J.D. Jones, founder of SSK Industries, has been heavily involved with Contenders® since 1969 and has devoted a great deal of his life to the ballistic aspects of sporting, law enforcement, and military cartridges and the firearms that handle them. During the 40’s and early 50’s he supplied numerous individuals with dressed rabbits in return for shotgun shells, .22s and, on occasion, some cash. J.D. began hunting small game with a pistol at about age 13 and was taught bullet casting and reloading by a local gunsmith at about this time. In the early 60’s, he and Lee Jurras developed the first true high-performance handgun ammunition for revolvers and auto-pistols which was marketed as Super Vel Ammunition. The basics of this ammunition are used by every manufacturer in the world that manufactures high performance handgun ammo today.
SSK Industries was founded in 1977 to manufacture and market specific products related to hunting handguns and ammunition. Custom aftermarket Contender® barrels chambered in JDJ calibers, specifically designed for hunting purposes, soon became the major product of the firm. These barrels and cartridges, unequalled in the Contender® in accuracy, have truly effective big game harvesting ability. Over the years better bullets and optics have simply made them better. Within a few years, SSK became known worldwide as THE manufacturer of custom premium quality firearms for handgun hunting which, of course, includes custom revolvers and bolt actions. The advent of the Encore platform expanded the line to more powerful cartridges. While SSK started with handguns, the reputation of exceptional quality and accuracy has spread all firearm platforms. Today, SSK provides custom firearms from rimfires to machine guns.
I grew up in Ohio and in 1978, a friend’s father let me shoot his 45 Colt Contender®; I was hooked, but it was a number of years later before another friend let me use his 223 Contender on a groundhog hunting trip. I made my first shot at an estimated 300 yards off of shooting sticks. Even after I paced the distance off to 130 yards, I was so excited I could not stand still. I have not hunted groundhogs with a rifle since that fateful day.
Years later, we started Millennium Manufacturing and we became a supplier of parts to SSK and 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 what he learned in his many years of experience. We began producing subsonic projectiles for the 300 Whisper using the Controlled Fracturing principle. Shortly after, Lehigh Defense was formed with the objective of creating unique and innovative projectiles and ammunition.
As Millennium Manufacturing expanded to a firearms part supplier to many OEM’s, the desire to see the original Contender return was always present. An opportunity presented itself to assume the operation of SSK and with J.D.’s guidance and assistance of great friends in the industry, we are extremely proud to deploy the manufacturing capacity and capability of both Millennium Manufacturing and Lehigh Defense to continue the innovation that set SSK apart from the crowd so many years ago.
Thank you for your time and we hope to hear your SSK story.