Joyce Hornady produced his first bullet for sale in 1949, a .30 caliber Spire Point weighing 150 grains. He was using a surplus bullet assembly press in a rented garage. His company grew from there to become a force in the markets for ammunition and reloading. Joyce Hornady was a shooter first and foremost. His company grew out of his desire to to build a better product that he could use himself. The company grew rapidly during the first few years, increasing sales by 300% from the first to the second year. To meet demand, he needed a staff of four.
Business was looking up for Hornady Manufacturing – until the Korean War. There were unanticipated shortages of important raw materials, but rather than give up and let the company fold, Hornady won contracts for producing alternative products not associated with ammunition – aluminum hearts for bracelets, and condenser cans for the U.S. government. Once the war ended, the materials that Hornady had used for the cans and the technology he developed to manufacture them was applied to form ultra thin copper jackets for varmint bullets.
The company moved in 1958 into a plant in Grand Island, Nebraska that was 800 square feet. Joyce added an underground range 200 yards long so that he could perform quality testing of his products on site, instead of needing to travel to the Grand Island Rifle Range as previously. At about this time plant staff levels were increased to forty. Hornady Manufacturing continued their pace of rapid growth and expansion into the 60’s and 70’s. Their first step was selling re-manufactured ammunition, which they called the Frontier line. This line of bullets grew to include calibers from .22 to .45. All Hornady spire point bullets maintained the traditional shape of a conical point with tangent ogive. The Hornady ballistics lab supported U.S. Army ballisticians in their experimentation of aerodynamically efficient bullet designs that eventually led to the adaptation of the secant ogive which became the Hornady bullet signature profile, and is now used almost exclusively for all bullets made by Hornady.
Joyce Hornady's death in January 1981 on the way to the SHOT Show in an airplane crash dealt a severe blow to the company. The Hornady family stepped forward to lead the company. The company soon began to produce their cartridge cases in house and they now enjoy a reputation for manufacturing some of the best brass available.
Hornady Manufacturing continues to expand and innovate, always working to advance bullet technology. Hornady makes more than excellent bullets, they also manufacture complete ammunition for pistols, rifles and shotguns. They have earned true respect for the amount of research and development that goes into their products. Recent additions to their product line include the Hornady TAP and Critical Defense premium ammunition for law enforcement agencies and military use. Hunters are well served by the Hornady LEVERevolution and Dangerous Game ammunition series, which represent some of the most advanced bullet technologies available. Hornady has also ventured into the world of competitive shooting, selling their lines of Custom Match and Steel Match ammo. From the mighty mouse .17HMR to the burly .500 S&W Magnum, Hornady sells ammunition for practically every shooter.
Hornady has been and remains committed to manufacturing high quality products for shooters of all persuasions, reloaders and armed professionals. Hornady Manufacturing, producing with excellence and innovation, will no doubt continue to be at the head of the line of ammunition manufacturers.