In 1965 Jim Bell found himself in India as part of the Peace Corps. Having grown up in his family’s gun shop and being a trained gunsmith, he was drawn to the numerous collections of fine British double rifles he found there. However, these fine works of art had fallen into disuse since Eley-Kynoch stopped manufacturing ammunition for them in the early 1960’s. After leaving the Peace Corps, Jim stopped in London on his trip home to inquire at Holland and Holland, a manufacturer of British double rifles, about the lack of ammunition. They showed great interest in acquiring a source of ammunition for their double-rifles, and Jim Bell’s idea for Brass Extrusion Labs Limited (B.E.L.L.) was born.
Brass Extrusion Labs Limited was founded in Bensenville, Illinois in 1973, and Holland and Holland placed a large order for the calibers that Eley-Kynoch discontinued. Jim Bell continued to manufacture custom and obsolete cartridge cases and, as time passed added Midway Arms, Purdey, John Rigby & Co., Westley-Richards, and the US government as buyers for their cartridges. The company was in good order when a surprise offer was made to purchase the business.
Jim Bell sold B.E.L.L. to PMC El Dorado Cartridge Corporation in 1988-89, with plans to continue and improve the custom cartridge business. However, after a short time, the custom cartridge business was discontinued. While at PMC the Navy/USMC tracked Mr. Bell down concerning another run of the 9mm SMAW spotter/tracer cartridge, used as a sighting device for the SMAW (Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon) rocket system. The ownership at PMC was not interested in government work, so Mr. Bell went his own way—with the 9mm SMAW spotter/tracer cartridge in his scope.
Jim Bell founded MAST in 1990 in Las Vegas, NV, with three business partners. Jim Bell was the only partner with any significant ammunition history, and by 1996, his partners went their separate ways and MAST became family owned. Since then MAST has had any where from 15 to 130 team members that are involved in different areas of the business. These include government contracting, machinery sales, machinery consulting, general ammunition consulting, tooling manufacture, gaging sales, and ballistic equipment sales.
In 2010, MAST had a transition of ownership within the Bell Family to Jay and Justin. In many businesses an ownership change can mean trouble; not in this case. Jay has been working for MAST full time since 1994. He has held one of the top two roles within the company since 1999. During this timeframe MAST has experienced a massive growth in revenue and profitability.
When Jay states he has been in the ammunition business his entire life, many people do not know he has literally spent his entire life growing up in this business. At the age of 5 his first job at Brass Extrusion was cleaning sinks and bathrooms. By the age of 10 he was running case manufacturing equipment that head turned and pierced cartridge cases. When Jay was 13 he learned to change electrical ballasts’ on florescent lights, with live circuits. During High School he formed custom cases on RCBS presses after school. So when Jay states he has been in the ammunition business his entire life, he is not kidding.
MAST is awarded multi-million dollar turnkey contract for ammunition manufacturing machinery for Adcom Mfg of Adu Dabi, UAE. The contract is for 9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and .50 caliber lines.
The company moves to Boulder City, NV in a 26,400 SF rural industrial facility. MAST is awarded first 40mm M781 contract by US Army Rock Island for nearly 600,000 units base year. Company starts Lake City Army Ammunition Plant operations (Independence, MO) for production of 40mm M781 for US Army
MAST is awarded M81 igniter 5-year contract by US Army TACOM-ARDEC Picatinny Arsenal. Maximum potential award exceeds $20 million.
MAST is awarded largest 40mm M781 contract. MAST’s funded backlog nears $20 million.
MAST closes its Nevada operations and consolidates to its LCAAP facility.
MAST is awarded 45% M781 quantity for 40mm Systems Buy as part of Team DSE. DSE is the prime contractor and MAST is the sub/team member. This results in MAST’s funded backlog approaching $30 million. MAST has second year in a row of record sales. Projections are for record sales for 2005 and 2006.
MAST begins full time practice of Open Book Management.
MAST and Team DSE awarded another 5 year contract for 40mm. MAST ownership transition to second generation is complete. MAST celebrates its 20th year in business.
MAST and a partner start Black Gun Ammunition, LLC. This effort was made to create a marketing side to the company, since the MAST name was well known in DOD circles. Later, MAST and the partner separated and BGA is wholly owned by MAST.
MAST re-awarded on M81 Igniter Contract with US Army for 5 years more. We believe this will make MAST the longest continuous contractor on the item and largest volume of the item.