Kinetic Ammo…Cheap, But Is It Worth It?

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By LB

I recently had the opportunity to shoot a lot of ammo from Kinetic Range. In particular, their 9mm 115gr lead round nose that is coated with their proprietary “Hi-Tek” coating. This coating is applied in order to prevent fouling. Kinetic argues that this allows them to manufacture ammo that’s less expensive than plated bullets, yet still doesn’t create fouling issues and can be used in guns that discourage the use of bare lead bullets – such as GLOCK and H&K . . .

These are reloads of the most generic type. Market price seems to be around $0.17/round, which places them slightly below the cost of other reloads as well as steel-cased ammo such as Wolf. The price is around 20-25% less than low-end, factory new brass ammo such as CCI Blazer. This ammo consisted of mixed case colors, mixed head stamps, missing primers, and boxes that fall apart if you look at them wrong. Wait…did I say missing primers? Yes, they’ve been able to cut costs and increase training opportunities by not including primers for some of their cartridges! More on that later.

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We arrived at the range with a few different 9mm handguns – a SIG P6, a SIG P320, and an Heirloom Precision Browning Hi-Power. In our previous experience, all three of these have proved steadfastly reliable through thousands of rounds of mixed ammo, so we knew they have a strong history. In addition, I have performed extensive accuracy testing on the Hi-Power, so I had a good database of accuracy results.

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I loaded up a few magazines for my Hi-Power and headed down range to get a few groups for accuracy purposes. Boom. Nothing.

It seems that the feed ramp on my HP didn’t appreciate the shape of the bullets. It pressed the lead right against the edge and prevented a round from loading into the chamber.

Tap. Rack. Boom.

Then nothing.

Chamber was loaded, but this round didn’t fire. So far I’m at a 50% failure rate. Not encouraging. Upon further inspection, it seems they forgot to press a primer into this one. I guess that’s one way to get their cost to a market low.

Back to the real story. I was able to squeeze out a few more magazines for test targets without an addition failure of any sort. The 10 yard groups were a bit discouraging – at least for me and this gun. I would say the groups were two or three times larger than I normally get shooting a variety of factory new ammunition from this gun.

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But it’s gotta be good enough for training ammo. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding went the steel. Yeah, okay, it’s good enough. Perhaps my standards are just a bit too high.

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Overall, I experienced a 5% or so failure rate with the Hi-Power with all of those being due to feed ramp issues. No failures from either of the SIGs. I did a bit more digging though the ammo and found two other rounds that were loaded without primers. All kidding aside, that makes me wonder who’s doing their quality control work – if anybody at all.

comments

  1. avatar Gordon Wagner says:

    There are other things to save money on. Cheap ammunition, shoes and tires are never bargains IMHO.

    1. avatar David B says:

      Or toilet paper. Charmin blue all the way.

      1. avatar Reggie says:

        Used Charmin all my life, until a friend of mine (who coincidentally works at Georgia Pacific) encouraged me to try Quilted Northern Plush (3 ply). I’ll spare you all the toilet paper science my friend shared with me, but take from a previous fellow Charmin user, there isn’t a finer toilet paper in existence than the Quilted Northern Plush. Trust me give it a whirl you’ll thank me later 😉

        1. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

          Whatever, man. AngelSoft for life.

        2. avatar Nicolò aldrovandi says:

          We have Foxy here in Italy…

        3. avatar Orlando says:

          lol wow

        4. avatar joe-in-NC says:

          Charmin Freshmates, regular toilet paper is only one step above a corn cob

        5. avatar Jeremy S says:

          I’m fairly sure the toilet paper at my previous office violated the Geneva Convention

        6. avatar Mike says:

          3 ply TP? Maybe if you had a debilitating case of fiery butt water after attending a Texas chili contest and needed to pat dry. That would be like wiping poo with a boxing glove on. I have dropped a few dueces in my time and anything more than Angel soft is a smearfest.

        7. avatar JWM says:

          Man, that went down the drain fast. Guys and their potty humor. 🙂

        8. avatar Anon says:

          Sandpaper–real men use sandpaper.

        9. avatar steel says:

          Guys, guys, have a little sophistication. It’s like 5 bucks a roll…
          http://Www.myrenova.com

      2. avatar Stinkeye says:

        Don’t get me started on how coddled the modern anus is.

        1. avatar jandrews says:

          Not a phrase frequently uttered, that.

        2. avatar Lotek says:

          Forgot the T. P. on a 21day backpacking trip. Used pinecones,sticks,rocks,but snow was the best

        3. avatar David B says:

          Snow? I’m afraid to ask how. Seriously, Charming blue gets the Bottoms-Up Award from me. I’ve tried Northern and Angel Soft and they tend to tear.
          The worst position I have ever been in was when traveling in Eastern Europe. I hit the head at a public restroom. They had open doors on the stalls and it was bowls in the floor you squatted over. I had the cleaning ladies walking past I guess to make sure I didn’t steal anything? Only had old magazine pages to take care of business. Most awkward situation ever. Unless you count the pastor’s brat at church peaking through the door crack and giggling.

        4. avatar int19h says:

          Be glad you had the magazines! The rule over there is, you bring your own, whatever it is.

          As for the cleaning ladies, they’re just cleaning.

          And yes, it can be worse. Imagine the same arrangement, but somewhere in Siberia, in a wooden shack. No heating. -40 C.

        5. avatar David B says:

          You’re right–it could be worse. I heard of a new missionary who papered one of the squatting toilets and sat down with his feet sticking out. I don’t care who you are but just envisioning that sight is downright hilarious.
          I forget–what was this post about? Somehow I think we got sidetracked. Lol

        6. avatar Rick H. says:

          I didn’t know this was turned into a political discussion. How did we get from ammo to democrats and RINOS’s the REAL coddled anuses ?

    2. avatar Vitsaus says:

      Nailed it. So true.

  2. avatar brainman says:

    If they can’t be trusted to get the primers right, I’m certainly not going to trust they got the powder right.

    1. avatar JWM says:

      Bingo!. No way do I trust reloads with that lousy of qc. KABOOMS happen.

    2. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Yeah, if you can miss a gaping hole on the bottom of the cartridge how exactly are you going to tell if it was 10grains or 20 on the inside?

  3. avatar jonwaynetaylor says:

    No primers? Someone’s got a mess of powder laying around. JWT

    1. avatar Owen says:

      +1 my thoughts exactly!

  4. avatar ShaunL. says:

    How much is my frustration worth? Maybe if TTAG does a re-visit once they get their quality under control I’ll bother giving them a try.

  5. avatar gman says:

    I have been using both LAX and Freedom Munitions for range ammo for the past 2 years. I am extremely pleased with all of their products. I haven’t experienced any notable failures in over 10,000 rounds of varying calibers. LAX comes loose bulk while Freedom boxes. Freedom also offers a larger selection of bullet weights and JHPs. Average cost for 9mm is 20.5 cents per round including shipping. That’s about $10 a box of 50 for comparison.

    1. avatar M Rogers says:

      +1 on the LAX and freedom. Great prices and very reliable.

    2. avatar Mike says:

      Never tried LAX, but Freedom 9mm and rifle loads do me right.

      1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

        The irony is that the only place you can’t get LAX ammo is in LA. They are online only and Los Angeles doesn’t allow ammo to be shipped to your door.

    3. avatar PPGMD says:

      I’ve had numerous issues with Freedom Munitions. For the most part it works, but you will get a case every once in a while that is horrible.

      If it weren’t cheap I would tell people not to buy it period. But since it is cheap, I suggest buying it only as range ammo. Don’t even consider shooting it in a match.

      1. avatar gman says:

        I try to keep matches and ammunition separate.

      2. avatar Accur81 says:

        I’ve had the same issue with Freedom Munitions – I got a lot of about 500 rounds that had unreliable primers that were also inconsistently seated.

      3. avatar Richard in WA says:

        Yeah, My AR will eat anything but Freedom’s reloads. Any more than 20 rounds fired is a miracle – after that they start sticking in the chamber, failing to eject and generally making range time miserable. Many have popped primers which then fall down into the mag or get jammed against the bolt. Those that do fire are minute-of-8.5×11″ paper accurate. Have had no issues with any other ammo in my AR. I stick with M193 for my cheap stuff.

        Haven’t tried their handgun rounds but their rifle ammo was a scary enough experience for me. The thing is that lots of people like it so the typical experience must be much better than my own.

    4. avatar Anon in CT says:

      I generally like Freedom Munitions, however:

      1) I found a .243 Winchester in a box of .223;

      2) I’ve had a bad primer in about every third box of .45; and

      3) I hade a 9mm case seperate in my JR 9mm Carbine. Took me a while to figure out why the next round wouldn’t chamber – hint, becaue there was a still a brass ring in the chamber.

      1. avatar Rob B says:

        It’s funny you mention that. I’ve used freedom munitions extensively and have really appreciated the price and reliability. My sig p229 has eaten over 12,000 rounds of freedom without a single issue. I usually use 125gr round nose reloads. That said, i did get a batch of 115gr that my glock 19 hated. Nearly every round keyholed at only 7 yards. I also encountered that separation issue. I couldnt figure out what the heck happened until i saw that brass band still in the chamber. It was a pain to remove.

  6. avatar Rifleman762 says:

    I wouldn’t touch the stuff, let alone have it anywhere near an heirloom BHP. If their quality control is crappy enough to leave out primers, then it’s crappy enough to kaBOOM your gun with a double powder load somewhere in the box.

  7. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    I like my ammo like I like my women. Cheap, dirty, and with a hole in the bottom that needs filling.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      (Rolling eyes…)

      Yeah, I remember being 15 years old…

    2. Wow, you are quite the gentlemen.

  8. avatar Grumpy says:

    I think its brilliant if you want to practice lots of failure drills.

    Personally, I don’t mind spending the extra 3-4 cents to buy something reliable and hesitate cycling crap through my guns. I have had really good experience with the reloads from Freedom, 0% failures in 10K rounds and they buy back your used brass as credit against your order.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      What are they paying on once-fired brass?

      1. avatar sota says:

        http://www.freedommunitions.com/Brass-Credit-Program-s/48072.htm

        currently $2.10/#

        don’t forget to factor in the shipping costs back to FM, even using the flat rate boxes.

  9. avatar Charles5 says:

    “We arrived at the range with a few different 9mm handguns – a SIG P6, a SIG P320, and an Heirloom Precision Browning Hi-Power.”

    Your picture clearly shows a P290, not a P320.

    1. avatar Jeremy in AL says:

      My thought exactly

    2. avatar LB says:

      Sorry about the typo… I’m surprised one of us didn’t catch it.

  10. avatar John L. says:

    Never worth skimping on either tools or things your life may depend on. In this case, it’s both. But sometimes the only way to find out ahead of time is to buy’n’try.

    I appreciate you giving them a try so I don’t have to. Thanks!

  11. avatar Taylor TX says:

    Ive shot a few thousand rounds of “remanufactured” 9mm ammo since about the time of Gunpocalypse and the shortages. Never not once, did I have ammo that was missing a primer. Granted, youre gonna have some duds regardless, but Ive also had plenty of duds from Win White Box too.

    1. avatar Nick says:

      Not even Herters screws up like that. Squibs, hang fires, and duds, yeah, but they all had primers.

      I too have had issue with Winchester, though it was two boxes of 30-30 that were both 20% FTF. They made right by me though and sent me a check and requested the bad ammo be sent back.

  12. avatar Heretical Politik says:

    I do reload my own ammo to save money, but I don’t want my guns blowing up in my face so I check and double check everything. Rolling your own requires attention to detail, these guys don’t have it. Everyone makes mistakes, but with my own reloads I am accountable to myself. As a general rule it’s just not worth the savings to trust a random person with a progressive press.

  13. avatar Rog Uinta says:

    Better to be missing a primer than to be missing powder. I guess.

    Still, not very confidence-inspiring. So far, for plinking ammo Freedom Munitions have done right by me.

  14. avatar Mr. Antisocial Guy says:

    The dissatisfaction of inexpensive poor quality lasts much longer than the joy of quality

  15. avatar Gunr says:

    When I reload, I put the primer in before the powder, duh! Nobody noticed powder spilling out on their machine??
    Any powder at at all, even a few grains should be suspicious enough to warrant an investigation of the loader!
    I never buy reloads, I don’t even use reloads my shooting buddy cooked up!

  16. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I’ve had missing primers and sideways primers in Federal gold metal match ammo. Sometimes QC is good, sometimes it’s not.

    1. avatar Ben says:

      When you’re making thousands upon thousands of the same thing every day, you’re bound to lose one or two to the monotony.

      1. avatar Nick says:

        But a failure rate of 2% like that is pretty high (assuming just the one missing primer in each box).

      2. avatar Gunr says:

        Machines have monotony???

        1. avatar Fuque says:

          When I was a snot nosed kid, My very first job after my paper route was to watch pepsi bottles fly past a light on their way to getting filled on the bottleing line and pick out the cracked ones…My tools of the trade were a stool to sit on, and a garbage can to throw them away.. I lasted 2 whole days.

  17. avatar jerry says:

    I used to use freedom munitions. Good product. They are running into some issues and I’ve switched to LAX Ammunition, which I’ve used in the past.

  18. avatar PPGMD says:

    Ohhh a Bianchi range.

  19. avatar Anonymous says:

    In particular, their 9mm 115gr lead round nose that is coated with their proprietary “Hi-Tek” coating.

    I’ve been to castboolits enough to know that “hi-tek” is not “their” proprietary coating.

    “hi-tek” is made by bayoubullets and is great stuff. I’m a super cheapsake, so I don’t even do hi-tek – I do powder coating.

    http://www.bayoubullets.net/coating/
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forumdisplay.php?184-Coatings-and-Alternatives

    1. avatar Heretical Politik says:

      The Bayou Bullets have a pretty great reputation… Do you know how this stuff works, i.e. do you need to size first, etc.?

  20. avatar Aaron Hsu says:

    The worst thing is that they are using a brand name “Kinetic” that is also the name of a rather promising looking manufacturer of polymer ammunition.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      I agree. TTAG should change the name of this article to “Kinetic Range” not “Kinetic” as they are two separate and distinct companies making ammo. No need to smear Kinetic’s reputation with Kinetic Range’s garbage reloads.

      http://kineticrange.com/
      http://kineticammo.com/

  21. avatar Fuque says:

    Good old fashion Winchester white box 115 gr if i’m just plinking… I reload with Gold dot for defensive rnds.

  22. avatar Gunr says:

    Seems like there are accessories for reloading machines that check for powder or lack of. I don’t use these in my reloading, but I do look in ALL the cases, before adding the “hurt pill”

    Seems like there should be some sort of electronic scanning device that would spot an under loaded case, as they come down the line in a large reloading operation?? Don’t mega manufacturers use something like this??

    1. avatar John L. says:

      I can think of 2-3 ways off the top of my head to automatically check for this sort of thing. It’s just not that hard in a mass production setting. Nor that expensive with the processing power available today.

      I have to wonder if they let any out the door without the bullet.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        Wouldn’t be surprised!

      2. avatar JWM says:

        I opened a box of ammo once and had a loose bullet, scattered powder and an empty case in it. Once had a round with a manfled crimp and the bullet was off centered in the crumpled case mouth. Had an assembled round that appeared bent and would not chamber.

        All one offs from different companies.

  23. avatar Mountain wanderer says:

    Loteck you got that right . On a recent elk hunting trip to the higher elevations of nm my tp got wet and while out scouting a latrine area I found that the cold icy wet snow was the best thing to use out here at 9000 feet even in40 degree temperatures it works try it, if you are man enough!

  24. avatar Cory Gibson says:

    All I can say is from my experience, don’t put anything through your gun you didn’t make yourself or that is from a reputable major manufacturer. I recently ordered some remanufactured ammo from a company called Blok Tactical. The ammo was made from a company called Kinetic Range. I went out to shoot my sig p220 .45ACP on my birthday and the last round in my mag was apparently double charged because the gun pretty much blew up in my hand. I thankfully kept all my digits but it didn’t feel great. I sent it back to Sig and they had to replace the entire upper including the barrel,the grips, and a 10 round magazine. I wasn’t able to contact Kinetic Range so I contacted the people who sold it to me, Blok Tactical. To make a long story short, I never heard from Kinetic Range and Nick at Blok Tactical gave me the runaround. Pretty shameful nobody stepped up to their products errors. Unfortunately, this happens all to often in todays business environment. I didn’t ask for anything from either Blok Tactical or Kinetic Range but to be refunded for the crap ammo that blew up my gun. Needless to say I will never use remanufactured ammo again and I would strongly encourage ya’ll to spread the word about this crap ammo and crap companies.

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