Is The End Near For Traditional Ammo?

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The age of brass and lead is coming to an end. Yes, polymer ammunition really is poised to take over. Yeah sure, you heard people say that like fifteen years ago, but this time it’s different. Plastic ammo started with companies like PCA Spectrum  manufacturing polymer cases instead of brass. Not only is there a potential cost savings with polymer, there is also a critical reduction in weight.

Here’s what the U.S. army has to say about the topic:

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One of the Army’s top priorities is to lighten Soldier combat loads. Reducing the weight of equipment carried by the warfighter, often referred to as “Soldier load,” increases agility and endurance. In post-combat surveys, Soldier load ranks among the top concerns of combat veterans. Emerging light ammunition designs offer substantial reduction in combat load given the necessary R&D to develop the technology for military use. For example, replacing the current brass cases with lighter-weight materials would reduce the Soldier’s ammunition load by 20 to 30 percent.

Since 2013, the Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM MAS) has worked with small companies in developing the 7.62 mm Lightweight Small Caliber Ammunition. Efforts to reduce the weight of 7.62 mm ammunition are underway through a DOD Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC) initiative, a vehicle whereby small businesses partner with DOD to develop cutting-edge solutions. Through DOTC, PM MAS and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center are working with multiple small companies to develop lightweight polymer cartridge cases for 7.62 mm machine gun ammunition.

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The reason the first polymer trailblazers failed is that there was no cost savings and weight reduction was minimal. Mass production must take place for the per unit cost to achieve substantial savings.
I remember when I picked up my first box of Spectrum Poly rounds a few years ago and I was impressed with the fact that they, uhhm, actually worked. Other than that, I couldn’t see any real advantage.

Things are changing rapidly in the polymer market. Not only will the ammo of the future have a plastic case, it may also have a injection molded bullet. If you haven’t heard of the new ARX bullet check out the video below:

These rounds can be easily molded into any shape imaginable and one wonders what the future hold for fluid dynamics. Again, injection molding opens the door to greater performance and potential cost savings. Once the Army catches on, economies of scale could kick in and poly ammo will crush traditional ammo on price and possibly performance too. The end is near!

11 COMMENTS

  1. Remember, the US military sells all once-fired brass back to the civilian market. Since the military never reloads, this could be more of a way to cease selling brass to the populous than it is to actually reduce weight. If the military really wanted to reduce combat weight loads, barrels would be fluted, all rifle/pistol magazines would be polymer and aluminum would be preferred more than steel. Bullet casings are miniscule in weight when it comes to combat loads. Even MREs weight could be reduced with freeze-dried food.

    Polymer casings fail in extreme weather and barely reduce any noticeable weight in a combat load; therefore, there has to be another, more political reason for this to occur.

  2. Interesting point: while the military does not reload, civilians do. are these “plastic” cases reloadable?

  3. does this mean no brass, no reload ? how about cost for this crap ? this sounds like a way around the 2nd !!

  4. I purchased about 1000 rounds of the “plastic” case ammo in .223 when I still owned that caliber. Yes! I reloaded some of it the same as I have done to everything else I use. Did it function after reloading?, Yes. The biggest test for the .308 ammo will be in the Machine guns, and Mini guns. There be no problem at all in either bolt or semi-auto sniper rifles. Believe me, the soldier’s load will be greatly reduced unless Commanders decide that reduced load warrants More ammo in the bag. SFC U.S. Army Ret.

  5. This ammo sounds very interesting but I want to start reloading, so that would be important. Also cost would be a factor, once it’s being used by the military (if it ever does) then it should be a good price.

  6. While I don’t trust our gov’t whatsoever, I find it hard to swallow that they’d go through this much trouble just to deny civilians the accessibility to cheap reloadable rounds. I do know that there are probs with lead disposal, but I can’t imagine that there’s that big of a problem.

  7. Mn
    As I understand it, a part of military interest is that it is not reload able, currently ISIS, Al Quada and the other bad boys are actively scavenging our spent cases for reloading. Obviously of interest to our forces to eliminate that source of ammunition to use against our and allied forces

  8. I AM WITH MOST OF THE REPLIES. it is a way to destroy the second if hillawitch666 doesn’t get in office. you see ammo will be the first thing they control. why? because without it the guns are useless. reloaders cannot be controlled as easily. the gun culture has them scared democrapless. they have set us up , the world for that matter, for the greatest depression the world has ever seen. the stores will be empty and thousands will starve to death here in this country alone. they know what they have done and they are afraid of the people rising up and taking control of the government back. just as they have demonized lead to try and stop the ammo they will work at anything else they can to stop it from being in our possession just as they have tried to do in australia. this is a plan in my opinion. if they want to introduce it, it should not be mandated like caifornia and lead. we live around poison every day. when i was in radiation their were a lot of kids there. some just a few months old. we cannot stop from being exposed to poison, it is part of our life. we can stop some of it but bullets are so minor, this is absolutely crazy and part of a plan. sure weight counts, and as stated if they want to reduce it there are a lot of ways. if they want plastic ammo let them have it but do not stop reloaders from plying their hobby or trade. it sounds dangerous to me, but people call me paranoid, especially the democraps. they do not want our guns just sensible national registration which is illegal for the reasons i give them. trust the government, sure as much as i trust isis.

  9. I think just the bullet is polymer. As I recall, the cases are still brass — at least on the pistol rounds. Irrespective of that, though, I’m stoking up on conventional “ball” ammo for the .45

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