This is loaded ammunition.
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Weight: 86 gr
Velocity: 1650 fps
Energy: 520 ft. lbs.
The standards that I am looking are a minimum of 12 inches of penetration and a maximum of 18 inches through professional ballistic gelatin. Through both four layers of denim and through bare gelatin and finding ammo that does that properly hasn’t been that easy. But I have found some good performers.
And from the .380 the most recent and outstanding performer I have found is Lehigh’s .380 Xtreme Penetrator. A unique design that, its basically a solid copper bullet with a flat face and these flutes cut into the nose that help harness the rotational energy of the bullet and spray damage outwards and it was a really outstanding performer. A lot of people have asked, “Why don’t you test it for the 9mm?” Well because I know it is going to over penetrate. Lehigh’s own marketing says how much it’ll penetrate. They named it “Xtreme Penetrator” for a reason cause it’s an extreme penetrator. If you really want to see a 9mm test of it, TNOutdoors9 just published one, here you can get it by clicking on the link up here and you’ll see how the 9mm one does.
But since doing that test, I have been flooded with requests to do the PolyCase ARX Inceptor in both .380 and 9mm. And a lot of the interest has been driven because it seems like this is a similar type of bullet. It’s got, when you look at the nose here, it’s got similar flutes cut out of it. That’s where the similarity kind of ends for me, though because the more I look into it, the more I see that these really aren’t quite like the Lehigh at all. Yes, they have these flute and they are meant to harness the radial energy, but the Lehigh is a solid copper bullet, this isn’t copper it is a very, very lightweight copper polymer blend. Second of all, the Lehigh is a flat faced bullet, this has a round face on it. So it’s different and it seems like it will perform differently.
My questions is, whether this is a substitute for the Xtreme Penetrator or not is kind of irrelevant. My question is: what do these actually do? Will this super lightweight, I mean 56 grains, think about how light that is, that is lighter than some 22 LR bullets this is only 56 grains, almost half the weight; a little over half the weight of the Lehigh which is 90 grains in .380. And in 9mm its only, I think, 74 grains. So it is a very lightweight bullet, made of a new material, it’s a solid material, it’s not frangible. It’s not a hollow point. It doesn’t expand. What will it do? Hey, the best way I know is to go to the range and test it and find out.
(Fires four shots of PolyCase .380 ARX Ammo)
OK, the way it worked out, I took two shots through the denim and two shots through the bare gel. You’re looking at the bullets through the bare gel and they’re looking pretty good. One of them came in at 11 inches, which does not meet the 12 inches I am looking for, but the other one did. It came in at 12 and one quarter, and what’s interesting: look at the initial damage tracks, which I usually don’t focus on that much. But it’s worthy of looking at there’s some pretty substantial damage all the way through about 7 to 8 inches. And, what happens in the first 3 or 4 inches like with most hollow points it’s not that big of a deal, but when you start doing widespread damage around 7 or 8 inches, that starts to get more impressive. So I’m surprised. These little PolyCase’s from the .380 for such a lightweight bullet they did pretty well. The denim bullets, they actually went as far or slightly further. We had 12 inches and 12 and a half inches of penetration, which is excellent. The initial damage track looks great. You know, this fluted nose that they have is supposed to create damage by spreading the tissue or the flesh or the gel or whatever out in a radial fashion, throwing it outward by the force of the RPMs. Which is fine but both of the bare bullets and one of the denim bullets look like they turned around completely backwards. Well if that happens, that nose isn’t working at all if the bullet is traveling backwards the blunt base is what is impacting gel. So, I think what we are seeing here, we may see some, in the initial track we may see some of that radial damage. After that it appears that it is pretty much down to tumbling, which is not bad. A tumbling bullet is an effective bullet. It crushes a lot more tissue than a bullet that just goes straight forward.
(Fires four shots of PolyCase 9mm ARX Ammo)
This looks really, really good. Look what they did here. Ok, first of all, the initial damage tracks, they did some damage. They definitely shredded a lot of gel. We’re going to go into that more in detail here in a minute. But just look at where the bullets ended up. In bare they went to 14 inches and 14 and three quarters inches. Through denim they went a little further 15 and three quarters and 16. So those penetration figures are ideal. Those are perfect those are exactly what you want to see a bullet doing.
The damage you see in the initial damage track looks like good hollow point-style damage up to about 10 inches. There’s a notable damage track. It doesn’t really settle down until about 10 inches or a little there after. As to how it did that damage, I am not necessarily sure because these are not like the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrators. They didn’t stay nose forward. They didn’t continue causing radial dispersion and creating a larger damage cavity by spreading the flesh out. It looks like they tumbled early on. They, many of them if not all of them, ended up facing backwards. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s fine as long as they do a lot of good damage and they end up deep and doing damage deep. But there is something that concerns me a little bit, and I didn’t know how this was going to work out. This is a 74 grain bullet. Very lightweight for caliber. Usually a .380 is at least 90 grains. This is 74. Kind of half way between a .22 and 380 and what can happen in 22’s, sometimes they just don’t go where you told them to. Sometimes they veer off course. This happens with lightweight bullets. They don’t have to hit anything to change direction they just veer off course, for whatever hydrodynamic reason. And it looks like we had that happen a little a bit here too. You can see on this damage track that they bullet was headed straight and then it curved up a bit and ended up a coupe of inches off of where the shot had been placed. And we know and we preach constantly, “shot placement is king.” But it is kind of important the bullet has to go where you placed it. If it just arbitrarily, because it is lightweight, it arbitrarily just veers off course that’s not a good thing. Unless you know, your aim wasn’t all that good, then the bullet actually veered on course. But I am going to presume that your aim was good. And so, this kind of thing bothers me a little. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t a lot of variation. It just gives me a little bit of concern. That said, overall this is pretty impressive.
Recovered PolyCase ARX bullets look perfect. I mean they look like they haven’t even been fired. If you’re a reloader, with these you could reload these and fire them again. There’s not much to be seen. They don’t deform, they don’t expand. Nothing changes about them. They’re a solid constructed bullet they stayed solid even through the denim which is great.
Overall I gotta say the performance was very good. It was much better from the 9mm but the .380 was also good. I am surprised and impress with how well they did considering how incredibly light they are.
The Performance in .380. I think the Lehigh is a much better choice, if it feeds properly in your gun. Some people, a few people when it first came out were reporting feeding errors. But, I just, I like the idea of a heavier bullet. I like the idea of the sharper, the flat face on there. A Heavier bullet stays on course better. It has more momentum. As you can see in the gel it kinda veered of course sometimes. So, then the lighter bullet was going maybe 12 inches, the heavier bullet went up to 19 inches. So, if I was going to choose between these two I was going to say, first of all, I think this is a decent choice. It didn’t get 12 inches in all four bullets but it did hit 12 inches in three of the four and the fourth one was 11 inches and that’s from the little pistol. If you are using it from a bigger pistol like the Glock 42 for example, that has almost a half inch more barrel. I bet you this would’ve hit 12 inches every time with that. So I think this is a decent choice. I have no problem with it other than to say that I just think that if it was me and my choice, I would use the heavier bullet. More momentum and I like the idea in the Lehigh that it kept that large wound channel going further. That, it seemed to me that it did more damage deep than we got with the PolyCase. The PolyCase did a lot of damage early on but then it really settled down and it didn’t penetrate quite as far. So I think it is a decent choice, but I don’t know that I would prefer over my current top choice. However, in the Ammo Quest when I was looking for the top performing round, I think this might make it into the winner’s circle. It wouldn’t necessarily be my winner; you know I still might prefer conventional hollow point for the larger weight and the bigger diameter. But, this would make it up into the winner’s circle. It’s a good round.
When we get to the 9mm, yes it is very light and I am a little worried about that. But the observed damage was fantastic, the penetration was superb. They tumble. They appear to be engineered to tumble on purpose, and that was really the big difference between how I saw the Lehigh performance and the PolyCase performance. The Lehigh, in what I tested they seemed to fly truer, longer. And the front face of the bullet would keep cutting into the gel or into the flesh longer. Whereas the PolyCase it seems that it only really does that for the first 6 inches or so and then it starts tumbling there after. There aint nothing wrong with a bullet that tumbles, a solid FMJ that tumbles, that is going to bring the overall penetration down and it is going to increase the wound cavity diameter. And that seems to be exactly what we observed here. You would be hard pressed to find a solid bullet in 9mm, an FMJ, a flat nose FMJ, a Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator, any of those that don’t over penetrate grossly. These didn’t. These penetrated perfectly. So I’m really impressed with these. I know their design is to make it lightweight in general. I have a preference for heavier bullets. If you’re the type who likes light bullets, light fast bullets, I think this is a fantastic option. And if you’re the type who likes bullets that penetrate between 12 and 18 inches this also a great option. It really did well. I have nothing negative to say about it. I think it’s a good choice. I’m really impressed with what PolyCase has done here and I look forward to trying them in more calibers and seeing how they perform.
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About the Manufacturer:
PolyCase Ammunition was founded on the idea of incorporating polymers into the components of ammunition. As their name suggests, their flagship product is polymer-cased ammo that weights significantly less than brass or nickel-cased rounds. PolyCase's currently available Inceptor line includes their self-defense ARX round, Firefly Tracer round and a standard Round Nose Point. All of PolyCase's projectiles are injection molded from a copper-polymer mix and are lighter than comparable lead rounds.
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