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but, other than specific bullet designs, the process has been done in this way for over a hundred years, although tolerances have thankfully diminished. Alongside all the jacketed bullets we of course didn’t fail to notice thousands of lead pistol bullets on other machines.

The largest bullet manufacturer in the US We were told and it was clear to see, that in the post Obama election ammunition drought, this company has spent serious dollars on expansion and development with a large increase in floor space and machinery. Some of the most modern CNC machinery is in use, especially in terms of tool making and both die and reloading press manufacture where blank castings are automatically recognised and machined by the advanced systems to final tolerances.

The largest zone of expansion was in the cartridge brass-manufacturing element of the business where Hornady plan to become totally self-sufficient. From the brass cups - similar to bullet jackets - all the way through to finished drawn cases, we saw every stage including flash-hole punching and final annealing steps. We were free to photograph everything in the factory except for the amount of construction work going on. When you own a building on one side of a commercial estate and another a hundred yards away, to Hornady ‘expansion’ means FILL IN THE GAP, it is a huge factory and now everything is under one roof.

A local treasure

Contrary to the scale, it was nice to see that in this establishment, employing hundreds of local residents, the Vice President knew everyone by their first name. Perhaps the most memorable detail I saw all day was one of the ladies hand-inspecting A-Max factory loaded match ammunition. She placed several loaded rounds on her palm, rolled them backwards and forwards for a second or two and then separated them into 1st, 2nd and 3rd class lots. Jason and I inspected a 3rd class item for a few seconds before he stopped Kim and asked her why she had rejected it. A quickly placed fingernail pointed our eyes in the direction of a half millimetre blemish on the case mouth before returning to what must be a mesmerising job. I was impressed by attention to detail and a tiny mark I would certainly have ignored in my own hand-loaded ammunition.


Target Shooter Magazine THE WIND

visit Hornady in Nebraska

Playtime After a generous US style ‘on the fly’ buffet lunch, we were joined by Jason’s dad and company president Steve Hornady on trip a few miles down the road to the local shooting range. Along with crates of ammo and gallons of water (heat I have experienced before, the July humidly level was like being bathed in warm treacle) we were offered a large selection of firearms to shoot ranging from pistols and rifles up to sub- machine guns and assault rifles, some as old as the Thompson. I’m just old enough to have enjoyed pistol shooting in the UK in the early nineties so it was nice to shoot them again but firing 45ACP from a drum magazine with the `Tommy` on full auto was very `John Dillinger`.

We rattled away to our hearts content, freshly loaded magazines served like canapés at an evening reception by a range crew. A heatproof glove was provided at one point to shoot a MAC-10, which was literally red-hot. The only gun I didn’t shoot was a full auto 22 rimfire sub-machine gun, I did not have the heart to empty in five seconds a magazine a lad had taken 10 minutes to load for about the twentieth time that day. Onto 50 yards, we shot falling steel silhouette plates with more conventional 22RF and 17HMR rifles and then moved onto familiar sporting and target rifles at longer ranges. Savage and Leupold, both co-sponsors of the trip had provided plenty of toys to play with and they had all been shipped here, assembled and zeroed prior to our arrival.

This is weird

I don’t think I am alone in considering the average US shooting range to be a little more liberal in its location and construction. Endless miles of countryside kind of make you forget all thoughts of lateral safety angles measured in milradians and imagine courses of fire almost limitless in possibility.

On the contrary, the 600 yard range here was BEHIND the mantlet, or at least you shot from a bench 20 yards from an embankment 50 feet high, pierced with tunnels approximately 3 feet in diameter to

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