Have you ever heard of Nosler Produce? What about Nosler Trucking? Did you know Nosler was once owned by Leupold, or that it took a generation to get it back to the Nosler family? And what’s with the moose?
Born Ballistic is a fascinating little book about the creation of the people and the business that is Nosler, from the first failure of other commercial bullets to the powerhouse of the hunting and shooting world it is today.
Born Ballistic focuses on the “Life and Adventures of Bob Nosler,” as told by author and TV host Gary Lewis. Bob is the son of the original founder of Nosler, John A. Nosler. Bob’s the son who took his father’s dream and made it a reality. Bob’s also the father who passed on that dream to his son John R. Nosler, the company’s current President.
I was surprised to find the book is only 184 pages long, as I read it in a single sitting. Even as a “gun guy” and self described “bullet nerd,” there’s plenty here I didn’t know about Nosler, and I’ve been reading their manuals and catalogues for decades. You’ll find some great historical photos of the Nosler family, the wild game and the hunts that defined and redefined what a hunting bullet can be.
Born Ballistic’s format is ADHD friendly. It skips through time, focusing a few chapters on the story of the business of Nosler, the history of the company, and the biography of Bob Nosler. But not in any particular order, and the story moves back and forth between them all.
The book begins with a hard hunt for caribou up in Baffin Bay. At first, it might appear this story is out of place. It’s Bob’s first caribou hunt and ends with him using a borrowed rifle and .224 caliber bullet from a company he didn’t own. In reality, a long hard hunt to shoot a bullet he owned is exactly what this book is about.
The real story of this book isn’t the great hunting tales told by Gary Lewis, although they are definitely worth the read. No, the real arc here is a son’s steadfast work to reclaim his father’s company and to pass that company on to his son.
John A. Nosler saw the need for a better bullet after four rounds from his 300 H&H Magnum failed to quickly dispatch a moose at close range. The bullets were poorly constructed and splattered against the dried mud caked to the side of the animal. Mr. Nosler went home with the idea that he would need a better bullet.
The garage of his trucking company would be the laboratory, eventually producing what would become the Nosler Partition bullet. John A. Nosler sold that fledgling company and it became a division of Leupold & Stevens. Bob Nosler has nothing but good things to say about that early parent company, but it’s clear that he was always looking for a way out from under their wing. That effort is much of the story of this book.
Interwoven throughout that central thread are great stories of great hunts, memories of Bob’s naval service, Nosler family history, and a whole lot of solid advice and experience for the entrepreneur.
That last part is important. You’ll find there’s a whole lot of hard won advice in the Born Ballistic, especially in the second half of the book.
We often see the success of the giants of the industry like Nosler. The daily, generational struggle to get there is more often obscured. Born Ballistic illuminates a bit of that struggle, as well as shows the reader what it takes to continually stay at the top of the hunting and shooting market.