This year the 2017 SHOT show emphasized the trend that lead bullets are not the future of shooting. EPA regulations, health concerns and various state bans on hunting with ammunition containing lead has driven one of the most significant advances in ammunition development since the 1869 invention of the Boxer primer. Just a decade ago, few shooters were pistol or rifle hunting with anything except lead. Today, monolithic, polymer and alloy projectiles are on the market.
Unlike typical viewpoints that anything but lead is a compromise, most of the ammunition innovations were noting that with updated design and engineering. These days, solid non-lead metals and polymers can actually perform better than lead projectiles. Thanks to a few companies, the cases themselves are also changing from brass to polymer and even reloadable and magnetic steel. Beyond new materials, many manufacturers were showcasing uniquely “tuned” lead based ammunition specifically for various shooting needs and firearm formats. Here are just a few samples of the newer ammunition offerings that caught our attention at the 2017 SHOT Show.
Offering a wide variety of maximum power loading, including a 10mm 750 ft./lbs. non-deforming flat nosed round for hunting. DoubleTap noted that typically the 10mm round is loaded to far below its capabilities and noted that this full power round is the answer for those hunting with a handgun or needing a backup gun for dangerous game hunts. (doubletapammo.com)
Shotgun slug design has seen a huge technological jump over the last two decades. However, Dupleks expanded lead-free slug reach over 1,400 fps and deliver over 2,100 ft./lbs. with a six-petal expanding slug. The company also offers a solid steel SteelHead slug that delivers the same energy and velocity but with a high-penetration slug design. Dupleks noted both new slugs have applications in the defense and hunting markets. (ddupleks-usa.com)
The same company who brought use the high-fragmentation RIP (Radically Invasive Projectile) now offers a few new other options leveraging a 100 percent copper projectile design. The Civic Duty defense round leverages a non-fragmenting RIP bullet design that opens to a huge wound channel. G2’s Telos line deliver a similar fragmentation to the RIP line, however with a more traditional looking exterior bullet profile. For those that want to see where their shots go, G2’s VIP ammo delivers a non-incendiary and non-toxic cold tracer round to aid in training. (g2ammo.com)
Hornady continued to expand it offering with its super accurate ELD (Extra Low Drag) bullets. Another welcome offering was a new 6.0 Creedmoor, which has become the leading long-range accuracy round ahead of its 6.5 Creedmoor round. For those that have begged for a 73-grain match round that would feed through the AR-15 platform, Hornady now offer such a bullet and ammo featuring the heat shield ballistic tip. The New Hornady BLACK line of ammo is specifically tuned for black rifles such as the AK, AR and sniper rifles. BLACK is an effort by Hornady to help consumers identify ammo designed for the special functional needs of all types of piston, direct impingement, suppressed AR-15 rifles, pump and bolt action firearms. Another new offering is the Precision Hunter ammo. It’s designed to deliver a single round used for precision competition to hunting. (hornady.com)
Vista Outdoors ammunition lines were offering some very unique uses of non-lead ammunition. The American Eagle Syntech line of ammo delivers a safer polymer-encapsulated lead bullet and clean propellant. The eye-catching lipstick red Syntech rounds deliver less fouling, cleaner-running firearms and less backsplash when shooting steel. Vista’s CCI Big 4 9mm shot shell delivers the same small ground and air critter killing capabilities of their previous pistol caliber shot shell design but at longer distances. Also from CCI was the Copper 22 Copper/Polymer hollow point achieving 1,850 fps. This is the first copper/polymer rimfire round available on the market. (vistaoutdoor.com)
One of the most unique introductions of ammunition technology were the Shell Shock cases. These 9mm cases are 50 percent lighter than brass cases, offer greater lubricity and will not abrade, clog, foul, wear-out or damage breach and ejector mechanisms. The cases offer greater corrosion resistance, higher tensile strength (two times stronger) and more elasticity than brass. That means they can be reloaded many more times than brass. NAS3 cases have been tested successfully by customers to pressures over 70,000 psi and have the benefits of ejecting cool to-the-touch and can be picked up with a magnet. The cases will not split, chip, crack or grow (stretch) and are fully-reloadable using a set of very affordable S3 Reload dies. A number of companies were offering ammunition with Shell Shock cases including lead competition ammo from Oak Island Ammunition and lead-free rounds from Velocity Munitions. (shellshocktechnologies.com)
This company was offering a unique 100 percent SCS (Solid Copper Spun) match handgun and rifle bullets designed to tumble on impact. We have seen monolithic copper bullets in rifle ammunition, but a solid-core, non-hollow point handgun round is definitely unique. The SCS copper bullets are extremely concentric, which delivers precision match accuracy and the company noted that although copper is considered a more expensive material. Fifty rounds retail for only $25. (velocitytactics.com)
Buffalo Catridge expanded its high-quality Outlaw line of cowboy action ammo to include legacy .38-55, .38-40, .45-70 and .44-40 rounds “to keep those old guns shooting at their best.” (buffalocartridge.com)
The unique features of the PCT projectiles are that they are solid copper, brass or bronze with solid core and open, polymer-tipped or metal anti-material tipped hollowpoint rounds. These are precision turned on a SWISS-type machine to deliver an exceptionally high-tolerance projectile. According to CEO Andrew Barnes, the PCT bullets designs are engineered for specific shooting applications ranging from competition shooting, hunting, defense and military. PCT is a component manufacturer and only sells to other ammunition manufacturers, so the hope is that we start seeing these super premium bullets hit the market in the form of finished ammunition.
GoldBeltWolf is an old name in the industry and they have just launched the GBW Catridge compnay. GBW offers the Legend Pro and all-copper hollowpoint defensive ammunition, lead-free practice rounds and safety frangible ammunition for close-range training on steel targets. (gbwcartridge.com)
Though we are all still waiting for a commercialized super inexpensive polymer-cased ammo, PolyCase continues to lead the market with handgun-caliber-patented polymer ARX bullet technology including defense, hunting and practice ammunition lines. Through a licensing agreement with Ruger, PolyCase is offering a Ruger-branded ARX defensive ammunition line. Based on the promotion Ruger has put behind this ARX line, we will likely see a lot more PolyCase ammo on the firing line. (polycaseammo.com)
The in-development co-polymer PCP .308 round delivers high precision with a 30 percent weight reduction over brass cases, reduced chamber heat. Pretty neat idea for full-auto firearms that typically carry loads of heavy ammo. The focus of PCP has been to reduce the weight a modern soldier carries into battle. PCP is still developing commercially available ammunition, but say it should be available in 2017. (pcpammo.com)
This article originally appeared in the Shooting Sports Retailer April 2017 issue.