The Fear of Teflon Coated Ammo – KTW, Winchester, and Hollywood Hype

black talon teflon coated bullets

via Wikimedia Commons

In the 1960s, Paul Kopsch (an Ohio coroner), Daniel Turcos (a police sergeant), and Donald Ward (Kopsch’s special investigator), began experimenting with special purpose handgun ammunition. Their objective was to develop a law enforcement round capable of improved penetration against hardened targets, such as windshield glass and automobile doors.

Conventional bullets, made primarily of lead, often become deformed and less effective after striking hard targets, especially when fired at handgun velocities.

Courtesy Luis Valdes

The inventors named their company KTW, after their initials. KTW had begun commercial production in the late 60s to early 70s and came up with armor-piercing loads in a number of calibers.

Their claim to immortal fame was the fact that they coated their projectiles with green Teflon. This had nothing to do with making it armor piercing. That was simply a solid slug of mostly hardened brass with a steel core.

The Teflon was only applied to protect the barrel’s rifling, nothing more and nothing less.

Original KTW ad circa 1982

In 1980, continued production of the ammunition was turned over to the North American Ordnance Corporation. Business was fairly good and at the time and they were selling their products to both law enforcement and commercial customers.

Original sales price list circa 1981

They sold their special loads in various chamberings from as small as .25 ACP, and .32 Auto all the way to .30 Carbine and .44 Magnum.

Original sales price list circa 1981

Their most popular product was the “Safety Pak,” a small hard-shell plastic wallet with ammunition.

9mm Safety Pak

I had a few back in the day as a leftover from when my father toyed with them. He was a firearms instructor for his agency and he got a case or two to test the ammunition and its claims.

So what was the big deal? Well, it was the height of the cocaine drug war and the crack epidemic was spreading like crazy in the 1980s. Cops were just starting to wear body armor. The bad guys were outgunning the them because they packed more semi-auto pistols and rifles.

What type of armor were the cops wearing? Horribly thick, unconformable body armor that sucked for the most part at stopping anything, let alone one of these rounds. Back then, most soft panel body armor wasn’t rated to stop loads like the 125gr SP .357 Magnum or even 124gr 9mm FMJ. They provided some protection, but not nearly as much the uneducated believed.

Remember, KTW primarily marketed their ammo to law enforcement and the military to defeat barriers like auto glass and period car bodies which were still made of steel. It was never intended to defeat body armor since most body armor of era was defeated by most common commercial loads already sold.

Original KTW sales ad

But the gun control enthusiasts in the media caught wind of this and flogged the story, portraying a problem that never existed. They claimed the Teflon coating made them armor piercing and that via some kind of magic, it allowed the hardened slug to slip through the Kevlar fibers of the then-crappy vests that couldn’t stop a  9mm round, let alone a .357 Mag or .44 Mag. But it made a great story.

Hollywood go on board, going hardcore with their anti-gun message in Lethal Weapon 3. The plot centered around gangs that were getting machine guns and “armor piercing” ammunition which lead to a rash of LAPD cops being killed.

They went so far as to make fake ammunition boxes and marked them similar to KTW packaging.

Scene from Lethal Weapon 3 when the crate of armor piercing ammunition was discovered (courtesy YouTube)

 

Close up of the movie prop box lettering.

The production of KTW-branded ammunition eventually ceased in the 1990s. But at the time, that didn’t end production of Teflon coated ammunition.

Olin Corporation, under their Winchester brand got into the game with their famous/infamous Black Talon JHP line. The bullet was designed in 1991 under the supervision of Alan Corzine who, at that time, was VP of research and development for Winchester.

They used a molybdenum disulfide coating (black Teflon). That caused all hell to break loose because of its alleged armor piercing capability.

The result was pure media hyperbole. Just like KTW, they believed that the Teflon made Black Talon an armor piercing round. They never bothered to test or review field data from actual shootings.

Back in the day, cops like Col. Leonard J. Supenski of the Baltimore County Police Department loved it.

“It has the stopping power that police officers need and it is less likely to ricochet or go through the bad guy.” – New York Times, November 7, 1993.

Gun-grabbers, of course, were outraged. When the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting occurred, the gunman, Colin Ferguson, used a Ruger P89 loaded with Black Talon rounds. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s husband was one of the victims killed by Ferguson.

Rep. McCarthy actually sued Ruger for making the pistol and Winchester for making the ammunition (McCarthy v. Sturm, Ruger and Co. et al.). But McCarthy’s claim against Olin was dismissed. As the judge wrote . . .

Plaintiffs candidly argue that I should expand existing tort doctrines to cover this case, thus implicitly recognizing that as the law stands today they have failed to state a claim. See Pl.’s Mem. at 10. As noted above, however, their claims seek legislative reforms that are not properly addressed to the judiciary. Like Justice Schlesinger wrote in Forni, slip op. at 14, I too would work to ban ammunition like the Black Talon if I was a member of the New York legislature. As judges, though, we both are constrained to leave legislating to that branch of government.

For the reasons discussed above, defendant Olin’s motion to dismiss the complaint is GRANTED.

There were no defects in manufacturing, design, or in warnings – “…Black Talon ammunition functioned exactly as designed….”

But bowing to public pressure, Winchester pulled the Black Talon line off the market in 1993 and re-released it in 2000 as the Winchester Ranger SXT line.

The running gag is that the name SXT stands for Same eXact Thing. Since the Ranger line and Black Talon line are virtually the same except for labeling and color.

A number of states banned the possession of Teflon coated ammunition due to the hysteria caused by the media.

  • Alabama state law provides that “the possession or sale of brass or steel teflon-coated handgun ammunition is illegal anywhere within the State of Alabama”.
  • Hawaii state law prohibits the “manufacture, possession, sale, barter, trade, gift, transfer, or acquisition of … any type of ammunition or any projectile component thereof coated with teflon or any other similar coating designed primarily to enhance its capability to penetrate metal or pierce protective armor.”
  • Kansas state laws states possessing, manufacturing, causing to be manufactured, selling, offering for sale, lending, purchasing or giving away any cartridge which can be fired by a handgun and which has a plastic-coated bullet that has a core of less than 60% lead by weight, whether the person knows or has reason to know that the plastic-coated bullet has a core of less than 60% lead by weight is unlawful
  • North Carolina state law specifically forbids persons in that state to “import, manufacture, possess, store, transport, sell, offer to sell, purchase, offer to purchase, deliver or give to another, or acquire any Teflon-coated bullet”.
  • Oklahoma – Teflon-coated bullets are illegal in Oklahoma under some circumstances.
  • Oregon state law forbids the possession of any handgun ammunition, the bullet or projectile of which is coated with Teflon while committing or intending to commit a felony.
  • Pennsylvania state law provides that “It is unlawful for any person to possess, use or attempt to use a KTW teflon-coated bullet or other armor-piercing ammunition while committing or attempting to commit” certain enumerated “crime[s] of violence”.
  • South Carolina state law specifically bans “ammunition or shells that are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)”.
  • Virginia state law specifically bans “bullets, projectiles or other types of ammunition that are: coated with or contain, in whole or in part, polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) or a similar product” while committing or attempting to commit a crime.

It’s amazing that such insanity prevailed then when the entire premise was laughable and showed an utter lack of understanding of how the ammunition actually works. And today, a generation later, statist law makers and ignorant gun grabbers are doing exactly the same thing, never letting a crisis go to waste.

 

comments

  1. avatar TruthTellers says:

    Lol, even back in the 90s the dope politicians believed every word the Fake News media said and passed laws based on nothing more than primetime clickbaiting.

    1. avatar Gadsden says:

      Yep. And as much as liberals think they rule the roost with technology, the internet, or social media, it actually has become quite the instrument in defeating them. Just imagine the last 10 years without any way to refute the democrat media machine.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      left out those Czech steel-cored 9mm…a large amount, of which…slipped into this country just before it hit the fan…wouldn’t recommend using any of this for self-defense as some hot-shot prosecutor may use it to turn a jury against you…..

  2. avatar Thomas Hofler says:

    “… and period car bodies which were still made of steel.”

    Huh? You talking about those few folks that haven’t switched to driving Cobra 427’s or Lotus Elise’s? Did I miss the transition to carbon fiber body panels?

    1. avatar guest says:

      You missed the transition to aluminum apparently.

      1. avatar GluteusMaximus says:

        Not many cars made of aluminum right now

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          The single best selling vehicle in the country is.

        2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

          My F-250 is.

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Well, my wife says my F150 is enough truck for her…

      2. avatar orange pear says:

        If only we had some sort of vehicle that could go back in time when it hits 88mph to see for ourselves.

      3. avatar Thomas Hofler says:

        The F-150 is the one I forgot. It’s about the only common vehicle with alum. body work as far as I know. OK, Jag XJ, Tesla Mod S, oh yeah Ferrari F12.

    2. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Time was you could sit on the hood, trunk or roof of a car without making a dent. Today, steel car body panels are so thin, they’re only intended to withstand the aerodynamic forces they encounter. Wind. Anything solid will cause damage. A lead slug will go through like it’s not even there. It’s funny in TV shows how cops jump out of a car and seek ballistic protection behind the door they just opened. Hey dumbass – your feet are showing.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        ….and gas was less than 30 cents a gallon!….

  3. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Not “teflon” coated…It’s called Lubalox, and is still in use today…

  4. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Next, gun lovers are going to try to tell me silencers don’t reduce a fired shot to “pppffftttt”.

    I’ve seen lotsa movies, and read lotsa books, and they all confirm silencers reduce gun fire noise so low that all you can hear is the cycling of the bolt/slide. So you can’t make me believe teflon coated bullets don’t go through flesh without having any blood or tissue stick to the bullet. Nothing sticks to teflon (I also watch all the cooking shows on television, and they’re all about non-stick surfaces), so teflon bullets actually will just slide through material (with the hole closing up behind the bullet) and bodies, almost without a trace. All you guys who get your information from technical manuals and testing date are just trying to trick the rest of us.

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      It’s true. Nothings sticks to it. Bill Clinton was the Teflon president. Nothing stuck to him. All the charges just fell away. (So did a lot of people around him, too.) Hah

    2. avatar binder says:

      British got them down to 85 dB 70 years ago, so suppressed firearms can be very quiet

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “British got them down to 85 dB 70 years ago, so suppressed firearms can be very quiet”

        Some re-runs from the late 50s show even revolvers being almost noiseless with silencers. It’s how Mafia hitmen get away with so many murders, undetected.

      2. avatar Binder says:

        Sam, I guess your the reason that people believe everything that comes out of Hollywood.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Sam, I guess your the reason that people believe everything that comes out of Hollywood.”

          Saw it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears. You can’t put stuff in movies or on TV that are not true…read that on the internet when we were just using bulletin boards.

    3. avatar Ing says:

      Heck, a silencer’s cone of silence is so profound you can’t even hear the action of the gun cycling. It really is just pew-pew, and people fall over.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        there are ways to get it down to where you hear nothing more than the clicking of the action…making it sound like a dry-fire…

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “there are ways to get it down to where you hear nothing more than the clicking of the action…making it sound like a dry-fire…”

          I think that only works when you tape a one liter soda bottle, filled with water, to the barrel of a gun.

      2. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

        All you really have to do is whisper “boo it’s a creedmore” and your target just falls over. Sorta like that 1 800 gotjunk and Harry Potter stuff, right?
        I even heard if you add “chuck norris says boo it’s a creedmore” it can be done from hundreds of yards away or even around corners.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “I even heard if you add “chuck norris says boo it’s a creedmore” it can be done …even around corners.”

          Not unless you use a bent tube to get the sound deflected properly.

      3. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Heck, a silencer’s cone of silence is so profound you can’t even hear the action of the gun cycling. It really is just pew-pew, and people fall over.”

        Exactly.

        Thanks for the confirmation.

  5. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I remember KTW. I was in high school in the ’70s and working at my uncle’s service station just off I-10. Used to get a lot of state troopers and deputies through there. Liking firearms I would engage them in conversation. All were happy to oblige. FHP issued 4″ nickel Colt Pythons back then. One trooper was a real gun guy. He requested, and got, a 6″ Python. I was talking to him one day and he showed me the loads he was carrying. Green Teflon KTW. Only ones I ever saw. I still have some .45 ACP Black Talon in my ammo stash. Laughed at the media when Winchester pulled it and then marketed the Ranger line. But really, what can you do with idiots?

    1. avatar Whoopie says:

      There wasn’t anything revolutionary about KTW except that they offered it in many calibers. Winchester and Remington were making ‘metal piercing’ police ammo in .38 spl back in the 1930s.

  6. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Used to shoot Black Talon ammo back in the day,was it good,yes,is there better today ,Yes,do I miss it,not really.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Green Mtn, that Black Talon/Ranger is pretty good stuff, but I will say that based on the testing I’ve done with Federal/CCI/ Speer the bonded core bullets do give better weight retention and penetration against windshields, interior walls, etc and really good expansion. But, damn! When you got that Black Talon out of a block of 10% gelatin it sure was impressive.

      1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        @ Gadsden Flag

        Correct, it was the first true performance ammo at pistol velocities and todays bonded choice lines up with my usage,ah but the nostalgia and out right lies told of Black Talon brings back thoughts of my younger days .

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Gadsden Flag,

        Which ammunition is better than Winchester Ranger bonded? I ask because I carry Winchester Ranger bonded exclusively in my M&P 40 full size semi-auto pistol. If something is better, I want to carry that instead.

        I am pretty sure I remember watching videos of a few people who tested the bonded variety of Ranger loads and found that they retained all of their weight, expanded significantly, and penetrated quite well. Nevertheless, my memory could be wrong and I have no emotional investment. As I stated above, if there is something better I want to carry that instead.

        Caveat: I carry 180 grain bullets and I want a cartridge that will provide excellent intermediate barrier penetration such as windshields, car doors, interior walls, etc. While the odds of me having to actually shoot through intermediate barriers is extremely low, I embrace the “better to have and not need than to need and not have” mindset.

        1. avatar Chris. says:

          All the high performance modern hollow points perform roughly similar;

          So Ranger; HST; Gold Dot.

          Pick your poison.

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Uncommon Sense, most any of the bonded core I’ve tested in 10% gelatin have done really well. Including against barriers, clothing, etc. Really lucky I was able to do that kind of thing because of my job. Liked to shoot, paid to do it. What’s the down side? I personally carry Gold Dot, but if you shot me with Winchester Ranger I wouldn’t be offended.

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Gadsden Flag,

          I personally carry Gold Dot, but if you shot me with Winchester Ranger I wouldn’t be offended.

          (snicker)

          I see what you did there!

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Some enterprising ammo company should market White Talon Privileged Elite and advertise its supremacy.

    I bet it would sell a lot better that the equally silly Z-Max loads that they’re still trying to sell us today.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      @ Ralph

      Perfect idea !

      As I recall Lubaloy was maroon in color when applied and when baked turned black in color.

  8. avatar James W Crawford says:

    You need to research the actual caliber and weapon specific FBI data regarding homicides of police officers.

    The police were not being outgunned by the criminals during rhe cocaine wars.

    The criminals were not suddenly switching from revolvers to semiautomatics.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      they had an edge for awhile…particularly in places like Miami…

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        one semi-auto rifle made all the difference in that famous shootout…and yes,..some of the agents were still using revolvers…

  9. avatar Rokurota says:

    So Rangers are illegal in Virginia? Then what was that I bought at a Virginia gun show?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Winchester does not apply Teflon to Ranger ammunition so it should be legal to sell and purchase in Virginia.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Molybdenum disulfide in not Black Teflon.

    Teflon is polytetraflouroethylene. PTFE.

    WTF?

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      You need to do a little more research before writing.

      1. avatar Jeremy D. says:

        Actually they’re correct. Teflon is PTFE

        1. avatar Bob says:

          Moly is usually used in industrial lubricants.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I left that for Luis…..just left it in the wrong spot.

          I can’t believe he isn’t correcting this post….pathetic.

  11. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    It’s a good thing I replaced my armor piercing frying pan with a good old fashioned cast iron one. Take that gun grabbers!

  12. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    Once I saw some I never thought they’d do much more than the original S&W Nyclad. I have a few rounds from the 70s.

  13. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    I remember when Black Talon was being marketed, all of gun stores had expended 45 a.c.p. bullets on their display cases to examine. That was very clever, perhaps too clever.

  14. avatar Michael says:

    I miss the .38 special Nyclads. They had a 158gr. semi-wadcutter Keith style bullet. S&W didn’t keep them on the market for some corporate reason. Federal re-introduced the .38 special/120grain HP. Perfect out of a 36 or a 60. Good times. -30-

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Federal bought the NyClad name from S&W.

      I wish they would bring back the 125 +P and 158 +P.

      I haven’t seen them in 10 years or more.

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      The 124 9mm was also a great round.

  15. avatar Xanderbach says:

    I still have a box of .357 Mag black talons sitting around. Would probably be worth something, but the box is water damaged. Ammo is perfectly fine, though.

  16. avatar Rocketman says:

    Let’s not forget the idiot female legislator a few years ago that believed until someone told her different that once a magazine had expended all of the ammo in it the magazine was useless. Up to then she assumed that you couldn’t reload a gun magazine.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      well,..they always throw them away in the movies!….

  17. avatar Mad Max says:

    So, in Pennsylvania, they’re only illegal if you commit a crime with them? I guess that will add 60 days to that life sentence…

  18. avatar TX223 says:

    Great article – especially for people too young to remember.
    Even with all the opposition, we are without a doubt in the golden age of modern firearms.
    I was going to say golden age of firearms, but that was in 1776!

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Dan Zimmerman

    I cant believe you would let this technically incorrect article remain.

    Molybdenum disuldide is not teflon. Never was.

    If the facts don’t matter, this site doesn’t matter.

    Get the facts straight or just lift articles from other sites if you dont care.

  20. avatar PeterC says:

    The advantage of teflon-coated projectiles for law enforcement is that food particles (i.e. donut crumbs) do not stick to them.

  21. avatar Dave Hernandez says:

    “They used a molybdenum disulfide coating (black Teflon).”

    False. It was not molybdenum disulfide, not Teflon, and molybdenum disulfide is not “black teflon”. Lubalox was a prorpriatary oxide of the actual gilding material of the bullet — think along the lines of bluing the surface of a firearm.

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