Does Hot Caliber Jewelry Make You Hawt? We Ask Founder Manos Phoundoulakis

Manos Phoundoulakis - Hot Caliber

Manos Phoundoulakis – Hot Caliber founder busting some clays at the Hot Caliber station at The Shooting Industry Masters

We’re talking with Manos Phoundoulakis, founder of Hot Caliber Jewelry and master inventor behind the flattened bullet jewelry concept. Well, actually, when you dig a little deeper into the story, most of the credit for the idea goes to his partner and bride Kelle. Isn’t that the way it always is?

While shooting with Team Hot Caliber at the 2012 Shooting Industry Masters event, we were able to pick Manos’ brain about being ‘hawt’ with Hot Caliber jewelry. As a side note, the Masters event served as the launch for the custom edition benefitting USA Shooting.

My Gun Culture: Right off the bat, I need to clarify an important question. Do you need to actually be ‘hawt’ to wear Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry? Or do you have to at least perceive yourself as ‘hawt’ to wear this stuff?

Manos Phoundoulakis: No, actually that’s what’s great about Hot Caliber. If you’re not hot, and you wear Hot Caliber, you will become hot. We guarantee it! Be careful of not wearing your Hot Caliber jewelry though, you can lose your newly found hotness.

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant - USA Shooting Benefit Edition

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant – USA Shooting Benefit Edition

MGC: I understand you put together a special benefit program for USA Shooting. Can you tell us about that?

Manos: Earlier this year at the NRA Annual Meeting, we decided to put together a benefit program around the Shooting Industry Masters event.  The FMG Publications (editors note: American Handgunner, Guns Magazine, and American Cop Magazine) folks came up with the idea to benefit USA Shooting and right off the bat it was clear to me this was a great idea. You see, I’m Greek. The Olympics started in Greece. They weren’t shooting back then, but they were throwing stuff, and that counts for something. We didn’t invent the gun, but we do take credit for shot put.

MGC: So without divulging too many trade secrets, how do you make Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry?

Manos: After more than 4,000 rounds of testing, we now know what it’s going to take to create a perfect flattened bullet. Normally, we shoot 100 rounds of a specific ammo type, depending on the type and size of piece we want to make, at a big heavy piece of steel. Over time, I’ve figured out what exact brand and load will produce perfect flattened bullets of a given size. Then I get to sift through the dirt and retrieve the flattened bullets. At this point, I pick the three best and run them by a small committee to help identify the best overall bullet impression.

MGC: So people have to be small to be on the committee?

Manos: No, but they do have to have really good eyesight. The committee is small in number, not in size! At this point, I take the flattened bullet and mold it in a rubber molding compound. From there we cast the initial model. If it’s our general Hot Caliber product, that model gets cast in silver or gold, then it gets put into the jewelry. We use a lost wax casting method. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are many important steps involved in creating a piece of silver or gold jewelry with this technique. I’ll go ahead and claim that the Greeks invented the lost wax technique also – even though that probably isn’t true. Sometimes we use an oxidation technique to help bring out the visual texture. For the Masters Edition, we have to take one more molding process to engrave one or both sides, depending on the piece.

MGC: Since you use actual bullets to come up with these designs, when did Mayor Bloomberg contact you about outlawing Hot Caliber Jewelry in New York City?

Manos: Well I don’t know him personally. And quite frankly, he’s not very attractive, but he would be much more attractive if he were to be wearing Hot Caliber jewelry. Then he might lighten up a bit.

Hot Caliber flattened bullet cufflinks

Hot Caliber offers a variety of flattened bullet jewelry for men and women – pendants, rings, cufflinks, keychains, and more.

MGC: Hot Caliber jewelry is already pretty elegant stuff, but do you have plans to enter the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” market? Maybe something Paris Hilton would wear?

Manos: Just between us, we’re thinking about a “Haute Calibre” line. But that’s secret.

MGC: If other organizations or companies want to create special Hot Caliber editions to sell or fundraise is there any way they could do that?

Manos: We do offer special editions and licensed manufacturing for sale on other websites/catalogs. I would personally love to make an edition for any of the US Armed forces, or a Soldiers Angels Edition…anything that could help support the people that risk their lives for our freedoms. I’d make a Nancy Pelosi edition, but she would probably use the money to take my guns away.


Be sure to check out the Hot Caliber collection at Better yet, order a special edition piece to support USA Shooting!

Hot Caliber Custom Jewelry – Key Ring A Bling Bling

Hot Caliber Hammer KeychainHot Caliber makes some cool stuff for shooting aficionados.

The basic idea is that, through thousands of rounds shot at steel, they’ve figured out how to get nice flattened bullet patterns. These are reproduced – exactly – into silver jewelry via some sort of top-secret lost wax technique. Whatever that is.

The Hot Caliber Hammer Key Ring is sure to start a conversation about your passion. Featuring a sterling silver limited edition flattened bullet, sterling silver frame, and nickel-plated brass key ring, this is one unique piece of bling.

Available Here Hot Caliber Hammer Key Chain

Hot Caliber Flattened Bullet Cufflinks

Hot Caliber Marksman Renegade Cuff linkThe coolest in shooting related bling (jewelry) comes from our friends at Hot Caliber.

Though trial, error, and downright magic, they’ve figured out a process to make one of a kind jewelry pieces from bullets shot at steel. And no, it’s not lead jewelry. They use a top-secret lost wax technique to cast these unique pieces in silver.

The men’s cufflinks are awesome and available in silver or different combinations of blackened silver and polished silver.

We’ve got a Shooting Industry Masters Ring and it’s a fantastic conversation piece that supports your passion shooting.


Available Here Hot Caliber Flattened Bullet Cufflinks

Smokin’ Hot Caliber – Welcome to!

Hot Caliber 5 Shot Diamond Pendant

Hot Caliber 5 Shot Diamond Pendant

One of the more fun events of SHOT Show 2011 for us was a cocktail meeting with Manos P. of Hot Caliber. Over a 2+ hour ‘business meeting‘ at the AquaKnox restaurant in the Venetian, we discussed the history and future strategy of the fresh and innovative company. You know, most people think going to the SHOT Show is all fun and games. Let me tell you, it’s strenuous work – the cocktail meetings, the casinos, the guns, the toys, and did I mention the cocktail meetings?

Hot Caliber was founded from a rare combination of interests – professional jewelry manufacturing and lots and lots of pistol shooting. The basic idea is custom and high end jewelry for men and women made from flattened bullets. You know, the really cool ones left over when you shoot at a heavy piece of steel just right. It’s kind of like when you throw Silly Putty against a wall really, really hard. Each properly executed shot leaves a one-of-a-kind and nicely textured lead disc. From this, Hot Caliber fashions pendants, cufflinks, key chains, and more. The smashed bullets are accentuated with silver settings and diamonds. It’s definitely a conversation piece – as is the intent of Hot Caliber.

As mailing toxic lead around is generally only done by cheap overseas toymakers, Hot Caliber has taken a different approach that avoids the toxicity issue and brings the jewelry up several notches in the excellent blingage department. Using a 12,392 year old secret lost wax casting technique, the actual lead bullets fired by the Hot Caliber staff are recreated in either silver or gold. Pieces are available in polished silver/gold or oxidized silver with a dark and very cool patina.

Hot Caliber Cufflinks

Hot Caliber Cufflinks

As the cocktails, flowed, we learned more about the inspiration for Hot Caliber jewelry. The generally accepted story is that the idea came from a spent, flattened bullet from a steel target shoot – inadvertently brought home in a pocket. As the ‘story’ goes, Mrs. Hot Caliber happened to see this and suggested that it might make a really cool centerpiece for jewelry. Being the crack investigative reporters that we are, we elected to have several more ‘one more rounds’ in a selfless effort to learn the real story. And we did. Apparently, after living in Santa Carla, California for years, Mr. and Mrs. Hot Caliber got completely fed-up with the out-of-control vampire problem and decided to take matters into their own hands. While owning a few Sig Sauer handguns provided adequate protection against local hoodlums, they were decidedly ineffective against The Lost Boys. Hence, silver bullet jewelry.

So, thanks to our dogged determination to learn the truth, you now know that Hot Caliber jewelry is 100% guaranteed to repel vampires in addition to looking simply hot. You can thank us later.

We would like to extend a warm My Gun Culture welcome to our newest partner – Hot Caliber!

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