There was a time not all that long ago when factory ammunition was pretty basic, and the Winchester Silvertip was the most-advanced, personal-defense ammunition you could buy. This is, of course, one reason handloading—particularly for rifle cartridges—became so popular; shooters could build their own specialized ammunition with bullets like the Nosler Partition. Today, unless you’re working with a new or obscure cartridge, the most enticing reason to handload is to save money.
Every year when the new products are rolled out I continue to be more impressed with the specialized munitions being developed, and that you can purchase across the counter. This year is no different, and here is a look at what I consider the half-dozen most-interesting offerings for the New Year.
Aguila Before the .17 HMR, there was another bottlenecked rimfire cartridge. It fired a .204-caliber bullet and had a muzzle velocity of 2,400 fps. The “5 mm Rem. Rimfire Mag.” was available in a bolt-action rifle from Remington, but it never gained popularity, and was discontinued in 1982. For the life of me, I can’t understand why it was not more of a success. You may not remember it, but Aguila does, and it is offering a new 30-grain semi-jacket hollowpoint (SJHP) load with a velocity of 2,200 fps. If you have one of these old Remington rifles, its time to rejoice. If you don’t, you might consider prowling the pawnshops and gun shows, and picking one up. It is an exceptional cartridge.
Browning When most shooters think of self-defense with a firearm, they think of having to potentially stop a human adversary. The truth is, unless you’re a city dweller you’re more likely to have to use a handgun to defend yourself from a different kind of threat. I’m talking about a potentially rabid animal—I’ve had two that had to be dealt with in my front yard. There’s also the possibility you may have to snuff out a poisonous snake. For the more-rural lifestyle, farmers often have to contend with stock-harassing critters like chicken-killing foxes and raccoons, or maybe pet predators like coyotes. Well, for those kinds of threats Browning has a new answer and it’s called Trail Force. The new .38 Spl. load is engineered to handle these situations. It’s a multiple-projectile revolver cartridge containing No. 9 lead shot and two copper-plated lead discs. The company says it will work in any .38 Spl./.357 Mag. revolver.
DoubleTap Our law enforcement community has suffered greatly during 2018. More than 100 officers have passed as a result of a duty-related cause, and almost 50 have died due to gunfire. DoubleTap Ammunition recognizes the commitment these brave first responders make and to honor the service of those on duty and who have made their last call, they’ve instituted new packaging that includes a thin blue line. The “Thin Blue Line” is a phrase that refers to the position of law enforcement in society as a bulwark between order and anomie, or between criminals and the potential victims of crime.
Federal Federal Premium has supplemented its Syntech line of ammunition with new defense offerings. Syntech changed the range with an advanced polymer jacket that dramatically reduces fouling, as well as significantly reducing heat and friction in the barrel. Now, that technology is revolutionizing protection as well. The Syntech Defense ammunition line provides dynamic terminal performance with a hollow-point bullet that separates into three segments and a deep-penetrating core on impact. The core penetrates 12 inches or more through bare ballistics gel and heavy clothing, and the petals create three secondary wound channels, each more than 6 inches deep. Initial loads will include 9 mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, with suggested retail prices for 20-round boxes ranging between $19.95 and $24.95.
Norma Norma was founded more than a century ago and its primary product was ammunition for a single cartridge: the 6.5x55 mm Swedish. The company now offers a full line of ammunition for rifles and handguns. New for 2019 is the MHP (Monolithic Hollow Point) line, which will be offered in .380 ACP, 9 mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. It features a widely deforming, four-petal, monolithic bullet that’s not barrel-length specific. In other words, the bullet has a wide velocity expansion window, which means it should work well with all duty and CCW-friendly barrels. MHP ammo should retail around $27 for a box of 20.
Remington The Golden Saber bullet is highly regarded in law enforcement circles. What many do not realize is that Remington has been supplying cops all across the country with a bonded version of the Golden Saber. I’ve been critical of Remington and any other ammo manufacturer for restricting sales to private citizens before, and I still believe that as long as munitions are of a conventional design, you and I should be able to purchase them just as easily as our local police departments. I’m sure Remington made the decision based on financial reasons as opposed to my complaining, but you now have access to some of the best defensive-handgun ammo ever built. Chamberings include 9 mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, and you should be able to pick a box up for less than $28.