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How SSK Firearms Redefined Barrel Craftsmanship with Eurotech CNC Solutions

Updated: Mar 6

Manufacturing Long and Short Barrels with the New Innovative Eurotech TD Toro Series


Group of SSK team members at a tradeshow event
SSK Firearms Team Members

SSK Firearms, located in Ohio, is an American manufacturer of guns and accessories founded in 1977 by J.D. Jones. SSK is known for its custom barrels for the Contender® and Encore.


J.D. Jones has been heavily involved with Contenders® since 1969 and has devoted much of his life to the ballistic aspects of sporting, law enforcement, and military cartridges and the firearms that handle them. In the early 60s, he and Lee Jurras developed the first true high-performance handgun ammunition for revolvers and auto-pistols, marketed as Super Vel Ammunition.


Every manufacturer in the world that manufactures high-performance handgun ammo uses the basics of this ammunition today. While SSK Industries started with handguns, the reputation of exceptional quality and accuracy has spread to all firearm platforms. Today, SSK Firearms provides custom firearms.


Thrilling New Experiences


David Fricke grew up in Ohio, and in 1978, a friend’s father let him shoot his 45 Colt Contender®; he was hooked, but it was several years later before another friend let him use his 223 Contender during a groundhog hunting trip. “I made my first shot at an estimated 300 yards off shooting sticks. Even after I paced the distance off to 130 yards, I was so excited that I couldn’t stand still. I have not hunted groundhogs with a rifle since that fateful day,” shared Dave.


SSK Firearms barrels machined in various sizes

His passion drove him to push the limits on pressure and accuracy, creating barrels that had never been possible before—barrels that were bigger and more precise. JD Jones used only the highest quality barrel blanks and built each barrel manually with precision techniques. As a result, SSK barrels established their place in the market as offering the “gold standard.”


SSK Firearms™ has taken that same commitment to quality and modernized it by using state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. Except for chambering, all barrel machining operations are done on Eurotech’s TD Toro precision CNC machines, which can hold linear dimensional accuracy to three ten-thousandths of an inch and rotational positioning to one-thousandths of a degree.


 

“The harmonics of Eurotech’s TD Toro make it so easy to work with. Done in One Manufacturing is paramount to manufacturing gun barrels.”


- Dave Fricke, SSK Firearms Owner

 

SSK Firearms Technician is Seen Working on the Eurotech Toro TD
SSK Firearms Manufacture Barrels Ranging from 10" to 24"

Years later, David started Lehigh Defense and became a parts supplier to SSK Industries. “I got to know J.D. I always had a fascination with ballistics, and J.D. took me under his wing and began teaching me a little of what he had learned in his many years of experience. As a result, we began producing subsonic projectiles for the 300 Whisper using the Controlled Fracturing principle,” said David. Shortly after forming Lehigh Defense, David was driven to create unique and innovative products.

As Lehigh Defense expanded to a firearms part supplier to many OEMs, the desire to see the original Contender return was always present. An opportunity presented itself to assume the operations of SSK Industries. With J.D.’s guidance and the assistance of great friends in the industry, David is extremely proud to deploy the manufacturing capacity and capability of Lehigh Defense to continue the innovation that set SSK apart from the crowd so many years ago.


Manufacturing Barrels


SSK Firearms manufactures barrels ranging from 10” to 24”. For his barrel manufacturing, David Fricke invested in Eurotech’s new TD Toro series machine. Many would say this product purchase was a leap of faith, i.e., to buy a machine dedicated to barrel and shaft manufacturing, the fear that there isn’t a large enough market to sell your product, or that the machine can’t deploy for anything else.


David didn’t have those fears or look at it as taking a leap of faith. “I’ve been a customer of Eurotech for twenty-two years. I didn’t hesitate. I have so much confidence in their products and the Eurotech team that I knew it would be an unbeatable investment,” said David.


David Shares More Industry Secrets:


  • "One of the keys to manufacturing these barrels is the 16-station turret on the Eurotech TD Toro. You usually only get a 12-station turret. The 16 is a game-changer.

  • The tool drive system is pretty advanced compared to other tool systems. We can now eliminate chatter, get better rigidity, and improve the tool life for the live tooling.

  • The steady rest system is easy to program. The harmonics of this machine make it so easy to work with!"


For example, Dave explains, “What we start with is a $250 blank. You might use $3 of raw material with ordinary bar stock. You make a bad part; it’s not a big deal. But with a $250 blank, you can’t live with chatter; it destroys the part. So, I always set the counter and track how many parts you scrap before getting the good one. Sometimes, it can take 50 parts. With the Eurotech TD Toro, the harmonics deliver a perfect part the first time.

One-and-done manufacturing is paramount to machining gun barrels. The Eurotech machine gives us confidence. Its rigidity and repeatability don’t just reduce but eliminate costly material mistakes.”


“From an operator and user perspective, you can see that the materials’ construction and quality are incredibly advanced. In addition, you can tell that the people who designed this machine have run machines for many years and built them for longevity—it will last 20 years at least!"



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