22Plinkster Sees How His Ammo is Made

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While there is a plethora of videos showing how common centerfire ammunition is made, 22LR and similar rimfire ammunition has been kept relatively close to the chest. CCI had a video out a few years ago, but it disappeared from their official YouTube outlet and was not saved anywhere that I remember.

The general process is a secret no longer. Using their sponsored shooter and YouTube shooter extraordinaire 22Plinkster, CCI has opened the factory yet again for us to enjoy. While CCI does not show much of the individual machines running (that would be a trade secret), they do a pretty good job of opening the curtain and showing the process.

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The process for making 22LR is surprisingly involved.

  • Cup Forming
  • Annealing
  • Wash & Dry
  • Drawing
  • Wash & Dry
  • Cap Forming
  • Plate Filling
  • Sizing
  • Primer Charging & Drying
  • Propellant Charging
  • Bullet Loading (Which does not include making the bullet!
  • Mating of Bullet & Charged Case
  • Bullet Seating & Crimping
  • Waxing
  • Packaging

Enough reading, enjoy the video showing the process. The amount of lead that is used on a daily basis is astounding!



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “We heard if you find a mouse in a bullet you get, like, free bullets, eh.”

  • Martin M

    That’s not much lead. The mine at Viburnum MO produces over 250,000 TONS annually.

  • me

    Very cool

  • DW

    22hamster

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Sure wouldn’t mind finding one of those pallets sitting on my driveway…

    • Paul White

      hell I’d just take a full 5 gallon bucket at this point

    • Person

      This should be a CCI contest.

  • Tim

    My local suppliers been out of CCI for years and their website apologizes and sez they’re going Max out. After watching the video, I finally understand why….
    Ole Plinkster is burning up all their productivity!!

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    Worlds smallest microphone

    • rooftopvoter

      I thought I was the only one who caught that. Possibly a leftover Secret Service sleeve mike?

  • Martin M

    The lead in it’s ore form is Lead Sulfide (Gelana), which is not water soluble. The Gelana crystals were formed over a billion years ago and have been there ever since. It’s everywhere. In the creek beds, lying on the ground, and all the wells pass through the Potosi Dolomite layer bearing the ore. Gelana crystals form in perfect squares, are glossy black, and are quite heavy. Large crystals are frequently picked up as curiosities.

    Being non soluble it poses no threat to living things. You can ingest it and it will simply pass through. They have mined in the region since 1699 and no miner ever died of lead poisoning. In fact, the miners were extremely healthy (mining is physically demanding).

    The EPA has a field day all throughout the Old Lead Belt because everything tests hot for lead, but it’s all just harmless Gelana.

    • uisconfruzed

      Good info, but is there any written history or witnesses to attest to “were formed over a billion years ago”?

      • Sgt. Stedenko

        That’s what carbon dating is for. Science be damned.
        The upper cambrian/ lower ordovician rock of the Viburnum trend is actually about 900 million years old.

        • uisconfruzed

          I’ve also seen a living mollusk get carbon dated over 6k years old.
          I don’t trust it.

          • steve

            kent hovind follower eh? you do know that scientists were INTENTIONALLY trying to find the faults with radio metric dating in those studies/papers, and that they are well aware of the issues, and don’t use carbon dating on things like mollusk shells because they know they absorb more carbon from the water right? and that when radiometric dating they use MULTIPLE isotopes, not just carbon, and cross reference them to make sure they all come to the same age? or that there are TREES living on earth older than kent hovind and Ken ham say the earth is?

      • Martin M

        Plenty. The Wikipedia article is a good start, and there’s an entire museum (complete with a stunning mineral collection) in Park Hills, MO. I used to work in Interpretive Services for DNR there.

        Without making you go look, the lead ‘belt’ formed around the igneous intrusion that formed the StFrancois Mountains approximately 1.5 billion BCE. By contrast the Appalachians are less than 500 million years old, and the Rockies are only about 60 million years old.

        As far as firearms are concerned, the ore deposit is so big it has continuously been mined for over 300 years, providing lead for every American conflict . Ammunition production is/was a major force in the area.

        • steve

          FYI, he’s not really interested in evidence, facts, the truth, etc. He is a young earth creationist and thinks the earth is only 6,000 years old cuz the bible says so(so it must be true.)

      • carlcasino

        The question of when the Earth Split from Venus is still being debated , but a few billion years one way or another is pretty accurate. The Climate has been changing at about the same rate and Man was not present to video it for you so you could see it. If you have any Great, Great , Great , Great,Great Grand Children they can send you a text.
        Geesh!

  • uisconfruzed

    I expected to see more modern and automated machinery.
    PLEASE update so ammo would be available!!!

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      Haha.
      You should see the dinosaur era equipment making 20, 25 and 30 mm rounds in Marion, Il at the GD-OTS facility.

    • Tim

      Agreed. The equipment looks old and little automation.
      Hope breakdowns are not slowing production.
      Interesting tour and process tho.

      • Silverado

        I got the grand tour of a mint a few years ago and the equipment was the same way there. In fact it was the Northwest Territorial Mint located then in Auburn Washington that’s now embroiled in some kind of problem most likely for not fulfilling orders in a timely manor. My friend knew the owner Ross Hansen (I seem to recall) and as friends he offered to take us around and show us the silver bullion business. My first impression?? Man, this equipment looks…old. It was, as he mentioned that all this was made before WWII for the most part. What about a breakdown? Where do you find the part for a machine that old today?? He said he prays a lot that they don’t breakdown but when they do he has a couple of highly skilled machinists who can make the part if need be and as he’s had to do. My 2nd? Wow, they go through a LOT of silver here!! And you should of seen their “scrap pile” OMG…lots of 4 inch PURE SILVER billet that they started with and run it through this thing (extruders and punches or stamping machines) and that gizmo and pretty soon you see this machine punching out 1 ounce silver round blanks that sounds like one of the old one arm bandits paying off in Reno only this one is non-stop! Drums of freshly stamped blanks – imperessive! And my 3rd impression?? Holy S***!!! Is it LOUD in here or what??? We had to wear hearing protection. Anyway, even though he’s a shady business man his physical business was fascinating

      • uisconfruzed

        I’m in a lot of mfg plants. The real inefficiencies I see is all the work done by hand, not so much the stamping processes.

    • carlcasino

      Go visit a Nail manufacturing Plant. The machinery has advanced to being motor driven vs. Line shaft since about 1890. There has been numerous attempts to make pretty machines but the old iron anvil cold heading stuff is still king of the hill. The shortage of ammunition is only beginning. When the California program spreads you wont have to worry about availability but will the Bank give you a loan to buy a 100 rounds.

      • uisconfruzed

        During the last shortage Isplit a pallet of 22 ammo with a friend, then sold off most of it lower than the going rate and had free ammo. 🙂
        It was gone in a week.

      • uisconfruzed

        I’m in a lot of mfg plants. The real inefficiencies I see is all the work done by hand, not the stamping processes.

    • Silverado

      It’s hard to do that when you don’t know if the criminals in our govt like crooked Hillary and Barry Obama are going to legislate you and your products out of existence because of their anti-gun…beliefs. You want more bullets?? Make sure you don’t support the creeps that want to eliminate what you and I LOVE to do and that’s shoot guns. There shouldn’t be a crooked Hillary supporter within 100 miles of this website and if there is their…brain power is seriously limited and they’re anti-American as well.

  • Old Vet

    Trying to find some of the new Copper 22 right now. Super fast, they say.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    Excellent!

  • Nashvone

    After seeing all the work that goes into a .22LR makes me question my desire for super cheap ammo…just a little.

  • Silverado

    Those bullets are small specialized items manufactured using a commodity metal. Just think about the different metals that are found in today’s bullets. There’s copper and what they add to make brass. There’s lots of lead as we see in this video. As for what’s in the powder that propels the round there’s even more materials that some miner has sweated to remove from a dangerous place in a quantity that makes mining it worthwhile for the miners and the company’s that employ those folks as well. So next time you see the price of your favorite cartridges going up in price, check on what’s happening in the world of mining and the prices they are quoting for the metals they mine, tin, zinc, copper and lead mostly. If there’s a shortage of any of these basic metals anywhere in the world, it’s always reflected in the price quoted for that particular metal. So even though those cartridges are manufactured here in this country where everything seems normal, commodity metal prices are quoted in various metals markets located in various parts of the world and can very greatly. It’d be interesting to know who they buy their lead from, who they purchase their brass from, shipping charges etc etc. But just judging from this one plant’s output per day and they must go through a tremendous amount of metals, which in itself is probably somebody’s full time job just to make sure they NEVER run out and have enough to run all day EVERY day no matter where it comes from and relatively speaking how much it costs. As an avid .22 shooter now I know how some of my favorite ammunition is made. Thanks!!