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The question last night about S&W ammo prompted some digging and phone calls and I got some helpful information. I was right about the connection with Alcan that was located in Alton, IL (Winchester is in East Alton). My recollection is that S&W acquired Alcan but that was not confirmed.

Nor was there any information about Fiocchi. I know that they had tried to establish a market in the U.S. and this may have been a part of that effort.

Smith & Wesson had long been involved in products for law enforcement and their expansion plans of the 80s including setting up a plant in Rock Creek Ohio that was to include ammo, tear gas products and also make stocks for the various S&W long guns of the time.

There was some association with Lake Erie Chemicals who manufactured tear gas and may well have been involved in other chemistry. I learned that S&W did set up to manufacture primers at Rock Creek. Brass was purchased from vendors and the Alcan connection may have provided powder which was likely imported from Sweden. Examination of the ammo I have suggests that they were using Sierra bullets.

Hopefully some more information will be forthcoming
 

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In that time period wasn't S&W involved with General Ordnance Equipment also? Their primary claim to fame was Chemical Mace and fogging applicators.

Who developed Nyclad? I know S&W marketed it, originally as it reduced lead exposure in (poorly or non ventilated) indoor ranges common in many police stations/departments at the time.
 

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William R. Moore said:
In that time period wasn't S&W involved with General Ordnance Equipment also? Their primary claim to fame was Chemical Mace and fogging applicators.

Who developed Nyclad? I know S&W marketed it, originally as it reduced lead exposure in (poorly or non ventilated) indoor ranges common in many police stations/departments at the time.
Nyclad is a Federal product, I believe.

I remember Br'er Mas mentioned that the nylon jacket also allowed the use of softer lead bullets, which allowed better expansion than jacketed and harder alloy bullets at snubbie velocities, while controlling barrel leading.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nyclad is a Federal product now, but S&W had it first in the early 80s. I'm pretty sure it was a proprietary product S&W purchased or licensed but I did not ask about that.

I saw it made a couple of times on visits to Federal and was told the same as Mas that it allowed the use of pure lead. Actually it was pretty cool. The swaged lead bullets were dipped in a blue powder and then put in an oven. When they came out the powder- nylon + something- melted and fused to the bullet.

General Ordnance (GEOC) was located in Philadelpia (?) and made the gas guns based on S&W "N" frames.
 

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GOEC had a lab just outside Pittsburgh many years ago. In fact, photos of the gas cloud produced by their foggers in the industrial park were used in their brochures on the foggers. It also made access to the site real interesting for awhile-they photo'd a LE demo and were using actual chemical agents.

I'll have to look at the dispenser (Mace Mk V?) I have left. Believe it said GOEC.
 

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I believe that the first box or two I owned of the Nyclad "Chief Special load" - the only load still in production, after having been reintroduced by Federal, a few years after dropping the entire Nyclad line - may have been in S&W boxes. I know that I still have most of a box of S&W Nyclad 158 gr. SWC .357 Magnum loads, given to me by a now deceased friend, who was doing some "housecleaning."
 

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The Nyclads were indeed first intro'd by S&W. IIRC, there was some controversy as the nylon jackets had to be thinned down - otherwise the bullets would be un-traceable - the thick nylon would prevent the rifling from engraving on the bullet.

IMHO, the best Nyclad load Federal produced was a 158 gr HP .357 load. No idea how fast, but recoil was mild compared to other .357 loads. I still have a couple of boxes.... :D
 

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shep854 said:
William R. Moore said:
...Who developed Nyclad? I know S&W marketed it, originally as it reduced lead exposure in (poorly or non ventilated) indoor ranges common in many police stations/departments at the time.
Nyclad is a Federal product, I believe.

I remember Br'er Mas mentioned that the nylon jacket also allowed the use of softer lead bullets, which allowed better expansion than jacketed and harder alloy bullets at snubbie velocities, while controlling barrel leading.
Charlie Petty said:
Nyclad is a Federal product now, but S&W had it first in the early 80s. I'm pretty sure it was a proprietary product S&W purchased or licensed but I did not ask about that.

I saw it made a couple of times on visits to Federal and was told the same as Mas that it allowed the use of pure lead. Actually it was pretty cool. The swaged lead bullets were dipped in a blue powder and then put in an oven. When they came out the powder- nylon + something- melted and fused to the bullet...
spwenger said:
I believe that the first box or two I owned of the Nyclad "Chief Special load" - the only load still in production, after having been reintroduced by Federal, a few years after dropping the entire Nyclad line - may have been in S&W boxes. I know that I still have most of a box of S&W Nyclad 158 gr. SWC .357 Magnum loads, given to me by a now deceased friend, who was doing some "housecleaning."
Al Thompson said:
The Nyclads were indeed first intro'd by S&W. IIRC, there was some controversy as the nylon jackets had to be thinned down - otherwise the bullets would be un-traceable - the thick nylon would prevent the rifling from engraving on the bullet.

IMHO, the best Nyclad load Federal produced was a 158 gr HP .357 load. No idea how fast, but recoil was mild compared to other .357 loads. I still have a couple of boxes.... :D
It is my understanding that the Nyclad® concept was conceived, developed and tested in house at S&W as a means of controlling leading issues.

It was obviously a unique way of dealing with the problem. For it not only dealt with the effects of the powder burning at the base of the bullet while it was travelling down and out of the chamber mouth and barrel of a revolver (as well as helping to minimize lead-related emissions at the flash gap and muzzle) but it also affected the amounts of lead released into the air when the bullet struck (and skidded along) a metal backstop.

However, it not only reduced the emissions that had brought about the idea but because the "Nylon" coating deformed much more readily than the conventional "copper" jackets of the time (remember they were of traditional, relatively heavy construction and not like much of what we see today), the lead bullets (in theory they appear to have been more than just lead "cores") could deform more readily as well. That's important for we must remember how often the conventional jacketing of the period actually resisted bullet deformation for no matter how it might have been sculpted, notched or otherwise preshaped or prestressed to deform and or allow for expansion, it's own thickness, hardness and overall shape often worked against this.

And also, in theory, a softer lead could be pushed to a higher velocity (without leaving as much of it in the bore) than would have been the case had the bullet been left uncoated/unjacketed. That was obviously the reason (or at least one of them) for the use of (conventional) jacketing materials in the first place: to keep the lead intact and away from the bore. But nylon offered improvements over these conventional performance-related possibilities.

Perhaps even more importantly (to me anyway), the converse situation offered something truly unique in that the easily deformed nylon "jacket" (not really a jacket but a coating) allowed very soft bullets to readily deform at low velocities without gunking up the bore. This was a real plus because before then, all of this had always been a Catch .22 kind-of-thing.

For before then, uncovered soft lead would deform on impact (a good thing), but it quickly "leaded up" the guns that fired them (a bad thing). And this situation worsened almost exponentially when you drove up velocities to improve deformation (a good thing) and, more importantly, to improve penetration (a good thing too): the faster the speeds the worse the leading (a bad thing). So people hardened the lead to decrease the leading (a good thing) but that decreased its deformation (a bad thing). So they went to partial jackets to ride in the bore instead of the lead (a good thing) but their inherent hardness when compared to the lead they contained restricted the lead's own ability to deform (a bad thing).

After a while, you start chasing your tail:
1) Soft lead: would deform
a) But deformation further curtailed the limited penetration already caused by the low velocities needed to minimize leading of the firearm.
2) Increased velocity would improve deformation and (possibly) penetration
a) But it would also increase leading.
3) Increased hardness would decrease or, at least affect, the leading caused by the increased velocities
a) But it would not deform as well.
4) Conventional jacket
a) Copper material would allow for still higher velocities to be employed because these "semi"-jackets kept the lead from contacting (and depositing itself in) the bore
i) But while the higher speeds improved penetration, they didn't always improve expansion for while it should do this (remember the harder it hits, the more the bullet should deform), the jacket you were using often resisted such deformation because of its inherently greater hardness than the lead alone.
Like I said, chasing your tail.

But the nylon coating (serving as a jacket) could allow you BOTH drive up those speeds (and not lead up the gun) AND readily deform because it was obviously not as rigid as a copper jacket (or in some cases, even the lead itself).

Additionally, and again perhaps more importantly, the nylon coating allowed you to use very soft lead(s) that could be driven at standard velocities and still readily deform. While an eye always had to be cast toward velocities and adequate penetration, this deformation-at-standard-velocities offered real potential especially when it came to short barreled revolvers (where obtaining higher velocities was always a problem) and small guns (where the increased recoil that always seemed to accompany higher velocities always seemed more apparent). Hence the development of the original (now recently reintroduced by Federal) "Chief's Special" load that was promoted as improving performance in those guns without using ammunition that produced recoil that annoyed the shooter and pressures that could affect the firearm.

As to the "hardness" issue, there have always been two explanations for why the mix/material was changed. The more romantic one deals with the lack of substantial markings to help with bullet/firearm identification. The more mundane one is that a lack of substantial imprinting would also indicate a probable lack of stabilization for if the rifling wasn't marking the bullet, it probably wasn't doing a very good job of gripping the bullet in order to make it spiral or stabilize in flight.

But knowing that for years, the S&W Academy was shooting what seemed like an inexhaustible stockpile of cast off, Smith headstamp .38spl Nyclad rounds of various configurations that had been rejected primarily for cosmetic but occasionally for hardness-therefore-performance reasons (and these, and these alone, would keyhole terribly), I would think that the second, less-exciting explanation has at least some merit.

I don't have the time to find mine right now (and my memory isn't what it used to be) but AFTE (not ATF) had an article in a now-ancient copy of their journal from sometime in the late 70's ('79?) that indicated that Nyclad bullets were identifiable (at least at the time they wrote the article).

Currently, the biggest gripe that I've seen is from some groups (quoting a text from some years ago) stating that if the nylon coating is stripped from the lead bullet (or severally damaged) you can't ID the lead "core". Well, that's not much different from what I've seen in regard to what can happen to some metal jackets and their (true) lead cores. But it makes for exciting headlines; especially to the unknowing.

Hope this is of interest.
 

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I still have a few boxes of the stuff, S&W blue boxes, and I have to say that its solitary use in a definitive situation showed it to be effective. My Daughter had taken my 36-6 on a camping trip and they were 3 girls in a national forest when they had a very mangy and scary large mix breed dog show up and tried to get into their food stash. They had just finished cooking and had not yet restrung the box up into the tree. two shots, basically a double tap according to her did the job. Her reaction was "it was just like TV, on each shot, a big splash of "stuff" flew out the other side."

I got the stuff when a local PD was clearing out a ammo locker and a friend there knew I shot a lot of revolver and claimed it for "personal practice". He got a case of rolling rock, I got a few cases of ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Federal does have a standard pressure Nyclad in the catalog again.

I saw the process a long time ago but the cost may be explained by the fact that it is a highly labor intensive operation.

An operator must roll the swaged cores in a blue powder and make sure they are evenly coated. Then they are placed in a rack that goes into an oven to melt the nylon. I didn't count, but the number of bullets per rack wasn't large (100?) so my guess is that output was a few thousand per hour.

I'm sure the process could be at least partially automated but that wouldn't be cheap.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Federal does have a standard pressure Nyclad in the catalog again.

I saw the process a long time ago but the cost may be explained by the fact that it is a highly labor intensive operation.

An operator must roll the swaged cores in a blue powder and make sure they are evenly coated. Then they are placed in a rack that goes into an oven to melt the nylon. I didn't count, but the number of bullets per rack wasn't large (100?) so my guess is that output was a few thousand per hour.

I'm sure the process could be at least partially automated but that wouldn't be cheap.
Charlie:

I have to agree with you. First of all, ATK (Federal's parent company) is not stupid. They want to move product not gouge people just for the hell of it.

And while I have no idea how they are making this stuff these days, I just don't see it as a high-speed process when compared to how other bullets can be made.

And referring to this quote from my original post about this matter above:

P. Marlowe said:
...But knowing that for years, the S&W Academy was shooting what seemed like an inexhaustible stockpile of cast off, Smith headstamp .38spl Nyclad rounds of various configurations that had been rejected primarily for cosmetic but occasionally for hardness-therefore-performance reasons...
That seemingly "inexhaustible supply" of primarily cosmetic rejects did not appear to be test and development samples. The way they were boxed, they appeared to be bad runs (possibly loose packed but these could have just been unpacked before I saw them) and bad lots (commercially boxed in both conventional 50 round cartons and 500 and 1000(?) round master packs.

Therefore, I would think that at least back then the labor-intensive process you saw was far from being a perfect one: beginning as a low-yield method to start with and possibly becoming even a lower one due to its potential rejection rate. And who knows that even if improved, if something similar is still at least partially the case today?

As I said, those folks at ATK are sharp but you have to look at how much you're going to make before you spend money to do it. And who knows if it wasn't they, who found a way to start promoting this idea again?

In any case, especially with (I think, I have not checked recently) only one loading in the line, I doubt that they are just seeing how much they can get for it (instead of trying to make it as affordable as possible in an effort to reignite interest in the concept).
 

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Thank you, Mr. Watters! So it involves several steps. Might be a bit less expensive for the coating materials than for copper. It also helps explain the stopping power with the soft lead, which will mushroom well and maybe not be as prone to breaking up. "Sticky" as opposed to harder, and maybe more brittle?

Looks like less moly in the mix (@ 5%?) than than the moly coated rifle bullets that were popular a couple of years back, too. So I guess the moly has more of a binder with the nylon mix in this process than in those rifle bullets? Either way it is very interesting! Thank you again for posting that. :) Nice to see the chemistry and engineering involved in this stuff!
 

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I have a box of S&W Nyclad in .38 Special, and 9x19. Got it from an estate years ago. They sit with the other one-off rounds that I've collected over the years.
 

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JR said:
I have a box of S&W Nyclad in .38 Special, and 9x19. Got it from an estate years ago. They sit with the other one-off rounds that I've collected over the years.
I have several boxes of the 9x19mm Nyclad load from Federal. They are set aside for potential use in a Star BM, which is willed to my oldest granddaughter. Back in its day, this load was issued by a police department with which I had an informal relationship and it performed quite well with one exception: They noticed that the chambers in the Marlin Camp Carbines they used to keep in the patrol cars - alongside the shotguns - tended to shave rings of the nylon coating, which accumulated just behind the step in the chamber. If attention was not paid to this in cleaning, eventually it could keep a round from seating properly.
 
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