How We Turn .50 Caliber Rounds Into Bottle Openers
The first thing people ask us when they see our bullet bottle openers is, “How can I get one?”
The second thing they ask is, “How do you make them?”
In fact, at Bullets2Bandages we spend so much time answering the question of how we make our bullet bottle openers, that we figured we might as well take a minute to answer the question here.
So if you’re curious, read on for a brief overview of how we transform large-caliber ammunition into our unique and popular upcycled bottle openers:
Step 1: The brass
We use 100% made in America .50 caliber military grade brass casings that have been collected from military ranges across the country.
If you’ve spent any time in the military or law enforcement, then you’ve experienced the joy of post-range police call.
All that brass that you picked up gets sent to base DRMO or the equivalent, where it’s inventoried then put up for sale via Government Liquidation auctions which are run similar to an eBay auction.
We’re able to view what lots of brass in what calibers in which locations are available for auctions ending on a given day then submit our bids against other buyers who are looking to make products or melt them into scrap metal.
The upside is that buying in large quantities gets us pretty good unit prices on the casings.
The downside? We generally have to buy several tons of brass at a time, then arrange for a freight service to pick them up from a distant military base and ship them to our shop.
This is a 55 gallon barrel that’s now nearly empty, but at any given time we’ve got about 8 full ones in our shop.
We sort through those barrels to select shells that are in the best condition for our bottle openers — generally ones that aren’t too discolored or dented.
The most important detail to note is that the bullets have already been fired (it goes without saying that sawing into a live round isn’t wise).
Step 2: The notch
Using a precise CNC machine, our metalworking shop cuts a V-shaped notch near the bottom of the shell, leaving a prominent lip to grab and pull the cap from the bottle.
There’s usually some debris hanging around after the cut but that will be taken care of later, when we run the openers-to-be through a large vibratory tumbler with corncob media for a few hours.
Step 3: Reloading
Once the casings are cut, we resize their necks and top them off with M33 ball projectiles which are generally sourced from companies that pull them from expired ammunition.
Our crimping die seats the bullet securely into place.
Step 4: The Finish
Some of our bullet bottle openers are left in their original polished-brass state, while others are powder-coated in a variety of colors and finishes, both glossy and matte.
For the final finishing step, we use a 30W Fibermark laser to etch into our brass and and nickel-plated openers.
On the powder-coated openers, our 60W CO2 laser burns through the finish to show the brass underneath.
Step 5: Customization
But our most popular bottle openers are the ones you see below which are customized for groomsmen gifts, birthdays, retirements, or graduations.
Step 6: The Donations
At Bullets2Bandages, we’re proud to donate 15% of our annual profits to charities for veterans, and we also donate 40% from every sale that uses licensed logos from partnerships with the Travis Manion Foundation, the MARSOC Foundation, Wounded Wear, Operation Ward 57, Connected Warrior Foundation, and the Red Circle Foundation.