UTM (Ultimate Training Munitions) has been selling non-lethal ammo and Failsafe Conversion Kits since Disco Inferno burned-up the pop charts. Maybe longer. We ran into UTM at SHOT Show; they were kind enough to provide the 411 on their product line. In terms of branding, their spokesguy says they make their name (AKA whups the competition) based on their products’ reliability, consistency and variety . . .

According to the Picatinny Arsenal, UTM’s ammunition has a 99.9% reliability rate—which is somewhat higher than this author’s handloads. Apparently, the last thing you want when you’re training: battling your gear instead of battling your opposition. (I would have thought live ammo would be worse.) UTM ensures ultimate reliability by using a damned nifty (my words) two-stage cartridge.

Instead of a single powder charge that propels the projectile and cycles the action, UTM ammo relies on a separate charge for the action and the projectile [see: above].

The large brass crimped case on the bottom contains the charge that forces the case to telescope and extend, pushing back on the bolt and cycling the action. At the same time it launches a small ball forwards to strike a second primer which in turn sends the projectile hurtling down the barrel.

With a second powder charge, the projectile can travel at a much lower velocity. Better still, it can tuned for maximum consistency. The UTM guys claim a 3-4 MoA accuracy for their ammo. For “close combat” simulation, that’ll do. Pig.

The projectile itself—-the final step in the journey from trigger to triage—is designed to leave a mark—no matter how slight the hit.

To achieve this educationally advantageous goal, UTM places a small ball bearing behind the paint in the nose of the projectile. Any change in velocity causes it to move forward and press some paint out of the nose and leave a streak (or a splat) on the target.

Ammunition is available in a couple of flavors:

  • Man Marker Round (MMR) is the standard “paintball-esque” round that marks things it hits. Available in 335 fps for pistols as well as either 275 or 375 fps in rifles.
  • Silent Blank Rounds (SBR) cycle the action without making any noise or expelling any gases. Great for classroom instruction or weapons handling demonstrations.
  • Battlefield Blank Rounds (BBR) cycle the action and make noise without the need for a blank firing adapter. It also increases the “forward” noise while decreasing the sound at the shooter’s ear.

To ensures the safety of participants(i.e. customers), the system depends on a rimfire cartridge (not centerfire) in the rifles (requiring a bolt and bolt carrier swap). For handguns, users must swap barrels to a smaller caliber. This protocol keeps live ammunition from going off during training, which could ruin your whole day.

Despite the whole “projectile flying at you” thing, the ammunition isn’t as powerful (painful) as the competition’s product. With UTM’s products, training participants can use lighter protective gear, which allows for a greater range of movement and better non-verbal communication (i.e, hands in pockets). UTM specially designed the above protective garments to enable participants—both shooters and bystanders.

UTM is particularly proud of their new helmet design. It helps shooters see what’s going on around them and it lets them clock other participants’ facial expressions (unlike the current “hockey mask” design). With UTM’s helmet, trainees can get a proper cheek weld on shoulder-fired weapons, another task disabled by hockey mask-style protective headgear.

The final component of their product line: a mobile training room. Using UTM’s on-the-go system, shooters can safely train with UTM ammunition while not crudding-up the actual walls. It packs down into a couple small suitcases.

After our discussions with UTM, the company has graciously decided to partner with TTAG to provide the gear and the facilities to put some of our self defense tactics and concepts to the test. We’ll see how well our opinions on armed self-defense pan out in the real world. Watch this space.

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