Connecticut has a long tradition of firearms manufacturing, starting with Eli Whitney’s gun factory in New Haven which was the birthplace of mass-produced firearms in America. The most recent addition to the industry is at the opposite side of the state, in Winsted.
Dean Blair started Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge in 2010, to offer quality reloaded ammunition to gun stores and target ranges in the Northeast. In addition to being an American-owned & -operated company, Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge is also a veteran-owned company. Dean is a former Marine and former Army veteran who later worked as a civilian security contractor in Iraq for 2.5 years, until a terrible injury inflicted by an ambush sent him home for a long recovery.
Yankee Gun Nuts met with Dean at the Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge production facility in Winsted, and had a long discussion about his products & his company. Here is what we learned:
Yankee Gun Nuts: Is Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge your first experience with making ammunition?
No, I have made ammunition for individual dealers in the area for a while. Everyone knows that ammunition supplies have been spotty for the past few years, even for what were once common calibers. Starting Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge was just the logical step to take things to the next level for me, to meet the existing needs of shooters in the Northeast.
YGN: What kind of ammunition does Nutmeg offer?
We offer remanufactured target & range ammo to gun stores and shooting ranges; primarily pistol calibers but I am now offering some rifle ammunition as well. I can also do special runs of competition or hunting ammo if customers need it.
Currently I am loading 9mm, .40S&W, .45acp, and .38 Special, some .30-30 and some .45-70. I will be adding .380 very soon, since the weather will start warming up and people will be carrying their smaller concealment handguns more often, and will need to practice with them.
I have made tactical .223 ammunition in the past but I want to concentrate on building the business and my customer base before exploring that option under the Nutmeg brand.
YGN: What do you mean by “remanufactured”?
We buy once-fired brass, clean it on-site, dry it, and then reload it with new primers, powder and projectiles. By restricting our brass to once-fired, we maintain a high level of quality & consistency while lowering the cost of the finished product, a savings which gets passed on to consumers.
YGN: What type of new components are you using?
We use copper-plated lead bullets from Xtreme in several bullet weights per caliber, except for the .38 ammo which uses an unplated lead 148gr. double-ended wadcutter. CCI primers. And we use Ramshot Zip powder for all handgun calibers.
YGN: There are a lot of powders on the market. Why Ramshot Zip?
Two reasons. One, there is plenty of published loading information for all of the pistol calibers I am loading using that powder, so we can maintain a high volume of loading without having to stop and change powders.
Secondly, Zip is a fast, very clean-burning powder, not smoky at all. And that is a big concern for indoor ranges, both in terms of ventilation as well as just making it easier for everyone to see their targets. Some brands of remanufactured ammo can be smoky. Not Nutmeg.
YGN: What equipment do you use to actually make the ammunition?
We have 4 Dillon Super1050’s and I am looking at adding another very soon. We use Dillon RF100 primer fillers to maximize productivity.
YGN: What’s your current production capacity?
About 9000 rounds per day, but that should increase as I get solid orders and add the equipment and staff to meet them.
YGN: Nutmeg isn’t just you by yourself, is it?
No, I have 4 full- and part-time employees at the moment, but that should expand as business increases.
YGN: How do you handle quality control?
We stick to published loading data. We buy brand-name components. During production we pull every 300th round and dump the powder charge and weigh it on a digital scale to ensure we are consistent. We put the loaded ammunition into 50-round sizing blocks made by EGW to perform visual & tactile inspections for case dimensions, case length, and improperly-seated primers.
We chronograph the ammunition when we develop a load, and then again over time to ensure quality. And of course, we take current production ammo to the range at least once per week and test it in our own guns.
We have designated areas for each phase of production, and we adhere to all regulations regarding materials safety.
YGN: What kind of feedback are you getting from your current customers?
I have sent ammo to dealers like R & R Sport Shop in Belchertown, MA, and to the shooting school at one of the big gun manufacturers here in the Northeast where I am in discussion to become their supplier. The feedback I have received is consistent: Nutmeg ammo is very clean, not smoky, and accurate.
Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge
Range testing & chronograph results for Nutmeg Sporting Cartridge ammo.
From the comments:
Here are a few other places where Nutmeg Sporting Cartridges are available.
Newington Gun Exchange
Autumn Gun Works Goshen, CT
Shooter’s New Milford, CT
Wolf’s Range, Bristol, CT
Sportsmans Outpost, Wolcott, CT
Riverview Sales, East Windsor, CT