Cascade Cartridges Inc. (CCI) Ammunition

Cascade Cartridges Inc. (CCI) Ammunition

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Richard "Dick" Speer (1915-1994) possessed a remarkable talent for things mechanical. He was a machinist at Boeing Aircraft's Seattle plant when he realized that his brother Vernon's success in the component bullet business (Speer Bullets) meant there was money to be made in reloading.

There were a number of proprietary rifle cartridge designs (like the Weatherby and Newton) that were not supported by the "big" ammo companies. Dick Speer decided to make cases to service this small but active market. He left Seattle and joined Vernon in Lewiston, Idaho. In a small room at the Speer Bullets plant, he began production of these special cases using an impact extrusion process.

After two name changes, Speer and his partner Arvid Nelson settled on the name Cascade Cartridges, Inc., or CCI.

Although Speer's case-making process was sound, the quality of the raw material was not. In the years after WWII, most stocks of cartridge brass had been depleted for the war effort. Faced with an untenable situation, Speer turned to a different path.

Component primers for reloaders were in short supply. Some war surplus primers were showing up but the supply and choice was limited. Speer decided to get into the component primer business.

Although Speer intended to build primers for hobby reloaders, CCI's first shipment was to fulfill a military contract using the chlorate FA-70 formula. He then turned to non-corrosive, non-mercuric formulas for sporting cartridges. Reloaders now had a steady supply of rifle and pistol primers that was unheard of previously.

To handle the new business, Speer bought a 17-acre chicken "ranch" next to the Lewiston Gun Club just a mile south of brother Vernon's bullet works. The farmhouse doubled as an office and warehouse, and production began in a renovated chicken coop. He quickly erected modern labs and manufacturing buildings, gaining him room to expand the product line. When the gun club moved, Speer bought the adjoining property for future expansion. The CCI plant still occupies that property today.

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