The history of ELEY

ELEY is a British company who have manufactured ammunition since 1828.

William and Charles Eley established the company originally in London and later moved the company to Birmingham, beginning a long and proud tradition in the manufacture of rimfire ammunition. Specialising in .22LR calibre cartridges, ELEY is widely regarded as the world leader with tenex, its flagship cartridge, sold in 90 countries.

The name Charles Eley first gained public attention through an advertisement in the London Morning Chronicle on 10th July 1828. The advert promoted the opening of an extensive factory that supplied patented cartridges hailed as the greatest ever improvement in gunnery. The proprietors were two brothers, William and Charles Eley, whose adventurous and courageous spirit greatly influenced this developing industry.

William Eley had three sons who inherited the business from him in 1842. They greatly expanded the business in the second half of the nineteenth century, which included a major expansion in 1874 supported by the sale of shares to the public. During this period ELEY won many awards for the quality of our products throughout the world. The most prestigious of these was the Grand Prix, bestowed on the company at the Paris Exhibitions of 1898 and 1900. The early 1900s saw a major development when ELEY became one of the founding members of Nobel Industries alongside the world renowned Kynoch Company. In 1928 the business moved to the Witton site in Birmingham as a subsidiary of what is now Imperial Metal Industries, a major multinational engineering conglomerate.

Major ammunition developments from ELEY include: a joint patent with Samuel Colt for revolver cartridges in 1855, Britain’s first center-fire cartridge in 1857, the development of the Boxer primer system, development of the first bottleneck rifle cartridges in 1869, and thin-brass totally waterproof shotshell cartridges in 1882.

During the American Civil War ELEY was a major supplier of ammunition to the Confederacy. Our first .22LR rimfire cartridges were produced in 1860, but our current rimfire domination began in earnest in 1951 with the introduction of the first generation of ELEY tenex.

ELEY’s goal behind the initial tenex development was to provide British made .22LR ammunition built to extremely fine manufacturing tolerances to support British competition shooters. This was borne out at the 1951 British Championship and the Grand Aggregate events at Bisley, won by ELEY team shooters using ELEY tenex.

A key example of the company’s technological innovation is the ELEY Autoprime System developed by the company in the early 1980s. It remains to this day the only fully automated dry priming system in the world. Such investment in technology inevitably reflects the high levels of product and systems quality, features which are acknowledged by the company’s accreditation to the ISO 9001 European standard.

In 2000 and 2001 ELEY’s considerable investment in the new and revolutionary ELEY tenex Ultimate EPS and ELEY match EPS ranges took target shooting to a new level.

In May of 2003 ELEY completed a huge investment in a historically significant relocation of ELEY to a purpose built factory a few miles from Witton in the West Midlands. Not only does this demonstrate ELEY’s long term commitment as the world’s leading supplier of quality cartridges, but it provides the modern facilities vital for future product research and development to remain the best in our field.