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Plastic bullets? No — they’re not plastic, but apparently that’s what more than a few people seem to think. Polycase Ammo has introduced some very different new bullets to the market, and suffice it to say my inbox blew up when these were announced. Partly, I assume, because there are some lofty claims made by the manufacturer, but moreso (I think) because I recently published a test of the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator bullet. For those who are familiar with that particular Philips-head-screwdriver-resembling projectile, these PolyCase ARX bullets bear enough resemblance that people wanted them tested now . . .

Well, it’s now.

A reader sent me both .380 and 9mm versions of the Inceptor, so I gave them the full going over. Let me say up front, these are rather unusual bullets. Perhaps even moreso than the Lehigh XP’s, which I will make frequent references back to. The XP is a solid copper bullet which is largely reminiscent of a flatnose FMJ, with flutes cut out of it. The ARX Inceptor bullets are also lead-free, but they’re not solid copper; instead, they’re a blend of copper and polymer.

Polymer? As in … plastic? Well, polymers are used in plastics, but the subject of polymers is vastly more complex than that (there are also biological polymers, such as DNA). These bullets are not made entirely of polymers, they are a blend of copper and polymer. I can’t tell you exactly what they are, but I can make a couple of easy observations — these bullets are LIGHT, and they don’t really feel like metal. Nor do they feel like plastic. They’re — different.

I smacked one with a sledgehammer to see what would happen — would it mush like metal? Would it fragment like plastic? Neither; it just broke in three pieces. It seems to be halfway between metal and plastic.

So, on to weight — generally these bullets weigh a bit over half as much as a typical heavy lead bullet. In .380 ACP, a heavy bullet would be something like the 99-grain HST or the 102-grain Golden Saber; the Polycase Inceptor ARX weighs just 56 grains. That’s lighter than a typical .32 ACP bullet; heck, it’s lighter than some .22LR ammo. And the 9mm is similar; a heavy 9mm bullet is usually 147 grains, but the Polycase Inceptor ARX weighs just 74 grains. That’s about the weight of a .32 ACP.

The bullets aren’t small, they’re about the same size as conventional bullets, but copper bullets are generally lighter than lead bullets and (clearly) copper/polymer bullets are even lighter still. In exchange for the light weight, the Polycase ammo delivers increased velocity. The .380 ACP averaged 1133 feet per second, and the 9mm version delivered an average of 1409 feet per second from these short barrels. For comparison, most .380 ammo I’ve tested clocks in at around 800-850 fps, and most 124-grain 9mm’s usually hit around 1100 fps.

Now, at this point I should mention that there are generally two schools of thought regarding bullet performance — there’s the “light and fast” school which argues that velocity is everything, and minimizing bullet weight to achieve higher velocity is a common tactic. These folks will frequently invoke terms such as “energy transfer” and “hydrostatic shock”. The marketing on the Polycase site would be quite appealing to “light and fast” adherents, there’s plenty of discussion of “rapid energy transfer” and whatnot. “Light & Fast” proponents want to see large temporary cavities, and tend to not be all that worried about how deeply the bullet penetrates.

The other school of thought is generally classified as the “slow and heavy” group; people who follow this school tend to prioritize the weight, momentum, and observable damage that the bullets actually do. In car terms, these people would be the type who would say “there’s no replacement for displacement.” These folks value deep penetration, followed by as much expansion as possible, to create large deep damage to stop the threat. This group demands that the bullets have the capability to reach and damage the vital organs, and the bigger the bullet that reaches deep, the more damage will be done.

I generally find myself in the “fast and heavy” camp — I want the biggest, heaviest, biggest-caliber bullet I can get, moving as fast as possible. Hence I prefer the .308 over the .223, the .45 over the 9mm, and I like my revolvers in .454 or higher. I like the bullets heavy, and moving as fast as possible, but if I had to be corralled into one of the two prevailing groups, I’d definitely be in the “slow & heavy” group.

Which is why it seems bizarre to me to be writing this next part, but the results are what they are. These Polycase bullets seem to satisfy both groups. They are very light and quite fast, they make big temporary cavities, but they also penetrate deeply and, due to their fluted nose and also their engineered tendency to tumble, they do more damage than a regular solid bullet (such as an FMJ) would do.

Remember, this is a solid bullet. It doesn’t expand. You might expect it to punch a small wound path, like an FMJ does. But they do much more damage than that, primarily through two different wounding mechanisms.

First, they use a fluted nose somewhat similar to the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator’s nose, to redirect the incoming tissue/blood/gel outwards and channel that material into creating radial damage. This causes a big nasty initial damage cavity that is quite similar to what we normally see from hollowpoint bullets, and lasts for the first 6+ inches (in the .380 version) to 10+ inches (in the 9mm version) of penetration through gel. That’s really impressive.

Then, after the initial impact and large initial damage, the bullet seems to settle into a tumbling run. Nearly all the bullets I tested were found facing backwards in the gel. Clearly they didn’t just fly nose-forward on their whole travel path; they were thrown for a loop and tumbled end over end. Polycase says in their marketing material that the bullets are engineered to tumble, and that’s exactly what I observed. Which is, by the way, just fine.

A solid bullet like an FMJ would normally overpenetrate grossly; a .380 flat-nose FMJ will penetrate 23″ to 27″, and a 9mm FMJ will do well over 32″. But if you can get that bullet to tumble, it slows the bullet down and really reins in the penetration, while simultaneously doing more damage. The bullet is much longer than it is wide (it’s .355″ wide, but the 9mm version is about .63″ long), so as the bullet tumbles, there’ll be times that it’s cutting a .355″ wide hole, but at some point it’ll be pushing sideways through the body, and cutting a 5/8″ hole at that point. That creates more drag which slows the bullet down, and the larger bullet cuts a larger hole (while not having to have expanded to do it).

The results were pretty impressive as far as penetration. The .380, from a tiny 2.8″-barrel pocket pistol, hit the desired 12″ minimum in three of the four shots I tested; the fourth shot went 11″. Not picture perfect but — heck, for a 56-grain .380, that’s really very good and better than I was expecting. I feel certain that if fired from a longer barrel (such as on the GLOCK 42), all bullets would have easily reached 12″. And the 9mm, well, its penetration was simply outstanding, ranging from 14″ to 16″, with a clearly observed exaggerated damage track stretching past 10″. And that’s from a 3″-barrel pocket pistol. From a longer barrel gun, you can expect that there would be even more penetration and damage.

Overall it paints a really nice picture. But it’s not all picture-perfect. I did observe a couple of cases of the bullets wandering off course in the gel. This is something that I’ve encountered frequently with .22LR bullets, and occasionally with .380’s. Lighter weight bullets can sometimes just veer off course. They don’t need to hit a bone to do it, they just — for whatever hydrodynamic reason — turn and go in a different direction.

Watch the video, you’ll see where I trace one of the bullet paths and show how it ends up a few inches off course. Is it a big deal? Probably not, but it’s just something to be aware of. It would be disappointing to have absolutely perfect shot placement, but have the bullet miss the vital organs because it arbitrarily changed course once inside the body, for example. Then again, keeping it real, you’d have to wonder just how frequently does a self-defense shooter make an absolutely-perfectly-placed shot in the stress of a life-or-death encounter?

So the results are great, but then the next question becomes: how do these results compare to the Lehigh XP’s? Pretty well, but not for the same reasons.

Even though they seem similar, the more I studied them, the more I realized that the Polycase ARX and the Lehigh XP really aren’t all that similar. The Polycase has angled flutes, the Lehigh’s are straight on. The Polycase is a round-nose bullet, the Lehigh is a flat-faced projectile with a sharp meplat. The Polycase is a low-weight, high-velocity bullet, the Lehigh is a heavier, slower load. But the biggest difference to me is the way the damage is done — the Polycase seems engineered to create a big initial cavity and then to start tumbling. The Polycase doesn’t rely on its fluted nose to do the damage, other than in the initial impact — after all, as soon as the bullet starts tumbling, that fluted nose isn’t working anymore to exaggerate the damage through radial dispersion.

The Lehigh, on the other hand, is designed to fly nose-forward the entire time, relying on the flutes in its nose to create a wider damage path than a solid projectile should normally be able to do. They both succeed in creating larger damage paths than conventional solid projectiles, but they get at that destination by different means.

I was very impressed with the 9mm version of the Inceptor. The penetration was outstanding, and the damage done was equally outstanding. When compared against the Lehigh XP in 9mm, I think the Polycase is probably the more responsible choice for personal protection against human attackers.

The Lehigh XP, in tnoutdoors9’s recently published video test, penetrated well over 32″ on every shot he took. Given that the normal cutoff limit for penetration is 18″, that represents significant overpenetration (and, hey, seems like they named ’em “Xtreme Penetrators” for a reason).

The Polycase, from a small pocket pistol, penetrated very deeply while staying comfortably within the prescribed 12″ to 18″ range, and did excellent damage. In general I do prefer a heavier bullet, but the overpenetration issue and the potential (however unlikely) liability issues that overpenetration may cause, make me lean towards the Polycase ARX as the more appropriate choice for a solid bullet for self defense.

In .380, I think the Polycase was a very good performer, and probably worthy of entering my Ammo Quest’s “Winner’s Circle.” However, I think the Lehigh XP is simply a superior choice. The Lehigh penetrated much deeper (up to 19″), it weighs more, and it cuts a larger wound path for longer.

The Polycase did fine, but it just barely made the 12″ minimum distance. The Lehigh always easily exceeds the 12″ minimum, and penetrates closer towards the maximum. Penetration is the most important factor in defensive ammo performance, and while 12″ is good, it’s also the bare minimum acceptable distance. It is preferable to have the bullets going further, up to 18″ is best. After 18″, any additional penetration distance will just be wasted energy. With the Lehigh XPs frequently hitting 16″ to 19″, they offer almost perfect penetration with very little risk of overpenetration, and a lot more penetration than the Polycases do. Not that the Polycase is bad, but it just barely met the minimum. It’s good; I just think the Lehigh XP is the better choice in .380.

Finally, while I am giving high praise to Polycase for blowing my mind in showing that a light and fast bullet can accomplish what I normally expect from a slow and heavy bullet, I confess to being a little uneasy about just how light the bullets are. The lighter the bullet, generally the more susceptible to deflection it will be, whether off of a bone or, bizarrely enough, just through gel or tissue itself. To me, that’s not a desirable trait, and I am not entirely convinced as to how these lightweight bullets will do when faced with having to penetrate through a forearm to get to the chest of the bad guy, where they’ll then have to get through a rib or sternum. They may do fine, but history and big-game hunters have taught us that big, solid, heavy bullets do best at that job done.

Overall I am very impressed with the Polycase Inceptor performance; far more impressed than I thought I was going to be. This ammo really is quite different from most any other bullet I’ve tested, and it delivered very good performance from the .380, and excellent performance from the 9mm. And, it seems to be that rarest of all bullets, one that can appeal to both the “light & fast” proponents and also do the type of tangible damage that will appeal to the “slow & heavy” proponents. And it does so with a new type of bullet, which is lead-free to boot. This is a really impressive debut for Polycase, and I look forward to trying out their ammo in other calibers to see how they perform.

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  1. I’m SHOCKED these performed so well! My expectations were about as low as it gets. Like you, though, while I’d be confident defending myself from gelatin blocks with this ammo, I’m still not confident that they would work well on an animal with skin and bones. Let alone an animal with skin and bones and clothing and any sort of barrier in the way such as a forearm, as you mentioned, or glass or a car door or a cell phone in a pocket, etc etc. If it even made it through these things at all, I’d expect it to be completely off course…

    Maybe some barrier testing could demonstrate one way or the other? Get some HSTs and some ARX and shoot ’em through angled windshield glass and a pork shoulder blade? 🙂

    • Response to Jeremy S : I’m not a criminal defense attorney, although I am a bankruptcy and corporate attorney. In any case I would rather not have to defend a guy who shot someone through a car windshield. On the surface of it, it does invite a claim that the shooter was not in reasonable fear of his life or grievous bodily harm. Not saying that it could not happen, of course, but it raises questions. Gives a plaintiff’s injury lawyer more room to shout than I’d like in a civil case. Juries are not necessarily going to be looking to let a shooter off the hook when they (wrongly) assume that it is just the insurance company who’ll take the hit.

      • Wow – I can’t think of many cases when I would be at greater risk of bodily harm than if my adversary were behind the wheel of a 3,000+ pound missile heading at me. I would think the circumstance nearly defends itself – within reason. I would find it a tougher case shooting through a side window, because you are clearly out of the path of the car. On the other side, police work, stopping a car by, say, shooting the engine block is like trying to kill something with anthrax – it’ll die, but not soon. The fastest way to stop a fleeing vehicle is to shoot the driver. So penetration through a side window or door is an issue – and justified, under certain circumstances. A cop has to make a quick decision under duress, and that’s not easy.

        • Mr. Steele
          I agree with everything you said and particularly as it applies to a LEO. As to the on-coming car however, I’d bet that the prosecutor or the plaintiff’s attorney would say something along the line that if you had time to shoot, you had time to jump out of the way. OBVIOUSLY, that would not be true in all cases, but then who expects a prosecutor to be fair? Bottom line, I think that shooting a bad guy through a car window (front, side, or rear – doesn’t matter) is just asking for it. However, if it is a case of my life vs. some thug, it’s his that is going to end if that’s what I have to do to protect myself.
          Lawsuits and false prosecutions happen, but I’m not going to give up my life to prevent either.

        • Mr. Nader, this reply is for you. I understand your misgivings about making a defense related to through windshield shots. On the other hand, police make the defense that their lives were in danger from a car being used as a weapon every day, and it serves them well. I’ve never heard of an officer losing a case which involved shooting a suspect that was driving a car toward them. Never even heard of one being charged for it.

        • Mr. Nader – I follow the argument – and you can make the case that there are clearly at least two circumstances where cars are concerned. One, where the driver is fleeing and trying to evade capture, driving in a straight line that would not impact the shooter. In that case, jumping out of the way, if possible and not blocked by an obstacle, is the better choice. If the driver is bent on running you over, it is not necessarily possible to jump out of the way – in which case the only alternative may be to shoot. Many other scenarios are possible, as well – being chased down by a driver circling back, etc. A fleeing driver is different from one bent on mayhem, and the circumstances are different when a LEO is stopping a public menace, vs. you defending yourself. I would always defer to escape instead of vigilantism, if possible. That said, a wise decision is always to carry a mixed magazine or cylinder with penetrators and man-stoppers, to allow for contingencies.

  2. Plastic bullets?

    I dunno, I can see scored or HP bullet made of UHMW doing some interesting things in gel.

  3. Interesting. I’m also in the fast and heavy camp, my EDC is a .44 with a 270 grain bullet at 1200 FPS. (Like the FBI, I don’t believe in overpentration.) My 9mm all are loaded with TC FMJ.s

    But these results are really interesting.

  4. Interesting ammo. Looks to me like the Lehigh is still the best performer in .380. This .380 ammo is only hitting with about 160 FPE, and the 9mm with about 325 FPE. I’d go with the 9mm for double the power and better penetration. But I’d probably skip this exotic ammo and go with Ranger or HST.

  5. BTW I think they meet the dictionary definition of “plastic” just fine. They’re injection molded, and many plastics use non-plastic fillers for various reasons and are still very much considered to be plastic. So the copper filings mixed in don’t rule it out. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s a thermoplastic like ABS or nylon or HDPE mixed w/ the copper dust/filings during injection molding. It’s probably not Bakelite 😉

    • They are nylon. Read from the manufacturer’s site. Copper particulates and nylon.

      I would love to have a mould so I could make my own.

    • Nylon and copper powder, probably in about a 1/9 ratio.

      I know some things about injection molded bullets.

  6. I’d like to get some of these for my PA3T. Ya know a tumbling bullet would make a real mess.

  7. Given your past scathing reviews on Liberty and other similar gimmicky ammo, this is really a ringing endorsement of this round 🙂 Definitely sounds very interesting!

    • I’m not a big fan of overhyped marketing, when it comes to a product that people are literally betting their lives on. I’m always open to new thinking and a new product coming along that really might do more than what we’ve seen before, but — it had better perform in the tests that are designed and proven to matter. Surprisingly enough to me, these Polycase ARX bullets (well, especially the 9mm) did just fine in these tests, so — yeah, I’m surprised and encouraged. I’m not considering replacing my heavier solid metal bullets with something like this, at least not without some time elapsed so we can hear how people find using these bullets to fare on actual shootings or such, but they definitely got my interest level up and they actually did what they’re supposed to do in my testing, so I totally have to give them their due respect for that!

  8. my 9×19 is a Sigma, complete with fixed sights. I’ve shot a wide variety of loads that range from 92 grain bronze hollowpoint to +p 124 grain hollow points and fmj. Generally speaking the sights are better regulated for the heavier bullets. The 92 grainers were way off POI. Off enough that if I was actually using my Smith and its sights in a dgu I would be real concerned about bullet placement.

    Count me in the heavier bullet fan club.

    • No offense, but there is a reason the Sigma series was replaced with the SD9VE and SD40VE series. The Sigma was not the most reliable platform on the market. There are all sorts of fixes out there for the Sigma and understandably so. The SD9VE appears to be a decent firearm. My son purchased one for $189.00 NIB and it has been a great shooter…dead on out of the box where a LEO associate of mine has a Sigma and had to put a significant amount of money in the trigger, sighting and feed ramps so it was a smooth operator and he STILL only uses it as a range plinker. I am just saying…no offense meant.

    • Sights mean squat at a distance of 5 feet. If you are further than that, the DA will probably say, why did you not run. DAs are sneaky that way. Get a good weapon you trust, find some great ammo you trust, and practice
      shooting cantaloupe sized targets at 5 feet. All this fancy dancy stuff talking about a 2″ circle at twenty five
      feet is baloney. The DA will love it if you shoot somebody at that range. Repeating above, “Why didn’t you

  9. My favorite Youtube channel hands down. I was hoping you’d take these on. Thanks again.

  10. im kinda also in the heavier bullet club as well. One of my friends in Savannah who runs a gun store spoke very highly about the arx in 9. I may get a couple of boxes of these to try…

  11. Ordered some 380 caliber to try in the Browning BDA 380 – the 3.8″ barrel length should get 12″+ penetration consistently I would think. Thanks for your review.

  12. And what kind of infection/wound would these create? Don’t some folks warn us to not use super-duper exotic ammo? I’d be interested on what Mas Ayoob opined…

    • Are you referring to warnings against exotic ammo in regards to their actual performance? Or as to how they may be referred to in court, by a prosecutor trying to paint you as bloodthirsty or whatever?

      In terms of performance, the “exotic” ammo usually falls far short of the established standards. Frangibles and fragmenting rounds don’t (typically) do the type of damage that has been proven to be most effective in bringing about rapid incapacitation of the bad guys. Now, that’s not to say that they’re totally ineffective and would never ever work — heck, people don’t like getting shot, and according to Greg Ellifritz’s studies, about 60% of people who are shot by ANY type of bullet, of ANY caliber, quit what they’re doing right then and there. An “exotic” round would work just as well as anything else in those scenarios. But if it’s a case where you need to rely on the power of the bullet to damage the attacker’s body to the point where he cannot continue harming you, then most exotic bullets just don’t do that type of damage, and as such, the police and well-informed consumers don’t use them.

      Now, if you’re talking about as per Ayoob’s recommendations regarding court, well — if the prosecutor was trying to paint you as a bloodthirsty aspiring murderer, s/he may or may not make that job easier for themselves with the jury by examining what you had loaded in your gun. If it was you, would you rather have the jury hear that you had loaded in your weapon “Critical Defense”, or would you rather have them hear that you had loaded “R.I.P.” with a picture of a tombstone right on the box? Or DRT ammo, which is a well-known acronym for “Dead Right There”? I can’t say how any particular prosecutor or any particular jury would react to those three different choices, but I do know that you can avoid the question entirely if you avoid ammo names and marketing that promote “killing” and “death” and instead look for ammo that represents itself as being an effective defensive round or focuses on “stopping”. Again, it may never be an issue, but if it was, why err on the side of danger?

      In that scenario, I don’t see the Polycase ARX’s name or exoticness as particularly representing any threat to you that a prosecutor could unfairly paint you as bloodthirsty for having chosen it.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with your last point, especially when the actual Interceptor APX .380 round weighs less than some .22LR, .22 Magnum or even .32 caliber rounds. I would think that would be a defense attorney argument over a prosecutor painting the picture as the crime victim being a blood thirsty savage with a desire to inflict as much possible pain, suffering and internal damage as humanly possible. It says right on the Intereptor APX box that it is self defense (SD) ammunition. Most ammunition boxes these days clearly state on the outside of the packaging if the contents are for TARGET (T) or SELF DEFENSE (SD) applications. Remember, when you call 911 to report the shooting or when speaking to Officers during your interviw (interrogation), the first words out of your mouth other than you want to speak with an attorney should be that you are the VICTIM OF A CRIME.

  13. I’d love for you to try the 9mm from a carbine or something with a longer barrel. I’m really curious how much velocity it would gain and how that would affect performance.

  14. With a bullet so light, I would worry about just how quickly it will slow, and at what distance from the barrel it will become ineffective. I also know this is effectively beyond the scope, here, but I would have to avoid this type of ammo until I see a comparison at a distance, unless that does not concern me because of application, like HD only.

    • I would only consider these in context of a short-range application. Polycase does have some ballistic reports on their site. For the 9mm, they claim a muzzle velocity of 1475 fps, but that slows to 1166 fps at 50 yards, and at 100 yards they report it at 994 fps.

      As a comparison, Buffalo Bore says for their lightweight 95-grain 9mm copper Barnes bullet that it’s 1374 fps at the muzzle. They don’t have a ballistics chart for that exact speed, but they do have one for 1400 fps, so let’s use that. At the muzzle, 1400 fps; at 50 yards it’s 1196 fps, and at 100 yards it’s 1058 fps.

      That means the Polycase retains 79% of its velocity at 50 yards, and 67% at 100 yards. The Buffalo Bore, on the other hand, retains 85% at 50 yards, and 76% at 100 yards.

      They’re both lightweight bullets, and they both slow down notably, but it does seem comparable relative to their weight. By comparison, a heavy bullet like the 147-grain Buffalo Bore starts with a muzzle velocity of approximately 1000 fps, at 50 yards it’s 944, and at 100 yards it’s 898 fps. So the heavy round retains its velocity much better; at 50 yards it’s retained 94.4% and at 100 yards it’s retained 89.8%.

  15. Like Jeremy, I would also be interested in seeing how these perform against glass, and bone.

    • I’ve had others ask for that too.

      I think against ribs it’ll be just fine. Against a femur, that’ll be a tougher test. I doubt they’ll do especially well against a windshield, certainly — but in general, shooting through a windshield isn’t generally considered a priority for self-defense ammo, that’s more of a concern for law enforcement ammo, so I don’t know how much emphasis should be put on windshield penetration. But even if it were to be a factor, I’m sure that a heavier bullet like the Lehigh XP or a conventional round would do better than the very lightweight ARX would.

  16. Well, thanks – your data presentation turned me from a complete scoffer (I’m still sore about the Glaser nonsense I bought as a kid in the mid-’80s) to someone willing to give the .380s a try in a couple of my longer-barreled guns. Write-up and video, as always – many thanks!

    erich martell
    albuquerque nm

  17. Engineered to tumble? Could it be a right hand barrel twist and left hand turning cuts in the bullet that stop the bullet spin soon after impact causing eventual tumbling? What do you guys think?

  18. It was $30.30 for 25 rounds of the Interceptor APX .380 ammunition. I saw the dealer cost which is $19.99 a box and MSRP is just a few dollars over that amount. I often trade out self defense ammunition in all calibers, this one being in the .380 version. The dealer I purchased from had it in .9mm and .45 caliber, as well. The .9mm ammunition was the same price as for the .380 rounds. The ammunition was not in stock for .40 caliber, so uncertain if it is presently being produced in that caliber or not? If so, I will probably end up purchasing a box for my SD ammunition inventory. In this case, two magazines of Federal American Gunner XTP 95 grain rounds were swapped out for the Interceptors. I retained 1 magazine with the American Gunner rounds, as secondary magazine since I always carry two loaded spare magazines. I feel secure the Interceptor self defense ammunition will provide for what is claimed by the manufacturer. After all, my life and the lives of my family members may count on it.

  19. Here we go again. Something new and innovative appears and every skeptic on the planet jumps all over it with nothing more to go on than some preconceived notions. Some of which may be valid. Other’s not so much. So let’s look at the complaints and concerns I’ve heard, here and elsewhere.

    The author says he’s concerned about the light bullet being able to go through a person’s forearm and still penetrate a rib or sternum. Reality check time. We’re not talking a 10mm or 357 hot load fired from a 4-5 inch barrel. We’re talking about a 9mm, in most cases being fired from a 3 inch or shorter barrel. No common 9mm is going to perform well after going through multiple layers of dense bone. This is exactly why you shoot a bad guy more than once. You can never guarantee a kill with one shot. Too many variables to consider. And the author’s reference to the experience of big game hunters is simply comical. Again, we’re not hunting Elk with a 7mm Remington Magnum. You’re not just comparing apples to oranges here. You’re comparing apples to watermelons.

    And then there’s the argument that sometimes they veer off the flight path which might cause them to miss a vital spot. Well unless you know people who are a lot better shots with a handgun then I do, especially under high stress life or death situations, few of us will ever deliver a kill shot in exactly the desired spot. So odds are the bullet is just as likely to veer toward a vital spot as away from it. Again, this is you you fire more than one shot.

    Another argument I here is “it isn’t proven”. OK, name one single new bullet design that came out of the factory pre-proven. It has to be used to be proven. If everyone waited for something to be proven before they used it, we’d never have anything new.

    Oh, and of course we have the “it’s plastic” argument. Look at the resistance we saw when polymer frame pistols were introduced. I lost track of how many times I heard “If it ain’t steel, it ain’t any good”. Now polymer guns are common place in nearly every gun safe. People see the word polymer and think of the plastic that model cars used to be made of when they were kids. Kevlar is, you guessed it, polymer. And no one can say that isn’t tough stuff. You won’t find a soldier today that will trade his Kevlar helmet for an old steel pot. Or a cop who prefers a steel plate flak jacket over his vest. Polymer technology has come a long way.

    So how about we try judging the bullet on its actual performance. I was anxious to try these rounds when they came out and they surpassed my expectation in every category. They penetrate. Deeply. Without over penetrating. There is no concern over how much they expand, as they simply don’t. Yet they yield a wound cavity equal to or better than any normal hollow point on the market I’ve tried. Jacket separation? What’s that? And yes, passing through several layers of denim has no observable affect on their performance. Something I can’t say about a lot of hollow points I’ve tried.

    In the end I can’t find any real, objective reason why I shouldn’t load these in my every day carry gun. And I do. I’m sure many will shake their heads and say I’m making a mistake. And that’s fine. But it’s my life on the line, or maybe my family. So if I wasn’t absolutely convinced these things can get the job done, I wouldn’t use them.

    • well said.
      regardless of caliber you should be putting three rounds minimum into the attacker if you’re actually trying to stop him.
      I’ve never understood this big caliber mentality of supposedly only needing to fire once.

    • I bought some in 4 different calibers – .380, 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 ACP – but have only had the opportunity to test the .40 so far. Here’s my take – shoots to same point of aim, tested at CQB distance (~25 feet); no chance of not expanding because hollow point is plugged; very low recoil means faster follow-up shots; no feed problem – nose is like ball ammo; gun is lighter than with lead 107 vs 180 x 11 = ~2 ounces, in each magazine; I think a round aimed at reducing overpenetration is a positive in court, as is a “plastic” bullet.

      I will be testing all rounds against gel when I get back home this summer, but focused on chronographing after passage through the short (6″) axis of the gel – to calculate how much of the bullet’s energy is delivered within the 6″ target traversal, compared to other, standard rounds. That will be tricky – need a strong baffle with a narrow exit path to save the chronograph from off-axis bullet damage, but I think it’s worth doing. In 6″, there’s not that much gel to cause deflection. By subtracting the calculated remaining energy from the muzzle energy, I’ll have the energy delivered to target, and something to compare lethality-wise. I’ll keep you posted.

      • Update: never got home this summer. Duties in PA kept me away, and now it’s too cold and windy outside to set up all the equipment (I live on an island – when I say windy, I mean windy). Looks like it’ll have to wait for spring 2017. Ordering a second chronometer for the test – clear gel in the spring. Anyone know of an affordable high-speed camera?

  20. How would these affect the weight of a fully loaded gun?

    I noticed the also make a version with a poly case. Even lighter?

    • In a 7+1 9mm it would save about an ounce. In a 15+1 9mm it would save about 2 ounces. This is compared to 124 Grain bullets.

  21. Do you feel the more rounded profile compared to the Lehigh XPs would make any difference in feeding reliability? Have you experienced any feeding issues with it?

    • I have a Taurus TCP #2, as the first one gave me feed issues. #2 did the same with fail to eject, fail to feed, stovepipes, not locking open on final round. I tried all the major HPs. Nothing worked right. Tried the ARX, totally unbelievable. No issues whatsoever through numerous mags. I never got through a whole.mag previously without malfunction.

  22. So, like the XP 380’s, the longer the barrel, the greater the velocity and the deeper the penetration? If so, the XP’s may over pentrate with barrels longer than 3 inches, while these have no chance of overpentration?

  23. I’m not usually into novelty ammo but with the tumbling and not having to rely on an hp expanding. ..or not. …Id be very willing to use these for defense loads based on the video.

  24. Re LeHigh Xtreme Penetrator bullets and over-penetration. Lehigh now makes a very similar fluted bullet they call the the Xtreme Defender, which supposedly does not over penetrate by comparison with the Xtreme Penetrater. Underwood sells under their name a 9mm cartridge w/ a 90 gr. Lehigh Xtreme Defender bullet supposedly at 1400 fps. They claim huge PWC w/o over penetrating. Price is a budget busting $32.99 for 20 rounds, plus shipping.
    One thing that scares me about using any of the exotic bullets is what the jury will think in the inevitable civil case that follows a justified shooting. “He used these awful killer bullets that were guaranteed to cause severe injuries. He wasn’t just trying to stop my client”. Can’t you just hear the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer saying something just like that to the jury?

  25. Well, for what its worth, I tested the 9mm Ruger 80gr ARX, Winchester Silvertip 115gr hollowpoint and Federal 115gr FMJ round nose on a stack of magazines shot from a Beretta Nano at 5yards.
    The ARX and Silvertip penetrated 2 1/2″ while the FMJ did 2 3/4″. The bullets of all 3 remained mostly intact.
    I really noticed the reduced recoil with the ARX, which I appreciated in the little Nano.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  26. Sights mean squat at a distance of 5 feet. If you are further than that, the DA will probably say, why did you not run. DAs are sneaky that way. Get a good weapon you trust, find some great ammo you trust, and practice
    shooting cantaloupe sized targets at 5 feet. All this fancy dancy stuff talking about a 2″ circle at twenty five
    feet is baloney. The DA will love it if you shoot somebody at that range. Repeating above, “Why didn’t you

  27. I just picked up some of these 15.99 for 25(.380) at Field and Stream. I live in a opossum infested area and will try it out. Looks like a good idea for use in Pa3T. Kel tec. I carry it ALOT in the summer here +90 degs outside. I normally carry a .357 snub but due to concealment issues the kel tec gets carried in the summer. Shot it and the ammo cycles fine. No FTE.FTF,FTC Just have to do a opossum test. Also the weapon is even more lighter. (not by much but hey vs the .357 snub it’s like a feather)

  28. Had 2 Taurus TCPs that I couldn’t get to completely fire a mag with a myriad of ammo I tried. 2-3 rounds at most before a malfunction. These work great, firing the whole mag except the slides will not lock open on the last round.

    Tried them in my trouble free Glock 42. Could not get a 2nd round off. Would fire once and that was it. Go figure.

  29. Curious that the penetration through denim was greater than that in bare gel; could it be that the denim acts on the complex nose, decreasing rotation speed to the point that less energy is shed in the gel in the initial wound channel, resulting in retention of higher forward momentum as a result? High speed photography of the bullet, when it started tumbling, etc. would be really interesting.

    You’d think that the energy imparted to the gel by the spin would radiate outward, but since the gel is monolithic, there would have to be a tearing stress ahead of the bullet that could, in essence, make the gel more penetrable when the bullet is spinning fast – so the result is counterintuitive, because that would say that a higher spin rate – i.e. plain gel – would penetrate more deeply than when the bullet spin rate is slowed by denim. Of course, cavitation effects from the spin could change things, too.

    These dynamic phenomena sometimes are more interesting in and of themselves than the results of the test – it’s how we find new physical paradigms of bullet behavior.

  30. I tried these bullets, like what I read about them, I like the style. They would not feed properly though. I think the bullets were too light for my glock 42, accuracy was good.

  31. What about polymer buildup in the barrel? Does the heat from powder burn & friction deform them much?

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