October 5th, 2012

How Bullets are Made — Inside Look at the Barnes Factory

Barnes Bullets factory machinesBarnes Bullets has produced some videos showing the processes used to make Barnes’ popular TSX (all-copper), Match Burner (lead-core, copper jacket), and Varmint Grenade (copper jacket, powdered metal core) bullets.

Drawing Copper Wire for TSX Bullets
The first video features the TSX. These all-copper bullets start by drawing and cutting solid copper wire into slugs. The material is first drawn down to the correct diameter and then cut to the proper weight on a large industrial shear press. Great care is taken to ensure the most consistent weight possible. The machines are checked frequently. The video below show how copper wire is sized (in the first black box on the green machine) and then travels over a series of rollers to the cutting station.

Extruding Lead Wire for Bullet Cores
The second video shows the extrusion of lead core material for Barnes’ Originals and Match Burner bullets. First, soft lead is melted into 16″ long by 2 ½” round ingots. The ingots are then fed into a large steel tube and hydraulically forced through a cone at about 3500 psi, producing lead wire. This extrusion process makes the lead wire to the correct diameter. The lead wire is then fed into a cutter that chops it into the correct weight. After cutting, the lead cores are sorted and again fed into the bullet presses.

Powdered Metal Mixing for Varmint Grenade Bullets
The third video shows the mixing of metal for the composite cores in Varmint Grenade bullets. This powdered metal core is one reason why Varmint Grenades fragment so explosively on impact. The core for these bullets (identical to the MPG bullet) is made from a very fine copper and tin powder. After mixing, the metal powder matrix is fed via the hopper into the Fetta press. This machine then feeds the powder into a chamber where it is compressed into a solid core that can be put into a copper jacket. In the video, the powdered metal is fed into the machine on the left. It’s a bit difficult to see, but there is a bottom punch that matches each top punch. The two punches come together to form the core.

This is a very expensive, high-output machine. Fully tooled and set at a reasonable speed, it can make upwards of 90,000 cores per hour!

Story Tip by EdLongRange. We welcome reader story ideas.

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