Behind the Scenes: Manufacturing RWS Airgun Pellets
Pellets, the basic diet of air guns. Shooters take the seemingly simple ammunition, load their air guns, shoot and repeat. For many, the pellet is an accessory to the air gun, but the people from RUAG Ammotec see more in the pellets they produce. Technology, precision and rigorous testing are all present in the development of popular RWS airgun pellets.
RUAG Ammotec, located in Sulzbach-Rosenberg and Fuerth, Germany, manufactures RWS airgun pellets as part of a larger hunting, shooting, law enforcement and military ammunition. RUAG in Switzerland and Dynamit Nobel in Germany combined their ammunition production to form RUAG Ammotec in 2002. Both have a rich history in small arms ammunition, and continues their success as Alfred Nobel’s creation – Dynamit Nobel through inventions, innovation and trailblazing resolve.
By the way, you may be interested to know that RWS is an abbreviation for “Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Sprengstorff” factories, which became part of Dynamit Nobel in 1931.
Smelt, shape, clean, pack, and ship is the simple routine for manufacturing pellets. Or, at least, that’s how it seems at first sight…
Rising to shooters’ expectations, RUAG Ammotec personnel take this process and elevate it through rigorous testing, safety testing, and quality inspections. This attention to detail showcases RWS as a top-of-the-line pellet with configurations to fit the needs of most shooters.
Raw material is shipped to the smelter in the form of lead-alloy ingots. Depending on the type of pellet and it’s job, the alloy is sorted by formula of the alloy. For example, one of the all-time favorite RWS airgun pellets – the .22 caliber Super H-Point – deforms on impact to deliver the most shock and energy to the target, such as small game and pests such as rats and squirrels.
In this case, the softer lead-alloy mixture partners well with the hollow-point design to deform on impact. Different formulae apply to other pellets and their particular function. Some parts of a pellet are designed to expand under firing, yet other parts must remain unchanged. The hardness of the lead alloy is a major factor in this.
Once through the smelter, a top-secret process, lead-alloy is taken as wire, or balls based on caliber. The lead forms are stored and matured through a chemical process, then the lead is ready to be formed into pellets.
When cured, the lead-alloy wire or balls are fed into a precision machine to be molded into pellets. The die squeezes out pellet shapes and dropped with thousands of the same in the receiving hopper. With sufficient numbers not to weigh so much as to crush lower-level pellets, the hopper is moved to the washing plant.
The washing process removes any oils and other lubrication that was used in the forming process, together with any lead “flashing” that may be adhering to the pellets.
RWS airgun pellets then move along a padded conveyor specifically designed for the product. Along the way, they are separated into a sophisticated scale that weighs within two or three pellets for every 500 in a tin.
When measured, the pellets are moved into individual tins. Each tin is packed with a foam disc for padding, a lid is applied and tape seals the tin and sent to packaging. Shrink wrap and boxes finish out the process and production of RWS airgun pellets.
In every stage of production, sophisticated opto-electronic inspectors watch everything. But the human element is still very much present.
RWS employs specialized monitors to review and batch-test pellets. Chemicals and components of the lead-alloy material are tested at the source, in storage and manufacturing. Smelter processes and performances are monitored, and the end-result is critically sampled and tested many times before product even starts.
These tests are imperative to enforce RUAG Ammotec’s “quality in – quality out” regimen.
All RWS R10 Match and R10 Match Plus pellets are inspected visually by a quality specialist. Any imperfection is removed with customized tweezers and replaced with a flawless pellet. The flawed pellet is deposited in a specially labelled bin that is numbered and logged with staff names, and reviewed to make sure the flaw is not part of a bigger problem. Quality is very important for RWS airgun pellets.
Visual inspection is a traditional way of ensuring quality, but RWS technicians in several labs take pellet inspection several steps further. Pellets are sent to these labs to be monitored and measured on a molecular level. If anything found to be less-than-perfect, the entire batch is removed and re-worked intently until the problem is solved and the technicians are happy.
Density, hardness and uniformity are tested behind security doors in the RWS laboratories. Pellets in specific resins are given to RWS metallurgists, and computer-connected probes test and record lead hardness in different areas of the pellet. Some RWS airgun pellets are designed to be “softer” and expand when fired. Others need to be ridged and stay stable. Lead-alloy formulae are a major factor in measuring this.
Huge monitors show cross-sections of each pellet so measurements and angles can be recorded and contrasted against required specifications. Any departure from RWS standards are tracked down and adjustments are made before the batch leaves the lab. Confronting issues as soon as they happen is preferred by RWS to avoid major problems down the line.
Other monitors show large sections of pellets and monitor their molecular structure to be recorded. Spectrum analysis is also done to analyze the chemical content of RWS airgun pellets and compare them to design specifications.
The lab staff works feverishly to apply many other tests and inspections. All RWS airgun pellets are scrutinized, along with bullets and shotgun ammunition. Everything undergoes over 100 manufacturing and quality control steps before any box of ammo is forwarded for delivery. That’s a staggering amount of products to oversee.
Two ranges are used to test pellets. The first is a secure area where targets can be placed at ranges from five Meters to 50 M.
The other is a 10-meter range where pellets are shot from securely bolted rifle jigs on enormous concrete blocks (above). Every shot is recorded electronically and recorded for future reports. The long-range facility is used by Olympic shooters that test batches of ammo to help them decide which will carry their dreams to Gold.
There is a comfort in using RWS airgun pellets, knowing their investment and standards reassure shooters of their quality, and performance. For detalis of the full line of RWS airgun pellets, check out https://www.umarexusa.com/collections/ammunition