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Old March 14, 2013, 03:54 AM   #1
Sevens
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Confirm/Deny my ammo conspiracy theory!

Apologies for you political types, this conspiracy theory is not related to the big, evil government.

It's about Black Hills Ammunition. I'm hoping you can add your actual experience, and any experience from those in your circle of family, friends and shootin' buddies.

The question: Do you buy Black Hills branded ammunition?
Why I have a conspiracy theory: I read a lot of gun magazines, and there's a lot of their ads (no surprise) but there's a lot of their product being used in gun reviews and features, testing, "shoot outs" etc etc etc.

Why I'm wondering if there's a conspiracy: Personally, I rarely see the stuff for sale at any of the LGS's, I don't see a heap of it slathered all over tables at the gun shows and I never, and I mean never see empty boxes of it at the range. -NEVER.-

See all the Wal-Mart brands, obviously, and see all the common low-buck stuff. Blazer Brass, American Eagle, Fiocchi, Magtech, Selor & Beliot, Aguila, WWB, Rem-UMC, the occasional Lawman, plenty of Wolf, the oddball steel case stuff in differing names (RWS, Herter's, Tula), plenty of the aluminum Blazer, some of the green/yellow Remington, some different flavors of Hornady, too. You know what I'm talking about... I see all the low priced range fodder that YOU also see.

Sure, there's the occasional box from some high dollar defense ammo when someone has tested a gun they'll employ for defense.

But I can't sit here and tell you that I ever see Black Hills ammo being consumed or remnants of it at any of the indoor or outdoor ranges I frequent.

So my conspiracy theory is that they are doing well and making a decent product, but they are funneling a massive amount of it for low bucks (or free?) to gun writers, and it's making the product seem more mainstream than I've found it to be.

Of course, I only shoot in my little area, and a few times a year, I travel 200+ miles north and I shoot up there, too. But the story is the same in both places. I don't see much for sale, and I never, ever see it used at the range or in trash cans.

Your experience can help me decide if this product has a good market share, or if it's smoke & mirrors.
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Old March 14, 2013, 04:00 AM   #2
Sevens
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Back when I first got in to shooting (late 80's), Black Hills was a re-man company, they made "factory reloads" from good brass. Their ammo always ran well for me and was the cheapest "factory" ammo I could find at the gun store. I bought many blue boxes, mostly .38 Special but I even managed to find a box of 10mm.

At some point, Black Hills moved away from re-man and became a *NEW* ammo manufacturer. And their stuff gets used a lot in feature articles in gun magazines.

Now I'm all for an American manufacturer in the heart of the nation taking a nice share of the pie, especially as ATK grows ever larger by the moment. (oops, they just bought ANOTHER company while I was typing...)

I'll admit straight away that as a knee-deep, hardcore hobbyist handloader, I just don't shop for factory ammo. I don't, almost at all, outside of carry gun ammo and rimfire. But I spend a LOT of time at ranges, picking up brass, and checking the trash cans for brass and trays that I can use. So while I'm not hitting every gun shop in town and going through their expensive factory ammo offerings -- there are few people who see the remnants of everyone else's factory ammo purchases as often as I do.

I don't see empty boxes of Black Hills ammo anywhere...ever. Are they headstamping their brass with a BH or BHA? Because I have more brass on hand than anyone who doesn't handload would ever understand across more different calibers than what the average buying public would even recognize and I don't have Black Hills brass, either.
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Old March 14, 2013, 06:55 AM   #3
carguychris
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Quote:
I don't see empty boxes of Black Hills ammo anywhere...ever. Are they headstamping their brass with a BH or BHA?
They use Starline brass.

Under normal (i.e. pre-panic) circumstances, my local Cabela's stores stocked lots of Black Hills pistol ammo, and I used to use it as my carry ammo until a much more convenient LGS started selling Winchester Ranger for the same price ($30/50rds).

I think that their high visibility in the gun press occurs simply because they have very promotion-minded management.
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Old March 14, 2013, 09:11 AM   #4
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
Your experience can help me decide if this product has a good market share, or if it's smoke & mirrors.
It doesn't have a big market share, and it is not smoke and mirrors. It is also not a conspiracy.

Black Hills is, essentially, a niche product. It's better quality than the Winchester USA you find in bulk packs at Wal-Mart (make that past tense!), and it's priced accordingly. Black Hills also doesn't have a fraction of Winchester's or Federal's production capacity. If they were funneling most of their production into freebies, obviously they wouldn't stay in business very long, so they are selling. But they aren't selling through large, high-volume distribution channels.

You're not likely to ever see it in Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart likes to dictate to the manufacturer wwhat the price is going to be. W-M nearly bankrupted the Rubbermaid company doing that several years ago. Black Hills will never be able to match the Wal-Mart price for a 100-round value pack of Winchester "white box," so why should they even try?

It's very high quality ammunition, available if you look for it, and worth its price.
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Old March 14, 2013, 09:23 AM   #5
kraigwy
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Black Hills sells some excellent quality target ammo. They also sell some moderately priced ammo. You'll find the former at places to cater to target shooters and latter to those who cater to plinking ammo.

There isn't the demand for target ammo as there is for "plinking" ammo, so if you were running a business, you cater to what your customers want.

Creedmor Sports and such places cater to target shooters, therefore they are going to carry the higher priced target ammo.

Walmat caters to John Doe plinker who want cheaper ammo. So that's what they stock.

Look at 22 ammo. You have bulk 500 round packs and you have something like Ely. Ely is match ammo and is expensive, worth the price if you're an ISU shooter but not worth it if you're going to shoot beer cans. More people shoot beer cans (plinking) then shoot International Small Bore Matches, so that's what your LGS is gonna carry. No sense in tying up your inventory dollars in something you can't move.

Its not a conspiracy, its Business Management 101.
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Old March 14, 2013, 10:39 AM   #6
chiefr
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In all my days of shooting, I have only purchased 1 box of Black Hills ammo. It was in 32H&R Mag. Ended up buying from a retailer on the internet.

32H&R mag has been very hard to find at times and BH was all I could find.
The ammo was just as accurate as any other brand. Yes, they use Starline brass. I have lived in many states over the last few years and rarely if ever see BH ammo.

BTW, I learned many years ago to take everything gun writers write with a grain of salt and in some cases scepticizm. "BrenTen" immediately comes to mind.
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Old March 14, 2013, 12:11 PM   #7
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
So my conspiracy theory is that they are doing well and making a decent product, but they are funneling a massive amount of it for low bucks (or free?) to gun writers, and it's making the product seem more mainstream than I've found it to be.
Marketing a commercial product is NOT conspiracy theory. It may be a niche product, as noted, but I don't see anyone trying to make it seem commonplace, unless you also think gun writers at ranges are commonplace.

Their stuff gets used a lot, in part due to product placement (I am sure) but also because it is a good performer for accuracy testing (at least for rifles).

FYI, I am not a gun writer, but I shoot a good bit of Black Hills. I have not found it in a while, but haven't looked either. They used to have a large section of it at the local Cabelas, but I usually got mine online for cheaper.
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Old March 14, 2013, 12:13 PM   #8
ScottRiqui
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I've seen many more Ferraris in the pages of "Car and Driver" and "Road and Track" than I've ever seen in real life (and I lived in Monterey, California for a few years) - that doesn't mean there's a conspiracy to make Ferraris seem more commonplace than they actually are.
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Old March 15, 2013, 04:27 AM   #9
Sevens
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The whole "conspiracy theory" was meant to bring a grin. In my post, it wasn't that Black Hills was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes -- it was that I had cooked up a "conspiracy theory" that the ammo is much more prevalent than I see it.

I'm not traveling all over the country and hitting every gun shop, but I'm a regular at more than a dozen different haunts in my circles. Don't get the idea that I believe all the ammo comes from Wal-Mart. However -- you're asleep at the wheel if you think the bulk of "random Joe Lunchbox" range visitor is buying any manner of premium ammo, even premium by a little bit. The bulk of the ammo being bought & consumed is all that stuff I listed... every manufacturer's absolute base brand.

I rarely, if ever, see Black Hills for sale and I -never- see the stuff on ranges. Perhaps it shows up on the rifle range, where I don't spend much time.

It does seem like Black Hills doesn't have a product to even attempt to compete with the base brands, the WWB's and Blazer Brass of the world. That likely is due to scale & production capacity.

I certainly do miss their old blue box factory re-man offerings.

And I'm guessing I would see more Black Hills if I lived further west, in the middle of the country where there are wide open spaces.
Quote:
I've seen many more Ferraris in the pages of "Car and Driver" and "Road and Track" than I've ever seen in real life (and I lived in Monterey, California for a few years) - that doesn't mean there's a conspiracy to make Ferraris seem more commonplace than they actually are.
Great. Well, I don't read those magazines, so my experience with Ferraris is 180 degrees from yours... and yeah, that nugget is just as helpful as your post was.
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Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
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Old March 15, 2013, 05:39 AM   #10
ScottRiqui
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Sorry you felt my post was "unhelpful" - I was simply addressing part of your original post (emphasis added), and pointing out that it's not unusual at all for a product to receive attention in the press and ad space that's way out of proportion to its actual market share.

Quote:
The question: Do you buy Black Hills branded ammunition?
Why I have a conspiracy theory: I read a lot of gun magazines, and there's a lot of their ads (no surprise) but there's a lot of their product being used in gun reviews and features, testing, "shoot outs" etc etc etc.

Why I'm wondering if there's a conspiracy: Personally, I rarely see the stuff for sale at any of the LGS's, I don't see a heap of it slathered all over tables at the gun shows and I never, and I mean never see empty boxes of it at the range. -NEVER.-
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Old March 15, 2013, 07:38 AM   #11
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
The whole "conspiracy theory" was meant to bring a grin. In my post, it wasn't that Black Hills was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes -- it was that I had cooked up a "conspiracy theory" that the ammo is much more prevalent than I see it.
Okay, so what? They use it because it is good ammo, not because they are trying to make it normal. You have determined your conspiracy based on a lack of information and misunderstanding of why the ammo is being used.
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Old March 15, 2013, 07:52 AM   #12
brmfan
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Black Hills brass is made by Winchester IIRC and is top notch. I typically get 5-6 reloads for match before the cases get used for hunting or plinking. BH also has major military ammo contracts such as the MK 262 Mod 1 and they sell heavily to LE, hence the lack of commercial availability and frequent appearances in the gun rags.

Jeff Hoffman is LE himself so that's where his priority is, which is to make excellent ammo before profit. BH is simply outstanding ammo! In fact I prefer it over Federal GMM. If your LGS doesn't carry it then bug them until they do!
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Old March 15, 2013, 09:52 AM   #13
Come and take it.
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I bought a box of 223 69 grain black hills once to try it out. Got a case seperation. No more black hills for me.
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Old March 15, 2013, 11:23 AM   #14
para.2
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It's getting harder to find, but I regularly use their 5.56, 77gr load for service rifle competition. And their "cowboy" .45LC loads for CAS shooting, is even now well-stocked in my local gunstore, and relatively affordable.
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Old March 15, 2013, 01:55 PM   #15
brmfan
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Come and Take It: Case separations happen to all manufacturers at some point. Federal's XM223 had it's fair share also. But this is often caused by headspace issues. I have fired many thousands each of .223, 5.56, and .308 in a wide variety of firearms since being introduced to BH in 2004 and never experienced a failure or case issue of any kind.
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