If Ken Cooper and his business partners at Buffalo Cartridge Company are correct, the recent election showed that the values of people who believe in the personal right to self defense, and who love to hunt, shoot, and attend gun shows, are becoming stronger than ever.
Buffalo Cartridge Company, a Texas & U.S. Law Shield affiliate based in Findlay, Ohio, is located about 40 miles south of Toledo off Interstate 75 and could truly be considered dead center in the heartland. Even those who only pass the town will instantly recognize its nickname: “Flag City USA.”
But to Cooper, Findlay could one day be known instead as “Ammo City.” Buffalo Cartridge Company is the kind of business that has been a part of small, yet industrious, American cities for as long as there have been places like Findlay. Yet, in truth, Buffalo Cartridge Company is technically still a new player, a start-up in the fast-changing world of large-scale ammunition manufacturing.
Cooper, one of the partners of this company, told Texas & U.S. Law Shield in an interview, “Look, we operate our business just like our motto, ‘God, guns, country.’ We strive to live up to those ideals every day.”
“As a signed facility for Texas & U.S. Law Shield, we recommend Buffalo Cartridge Company’s ammunition to our Members nationwide,” said National Operations Director Dwayne McBryde, who has toured the Findlay facility. “Depending on state and local restrictions, our Members can buy Buffalo’s ammunition through the BuffaloCartridge.com website. Their product line includes target, hunting, cowboy action, match grade, and self-defense ammunition. Also, they prepare custom loads and perform brass processing, ballistics testing, and much more.”
McBryde explained that the relationship between Buffalo Cartridge Company and Texas & U.S. Law Shield also extends to the Buffalo Trading Post, a shooting range and retail store. “We run classes through there, as well as seminars and gun law workshops almost every weekend.
“Also, the Buffalo Trading Post has a lot of historical artifacts on display, with one of the largest collections of Winchesters, Sharps rifles, and Henrys I’ve ever seen,” McBryde added. “They also have a massive display of Buffalo Bill memorabilia. It’s like a museum.”
Founded in 2013, this small company began by producing remanufactured range ammunition for its sister company, the Buffalo Trading Company. It started as many small businesses do, with little more than a dream and a hope. It began with one hand-loader in a back room, but has now into a 26,000-square-foot facility that features a full complement of automated machinery for sorting, brass processing, priming, loading, polishing, ballistic testing, and quality assurance for its products. This includes its own in-house “ballistic testing” center.
“We operate in Ohio, and part of our success is that we started locally,” said Cooper. “Most Ohioans either participate in or are actively shooting and hunting, and if they don’t, they certainly know someone who does. Shooting isn’t a vilified hobby in Ohio at all. Instead, it is really a great way to bond with a loved one or friend.”
This is just part of the reason that Cooper believes that Findlay could rightfully earn the distinction of “Ammo City” at some point in the future.
“I have to be honest, I didn’t grow up in Findlay, but I moved here after college and it took me a while to understand the whole ‘Flag City USA’ thing,” he explained. “I found out it was from a newspaper contest. I’d like to give it a rhyme and reason and make it ‘Ammo City’ instead.”
The company is off to a good start, as it has expanded its business, and Cooper said if they don’t make a particular cartridge now, that could change in the future. If a customer orders a unique caliber, Cooper said they would find a way to produce it. “We’ll head to our in-house ballistic lab, roll up our sleeves, and make it work.”
The Buffalo Cartridge Company has strived to employ people who truly care about the industry, and this is shown in the quality control. Cooper and his partners admit that this is important because the ammunition they produce today may not just be used at the range.
Whether the cartridges they make are for hunting or home protection, the shooter needs to have trust that they will perform as expected when needed.
“We stamp ‘God’ on every box for a reason,” Cooper explained. “We do share a vision that life is precious and if a gun is used in personal defense that you can count on it.”
This level of professionalism has existed in the Buffalo Cartridge Company since day one, but Cooper was quick to note that he had some apprehension about entering into the world of firearms. Part of that was due to the fact he had been the least knowledgeable and experienced when it came to firearms.
Cooper had been working in the telecommunications business with John Larbus, who also owned a gun shop on the other side of town. A need arose to create ammunition for the shooting range, and Larbus along with his son Nate, convinced Cooper that this was a business opportunity.
“They were very much the brains behind this idea,” Cooper said candidly. “Here I was the guy without any firearms experience, and I didn’t even know if you could even start an ammo business. I didn’t know the rules or the culture around it.”
Cooper took a leap of faith, and said he’d do it all over again.
“Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” he admitted. “We had the energy and enthusiasm to get into this industry, but you have to understand that you need to play by the rules. There is a lot of red tape and a lot of regulation, but for good reason. This isn’t really different from other industries. As long as you have safety protocols in place and keep the records in order, then you’ll do fine.”
The company started by producing mainstream pistol calibers including 9mm and .357, and then branched out to fill a need for Ohio’s single-action shooters, and then venturing into hunting cartridges, including the .45-70 Government, and the mainstay self-defense-rifle round, the .223 Remington.
What might seem odd to some is that Findlay’s Buffalo Cartridge Company has also become a go-to place for special ammo, which can be produced in the company’s ballistic lab, where it can test any cartridge. This includes velocity and chamber pressure.
If a firearm can shoot it, Buffalo Cartridge Company can probably produce the rounds.
One story that Cooper shared was about a range owner who wanted specialty ammunition for his .44 Magnum rifle that was integrally suppressed. That involved special paperwork that legally transferred the rifle to Cooper’s team to conduct the tests. “It was a fun project to be involved in, and for the owner, he was impressed because he looked all over the country and found us practically in his backyard.”
More recently, Buffalo Cartridge Company worked with Walther to provide specialty ammunition for its Media Day at the Range at SHOT Show. Yet, no matter whether they work for players on the world stage or local shooters, Cooper said they adhere to the same standards of quality control.
“Every single lot we produce, we make sure that they are ballistic tested,” Cooper added. “We take pride in our work, and we take it to heart.” — Peter Suciu, Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog