Ammunition manufacturer FFL - I got approved! advise needed

Discussion in 'NFA/Class 3 & FFL Discussion' started by mattybock, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. mattybock

    mattybock New Member

    I got the okay from the ATF just yesterday morning. In the span of 30 days I should have my gunsmith/dealer FFL and my ammunition manufacturer FFL. Yay!
    And now, here comes the nitty gritty about the soon to be Acme Gun Co. - the issue of cost v desirability.
    I would like to make aluminium ammo casing reloadable in nature, but all the people say two things in unison;
    1) you can't reload them
    2) [although] I've never tried. Often this is followed with
    3) don't bother as ammunition is cheap.
    Bear in mind that the things I've read on ammo are pre-Newtown, and the 3rd entry is no longer valid. I have not yet heard of any real reason of why you cannot reload aluminium. I think that I'll conduct a science experiment on the matter and attempt to produce a guaranteed reloadable aluminium case.
    So, what are your thoughts about reloading aluminium? If you have tried, what are your stories?

    On a second note, in the future I'd like to ready ammo in common NATO/Warsaw calibers with a plain jane single based rod type propellant in two forms (shotgun/ pistol and rifle) with the old fashioned easy to make corrosive primers. The goal is 2c to 14c per round.
    The big deal is the powder to use. Just like how I love the metric system, I love standardization and ubiquity. So what would you say is the universal powder, of the most produced powder on earth. I like the idea of replicating the soviet 7.62x54r powder and just applying it to all rifle rounds.
  2. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    First- congrats on the license. If you have not already done so, would STRONGLY suggest (a) you incorporate, and (b) get products liability insurance.

    Second- reloadable aluminum cases- Aluminum does not have the same elasticity as brass, and will be more prone to crack from work hardening. And you DO realize that aluminum Blazer cases do not use the same primer as ordinary cases? Look inside the case- see the two flash holes?

    blazer brass.jpg

    Finally- powder. There IS no "universal" powder for rifle/shotgun/pistol. Unique, Blue Dot/ Green Dot etc may come close, but a good powder for 7.62X54R is NOT a good powder for 5.56 x 45 and 9mm NATO.

    The early M16s got a bunch of us killed because some idiot at Dept of Defense tried to use the same powder for the M16 as was used for the M14.

    Corrosive primers? In heaven's name- WHY? In the SKS/ AK47 that was designed around them, OK- but for a gas impingement system like the AR- that is NOT going to end well. I do not even know of a source for corrosive primers.

    PS- if you plan to MAKE primers, you need to do some investigation- into a license to manufacture explosives. Then go by some life insurance and light a candle to St. Barbara. I have worked with military and commercial explosives for a half century, and I do not fool with raw priming compound. That material in a dry form is incredibly dangerous.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014

  3. mattybock

    mattybock New Member

    Thanks for the congrats. I will not incorporate, ever, as I have worked for corporations before and it short, the intelligence of a corporation ultimately boils down to the lowest common denominator. Take Einstein, Marx, Darwin and Pasture, put them in the same room and make them right a general book on mankind. It will boil down to drawing wee-wees on a textbook in 15 minutes or less.

    I plan to go with berdan primers indeed. The rest of the world has them, like the metric system, they just work better.

    Exactly what is wrong with the idea of a universal powder? What exactly is happening in the cartridge to make this a bad idea?

    My dad, who was in the battle of Wei city said that it was a faulty buffer and the use of hard casings, as opposed to the soft brass the M16 was tested at the rifle range for.

    As to why corrosive primers; they are chemically simpler to make as far as my limited chemistry knowledge has brought me to believe. I am probably wrong, but I only know of a few compounds used pre-1930. I've asked the ATF about powder making, and they said as long as I have the license I can indeed make propellant. Yep, I will be using the manufacturers license to full effect. I've used corrosive and non in my military bolt rifle collection and I find no real difference in cleanliness.
  4. Joshua M. Smith

    Joshua M. Smith New Member

    You just can't have a universal powder. It doesn't work like that.

    Handguns have to have powder that maximize the short barrel, while rifles have about 20" more burn space.

    Imagine what might happen if you run out of expanding propellant at around 10" in a 30" military surplus rifle barrel, for example.

    On the other hand, rifle powder will still be burning when it comes out of the end of a pistol barrel, and it will leave powder all over the inside of the pistol, as well.

    I tried Mexican loading a .22LR rifle with rifle powder. It didn't work -- the .22LR just didn't have enough primer to ignite it.

    On the other hand, a couple grains of W231 blew the case head. I stopped experimenting there.

    If you really want to make ammo and use one powder, try one powder for each type of ammo you make.

    Say, try using Varget for heavier bullets in .223/5.56, and you can also use it in .30-06, .308, 7.62x54r, 7.92x57, etc.

    For pistol rounds, Bullseye should cover most of them until you get into magnum loadings.

    Remember that pistol powder generally lights easier.

    But no, there cannot be one "universal" powder.

  5. mattybock

    mattybock New Member

    Oh I know there cannot be a single universal powder for pistols/shotguns AND rifles. There is a distinct divide between the two due to pressures produced via burn rates.
    What I'm wondering is about a single power for rifles only at this point.

    Such as mentioned earlier, it might be a bad idea to use 7.62x54r powder in .223 Remington, but why is this? What is happening in the and chamber that would make this a bad idea? Both are rifle rounds after all. If it doesn't work like that, then how does it work?
  6. Joshua M. Smith

    Joshua M. Smith New Member

    One is an intermediate round and the other is a full-power round.

    Look at it this way: A heavy bullet for a .223 is a very light bullet for a 7.62.

    There is more space in the 7.62 than in the .223.

    Space and pressures are related.

    I'm not the end-all know-all with regards to this. I've had some schooling in pressures/fluid dynamics/etc, but they were largely related to other things. My professor was a gun nut and was able to apply it to handloading for me (small class, too), but mostly we worked with lower pressures than are found in firearms.

    Tell ya' what:

    Read that stuff, and it will answer most of the basic questions.

    I'll be honest here, and please do not confuse my honesty for rudeness; it's not intended that way.

    You are asking some very fundamental, basic questions that I'd expect to come from newer handloaders.

    The fact that you want to start manufacturing ammunition without this knowledge concerns me.

    My personal suggestion is this: Go to the community college and sign up for all the classes you can on gasses and fluid dynamics, pressures, physics, etc. You'll understand how all this works and why we have different burn rates, etc, for different sized rifle rounds.

    My advice to you is that, if you manufacture ammo prior to these courses, keep it simple and low-pressure.

    For example, a military .45acp load is 5.0 grains of Bullseye under a 230 grain round-nosed jacketed bullet.

    I would go to 4.6 grains of Bulleye and use the same bullet. This will make a nice range load and save you on powder.

    Once you get a degree in physics of some sort (fluid dynamics, etc) then you can start playing.

    Meantime, read all the data you can find on powders, burn rates, bullets, and any literature that Hodgdon is willing to give away. In fact, Hodgdon has a pressure gun and I've found that they love to talk. I've called them with questions on their data vs others' data, and they were able to give me solid, real-world piezo- or copper crush-proven data.

    On the business side, you should really have a minimum of $2m liability insurance that is good for the life of your ammunition; ie, it will be effective until after your death. This is one thing I'm looking at right now. In the next two years or so, I'm sidelining the rifle sight business and will begin "real" gunsmithing. Insurance is a big part of this whole game, whether you make guns or ammo. In fact, and it's sad to say, after the customers it's probably THE biggest issue you'll deal with. Customers come first, insurance comes second if what you make can in any way harm others if misused or if you make a mistake.


  7. Overkill0084

    Overkill0084 Active Member

    For someone who just obtained a license to manufacture ammo, I would have thought you would have a better command of the intricacies involved.

    IMHO, since you aren't CCI, I'd skip the aluminum cases. Though not impossible, they are not intended to be reloaded. Ditto: steel cases.
    Corrosive primers? Really? Why? Is non corrosive simply too much trouble? Who are planning to selling it to? From a customer standpoint, corrosive priming is easier to forgive from 50 year old Commie MilSurp than from new production ammo. I suppose I could be the odd one out here, but I doubt it.
    No such thing as a universal powder. If there was, everyone would be using it. Hell yeah! One common powder vs. 7 or 8 (or more) cans on the shelf? Us reloaders would be all over that stuff. Think of all the money we could save (yeah, same reason you want it, who knew.) Sadly though, it's simply not realistic. Most of the powders that ammo manufacturers use aren't available to the general public. Many even go through the trouble to develop specific powders for specific applications. Cool huh? There is a common theory that developing a decent load will generally require a powder appropriate for the task at hand.
    It sounds as though the plan is to slap together the cheapest components possible and sell whatever the resulting product is. I have a hard time picturing long term success with that plan, but hey, I'm no MBA.
    Have you ever reloaded? If the answer is no, I think you'd better find someone who has and get their help before you hang your shingle and start kicking product out the door.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  8. fa35jsf

    fa35jsf New Member

    I'm about to drop a brutally honest bomb on you. Unless you have simply misstated your previous questions, typed them while drinking, or simply had a brain fart, I don't believe you are up to the task at hand.

    Reloading can be dangerous. All hand loaders know this. Manufacturing ammo is even more dangerous, especially when you are considering manufacturing the components. How are you going to maintain quality control and exact specs on all your components between batches? How are you going to test for quality?

    Have you even purchased any commercial reloading machines? Have you priced them? They are extremely expensive.

    As far as incorporating goes, I believe the other posters are trying to tell you to cover your rear end. Whether it is through incorporating or filing your company as an LLC, you need to separate yourself from your company on paper. Otherwise you are going to be living under a bridge in 6 months because some guy blew off his finger when one of your rounds ruptured in his gun, and he took you for all you got.

    Buddy, take all this however you want and get all bent out of shape if that's how you feel, but I ain't gonna buy any ammo made by Acme Ammo Co because your questions give me the heebie-jeebies.

    Sent from my iPhone using Firearms Talk
  9. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    This entire line of questioning leaves me comparing this to a guy who wants to make cars, but does not understand why 87 octane, 93 octane and #2 Diesel are not interchangeable.

    Reloading is a science and and art. Without scientific knowledge and artistic ability you are doomed to failure (in a most catastrophic way).

    Now to address the questions;

    Aluminum cases do not respond well to the rigors of reloading. Early CCI Blazer aluminum cases were Berdan primed and NOT reloadable. The primers they used were impossible to find as they were a non-standard size. A few years ago, CCI started using standard primers, but they still should not be reloaded.

    Corrosive primers? Really? NO ONE in their right mind would consider using corrosive primers in the 21st century. Technology has gone so far beyond that ancient chemistry. Corrosive primers were used because that was the only answer available. Now, Non-corrosive is easily obtained and even lead free, green, primers are made.

    Universal powder? NEVER. Pressures, case volumes, barrel lengths, etc stand in the way. It is possible to use one powder for MOST handgun loads, a second powder for MOST shotshell loads and a third powder for most rifle loads. These mythical powders will not be ideal for all loads, but potentially doable. A powder like Red Dot will work for calibers .32 ACP - .45 ACP in standard type loads. Magnum calibers (.357, .41, .44, etc) CAN be loaded with red dot, but you will not get Magnum performance out of them. A Slow burning powder like W-296 is made for calibers like this. Unique is a good choice for target type loads in 12 and 20 ga, but will not give the best performance in heavy loads. In rifles, I have used BLC2 and W-748 in many calibers from .223 to .30-06. It is a compromise in the -06, but it works. If you were to load .300 Win Mag, Neither of these powders are appropriate. Even if you were to find a workable load (doubtful and not a safe endeavor), you would not get the kind of velocity you would want from the Magnum cartridge.

    While one powder is definately NOT doable, 4-5 powders can safely be used for MOST cartridges. I try to limit the number of powders I have on hand so I can buy in bulk and save even more. I generally have:

    A fast pistol powder (Red Dot, Green Dot, W-231, Unique)
    A slow pistol powder (Blue Dot, W-296, H-110)
    A fast rifle powder (BLC-2, W-748)
    A slow rifle powder (H4831 SC)
    A powder for the .45-70 (IMR 3031)
  10. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    pretty much the same thoughts i had.

    just because you got an FFL that says you can manufacture ammo, only says that you meet the legal requirements and that you are legal in the eyes of the law to manufacture and sell ammo. the BATF doesn't concern itself with the technical aspects of whether yo actually know how to manufacture the ammo.

    reading your questions, makes me wonder if you actually know about reloading ammo.

    if i see your ammo sitting on a shelf for sale, after reading this thread, i can promise you i won't be buying any, and would warn others against doing so either.
  11. mattybock

    mattybock New Member

    Oh, I know I am not competent do manufacture complete ammunition as of yet. No way in heck am I going to just slap a powder together and call it safe. I do have the goal of eventually manufacturing an all around rifle powder, pistol powder and primers for sale, all based on NATO and COMECON standards, but that will be years from now.

    I go the type 6 so I could start making cases and bullets, which will be about 5 to 8 months from now. My knowledge of chemistry is limited to thanochemistry (I went to college to be a funeral director, not a pyrochemist), but I also know quite a spell about metallurgy and basic physics.

    Why aluminium? Zinc. I will not touch the stuff. It has a super low melt point and gives off extremely toxic gas, which is lethal in small doses. Aluminium on the other hand is reasonably safe, recyclable, easy to work with (as compared to steel),cheap and just sits better with me. I'll have to do some science experiments with wall thickness and see if I can make a case that's better than whats on the market now.

    The same problem sits with lead azide and other modern lead primers. I don't trust it. My current knowledge of primers is garnered only from horribly obsolete texts, such as 'Cartridge Manufacture by Hamilton'. I have a long way to go with this, years even.
  12. weaselfire

    weaselfire Member

    You do realize that ammunition manufacturers don't manufacture all the components, right? Remington, Winchester, CCI, Black Hills and all the rest buy the components and assemble them. Most powder comes either through Hogdon or a few overseas manufacturers. Fewer now that one manufacturer overseas blew up in an accident. Ditto for primers. Brass might be formed by the larger manufacturers, but most buy from Winchester, Remington or Starline. Bullets are also bought from manufacturers, it's extremely rare for anyone to manufacture bullets. Especially now that many ranges and at least one state has banned lead projectiles.

    Corrosive primers are made by three different groups overseas. They are not generally available in the US. An Ammunition Manufacturer FFL (07 or 08) does not license you to make explosive substances. Regardless of what chemical degree you have. Corrosive primers are not suitable for many modern firearms and many consumers will not buy them.

    That said, I wish you the best but fear you're already so far off track that your business will be failing. Hope you're really well capitalized.

    Good luck. You'll need it.

  13. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

    I would suggest you start out by reloading and shooting 100,000 rounds of different types of ammo. After you have done that you will start to get an idea of what you are doing. You could use a universal powder for rifles. You could simply have a bunch of poorly performing cartridges and one good one. A powder that works great for one projectile will suck for another. That is all there is too it. If you need us to tell you that...then you have no idea what you are doing. Not trying to be a jerk. I just don't want your next post to be from your wife telling us that you blew yourself up in your garage.

    I have reloaded tens of thousands of rounds for my personal use. I would not consider myself ready to do what you are planning.

    BUCKSLAYERR78 New Member

    Is this a joke?! How the hell did he get his 07?

    Sent from my iPhone using Firearms Talk
  15. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    the BATF only concerns themselves with the legalities of someone reloading and selling ammo. not their experiance or technical expertise in knowing how to. i sure hope he has a good attorney for lawsuits.:eek:
  16. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    others have commented correctly on the ammo making proccess.

    personally i avoid corrosive like the plague even down to using it in my beater mosins its just a huge freekin hassle.

    if i know a cartridge is loaded with berdan primers i wont buy them.

    berdan primers are typically not available for reloading and an extreme hassle to deprime making them effectively not reloable. while it can be done the time and effort far out weighs any cost saving.

    im not a fan of aluminum cases. they allow a lot of blowback past the case into the action and bolt. i would hate to see what an aluminum case will do in a 50,000 cup pressure rifle loading!!!!
  17. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

    There are only a couple of calibers that I shoot new ammo. That is because brass is hard to find or very expensive. I will never buy a box of centerfire ammo that doesn't say "Boxer Primed" right on the box. I do not shoot Berdan anything. And rimfire is the only ammo I buy that I do not reload.
  18. gstaggs

    gstaggs New Member

    In time I will be applying for my ammo manufacturing license, I took gunsmith courses and have spent the last year compiling data. I still have more research to do on reloading equipment before I even apply.
    Good luck
  19. partdeux

    partdeux Well-Known Member

    This is all I need to know.
  20. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    "In time"? Hopefully that means AFTER you have loaded 50,000 + rounds and get some experience. First time loader selling ammo? VERY BAD idea.

    Akin to buying a Chilton manual and going into business rebuilding engines.