PolyCase ARX Ammo, What it Means for the Industry
It has been just over a year since PolyCase Ammo went into full production on their ARX and RNP ammo. Since its release, the PolyCase ARX has won Guns & Ammo Magazine's 2015 Ammo of the Year and was picked up by Ruger (see Ruger ARX Ammo here) as the first ever Ruger branded ammo. No doubt PolyCase had a good 2015. Their success, albeit less than 2 years in, seems to carry with it a couple of takeaways for the shooting community.
Bullet Technology Continues to Progress
PolyCase’s ARX is mostly known for its unique shape, but its composition, which it shares with PolyCase’s RNP, is unique as well. Both the ARX and RNP are made by injection molding a copper-polymer matrix into a form. These bullets are completely lead free and they have no jacket or supporting base. The matrix that PolyCase uses is strong enough to hold together in the barrel without any supporting metal. Additionally, while it doesn’t ricochet like lead bullets, it is stronger than frangible training rounds.
As alluded to, the shape of the ARX bullet is the most noticeable change from standard defensive ammo. PolyCase uses this spiraling design to help the round penetrate while making a wound channel more similar to a hollow point than an FMJ. Similar bullet design themes are found in Lehigh Defense’s Xtreme Penetrator and Xtreme Defense as well as the soon to be released OATH Max Cavitator Ammo. Whether or not this type of bullet will be a staple over the next 20 years remains unknown, but it is a line of innovation that appears to be gaining traction in an industry dominated by hollow points for decades.
Innovation is Accepted
Let’s face it, the shooting/hunting community isn’t known for readily welcoming new ideas. As a community we have had centuries to weed out gimmicks and we know what works, so we are often skeptical of ammunition “innovations.” PolyCase’s ARX and some of the other rounds mentioned above (like some of Lehigh’s bullets) do not follow to the traditional line of hollow point defensive ammo. Despite this, the firearms community has given them a shot (pun intended), and some early adopters even swear by these new class penetrators. They are becoming especially popular with those who shoot small caliber pocket guns chambered in .380.
This innovation and its relative acceptance is good for the industry. To point out the obvious, the only way to advance bullet and ammo technology is to try new bullet and ammo technologies. The community’s response to this new class of projectiles shows that if a new bullet or ammo improves on the old in at least one aspect then it has a chance to be popularly accepted. Innovative bullet or ammunition manufacturers therefore, will be rewarded for taking risks that produce the next generation of ammo.
The Next Generation of Ammo
What is the future of ammo? The short answer is; no one knows. However, there are a couple trends that seem to be indicating where the next few steps toward the future of ammo will be. The first trend is discussed above; new bullet designs and materials. The second is new casing technology. PolyCase’s name hints at the polymer cases that they developed and demoed a few years ago. PolyCase says loaded ammo in these plastic cases is still in the works but no official word on release date. A few other companies, including EBR Ammo and PCP Ammo have polymer cased rounds as well. All these companies tout a few major advantages to the plastic cases. Namely: a significant reduction in weight of the ammo, a tighter seal in the chamber of the firearm, less heat transfer in the chamber and less wear on the internal components of the firearm. These are great advantages but questions remain about how many times these cases will be reloadable. Additionally, the price of these casings currently prevents them from being widely accepted/used. It is likely that like most innovations, the price of the casings will come down overtime.
What type of ammo will we be shooting in 20 years? No one can be sure. However, innovations by PolyCase and others show us that the shooting community is willing to accept new types of ammo and some of the innovations that are not far off may provide some significant steps forward.