March 4th, 2016

Gun Industry Greats — When They Were Young

Bill Ruger, Joyce Hornady
CAPTION: LB Bar Ranch — South Fork, Cody, Wyoming. Photo circa 1953-1955, by Les Bowman.

Imagine having multiple “founding fathers” of the modern American gun industry all on the same hunting trip. Well it really happened. A few years back, the cover of the Huntington Die Specialties Catalog featured a wonderful vintage photo, taken in the early 1950s. You can see (left to right): Norm Williams, Bill Ruger, Warren Page, Joyce Hornady, and Claude Willey. Of course you’ve heard of Joyce Hornady, co-founder, with Vernon Speer, of Hornady Manufacturing. Bill Ruger co-founded Sturm, Ruger & Co. with Alexander Sturm in 1949. After Sturm died in 1951, Bill Ruger ran the company for five decades, before passing in 2002. Warren Page was a famous cartridge wildcatter, and Gun Editor of Field & Stream magazine. We couldn’t find information on Clyde Wiley or Norm Williams, and we certainly don’t know why Norm is wearing a bow-tie and top coat! Perhaps our readers can tell us more about Wiley or Williams.

Background of Hornady Manufacturing
Joyce Hornady was an ardent shooter who needed a steady supply of accurate bullets. While the bullets available in the late 1940s were usable, Joyce felt that better bullets could be made. During World War II, Joyce had taken a job in a guard training unit at the Grand Island Army Ammunition Plant. Following the war, shooters and hunters used some of the vast surplus of military ammunition for their sport shooting. This surplus ammunition however, did not offer the accuracy or performance needed for target shooting, big game or varmint hunting.

Joyce realized the need for better bullets and he responded to it. In 1949, he and his original partner Vernon Speer built a machine that converted spent .22 rimfire cases into bullet jackets, and then into bullets. These bullets sold well all over the country. Using a surplus bullet assembly press, he also began to produce a .30-caliber bullet that became a mainstay of Hornady’s bullet line. In 1958, the company moved to a larger 8,000-square-foot plant with a 200-yard underground testing facility. Before that underground range was completed, Joyce Hornady would drive to the Grand Island Rifle Range, winter and summer, rain or shine, to test each individual lot of bullets.

Story sourced by Edlongrange
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March 22nd, 2014

Video Shows Hornady Ammo and Bullet Production Processes

Ever wondered how Hornady bullets and ammunition are made? You’ll see every stage of production in this interesting video from the Outdoor Channel. Starting with raw materials (lead, copper, and brass), this 9-minute “factory tour” video shows how bullet cores are produced, how jackets are crafted, and how cartridge cases are formed, headstamped, and inspected. If you watch carefully you’ll also see the massive, multi-stage cartridge loading machines. Now one of the most successful manufacturers of ammunition and reloading components in the world, Hornady Manufacturing has come a long way from its early days. In 1949, Founder Joyce Hornady started the company “making bullets… in a garage down on 4th street” in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Lead cylinders are pressed into lead wire used for bullet cores.
Hornady factory bullets ammunition

Spools of flat copper are fed into cupping machines. The punched cups become bullet jackets.
Hornady factory bullets ammunition

All cartridge cases and loaded rounds are hand-inspected.
Hornady factory bullets ammunition

Hornady Manufacturing — The Early Years
During World War II, Joyce Hornady served as a marksmanship instructor at the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant. Following the War, Joyce and his family stayed in Grand Island, Nebraska and opened a small sporting goods retail store that sold everything from basketballs to shooting supplies.

After WWII, shooters and hunters used surplus military ammunition. This surplus ammo however, did not offer the accuracy or performance needed for target shooting, big game, or varmint hunting. Recognizing the need for better bullets, Hornady and his original partner Vernon Speer built a machine that converted spent 22 rimfire cases into bullet jackets, and then into bullets. The business relationship between Hornady and Speer later faltered, and Vernon Speer moved to Lewiston, Idaho. Using a surplus bullet assembly press in a rented garage on 4th Street in Grand Island, Nebraska, Joyce Hornady began to produce his own .30-caliber bullet.

The first year of business, Hornady Bullets had total sales of $10,000 – a figure that increased three-fold the next year. Hornady added equipment and workers, confident that more growth lay ahead. During the Korean War, Hornady earned contracts to produce a variety of products not associated with bullets — aluminum hearts for bracelets, and condenser cans for the government. After the war, the can material and the technology developed to produce them was utilized to make ultra-thin copper jackets for varmint bullets.

In 1958, the company moved to its present location on the west edge of Grand Island. The new, larger facility featured an 8,000-square-foot plant. In 1960, Hornady added a 200-yard underground testing facility.

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