Black Hills Ammo

Quality and accuracy built from scratch
; .

Over the span of about three decades, Black Hills Ammunition has grown from a small part-time operation to one of the most respected manufacturers of handgun and rifle ammunition. I’ve used Black Hills ammo in national and international level competition, in varmint shoots and big game hunts from Wyoming to Namibia, in my home and personal defense firearms along with testing rifles and handguns. Never has a Black Hills round failed, or disappointed me in any way.

Unlike some manufacturers, the loading machines at Black Hills are always attended
by a human to help keep the rate of defective ammo very low.

From Handload To Factory

It’s one thing to earn a reputation for excellence if the competition is weak but it’s much more impressive when the competition is tough. We don’t always appreciate just how good modern factory ammunition is. Back when I started shooting handloads as a teenager in the ’60s it was simply a fact handloads — sometimes even those assembled by novices like me — were superior to factory ammunition.

Almost always we could achieve better accuracy, and we could use premium bullets such as the Nosler Partition, which were unavailable in factory loads. Today virtually any bullet available to handloaders is also available in factory loads. Few handloaders can equal, much less surpass, the accuracy of factory match ammunition.

Jeff and Kristi Hoffman

Built From Scratch

Black Hills ammunition was built up by two remarkable people, Jeff and Kristi Hoffman. Jeff was a peace officer and enthusiastic PPC competitor. He and another officer originally started reloading just so they could afford ammo for training. Jeff eventually earned a Grand Master rating in PPC. Having shot rifles with him on the range I know he is an extraordinary rifle shooter as well. Kristi could probably teach lessons in business management to MBA students, lessons learned not from abstract theory but from hard, unforgiving reality.

A few years ago, I toured the Black Hills factory. Two impressions stood out. One was the skill level, high morale and commitment to excellence of the Black Hills workers. The second was an almost fanatical commitment to quality and reliability. Just to give a couple of examples, every primer is visually inspected before going to the loading machines. Not random samples, but every single one. As I recall, they reject on the order of one primer per 125,000.

The loading machines were set to run considerably slower than maximum, even though it meant having less products to sell. By constant testing they found a slower rate gave slightly improved accuracy. Every loaded round is inspected before being packaged, and the standards are rigorous. Cartridges with flaws (usually minor blemishes which would have no effect on reliability or accuracy) are rejected.

Every component used to make Black Hills ammo is hand-inspected
prior to the production process, even the primers.

Jeff Hoffman is serious about his ammo — he often personally inspects the
finished product before it goes out the door.

Those With Vision

What impresses me most about entrepreneurs such as Jeff and Kristi is their sheer audacity. What on earth made Bill Ruger think he could design a .22 pistol at his workbench and then take on established names like Colt and High Standard? How did Roy Weatherby have the nerve to quit a successful and lucrative career to market his theories of higher velocities?

The Hoffmans knew they would be competing with established ammunition manufacturers, with modern production facilities, excellent products, name recognition and a loyal customer base. It takes exceptional qualities: the courage to take risks and accept the possibility of failure, along with a work ethic most people can only imagine.

The Hoffmans epitomize something I see often in the firearm industry. Economist and author George Gilder calls it “The Spirit of Enterprise” and published a book by the same name. In it he pays tribute to the truly indispensable people of a prosperous economy, the ones who make things work. Glider says:

While the entitled children speak of an absence of worthwhile work, the entrepreneurs hold three jobs at one time. While the entitled children ache at the burden of working nine to five, the entrepreneur works happily from five to nine. While the entitled children complain that success comes from “contacts” with the high and mighty … the entrepreneurs ignore politics and make contacts with workers and customers.

While the entitled children think riches come to the gambler … to the ones blessed with genius or connections … or are gifted with talent or inherited wealth, entrepreneurs know that genius is sweat and toil and sacrifice …

“Women inspect and men do the packing,” Jeff Hoffman said, “because women are
better at it (inspecting). Men don’t have the patience. I tried it and only lasted about an hour!”

Easy To Complain, Hard To Execute

These days it seems many politicians, intellectuals and professors look on entrepreneurs at best with a kind of amused tolerance, at worst with disdain. They think the work of the entrepreneur is easy and they could do it anytime they wanted. They couldn’t. They wouldn’t know where to start. They don’t have the courage to risk it all on a dream, or the work ethic and discipline to see it through. It is the entrepreneur who creates real wealth, who gives more than he takes.

It is the entrepreneur who chiefly create the wealth over which politicians posture and struggle. When the capitalists are thwarted, deflected, or dispossessed, the generals and politicians and socialist intellectuals are always amazed at how quickly the great physical means of production … dissolve into so much scrap, ruined concrete, snarled wire and wilderness. —Gilder

Jeff And Kristi Hoffman, along with the entire team at Black Hills ammo exemplify the best of the hard-working, family-owned firearms business, the kind of people who keep America running — and shooting straight!

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