Established by Industrias Tecnos in 1961, Aguila Ammunition manufactures firearms cartridges in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, commonly known as the City of Eternal Spring for its gorgeous climate. In fact, prior to the arrival of the Spanish, this was where the Aztec ruling class made their home during the dog days of summer. Aguila develops ammo for self defense, sport shooting, hunting, law enforcement and military use, and has become one of the largest rimfire manufacturers in the world. They’re also known for their sponsorship of the Aguila Cup shooting event, a multi-discipline shooting sports tournament.
How Aguila Ammo Achieves Quality
Known for reliability and performance, Aguila takes pride in their extensive process for sourcing raw materials – guaranteeing that when only choice materials enter the factory, only choice products leave it. In 2011, they partnered with Texas Armament & Technology for a facility-wide modernization and optimization project, with the goal of redefining ammo production and reliability. In particular, the company sought to orient themselves closer to the military and law enforcement markets.
However, this led to a modernization of the entire Aguila line. Upgrades to the manufacturing facilities include clearer quality control directives, moisture-sensitive equipment, more frequent die changes, and an all new, state-of-the-art .22 round facility. Texas Armament & Technology is the sole American distributor of Aguila. This part of the relationship was established to provide the American market with a direct point of contact and for greater responsiveness to any concerns regarding quality.
Quality issues are taken so seriously that, in the event of a serious quality complaint, Texas Armament & Technology will send suspected faulty ammunition back to Mexico for ballistics testing. The company aims to resolve claims regarding quality within a time period of two weeks.
One of the reasons Aguila might be synonymous with quality is that it was originally a Mexican production factory for Remington. The plant opened with a staff of 70 in 1961 – meaning anyone who has fired a single round of Remington in the last 30 years has a good chance of having fired off an Aguila in a Remington box. Over one billion cartridges come out of this factory annually. Aguila is the primary supplier to the Mexican police and military, with its products sold on five continents.
Part of the company’s success lies in the ammunition shortages characterizing the Bush and Obama Administrations. American thirst for ammunition greatly exceeded the nation’s capacity to produce. Aguila, among other international manufacturers, was happy to step in and meet the demand. Unlike others, Aguila kept their focus squarely on providing Olympic-quality ammunition in abundance. In particular, they distinguished themselves with .22 rimfire rounds. It’s this attention to quality that has allowed them to maintain this customer base after the shortage.
Aguila is Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) and Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small-Arms (CIP) compliant.
Aguila Ammunition and Mexican Gun Ownership Laws
It’s curious that a Mexican company would provide such high-quality ammunition since firearms ownership is, after all, pretty close to illegal in the country. The Secretariat of National Defense tightly controls who can and cannot own and operate a firearm, with most Mexicans not able to exercise the right. Even when civilians can have firearms, they are restricted to smaller calibers, with the amount of ammunition they have extremely limited. Firearms always stay at home, with open and concealed carry both illegal for civilians. Even competitive shooters require transport permits in Mexico.
Indeed, Mexico is a bit of a cautionary tale for Second Amendment defenders in the United States. The Mexican Constitution of 1857 guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms in article 10. But the Mexican Constitution of 1917, however, decoupled the right to keep arms from the right to bear arms. This effectively made firearms ownership legal in theory alone, placing them under such heavy restrictions that few Mexicans are able to keep and bear arms in the way most Americans would understand it. In 1971, Article 10 was amended once again to restrict the right to keep arms in the home alone for civilians. In 1972, the Mexican federal government claimed the right to oversee all firearms in the country, heavily restricting even ownership in the home. Mexicans are almost never permitted to own more than two firearms.
Mere ownership of firearms in Mexico is a Byzantine process. A firearm ownership permit must be acquired before the weapon. This requires submission of a proof of identity in the form of a birth certificate or military service card, proof of income and employment, a criminal background check, proof of address, a government-issued photo ID, proof of membership in a hunting or shooting club, and a copy of one’s Unique Key of Population Registry (basically the Mexican equivalent of a Social Security card). Once the purchase permit has been acquired, the recipient must pay for a second permit for the specific purchase, as well as pay for a registration form. Only then can one purchase a firearm from the lone firearms dealer in the country – the Mexican federal government. A transit permit, good for 24 to 72 hours, is then required to get the firearm home.
Aguila Ammunition’s Unusual Options
Aguila isn’t just one of the biggest ammunition manufacturers in Mexico. It’s perhaps the premier ammunition manufacturer in all of Latin America. It is also one of the biggest manufacturers of rimfire ammunition in the entire world. As of 2016, the company offered 21 different rimfire products broken down into three categories: standard, match and special products. The final category includes ultra-rare rounds like .22 Super Colibrí, .22 Winchester Magnum Silver Eagle and 5mm RRM (Remington Rimfire Magnum).
If you’ve never heard of the 5mm RRM, you’re not alone. In 1969, the bottleneck rimfire round dropped for the Model 591 and 592 rifles. America didn’t exactly take to this unusual round, leading to Remington dropping it in 1982. Like many weird rounds, however, a small niche of fanatics swear by the 5mm RRM – which is likely why Aguila started making it again in 2008. The round is in such high demand that Aguila has a portion of its FAQ page dedicated to assuring the public they are making as many as it can, as quickly as possible.
This isn’t the only unusual round manufactured by Aguila. In fact, they have a unique line of shotgun shells known as Minishells. These 1.75” shells come in 7.5 shot and buckshot. You can also purchase it in a slug variation. When employed for personal defense, they can greatly improve your favorite shotgun’s capacity.
Now sitting on 120 acres and employing 870 people, the factory has grown considerably since its inception and operates around the clock to meet high production demands. A lead tower produces shotgun pellets using gravity. A shooting range and ballistics lab allow for onsite product development. 18 tons of powder sit on the site at any given time, with lightning rods and an early-warning system providing an extra measure of safety in this thunderstorm-heavy area of Mexico.
Their notable products include the .22 SSS (Sniper SubSonic), a heavy .22 LR cartridge that creates no sonic crack. The .22 Colibri is a short .22 rimfire with a primer, but no propellant. The .17 PMC/Aguila is a necked-down .22 LR casing that can be shot in a rifle chambered for .17 HM2. And the 12 Gauge Minishell is ideal for competition clay shooting, with less recoil and a quiet report.
Aguila is a distinct brand of ammo that can truly say its quality is unlike any other. This along with its unique product offerings and preference among shooters and governments around the world are the many reasons Aguila Ammunition will remain a top competitor in the ammo industry.