Sep 12th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: community
Many of YOU have a weird relationship with your guns. We get a new gun and the wife is on the couch and we fondly lay the new rifle, bow or pistol beside us in her spot for the honeymoon period. I hate to break you guy’s bubble but the truth is, in all actuality, it is a piece of machinery. A tool. I know, I know, right now there is wailing and gnashing of teeth in the outdoor reading world at what I just said. But it’s true, they’re a tool made in a factory just like a car or a bicycle. In our minds they’re made in some fairyland setting like Santa’s Northpole.
So, if you ever get a chance to visit a bullet, knife, gun or rod factory you will find that they are produced in a manufacturing setting.
BUT-every Outdoor manufacturer that I have visited is set apart from the normal factory setting by employees that know how important that our outdoor gear is to us and works diligently so as not to disappoint us.
A perfect of this is the Hornady bullet factory. We went to Burwell, Nebraska for a trail ride the other day and while passing through Grand Island we stopped by. My wife’s cousin named Carla Robertson works at Hornady.
We went by and were greeted by Carla, which then turned us over to Paul to conduct our tour. I have always wondered how they produced bullets, so it was interesting to see.
So with all that said, let’s get started on our tour. They begin with 30 pounds blocks of lead. These are melted and formed into round cylinders. These are then pressed into various sized lead core wire, somewhat similar to the lead core that we use salmon fishing. These are coiled onto spools to be used later.
Next they have rolls of flat copper banding. These are thin and 4-inches wide. Circles are punched in these and a punch makes them into a thimble shaped object. The size is according to what caliber they are producing. These are worked a few times until they are shaped like a bullet. The lead wire we described earlier is then cut and inserted into the bullet and the copper is pressed around it to make the bullet.
The next step is to insert the polymer tip into the nose. For whatever reason I was surprised at this step. They use a small premade tip that is inserted into the nose of the bullet. The bullets are then bulk packed.
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of inspection at their packaging stage. I’ve worked in high-speed operations for most of my life and was pleasantly surprised at their inspection intensity. The girls packing actually looked over every bullet and it wasn’t a glance. They actually rolled every bullet and inspected it 100 percent.
We then went to the basement where they test fire their product. When they built the plant they laid a huge galvanized culvert pipe underground that stretches out for 200 yards. At 100 and 200 yards on the surface you can enter to place targets. Super heavy barrels are clamped into shooting benches for their tests.
After the plant tour we toured the front offices and meeting rooms. As you may well have expected, they have a ton of cool mounts. I then got to talk to one of their techs about what is the best bear load for my .44 mag.
In one of the boardrooms they had a nice Ruger display. As with most companies, I was not allowed to take pictures of the facilities for proprietary reasons. We finished the tour and Paul turned us back over to Carla.
Carla took us back to her office and we met the crew that she works with. As normally happens with all of my friendships, one thing led to another and we’re in the process of lining up a backpacking/flyfishing trip into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area with Carla and her boys. As you know, it takes a lot to prompt me to plan a fishing trip. For instance mentioning something like the word “fish”, “outdoors” or anything on that order.
She’s already lined up for another trip this summer but hopefully about this time next year you’ll be reading about our flyfishing trip. Until then, keep a watch for bears, wolves and cougars. It’s a rough world out there, carry plenty of Hornady bullets.