Those that have had the opportunity to use tracer rounds know that they are a load of fun, especially at night. Tracer rounds allow you to view your rounds flight path which can help you more easily spot impacts as well as missed shots. Seeing the entire flight path gives you an idea of your bullets trajectory, which is usually eye-opening for most shooters. Sounds like a win all around, right? Well, advantages often come with downsides.
For one, tracers basically set fire to anything dry downrange, like brush or target boards. The hazard can be even more dramatic at an indoor range, as they are littered with unburnt gun powder. To achieve this bright, glowing trail behind the bullet, tracer rounds have a bit of magnesium built into the rear of the projectile that ignites when fired. Magnesium burns HOT; remember this is the same metal that your emergency firestarter is made of. For these reasons, tracers are banned at nearly every range in America, and for good reason.
Disassembling a cartridge reveals the phosphor base that illuminates a fired round.
The other downside of tracer rounds is that they traditionally are only available in NATO calibers, leaving out quite a large portion of firearm owners. Streak Ammunition noticed this as well and took advantage of the design flaws of the traditional “hot tracer” and developed their unique brand of ammunition. By replacing the magnesium with a non-flammable phosphor-based compound, these rounds achieve the same visual effect without fire. Phosphor is essentially the same ingredient in a kid's glow-in-the-dark toy. When it is illuminated by any light source, it glows, even after that light source is taken away. Streak Ammunition uses the flash of the round going off to provide this necessary light and activate the magic.
I’ve used Streak’s .45 ACP ammo before in pitch-black darkness (see video here!) and was very impressed with it. After the test, I requested some other calibers and wanted to see how they perform at dusk. Using a variety of firearms, I conducted an accuracy test at 15 yards and gathered an average.
9mm is one of the most common rounds in the world. For most shooters, it’s not a question of IF they have a nine, it’s a question of how many. I decided to use my 5-inch Walther Arms PPQ to test out this mainstay and noticed some good accuracy with it. Illumination was fair, but it is important to note that it is the smallest diameter bullet base of our test sample. Rounds cycled without issue and put the gun into slide-lock on the last round every time.
Best Group: 1.46 inches Largest Group: 1.94 inches Avg. Group: 1.87 inches
I tested out this old workhorse through my well-used Springfield Armory M1911A1. The pistol was a true mil-spec handgun without any bells or whistles. Still, we saw decent accuracy and a good amount of illumination, as this was the largest-diameter bullet that the company makes. We tested the FMJ version of this round on this range trip, although the hollow points ran just fine through the same gun in previous testing.
The .45 Colt gave us the best stream of light, as it was the largest and slowest-moving round of the bunch.
I was surprised to see this classic cowboy round in Streak Ammo's initial lineup, but then it dawned on me that this old, heavy bullet is moving very slow. The longer it’s in the air, the better the stream of light will be! We found that to be exceptionally true, as we fired ours out of a Bond Arms Ranger II for visual effect. Accuracy testing was done with a Taurus Judge, as it has more refined sights.
Imagine if that opening scene in Dirty Harry took place at night? Seeing these fly across the silver screen would definitely make your day. We used a Taurus Raging Hunter for our test, and it seemed like the cartridge was tailored for our 8+ inch barrel as this was the most-accurate load of the group. Although accurate, the fast-moving .44 Mag. got to the berm so fast, we didn’t really catch a glimpse of it on film. This certainly would be remedied by stretching it out to greater distances.
Streak Ammunition's .44 Mag. TMJ load took high honors with this tiny group. The extra-long barrel of this Taurus Raging Hunter went a long way in creating this group.
At the end of my range session, I had a good understanding of what the ammo was and what it was capable of. I noticed that the Streak Visual Ammo had noticeably more recoil than most other factory loads. This is most likely caused by a sharper powder charge in order to create a bigger flash. This flash is needed to activate the projectile's illuminated base. You can pick up a box to try for yourself at most local gun stores. Streak even has a handy store locator for you at www.ammoinc.com/store-locator.