Jim Bell Book Ideas

Hey All Again:

I have been trying to get my father to write a book on all of his past experiences. It probably means me listening to him and me writing, but oh well.

So out of his past experiences what would you all like to see?

  1. 700 Nitro Express Development

  2. 338 x 416 Development - Precursor to 338 Lapua - Boots Oberymer and he starting on the bar napkin…MAST%20Technology%20338%20x%20416

  3. Ammunition Manufacturing Equipment - history, development and changes

  4. 7.62x39 USA production in 1980’s

  5. 9mm SMAW Production

  6. Other…


Great to hear!
Definately 7.62x39, 9mm SMAW, and all about .338 and .416.
Plus plenty of diagrams and images of draw stages, boxes etc…
Not to forget all the background info.

not 700 Nitro Express?

Jay, ALL of his work.

Please say Howdy from me & glad to hear he’s keeping busy.

Jay, Pete is right, only the complete story will be it, no matter what your father and you and your company did or are doing for the military.

.700 NE:
Here I have to admit that commercial calibers are way out of my scope so I listed only the “burning issues” (from my subjective view).
But as said above, everything needs to be covered.

Okay, I’ll say it… 700 NE

Jay, great news, I can’t wait for this book to come out!

In addition to those listed above, I would like to know more about custom orders and the collaboration with Starline to make the Midway line of obsolete pistol cartridges. And don’t forget the B.S.A. Pack 150!



A few recommendations:

A- Use a tape recorder instead of trying to take notes, you can cover a lot more ground that way. A video tape is much better than just voice tape. Look at all the great stuff on YouTube that covers anything from a single topic for a couple of minutes up to hour long discussions. It may be easier to edit some stuff and leave it as video recording than trying to convert to words printed on paper. Or to do some printed and some video, overlapping or entirely different topics.

B- Get as many old photos as you can and try to get him to at least ID them when/where/what/why/how. You cannot do that yourself, and looking through that will trigger memories and stories.

C- Ask about some of the other cartridge or gun people he interacted with. Tell us about them, their lives, interests, quirks and funny stories.

D- A “book” is no longer always a printed item. An “E-book” is a whole lot easier to distribute and cheap to produce and easy to edit/update. If you decide on printed format, talk to Mel Carpenter who has done an outstanding job on his Gyrojet book and HWS volume 3, a perfectionist on technical details.

E- However, even an amateurish account with flaws in execution, spelling and typo errors and some possible factual errors which reaches the “published” stage in whatever format will be a far better contribution than the “perfect book” which never gets completed and ends up as a jumbled pile of notes and incomplete sections which is eventually thrown in the trash. Aim for a level of detail, publishing perfection, and completion date that YOU are able to achieve and go for it.

F- Machinery is a good topic that seldom is discussed at all.

G- Get started immediately! Tempus fugit and all that.
A very interesting and worthy project.

It is all very interesting and worthy of recording!

I would like to put my name on that waiting list!
Zac Weighman

John - thanks and much appreciated advice!!!

ebook was the plan. I’m not that ambitious to try to get something printed by a book company. It will probably take all the 'spare time 'I have to get 1 done in a year.

Thanks to all for the other responses!!!


Jay; The book is a great idea and in my opinion should cover “everything.” You might start with the story of Jim’s time in India (and why he was there), where he saw so many high grade British guns and learned about them and their ammunition. Tell about the guns Jim brought home and how he soon realized that ammunition for them was hard to get and very expensive and about how he saw a market with a need to be filled. Tell the story of how U.S. government arsenals auction off obsolete cartridge-making equipment that can be used to set up a manufacturing line. Tell about Jim’s relationship with Holland & Holland and how they basically agreed to buy lots of everything he made in obsolete calibers made to modern standards.

Another good opening subject might be your family’s heritage in Chicagoland with your grandfather bringing up your dad in the gun business, and your mother’s help with running B.E.L.L. Ltd.

Tell the story of how Jim learned that H&H built the “last 600 NE rifle” for a rich American and had engraved the gun as being the last, so they could never make another. I know this is true because I held the gun at H&H in London. Jim saw a market for a really big bore and since no more .600s could be made by H&H, why not a .700? Tell how H&H didn’t believe him when he proposed it, but did send a representative to Bensenville to watch proof rounds being fired, and their finally admitting that yes, a .700 double rifle could in fact be safely fired by a man. There are many fascinating details here, as you know.

One chapter might include Jim’s commemorative cartridges, like the ICCA .416 Rigby and others he did for collectors.

This would be a great book with lots of interest, even with shotshell collectors because of the solid brass Chinese 12 gauge project. Go for it!

Years ago, a friend and I left the Chicago Cartridge show to visit Bell Lab, at Jim’s invitation. He was not there, but there was a man there that gave us a tour. He explained that much of the machinery was very old, and that they had refurbished it and in some cases. re-engineered machinery to perform a different task than that for which it was originally made.
I found that intriguing. The fact that they were able to take an old machine and re-purpose it for a different task, I thought was a real credit to Bell Lab and to the ingenuity of the personnel working there.

John Moss

WOW! Mel’s “teaser” ideas alone are fascinating.
You might work on this with a “book” as the goal, but release it in “chapters” or just “stories” as you get some done. If doing in e-book format you can update, correct or totally change at any time.
Perhaps do a few videotaped interviews (on Mel’s topics?) and post those in whole or selected portions as YouTube videos before you even get to the “chapter/book” phase.

An important man with an important story, and one that sounds like it is really interesting as well!

How about an introduction or brief biography to be posted by January 1st? Maybe 2-3 printed pages worth with 2-3 photos? Do you have a website to host things, if not somoene can help you set it up, or maybe host it for you?

The important thing is to start churning stuff out. You can refine it later and repackage the bits and pieces into a final coherent story.

JohnMoss - Yes, the old stuff is still used today at many places. As far as I know, when Winchester moved nearly all small cal to Oxford, MS they did not buy much in terms of new. They just continue to rebuild and upgrade. Old headers that used to make 1 part at a time are now being du-plexed or tri-plexed.


JohnS - Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think Jan 1 is going to be a challenge. He is leaving for Chicago this weekend and won’t be back until just before New Year.

All of the ideas - from everyone - are great. I will keep you posted.


Ok all - Finally got around to Chapter 1. I still need to add a bunch of pictures. This is my first ‘story’ since college, so be gentle.

Thank you - JayBrass Extrusion Story intro.pdf (135.5 KB)

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PS probably in the early -mid 1980’s I tok some B&W photos of the factory, test gun, plus some of the machines & etc. & gave your Dad a set. I can’t reprint them now but he might still have them.

Pete - Thanks. A search though the picture boxes and slides is on my agenda!

If anyone else has any pictures, please send them over!

Jay, great start! Thank you very much for sharing.