Bryan County, Georgia is booming right now; the population grew by almost 50% between 2010 and 2020 and Hyundai just broke ground on a massive new factory that’s slated to create 8,100 jobs when it opens in 2025. The car maker isn’t the only company that’s expanding into the county; Ammunition maker Norma Precision just announced a $60-million dollar facility that will be staffed by some 600 workers.
Georgia is becoming a popular destination for both new companies in the gun industry and those looking to escape the unfriendly confines of their historical homes in blue states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. In this case, though, it’s more that Georgia was the right choice for a brand looking to expand its reach in the U.S. market.
In July, Italian gun maker Beretta bought Norma Precision and other ammunition makers from RUAG International, a company owned by the Swiss government, for an undisclosed price. Norma Precision had already announced that it was moving its headquarters to Georgia, setting up a factory in the Savannah suburb of Garden City.
Norma said 88 current employees in Georgia would be offered transfers. Employees will make an average of $57,000 a year, said company spokesperson Rose de Vries.
Last year, Norma Precision said it imported more than 400 containers of ammunition from factories in Europe, while also delivering more than 30 million cartridges of ammunition made in the U.S. De Vries said Norma would also export ammunition from the Georgia plant.
… Beretta officials said they’re trying to expand the sales and brand of Norma in the United States. Pietro Gusalli Beretta, president and CEO of family-owned Beretta Holding, said Norma, which is rooted in Sweden, has been making ammunition in the United States for 12 years and has seen four years of “steady growth.”
Norma Precision has a interesting (and international) backstory. While it was sold to an Italian gun company by a firm owned by the Swiss government, Norma was actually founded in Sweden by a native of Oslo, Norway.
In 1902, a young man from Oslo, Norway, got off a train in the small Swedish community of Åmotfors. Ivar Enger had been sent on a mission by his brothers to find a suitable location for a bullet factory. Just before 1900, the Enger brothers obtained a few secret, French Balle D projectiles and, with the help of their ballistic engineer, Karl Wang, they developed a process whereby a boattail could be applied to a bullet in a very consistent manner. This gave the Enger brothers an edge.
Started in 1894, the brothers’ company was called Norma, and it’s likely the only company to ever come about as the result of a single rifle cartridge—the 6.5×55 mm Swedish Mauser. The adoption of that cartridge by the Swedish military created a demand for ammunition and jacketed bullets. Scandinavian target shooters and reloaders needed a tremendous amount of jacketed bullets because they could no longer create their own bullets from lead and compete with the modern, high-velocity, smokeless cartridges.
Norma erected its first factory in Åmotfors by 1911 and moved out of the two-room building originally acquired in 1902. In 1914, Norma started loading 6.5×55 mm Swedish ammunition using once-fired military brass. But not enough military brass was available to meet demand, so in 1917 Norma began making its own. Norma ammunition soon became world-class and was used to set two Olympic records in the ’20s and ’30s. During this period, the company had also begun to manufacture hunting ammunition.
World War II brought with it a demand from the Swedish government that Norma be put on a war footing. The factory grew from 150 to more than 600 employees, but Norma had to surrender its secret bullet-making process. During the war, Norma primarily made small arms ammunition but focused on hunting and target ammunition after the military contracts disappeared.
120 years of history in the books and now Norma Precision is writing a new chapter in the land of the free and the home of the brave (and Braves). How cool is that?
With Gov. Brian Kemp easily winning a second term, Georgia has cemented itself as one of the top environments for the firearms industry. The list of gun companies already operating in the state is fairly long and illustrious, but there’s still plenty of room to grow, and I suspect this isn’t the last announcement about new facilities and hundreds of jobs coming to the state thanks to gun and ammunition makers.