History of ELEY


In 2008 ELEY celebrated 180 years of manufacturing high quality ammunition. The British company was established in 1828 by William and Charles Eley, and has a long and proud tradition in the high standard of manufacture of rimfire ammunition. Specializing in .22 calibre cartridges, Eley is widely regarded as the world leader with its flagship product TENEX, sold in more than 130 countries.

The name C Eley first claimed public attention through an advertisement in the London Morning Chronicle, 10 July 1828, the advert promoted the opening of an extensive manufactory that supplied patent cartridges, superior to anything else and hailed as the greatest improvements ever produced in gunnery. Later evidence suggests that the proprietors were two brothers, William and Charles Eley who were adventurous and courageous in developing this infant industry.

William Eley had three sons who inherited the business from him in 1842. They vigorously developed the business in the second half of the nineteenth century, which included a major expansion in 1874, through the sale of shares to the public. During this period ELEY won many awards for the quality of its products throughout the world, the most prestigious being the Grand Prix which was bestowed on the company at the Paris Exhibitions of 1898 and 1900. The early 1900's 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 plc, a major publicly quoted multinational engineering conglomerate.

Major ammunition developments that have come from ELEY include a joint patent with Samuel Colt for Colt revolver cartridges in 1855. Britain's first centerfire cartridge, produced in 1857; fundamental patents during the 1860s in 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. Its first .22 rimfire cartridges were produced in 1860, but the move toward ELEY present world rimfire prominence really didn't begin until 1951, with the introduction of the first generation of Tenex.

ELEY’s goal behind the initial Tenex development was to provide British-made .22 LR ammunition, built to extreme consistency, that British shooters could use to win British shooting competitions. The 1951 British Championship and the Grand Aggregate events at Bisley were won by ELEY team shooters using Tenex.

A key aspect of the company's technological is the ELEY Autoprime System, which was developed by the company in the early 1980s and 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 virtue of the company's accreditation to the ISO 9002 European standard.

In 2000/2001 ELEY’s considerable investment in the new and revolutionary Tenex Ultimate EPS and 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. Not only does this demonstrate ELEY’s long term commitment as the world's leading supplier of quality cartridges, more particularly it provided the modern facilities vital for future product research and development - all needed to remain the best in our field.

Below is a timeline detailing ELEY’s history over the past 180 years.

For a more detailed narrative of these historic events please refer to ‘The Eley story 1828-1978’ or the ‘Eley Tenex Story – 50 years of excellence 1951-2001’.


ELEY Timeline

- First historic record of ELEY’s existence as C Eley appears on an advertisement launching Eley Patent Cartridges as “the greatest improvement ever produced in gunnery”

1837 - Eley delighted sportsmen by marketing the first waterproof percussion cap

1841 - After the death of William Eley in 1841, the newly styled firm of Eley Bros. enjoyed a prosperous decade with the sons of William driving the business forward

1851 - Eley products received public recognition and were on show at the Great Exhibition

1874 - To continue ELEY’s growth and further expansion, the brothers decided on the brave step of ELEY ‘going public’

1898 - ELEY received the award of the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibitions of 1898 and 1900

1926 -  Manufacturing of both metallic ammunition and shotgun cartridges were transferred to the plant at Witton, when Eley merged with Kynoch1951 - Sweeping success at NSRA Bilsely meeting, as Tenex is first introduced, and for the first time the British Championships were won by users of British Ammunition

1964 - Eley Tenex won all the gold and silver medals in the .22 events at the Tokyo Olympic Games

1973 - Five World Records were set by competitors using Eley Tenex at the first Championships of the American Shoot – Mexico

1976 - Eley triumphs at the 1976 Montreal Olympics winning 3 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze medals plus a New World Record

1988 - ELEY received the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for developing Eleyprime, a fully automated dry priming system

2002 - Worldwide success at ISSF World Cup events in Sydney, Shanghai, Atlanta and Milan, 37 out of 60 medals were won by Eley shooters including 15 gold medals

2003 - Completed huge investment in a historically significant relocation of Eley to a purpose built factory a few miles from the Witton site

2004 - At the Athens Olympic Games a staggering nine medals from a possible 15 were won with shooters using Eley cartridges, including Matt Emmons USA Prone, Jia Zhanbo China 3 Position and Maria Grozdeva Bulgaria Sport Pistol who struck Gold

2007 - Dominance at ISSF World Cup events, including 14 podium positions in the Prone competition

2008 - The Olympic Games in Beijing was a great example of ELEY's consistant ammunition, ELEY shooter won 12 out of 18 medals. Chen Ying and DU Li both set new Olympic Records shooting ELEY

2009 - Andrew Lane joins as new MD for ELEY. Warren Potent claimed Word Cup 3 gold medals for prone using ELEY Tenex

2010 - Warren Potent equaled world record for prone in the Sydney World Cup . 100% gold medals for ELEY at the Commonwealth Games 

2011 - 70% of World Cup and European medals won with ELEY ammunition, more 2012 quota places won with ELEY than any other brand

2012 - 14 of 18 London 2012 Olympic Medals with ELEY Ammunition