Norma Designs New Products for the U.S. Market

The Strike line, including Bondstrike, Ecostrike, and Tipstrike, are broadening the company’s reach in America.

Norma Bondstrike Ammo
Norma Bondstrike AmmoNorma

Barbary sheep are right at home on the craggy, windswept slopes of arid West Texas. Also called aoudad, these transplants from North Africa quickly cover this terrain with sure-footed leaps and bounds. Some rams can grow to 300 pounds, so hunters must choose hard-hitting bullets undeterred by awkward shooting angles and buffeting winds across far ranges.

In this Southwest setting several months back, Norma Precision Ammunition hosted gun writers to test the Bondstrike Extreme in .300 Winchester Magnum.

Phil Massaro took a ram with a 270-yard shot from his Model 70. He praised the Bondstrike for the quality of its 180-grain, blue polymer-tip, bonded-core boat tail bullet. The bullet’s design helps it achieve strong weight retention and deep penetration.

“A good BC bullet like this is absolutely perfect for this country,” Massaro says. “If you take a look around, you can see the terrain consists of a lot of cuts and draws. Hunters also have to contend with wind, and the shots will be taken at long distances.”

The new ammo, introduced last year, comes in five calibers. They’re all part of Norma’s new Strike family of cartridges meant to broaden the company’s U.S. reach. Bondstrike and its siblings, Ecostrike and Tipstrike, appear well on their way to enhancing Norma’s reputation for extreme accuracy, quality components, and innovative bullet designs. But those attributes come at a price.

Today, a 20-round box of the popular .358 Norma Magnum can fetch $75—about $3.75 per cartridge. That may not bother those who can afford to hunt on other continents, but shooters on a tight budget might take a pass on Norma.

The company aims to fix that by broadening the line to include more-affordable offerings, such as a .223 and a 9mm round engineered for pistol--caliber carbines. The .223 Norma Tactical will be available in a box of 20 for less than $10.

“We will continue our brand stretch in 2020 and beyond,” says Paul Lemke, general manager of RUAG Ammotec-USA, the company that makes Norma products for the U.S. market. “If 2019 seemed full of innovation, that trend will be even more noticeable in 2020.”

Norma moved from Norway to neighboring Sweden in 1902, when its founders, the Enger brothers, set out to make cartridges for military rifles such as the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser. Norma Ammunition, still based in Sweden, began shipping to the U.S. in the 1950s to fill contracts for the powerful wildcat cartridges sought by Roy Weatherby. The move put Norma’s premium products, including the classic .257 Weatherby Magnum, in the hands of U.S. shooters.

Norma has had several owners, the most recent being Swiss-based RUAG Ammotec, which bought the company in 2002. Several years later, it bought an ammunition plant in Tampa, Florida, and created RUAG Ammotec USA, which makes cartridges for Norma and other brands in the RUAG family. Norma now makes about 30 million cartridges in more than 100 calibers each year for target shooting and hunting.

The Tampa plant handles most of the .223 and upcoming .300 Blackout products because those calibers are more prevalent in the U.S. than in Europe, says product manager Daniel Cox. “The hunting market has been our primary focus, but it’s stable and not growing,” he says. “The growth is in first-time self-defense purchases. We’re also starting to see a segment of these self-defense customers shooting recreationally.”

He says the company also sees another potential growth area: women shooters. A recent study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation focused on women ages 18 to 65 who reported owning at least one firearm. More than a third of respondents said they were new gun owners. Also, most of them were between the ages of 18 and 34.

“To be fair, the portfolio for the U.S. market has been products carried over from what has been made in Europe,” Cox says. “That’s going to change. We intend to flourish into a powerful U.S. market, so we’ve installed assets here. You’re going to see a whole new Norma without seeing any sacrifice in quality or attention to detail.” Booth #16727. (norma-ammunition.com)

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