For decades companies have struggled to improve upon the capabilities of the good old fashioned lead slug fired from your favorite handgun. We’ve seen defensive bullets evolve from crude lead slugs into complex hollow-points using a multitude of fancy materials and manufacturing techniques to improve terminal performance. We’ve also seen novelties such as Glaser Safety Slugs appear on the market that promised to revolutionize defensive bullet technology, but fell far short on their promise.
Some companies have focused on increasing hit probability, which gave birth to cartridges such as the Tri-Plex. The Tri-Plex launches three conical bullets from a single .38 Special case while reducing recoil. When fired at distances greater than 10ft the Tri-Plex will disperse the three projectiles in a pattern ranging in size from .3″ to 4.3″. Inside of 10ft the multiple projectiles impact as one. The lack of consistent dispersion leaves me less than impressed with the Tri-Plex load.
In January of 2013 while perusing the isles at SHOT Show I stumbled into the Advanced Ballistic Concepts booth where they were showcasing their new Multiple Impact Bullet. Their take on increasing hit probability took a different approach than previous designs such as the Tri-Plex. The Multiple Impact Bullet fires three projectiles which are held together via a tether — think of a bolas. The bullet looks rather conventional in its loaded form, however when fired centrifugal forces quickly deploy the projectiles in a three-point star pattern. The company claims the expanded projectiles will have a spread of 14″ which means it could easily cover the torso of a man.
The Multiple Impact Bullet is currently offered in .45 ACP and 12 ga. with 9mm on the way. It’s also offered in two flavors, “lethal” and “semi-lethal”. The difference between “lethal” and “semi-lethal” are the materials used in the bullet construction and their velocities. The “lethal” version features lead projectiles while the “semi-lethal” (aka “stunner”) uses projectiles constructed of a copper/zinc alloy and is loaded to a lower velocity than its lethal counterpart.
I was able to get my hands on 10 rounds of the semi-lethal .45 ACP cartridges for some informal testing. Since I was limited by the number of rounds I had, I decided my first test would be to see how quickly and reliably the rounds worked their magic. I placed man-sized paper test targets at 7, 15 and 25 yards and fired one round at each target using a Springfield Trophy Match 1911. All (10) rounds fired through my Springer 1911 functioned flawlessly with no failures to report.
At 7 yards the dispersion of the projectiles was 6.5″. The pattern seemed a bit erratic and wasn’t the symmetrical star pattern shown in the marketing material, which I expected. At 15 yards the projectiles had opened up to just under 8″ and the pattern looked slightly more uniform. At the 25 yard line the dispersion was 9″ and fairly symmetrical. The Multiple Impact Bullet was designed to offer optimal performance at 21 feet or closer, which is where most lethal force encounters will take place, so my testing at 25 yards was done primarily out of curiosity.
As it turns out my testing at different ranges doesn’t accurately tell the whole story of the bullets expansion. As the bullet flies downrange the diameter is constantly increasing and decreasing in size, or pulsing. At its smallest size the dispersion might be 5″ and at its largest it will be limited by the length of its tethers, which is 14″.
I did notice at 7 and even 15 yards the point of impact was pretty much where I had aimed. At 25 yards the projectiles had veered off course and struck left of center, but still scored a solid hit on the target.
I pulled a bullet apart to see what made the rounds tick and found a simple coil of string tethering three copper/zinc alloy projectiles together. Each of the bullet fragments weighed right at 40 grains with a variance of a grain or two between them. This variance is likely what contributed to the fired round drifting from point of aim at distances greater than 15 yards. I wasn’t able to fire the rounds over a chronograph to measure bullet velocity as I was concerned I might hit the device. As of this writing the manufacturer hasn’t published velocity data on the bullets.
One of the claimed benefits of the “semi-lethal” load is that it won’t penetrate dry wall, doors or other barriers commonly encountered in your home or office. Should you miss the bad guy, the “stunner” will lose most, if not all, of its energy when it strikes a wall or door thus reducing the chance of harming an innocent bystander in another room. But what does the “stunner” to do the intended target? I honestly don’t know, yet. I will post a video on the Military Arms Channel shortly that shows how the “stunner” and the “lethal” round perform in Clear Ballistics 10% ballistic gel. I will also conduct tests of the ammo in various mediums such as dry wall and plywood. Heck, I might even buy a couple of beef roasts to see what the rounds do in actual flesh.
As of right now it’s too early for me to pass judgement on this unique new defensive round. What I can say is that the concept is innovative and I personally find it to be interesting. Will it replace my 147gr 9mm Gold Dots anytime soon? No, not at the moment, but stick around as I put this new ammo through its paces. Who knows, maybe it will knock my socks off.