Gimmick Ammo, Or Not?
We have all seen it: Wiz-Bang Snake Oil Zombie Killer Ammo. A quick Youtube search reveals that there are indeed many types of unashamed gimmick rounds; many of which are made for shotguns. These rounds include everything from a bundle of flying knives to flamethrower-like loads. Some ammo, like these shotgun shells, seems to be pretty clearly “gimmick ammo.” For less obviously gimmicky types of new ammunition, where do we draw the line between an advancement in ammunition technology and a gimmick?
It’s All About Performance.
The key to determining whether or not a given type of ammo is a gimmick or a true advancement lies in its performance. If New Ammo X has is a specific, measurable performance advantage over its conventional counterparts then even if it isn’t a holistically better round, it shouldn’t simply be dismissed as a gimmick. For it is at least a step in the right direction upon which others can build. It is unlikely that New Ammo X will perform better than its more conventional competition in every measurable way (including affordability), but each advancement in one area betters the field as a whole.
For example, one advantage PolyCase Inceptor Ammo has over its self-defense competition is higher velocity with lower perceived recoil (Liberty’s Civil Defense, HPR Black Ops and others have similar benefits). In the case of the Inceptor rounds, both the high velocity and low recoil are due primarily to a unique bullet design and composition. Although this may not seem like an advancement to all shooters, for some this is a major improvement that allows them to more accurately place second and third shots.
Another example of a measurable improvement in one area is found in G2 Research’s RIP ammo. The RIP bullet is machined from copper and fragments upon entry into fluid, greatly increasing the spread of the projectile in the first 5-8 inches. In doing so, the RIP increases the damage done in the first few inches of fluid. The other side of this same coin is that the initial spread of the RIP makes the bullet lose its weight very quickly and as such reduces penetration in comparison to other self defense rounds. The RIP clearly isn’t ideal for all applications. It is however, an interesting step in bullet/ammunition design.
A third example of technological advancement is demonstrated in EBR’s Polymer Cased Ammo (PolyCase is supposed to be launching a similar line for pistols soon). EBR’s Polymer Cased rounds are currently available in .308 Winchester and .50 BMG. Although more expensive, the key advantage of these rounds is a total weight reduction of between 20 and 30 percent. While this may not be an amazing feature for the guys at the local range, soldiers who have to carry hundreds of rounds for long periods of time could benefit greatly from the reduced weight. Additionally, polymer cased rounds are known to keep weapons’ chambers cooler and depending on the price of brass, future iterations of these rounds may help bring the overall price of ammo down (we can only hope).
The list could go on, but the point has been made. At $15 per round Tactical Zombie Annihilator Ammo is probably not worth your time or money. However, if a new type of ammo can demonstrate a marked improvement over the currently available products. Then it is at least worth a look to see what about it can be built upon to better the shooting sports and ammo industry as a whole.