As the doorman helped me gather my belongings, he looked at the holes in the target flapping in the cold desert wind. “We were testing new ammo,” I told him. “The bullet breaks into three parts connected by a tether.” What if one of them misses you?” he asked. “The other two swing around on the rope and enter your body from the back.” He stuck his hand into the hole sliced into the paper. “That’s fucked up,” he pronounced. My sentiments exactly . . .
After watching a TTAG exclusive demo, I can state without reservation that Advanced Ballistics Concepts (ABC) has created a “Triple Threat” bullet that will wreak a new kind of havoc on anyone unlucky enough to be on the receiving end. Whether or not it becomes a popular maybe even standard self-defense round is an open question. But there’s every chance it could.
If it doesn’t it won’t be for lack of engineering. The T3 Triple Threat round isn’t just a bunch of fragments held together by a thread. Oh no. Three identical pieces are locked together in the cartridge like a 3D puzzle. When fired, air pressure immediately (and I do mean immediately) sends the pieces flying outwards at 100 miles per hour.
The fragments (clever name under development) assume their optimal flight position; a wing-like surface stabilizes the forward trajectory. When they strike, the fragments enter the body in a “keyhole position” (i.e. sideways).
As one end is heavier than the other, they rotate. The movement scallops whatever’s in the way, sending the bullet in what the company calls a “crescent-shaped” trajectory. Or worse, should they bounce off a bone or artery. Gruesome aside: the tethers assure no more looking around for bullet fragments and easy (if unimaginably painful and dangerous) extraction in the field.
In other words, no through-and-through for you Mr. Bad Guy. Or stray rounds—as long as one of the pieces hits, ALL of the frags will hit. ABC can vary the size of the spread and amount of penetration via the material used for the fragment, and the cord length and strength. They call it their SMART-STOP™ technology.
They’ve created three strengths: non-lethal (“the light fragments sting you like three wasps”), semi-lethal (“about an inch penetration; if you don’t get treatment, you will die”) and lethal. I call the last one CGE (Cheese Grater Effect).
Hanging out with ABC Co-Founder and President Todd Kuchman in the small and less-than-glamorous private range in the Las Vegas Gun Store is like sitting in a small plane next to an African missionary on his way back to the buntus. Kuchman literally can’t stop talking about all the types and relative benefits of his bolo bullets. Of which there are many. For many different groups: law enforcement, military and, of course, you, dear defense shooter.
I suppose the key factor here is damage. Why hit the bad guy once when you can hit him three times? Judging from the experiment, you’d have to adjust your aim slightly to ensure a direct hit with one of the frags, but who cares? With the tether, you’re more or less assured of a hit somewhere. Sorry, three hits somewhere.
With little chance of dreaded over-penetration. “Once they reach maximum expansion, the tethers slow the bullets,” Kuchman says. “Think of a climber on a rope falling into a cravasse. The rope eventually slows and stops him.” “Violently,” I add. Kuchman smiles like he’s saved my soul.
Would the T3 (Triple Threat) round be a better bet for stopping a threat than a hollow point? I’m thinking yes. Sure. Absolutely. Why not? The T3 rounds commercial success is less certain.
For one thing, the firearms industry is so conservative it makes Barry Goldwater seem like a leftist commie pinko anarchist. That applies to both the manufacturers and customers. Other than the Chiappa Firearms Rhino (which is still having trigger troubles of one sort or another), the SHOT Show is proof positive that this is an evolutionary business, not revolutionary.
Finding a bullet maker willing to sell rounds that don’t punch one hole where you aim it will not be easy—especially if the bulletmaker already makes self-defense rounds that fit that description. (The Hornady rep’s attendance at our test notwithstanding.)
Convincing the average gun owner to trust his life to the T3’s rad concept will be a semi-Sisyphusian task. Getting him or her to get their head round the round’s advantages, to let go of the dead simple concept of a linear flight path, will require sustained, innovative marketing.
Selling the T3 to the military/LEO market will take years. Their cover-your-ass culture is about as open to innovation as The Knights Templar.
Kuchman may have timing on his side. The movement against lead bullets is gathering force. Manufacturers will have to do something to increase the lethality of frangible rounds. This could be it.
In any case, Kuchman is a successful entrepreneur. Though fast-talking, quick thinking and big planning, he knows that persistence is the key to success. He won’t rest until his round finds a niche, and then expands outwards into all three main markets (ironically enough). And then there’s this . . .
On the way out of the range, I talked to a woman of a certain age lining-up with her husband who’d come to fire a machine gun. “Do you own a gun?” I asked. “No,” she said, not unexpectedly (heavy makeup couldn’t hide her anxiety). “Would you buy a gun if you could use it to stop a bad guy but not kill them?” “I would,” she answered.
Shooting a bad guy with a non-lethal round is a profoundly asinine concept for 99.9 percent of gun owners. But maybe the T3’s success will come from its non-lethal version, appealing to people who don’t own guns, yet. Perhaps the T3 is the bridge to the 50 percent of Americans who don’t own a gun for self-defense, opening a gold mine for a ghetto-ized industry.
Who knows? This much is true: even though I’m sure I’m going to receive frantic emails from Kuchman correcting my analysis, I reckon the T3 round is a better mousetrap. The world may not beat a path to its door, but early adopter that I am, I’d give some serious though to putting it in my gun.
What would convince me? You don’t want to know. Do you?