[ I am pleased to present this guest post written by Ken Nelson, who blogs at his self-title blog Ken Nelson ]
My 12 year old son and I are in Georgia this week to attend the Army Marksmanship Unit Junior Shooter Camp.
Today, he and I visited Atlanta Arms & Ammo in Social Circle, GA. I needed .40 ammo for a training class I’m having on Friday, and they graciously agreed to show Brian & I around their plant.
If you reload then you know how frustrating and fussy reloading machines can be. Just imagine a shop filled with these:
Note that these are inline not rotary. Also everything is automatic. The only thing the operator needs to do is keep the primer rod full. They have a machine which fills the rod, the operator has to switch in a new one over every few hundred rounds.
Each of these machines makes about 60 rounds a minute, there were about 15 stations. So you do the math 🙂
Each machine, which they generally buy used, costs $10,000 to $12,000. They then add customized switches and electronics to test that the machines are operating correctly. For instance the case sizer has an air line to it, if air slips out there is no seal and a switch goes off and drops out the bad round. Pretty slick!
As you can imagine they use a lot of bullets. And primers, which they also buy in 5 gallon buckets. They buy new brass, but also get a lot of once fired brass that they prepare in a whole another assembly line, including a system of brass sorters they designed themselves and that are quite clever.
Here is a front on view of an ammo making station:
To the left is a bucket of bullets, at top are brass and bullet feeders. The slender metal tube in the middle is the primer feeder. The machine at far right is a primer filler tube filler. Moving that filled tube to the machine is the only manual step and is done every few hundred shells. The black box with switches is the custom QA monitor they have tied to checks they’ve built in the machine.
After the ammo is made it goes in for polishing and then into a vibrator that gets them heavy (bullet) end up:
and are then hand packaged using a series of steps that flip them in a special die until all are facing the right way:
The elite shooters of the United States use their ammunition, including the Army Marksmanship Unit.
If you are looking for excellent ammo, made by a group of top notch and friendly people then Atlanta Arms & Ammo is for you. As we left our guide stressed that today, in these high reloading component cost times, in many cases they can get ammo to competitive shooters for about the same as reloading. Similar price… and I don’t have to spend hours running a reloader? Or pull my hair out when it doesn’t work? Sign me up!
Many thanks to Danny at Atlanta Arms & Ammo for setting up our tour. And to Kim for being such an agreeable and friendly host.