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.