Have you ever wondered how .22 ammo was actually manufactured? Join a factory tour of CCI and Speer and see the fascinating process. 22Plinkster joins a CCI and Speer factory rep, Director of Operations, Bill (last name not given), on a tour of the plant to find out just how .22 ammo is made. It’s a fascinating, and loud, process with multiple steps.
The first step is the making of a brass cup. Strips of brass are acquired from a supplier and a machine turns them into hundreds of thousands of small, blank .22 cups.
Next the cups go through a brass annealing process, which extends the life of the brass and makes the neck tension more consistent. This is important for consistent accuracy of each cartridge.
The annealing process involves a water wash, so the next step is drying the brass cups. This happens on a device they call a shaker, which shakes and bounces the water from the inside of the cups, Then they move onto an actual dryer to remove every last bit of water.
The next stop is what they call the “pinch-crimp” process, where a machine pinches excess material from the brass cup and forms the casing to the proper length. After another wash and dry process, the pieces travel to a header, where the machine puts a head with the ‘C’ logo on and, according to Bill, “creates the perfect cavity to accept our priming mix”.
Now we have the recognizable .22 ammo case. These are then hand loaded into small plates and checked for proper sizing.
The next stage is called “charging”, where the cartridge is filled with the priming mixture. The priming mix pellet then needs to be evenly distributed, so the next step is a trip to the “spinning bank” which does that job. The final pellets are examined by eye to make sure that everything is up to snuff, before they move onto the subsequent drying process.
Now that the priming mix is dry and in place, the cases are ready for the addition of propellant charges. That’s the charge of gunpowder behind the bullet. This takes place in an enclosed system so as to prevent a potential discharge from causing wider damage.
Next is bullet seating into the case. This occurs on a small elevator-like contraption. Once the bullets are seated the cartridge moves over to another machine for the crimping process. Now you’ve got a legitimate and recognizable .22 ammo cartridge.
Finally, the ammunition heads to a waxing process and final packing into boxes.
Now, CCI also makes their own lead bullets. Lead bricks are melted to remove any impurities and are then cast into 300 pound six-inch diameter billets. These billets will be extruded into lead wire which make up the bullet core.
The extruded, jointed wire cores move to a “core header” to get lubricated and swedged into a .22 bullet core. The bullets then either go through a “black lead” process for standard velocity products, or through a copper plating process for cartridges like Stingers or High Velocity.
The amount of steps and work that goes into producing .22 ammo is astounding. Who knew it was this involved and this complicated. And the quality control of every step is impressive. It’s no wonder CCI ammunition is some of the best in the world.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.