Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrators (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrators (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
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Wilson Combat announced today that Bill Wilson has purchased the popular ammunition company Lehigh Defense, best known for their line of copper projectiles.

As soon as I read the news, I fired a few basic questions at Bill Wilson and he was kind enough to answer directly.

JWT: Why did you purchase Lehigh?

Bill Wilson: Good story here…. I read an old interview with Joyce Hornady and when asked why he got into the bullet business he said “Would you rather be selling dogs or dog food”. I couldn’t get that out of my head and a few months later I made the decision that I wanted to be in the bullet business. The fact that Wilson Custom Ammo was struggling to obtain bullets to load ammo just added urgency to this decision. I was originally going to start a new bullet company from scratch, but by fate the Lehigh opportunity fell into my lap.

JWT: What set Lehigh Defense apart from other companies and made them attractive to Wilson Combat?

Bill Wilson: I see solid copper bullets as the future of projectiles and Lehigh Defense is at the forefront of technology in this market. For example, our Controlled Chaos rifle bullets have amazing terminal performance and the Extreme Defense handgun bullets have changed the way many people think of a self-defense projectile.

JWT: What do you intend to focus on with the company now that you own it?

Bill Wilson: First we will be increasing production, we have a fairly large backlog of orders that we need to fill. Then it will be signing up new customers and all the time working on new innovative products.

JWT: Are there any significant changes that customers should expect?

Bill Wilson: The only significant change in the near term will be that we will no longer sell products directly to the consumer, rather we’ll direct them to our business partners like Brownells, Graf, Midway, Natchez and Wilson Combat for retail purchases. Eventually most operations will move to northeast Texas.

The Press Release from Wilson Combat is below.

Bill Wilson Announces Purchase of Lehigh Defense
[Berryville, Arkansas, January 3, 2022]

Bill Wilson is proud to announce the acquisition of Pennsylvania-based ammunition and bullet manufacturer Lehigh Defense.

Lehigh Defense will join other Wilson-owned companies Chip McCormick Custom, Circle WC Ranch, Khumba Bush Camp, Scattergun Technologies, Wilson Custom Ammunition and Wilson Combat to expand the group’s presence in the firearms and hunting marketplace.

Lehigh Design, originally founded by Dave Fricke later expanded to Lehigh Defense with the addition of Pete Vogel and Mike Cyrus and has been designing and manufacturing solid brass and copper bullets using the latest technology since 2004. In 2009, Lehigh started working with Black Hills Ammunition in developing unique military projectile designs. Years of collaboration later, the Fluid Transfer Monolithic design culminated with the release of the Black Hills Honey Badger line. Another patented design is the Maximum Expansion 300 Blackout subsonic bullet used by US and many NATO special operations groups throughout the world with over 7 million sold to date.

Lehigh Defense currently operates two manufacturing plants, one in Pennsylvania and one in South Dakota. Once a new purpose-built facility in northeast Texas is completed in Q3 2022 some operations will begin the move to their new home in Texas. There are immediate plans to increase production and some products are already in production in Arkansas at the Wilson Combat facility to rapidly increase production capacity. Lehigh will have a substantial increase in manufacturing capacity and a state of the art testing facility once the Texas plant is operational. Our goal is to meet product demand, add exciting new products and build brand awareness.

To add stability to these changes we’re proud to announce Dave Fricke will retain minority ownership and continue to work with Lehigh for several years into the future.

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  1. I hope this doesn’t mean that they will be raising their prices to Wilson levels. I also can’t I am not suspicious/fearful of the effects of consolidation in markets.

    • Copper is only going to increase in cost. Brass to follow. In a new world of electronics and electric vehicles copper, silver and gold will be at high demand and price. Just think of windings required for generators/alternators and elect motors required for a single vehicle.

      Lead is dead and that ain’t ever going to change. Not dead as in going away, never. Dead as in lethal.
      Why pay more for the same result? Especially now that everything is costing more, including lead.

      • Currently about 50% of the copper used is from recycled material. i look for that to increase and while the U.S. relies on foreign suppliers for most other metals, copper is locally sourced. nor, is copper scarce as less than 15% of the world supply has been mined.

      • I imagine that milling copper into some of the useful shapes is easier than coaxing lead of the same hardness into those shapes. The Lehigh ED and EP bullets appear from my observation to be more barrier blind (including soft armor) than most lead bullets with the possible exception of hardcast FN – I don’t recall seeing those compared in YouTube (hopefully soon to be Rumble) videos.

    • “I hope this doesn’t mean that they will be raising their prices to Wilson levels.”

      Of course it will, I doubt that acquisition was cheap, and they bought it with the intent to make a profit.

      I do wonder though – How would a Lehigh projectile perform if made of brass instead of pure copper?

      Would less sectional density make for a speedier bullet that might be more ‘dynamic’ on impact with flesh, wounding more?

      • Depending on hardness involved could have legal issues with AP. That however is a topic I need to review again.

      • From my study it looks like manufacturing AP ammo for civilian consumption in handguns is illegal. Both Barnes and Elite Ammo got jacked by the ATF for brass bullets in “pistiol calibers”. Lehigh somehow got away with it longer. The relevant sections of US federal code are U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 44 › § 921 “Definitions” and “Unlawful acts”. It is pretty convoluted IMO. Now that at least one pistol has been made in just about every caliber I don’t know how they decide which calibers are pistol calibers in addition to being rifle calibers. Lehigh made .224 in brass until 3 or 4 years ago and had nice sales on it when CA made a tiny bit of lead in it illegal there and then when it became pistol ammo. Barnes stop 3 or 4 years before that.

    • Also damnit re less loose bullets for reloaders. Hopefully production is looking to be expanded.

  2. “Eventually most operations will move to northeast Texas.”

    Being a native of Pennsylvania, I’m not happy to see Pennsylvania jobs moved to Texas. Yeah, I know it makes sense in a lot of ways, but still . . .

    Oh, what the heck. I haven’t lived in Pennsylvania since 1984, what do I care, other than my nieces and nephews need jobs.

  3. Oh wonderful, they are going to stop selling direct to customer. That sucks man. This is almost certainly going to drive up prices. I just hope this doesn’t screw up Underwood ammo. They make a lot of my favorite carry and woods ammo.

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