The Cornhusker State helped arm the military in World War II, is home to one of the largest ammo makers in the country, and has Constitutional Carry on the agenda. 

Well known as a sportsman's destination for chukars, pheasants, and quail, the state's prairie land is host to numerous statewide hunting events. Under that grassland is a bunker complex that once formed Naval Ammunition Depot Hastings, one of the largest munitions facilities in the country. 

"I can make a very definitive statement I'm the only governor in that owns several thousand bunkers that used to be used by the federal government to store ammunition," Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said at the 2nd Annual Governors’ Forum at SHOT Show last month.

"I’m trying to make sure we got a place to store all of our ammunition," he laughed. 

And ammunition is a big player in the state's industry, with Hornady, a world leader in bullet, reloading tool, accessory design, and manufacturing, located in Grand Island. Founded in 1949, the company has over 500 employees but is still a family-owned business and recently completed a 150,000-square-foot expansion in the state. Going beyond ammo, the company hosts a Precision Rifle Challenge as well as a popular Zombies in the Heartland 3-Gun match, both drawing competitors from across the country. 

Pillen, a Republican who strongly advocated gun rights on the campaign trail last year and was recently sworn in as the state's 41st governor, said that permitless carry is on the agenda. 

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen at SHOT Show
Pillen spoke at SHOT Show last month, where he was on hand to both visit Nebraska-based companies and speak to those interested in coming to the state. (Photo: Chris Eger/

"Yes, it’s a very, very, very high priority. I think last year the legislature missed by two votes," said Pillen. "We all worked very, very hard from the primary to make sure that we got a lot of red vests to win elections and especially in the Omaha area. We fell one vote, one person short, but working very hard. So we feel very, very good and we have a tremendously conservative legislature. The stars have lined up." 

$663 Million Annual Impact

Going past Hornady, Nebraska in 2021 was home to no less than 26 Type 7 FFLs – firearms manufacturers. This includes 88 Tactical in Omaha, which produced more than 1,600 pistols that year, and Bennett-based Zermatt Arms, which has long teamed up with Bighorn Arms to produce thousands of precision rifles. The state is also home to numerous custom shops, including the famous Cylinder & Slide in Fremont, a renowned pistol smith that recently announced its closure after almost 50 years of business.

Such companies across the state, counted with hundreds of retail locations that sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment, employed as many as 1,558 people in Nebraska in 2021, as estimated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Further, those endeavors generate an additional 1,767 jobs for their suppliers and related industries. This translates to a whopping $663 million-per-year economic impact on the state.

Chart with Nebraska gun figures, 2021
Chart: NSSF, 2021 figures

"Nebraska is one of those sleep states when it comes to their outsized impact within the firearm and ammunition industry," Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the NSSF, told "The state is widely known to the rest of America for being an agriculture and meat-processing giant. Within the firearm and ammunition industry, it is home to Hornady Manufacturing, a leading ammunition manufacturer. Governor Jim Pillen’s attendance at SHOT Show is evidence that the state is very interested in bringing more leading firearm and ammunition industry companies to call Nebraska home. This is a state with a very strong tradition of respect for Second Amendment rights and a deep cultural heritage for hunting and conservation."

Banner image: .308 Win 150gr. SST Superformance, via Hornady.

revolver barrel loading graphic