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Affordable Range Rounds for Pistol & Rimfire

CCI's Founding Father

America’s first commercial airline flight and the beginning of WWI coincided in 1914. The following year, Richard “Dick” Speer was born into a world in awe of what airplanes could do. Dick was also born with mechanical aptitude, so he worked at Boeing’s Seattle plant until his mid-thirties.

After a couple of name changes, Dick and his partner Arvid Nelson settled on Cascade Cartridges, Inc.

Finding Opportunity

Seeking another way into the ammo business, Dick identified a shortage in component primers. Most of what was available at the time was military surplus, and even that was limited. In 1951 Dick hired Dr. Victor Jasaitis, an explosives expert and Lithuanian refugee, to do what CCI needed to become a primer manufacturer.

Dick intended to supply primers to the civilian market, but his first client was the U.S. Military. They asked CCI for primers with the FA-70 priming mixture, which were used for 45 ACP and 30-06, and which were also corrosive. After finishing that military contract, CCI switched over to producing non-corrosive primers for handloaders working with unconventional cartridges.

Soon Dick purchased a 17 acre chicken farm to expand CCI in. The farmhouse served as office and storage space, and an old chicken coop provided the production floor. Dick quickly built the proper facilities for chemistry and manufacturing, and not long after began producing shotshells and Mini-Mag rimfire ammunition. CCI’s factory remains at that former chicken farm in Lewiston to this day.

Dick sold CCI to Omark Industries Inc. and retired in 1967. During his career he also opened Cascade Cartridge International in Mexico, consulted military organizations in three continents, and developed several unique manufacturing processes. He had become known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on ammunition. Dick and his wife Anne soon settled near Ware Neck, Virginia, a quiet town poking out into the Atlantic. He passed away from cancer in 1994.

CCI Ammo logo
Cascade Cartridges Inc. (CCI) in 1951
Dick Speer
Lewiston, Idaho
Ammo Made
Rimfire, Handgun
Popular Lines
Blazer Brass, Mini-Mags (CCI)

CCI After Dick Speer

CCI continued doing well after their founder stepped down. Faced with increasing material costs and competition from foreign manufacturers in the late 1970s, CCI sought a way to create a cheaper 38 Special cartridge. After testing out several materials, they selected heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum as a suitable alternative to costly brass shell casings. Aluminum casings are non-reloadable, so CCI outfitted theirs with Berdan primers which are less expensive to manufacture but also unsuitable for handloading. (As a precaution, CCI originally implemented an unusual 0.195” diameter primer to discourage reloading of their aluminum casings.)

CCI’s original prototype aluminum casings did not extract smoothly from a cylinder. They discovered they had to readjust their manufacturing process for casings, as heat-treatment science up until that point had dealt primarily with much larger airplane parts. CCI’s work in this field gave them a head start in the aluminum cased ammo business. Their Blazer label hit the market in 1981, and today it offers 13 different calibers

In the 1980s CCI continually improved their primer technology. They innovated to grow alongside the increasingly popular progressive reloading press, and introduced primers that improved the functionality of automatic firearms, reduced residue, and offered a larger effective firing pin striking area. At the end of the decade CCI introduced the world’s first hypervelocity 22 WMR cartridge.

Why Shoot CCI Ammo Today?

Today CCI remains a preeminent primer supplier to the U.S. market. They also offer an expansive selection of rimfire ammunition that is specialized for applications including varmint hunting, pest control, competition, plinking and target shooting, and even suppressor use. CCI is currently owned by Vista Outdoor, putting them in good company with Dick’s brother’s company Speer.

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