by Karen Mehall Phillips - Monday, January 29, 2024
Hornady Manufacturing and Sturm, Ruger & Co. are household names for American hunters and shooters so it was fitting that the two industry powerhouses welcomed 500 of their closest friends to join them for a Hornady/Ruger 75th anniversary celebration at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 24.
Held at the Venetian Expo, the joint diamond jubilee was fitting as the industry crowd shared thoughts of founders Joyce Hornady (1907-1981) and Bill Ruger (1916-2002)—maybe the only two “diamonds” who were never “in the rough,” spending their entire lives taking giant steps forward to realize their potential. The two legendary icons were friends who even shared hunting camps and applauded each other’s success. In honoring the ties that bind, Hornady even rolled out new 75th anniversary packaging for the .204 Ruger 32-gr. V-MAX varmint and small game ammunition developed and launched by Hornady and Ruger in 2004. The anniversary edition of the ammo box (shown above) features a photo of each founder with an elk, their company logos and the words, “Two Companies. 75 Years. One Passion.”
Also celebrating decades of friendships and ongoing product coverage of both companies was Master of Ceremonies and NRA Publications Editorial Director Mark Keefe IV. Like the rest of NRA Publications’ editorial staff, Keefe has written countless articles on the two brands.
Amid my own anecdotes of field testing the companies’ products through the years are examples of how much Hornady and Ruger also support their employees and communities. When I attended the 2018 grand opening of the Hornady West production and distribution center in Grand Island, Neb., I appreciated the manner in which Joyce’s son and president, Steve Hornady, addressed the crowd alongside his son and VP, Jason Hornady. With the family business bursting at the seams, he said it needed to expand to continue doing business. “Our investment is saying we are committed,” Hornady said, drawing applause from the employees, community members and state dignitaries present. “This is what we do. … and we plan to be here for the rest of our lives.” In recognizing their long list of accomplishments, Steve and Jason Hornady were named to the list of 2024 Nebraska Business Hall of Fame inductees.
But my favorite Hornady quote comes from a video of founder Joyce Hornady, who simply said, “I’m Joyce Hornady. You might say accuracy is my business—I make bullets.” Three generations later, Hornady hits the mark because it stays true to Joyce’s goal of “10 bullets through one hole.” The company’s “accurate, deadly, dependable” slogan reflects its commitment to leadership and performance and is why it is “75 years strong.”
As for Ruger’s achievements, celebrating 75 years of “rugged, reliable firearms” stems from Bill Ruger’s enduring philosophy of insisting that each Ruger product be built to a standard so that he would want one even if it were made by a competitor. Today Ruger continues to make sure its factories and offices are staffed with hunters and shooters so employees better understand customer needs. Bill Ruger encouraged employees to take off and go hunting or shooting, saying they would be fired only if they took off to golf.
In giving credit to others, Ruger once said, “It’s not the man who designs or makes the guns that is the true genius. It’s the man who makes the machines which make the guns that is the true hero of this business.”
As I recalled attending Bill Ruger’s funeral in 2002, I thought how pleased he would be to see the turnout for this event. From the company’s first firearm in 1949—the renown Ruger Standard .22 target pistol—to its many other pistols, revolvers, rifles and custom shop offerings (and more recently, its purchase and relaunch of Marlin Firearms in 2021 to save the fellow American brand from bankruptcy) Ruger marches on, thanks to imaginative engineers and product managers who blend traditional craftsmanship with technology.
New Products and the Next 75 Years
SHOT Show attendees saw multiple new products at the Hornady and Ruger booths during the show last week. In addition to Hornady’s new commemorative “1949-2024” packaging, the company rolled out new ammunition, bullets, reloading tools and security products. For starters, its new V-Match varmint hunting ammo loaded with the ELD-VT bullet was a hit while the .22 ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) is a compact AR-15 cartridge that uses modern, high-ballistic-coefficient bullets that bolt-action rifle hunters also should check out as it is said to rival the .22-250. The 5.7x28mm is a new high-velocity, smokeless powder option featuring a 40-gr. FTX bullet in Critical Defense and a 40-gr. V-MAX bullet in Hornady Black for that pistol and/or personal defense firearm. For a full lineup of products new and old—including more than 300 bullets from .17 cal. to 50 BMG—visit Hornady.com.
For Ruger’s part, its new-for 2024 product lineup includes four commemorative Ruger 75th anniversary models inspired by iconic Ruger products. The first is a special edition Mark IV Standard target pistol in .22 LR with a laser engraved logo on the receiver and back of the bolt—a pistol that when introduced in 1949 sold for a mere $37.50 and became the most successful .22 semi-automatic pistol ever made. For the personal defense market, the Ruger 75th Anniversary LCP Max in .380 Auto features a 2.8-inch barrel, weighs 10.6 ozs. and has a Ruger 75th Anniversary logo etched onto the top of the slide.
Ruger also rolled out two Ruger 75th Anniversary 10/22 Sporter rifles, one with a walnut-stained hardwood stock and the other featuring a natural hardwood finish with black checkering. All bolts are engraved with Ruger’s 75th anniversary logo. Originally introduced in 1964, the 10/22 is not only one of the company’s most popular products, it is one of the most popular rifles ever made with production numbers in the millions. All four anniversary models are packaged in throwback-styled 75th anniversary boxes and include a Ruger 75thanniversary decal. For more details, visit Ruger.com.
So, 75 years later, the Hornady/Ruger tale of two hunters inspires us all as these companies keep their new and advanced products coming. As they support the NRA and cater to our all-American way of life, their track records of product design and innovation are celebrated with praise and gratitude as we await what they will unveil next.
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