Each year we offer column space to an assortment of gifts outdoors folk might consider giving and receiving.
As the year draws to its end, we give thanks for the good things found and used outdoors and sometimes wonder where they were made. So often, that gear is stamped with “made in” origins such as China, Japan, Taiwan, Portugal, Spain or other distant lands.
However, many of the manufacturing stages and finished products of outdoor items come from area companies that do not get recognition stamped or attached to wood, plastic or metal surfaces.
Musician Ted Nugent, one of the most prominent names in hunting and shooting circles, has recently begun marketing a series of premium-grade ammunition for rifle and pistol shooters.
The Nugent name goes on more than 15 different caliber and load sizes that get shipped around the world. Those rounds do not come from distant ports; they are produced, packaged and forwarded from the Pierce Ammo facility in Hamburg.
On Wednesday, marketing coordinator Andrew Wright walked me around the Pierce works and showed how everything from .223 caliber to .50 caliber and greater rounds go together.
“We do everything from making rounds and casings to shipping the finished products,” Wright said as we looked over bins of bullet heads and shiny new brass getting lined up for loading.
John Mahoney, technical tactician, and Wright shared just about every phase – except load mixes – during a visit that included machines which produce 3,000 to 5,000 rounds per hour, depending on the shot specs.
Each round is inspected for both size and weight before it is packaged.
A firing range is used to test rounds. Shooters familiar with “bull” barrels would be impressed to see the range barrels used for each separate caliber. Barrel diameters measure three to four inches and the receiver is a solid block of steel bolted to a frame to ensure consistent shooting performance.
Test firings for each caliber indicate on a computer screen the velocity (feet-per-second), foot poundage (hitting power), ballistics, and chamber pressure. The last test assures that rounds fired in older gun models will not be excessive and damaging.
Pierce Ammo is currently moving from the Hamburg site to a much larger plant in Angola. Pierce currently employs 15 ammunition specialists. Wright expects another 10 employees will be added at the new Angola facility, which will also produce shotgun ammo. To view the Ted Nugent line and other Pierce productions, visit piercemunitions.com.
A recent column on Warther Cutlery prompted a note from president Bob Shabala at Niagara Specialty Metals (NSM). Shabala pointed out that the steel products not only for Warther but also for more than a half dozen other big-name knife makers come from a massive processing plant in Akron.
Wednesday afternoon I visited this facility, a good part of the former Carborundum works, and took a walk-through with Shabala to see how they run.
The day shift had finished processing knife steel, but we got to view the rolling, sanding, grinding and cutting machines that are used to process all kinds of specialty metal products.
“About 25 percent of our work is on knife steel,” Shabala explained as we walked around machines that take 5-inch plate steel and press it to diameter widths needed for military and sporting knives, among other end products.
For example, one band saw was cutting bar lengths which will be rounded for support of the cowling intake on a jet engine. Several of the 38 production specialists were either taking down previous projects or setting up for the next line of production.
But no knife blades were in sight, except for demo samples in Shabala’s office. The range of end products using NSM metal is impressive. He noted that NMS steel goes into tools and knives with well-known trade names:
Leatherman, Gerber, Benchmade, Warther, Spyderco and some models of Cutco and Ontario knives. To view the many NSM products and take a virtual tour of the works, go to nsm-ny.com.
Many brands of high-end archery equipment are on the market, and Elite Archery has entered the ranks of quality bow building. Elite began production in Washington state and moved to Henrietta in 2009; the staff of 20 there is comprised mainly of bow hunters. The company makes, assembles and distributes archery equipment from Rochester area plants.
As an example, the camo finish on an Elite bow is applied at Tompkins Metal Finishing in Batavia. During a recent visit to that facility, production manager John Abdoo showed how finishes are applied by a staff of finish-application technicians.
Elite staffers shoot every product they produce. A company spokesperson wrote, “At heart, we are a bunch of bowhunters who want to use something that works best. We firmly stand behind the belief that Elite bows have the best draw cycle in the industry.”
Archery analysts have highly rated Elite among top-shelf bow makes and models. To view product options and locate area dealers, visit elitearchery.com.
Others area companies such as Crosman Air Guns in Bloomfield, Magnus Precision in Phelps and many other makers of components and finished products in the area quietly and efficiently produce outdoors gear used around the world. Each visit to any of these companies could easily become another segment for that TV program “How It’s made.”