ammunition. There is a lot more info in this Edition. Everyone who likes this information should have it in their library.” – Reloader
“I like the general and technical comments that are available for each and every cartridge. Information that predicts if a cartridge will stay in production for many more years or rapidly become obsolete.” – RSL1
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Hornady has just announced its new-for-2015 products — new ammo, new reloading equipment, new brass, and new shooting accessories. This is a big roll-out, with a slew of new products, including some very interesting reloading tools. CLICK HERE to See ALL NEW 2015 Hornady Products.
VIDEO PREVIEW: Hornady 2015 New Products Overview
New Hornady Rifle Ammunition
New rifle ammo to be introduced in 2015 includes: 17 Win Super Mag Rimfire (with 20gr VMax), Full Boar series with GMX bullets, .243 Win Superformance with 75gr V-Max, and .338 Lapua Magnum with 285gr A-Max. It appears that Hornady may also be expanding its Custom Int’l line of hunting ammo.
New Hornady Reloading Products
For 2015, Hornady is releasing a host of new reloading tools and accessories. Among the new reloading items this year are: Multi-Purpose Lock-N-Load® Quick Change Hand Tool (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Neck Turn Tool with power adapter (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Sonic Cleaner 7L, and Lock-N-Load® AP™ Primer Pocket Swage Tool (for Hornady L-N-L progressive press):
New Hornady Cartridge Brass — 15 New Varieties
This should make hand-loaders happy. Hornady will release 15 new types of Hornady-brand cartridge brass. Varminters should be happy with the new 22 Hornet, 220 Swift, and 6mm Rem offerings.
22 Hornet SKU 8602
220 Swift SKU 8615
6mm Rem SKU 8622
7mm-08 Rem SKU 8646
7x65R SKU 8641
300 Rem Ultra Mag SKU 87624
30-378 Weatherby SKU 8658
8×57 JRS SKU 8644
500-416 Nitro Express SKU 86877
In the “good old days”, if you needed rimfire ammo for fun shooting, you could just head over to Walmart (or a local sporting goods store) and find a wide variety of offerings, including low-cost bulk packs from Federal, CCI, and Remington. These days, there are “slim pickings”, even at Wally World. You need to “cast a bigger net” to find rimfire ammo these days.
One of the most efficient ways to locate rimfire ammunition nationwide is to use Ammoseek.com, a specialized search engine. On its home page, Ammoseek has a handy 22LR PAGE link. With just one click you can search dozens of ammo vendors.
If you click the 22LR Page link, Ammoseek instantly calls up current ammo inventories located by Ammoseek’s automated search bots. Then Ammoseek plots ALL the available rimfire ammo, sorted from least expensive to most expensive. Here are search results from this morning, October 6, 2014. We found some CCI Blazer at $4.99 per 50-rd box (40gr LRN). That’s just want we needed for a plinking session at the range.
Click Image to see full-screen version.
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Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).
The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.
Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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If you’re looking for loaded ammunition at affordable prices, WikiArms.com can help you find a good deal. WikiArms constantly searches the listings of ammo vendors across the web. Then WikiArms ranks the offerings by cost per round, low to high. This way you can instantly compare prices from multiple vendors including Ammoland, Brownells, Cabelas, Lucky Gunner, MidwayUSA, Natchez, Sinclair Int’l, Slickguns, Sportsmans Guide, and Wideners. Search bots refresh pricing constantly so listed prices are normally current within five minutes. WikiArms even displays the amount of product currently in stock for each vendor.
Using WikiArms is easy. Just click your choice of caliber (such as 9mm, .22LR, or .308 Win) on the navigation bar, or hit the Good Deals link to see a variety of cartridge types all at one time. WikiArms is fast, and it is FREE to use. Check it out.
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After politicians force citizens to register their firearms, what comes next? Laws requiring permits to purchase ammo (with mandatory registration and finger-printing). We kid you not. Right now in California (no surprise), legislators are considering legislation (Senate Bill 53) that would require purchasers of ammunition to register with the state Department of Justice (DOJ) prior to purchasing any ammunition, and to obtain an ammo-purchasing permit.
You would think such a law would be rejected as an extreme “prior restraint” and hence, a violation of Californians’ Constitutional rights. But heck no, quite a few politicians (you guess the party) believe that it is perfectly fine to require pre-purchase registration of ammo buyers. Last week, anti-gun Senate Bill 53 passed in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee by a 5 to 2 vote. SB 53 will now go to the Assembly floor where it could be considered at anytime.
SB 53 would require ammo buyers to register with the state Department of Justice (DOJ) prior to purchasing any ammunition. The registration process would require the submission of fingerprints, background check results, and fees to the DOJ. On top of that, SB 53 would require gun owners to obtain a costly ammunition purchaser permit every two years. In addition, at time of sale, ammo purchasers would have to provide a thumbprint for all ammunition purchases.
It Gets Worse — California Legislation Would Also Ban Mail-Order Ammo Sales
This onerous legislation, SB53, does more than mandate registration of ammo purchasers. It would also ban online and mail-order sales of all ammunition, including hunting ammunition.
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Creedmoor Sports will be producing high-quality loaded ammunition very soon. This will be crafted with top-quality bullets, and premium-grade Lapua brass. General Manager Dennis DeMille tells us: “We received four pallets of brass today and we have 13,005 pounds of powder waiting for production.”
Here’s a preview of what will be on the market very soon:
Oh, the beauty of it — all that Lapua brass. From Finland with love….
What does 13,005 pounds (6.5 tons) of powder look like? That would last most reloaders a few seasons. Hoarders, eat your hearts out….
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