Multiple Impact Bullet

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.

Multiple Impact Bullet Advanced ballistic concepts

A disassembled .45 ACP Multiple Impact Bullet showing the components.

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.

Multiple Impact Bullet Advanced ballistic concepts

The 15 yard test target shows the star pattern left by the Multiple Impact Bullet.

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.


MAC is an avid shooter, former MCSF Marine, NRA member, Oath Keeper and is commissioned as a Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky. Known for his videos on the Military Arms Channel, he also writes for The Bang Switch, for Shotgun News (Be Ready!) and freelances for Guns & Ammo. MAC has been a life long shooter who has an interest in all things that go "bang" but gravitates towards military type firearms.

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  • PeterK

    Huh. It’s a cooler idea than the other weird defensive ammo I’ve seen.

  • Chris

    Interesting. Ditch the semi lethal load.

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  • Tony Quilici (@TW_Gun)

    I say lessen the expansion of the tethers.

  • RPM509

    Very interesting round, also curious to see what your testing reveals, specially in the ballistic gel and/or a roast.

    Unless these rounds perform in a very surprising and unexpected manner, I think they will be nothing more than a novelty. I can’t see 3, smaller ‘bullets’ tethered together doing anything more ballistic than a single round, least as far as defense penetration and permanent damage to flesh goes. Guessing that the smaller mass of the 3 parts will lose a LOT of energy very quickly.

  • Peter

    I don’t like the idea of a less than lethal option. It opens the doorway to a much unneeded legal argument what your intentions are when you buy “defensive” rounds.

    • Erik Burns

      I think you are correct sir.

  • Drmaudio

    It is an interesting solution, but to what problem? Seems it is similar in result to pistol caliber shotgun rounds, which I think we can all agree, are no good for anything but close range shots on snakes. I’m still looking forward to the testing, however. I’ve been wrong before.

    • Risky

      The problem is for a new ammo company to find a niche in an over-saturated market. It’s all about making a round that will sell. Some companies do it by making a reliable cartridge with good bullet. Others do it by making incredible claims with exotic bullets and charging exorbitant prices. When you can’t be the best you might as well be (very) different.

  • Uncle Red

    I can just hear all the lawyers out there thinking , “Cha-Ching!”

  • George Hamilton Hill

    There is no Magic Bullet… and nothing is going to equate to time spent in good solid training.

  • manZman

    To those of you wondering – I took a look at their website, and it seems that they are advertising this as a solution to shooter inaccuracy in defensive situations (hence the “High-Hit Probability Ammunition” label). For pistol calibers, that seems a little iffy. If you only hit with one fragment, and that’s comparable to hitting with a .22lr.

    Their shotgun ammo looks much more interesting to me, since in theory it would offer a more consistent spread pattern at varying ranges.

    Very interested to see the test results. Maybe Mac could try hit the gel with only one or two of the fragments impacts and assess the results?

  • Kyle G

    Looking forward to the ballistic gel test. I’m predicting low penetration but if that string stays together it’ll make for a nasty wound cavity!

  • Matt

    What happens in say a situation when you shoot a partially extended arm. Do the tethers wrap around it, or how does it overcome the obstacle and hit COM? I wish they weren’t so expense. I’d like to test 1-2 of them against my test medium: pork shoulders :) Thanks for the write up MAC

  • g

    Fascinating. I look forward to the test video!

  • Hawaii Volcano Squad

    I want to see the ballistic testing also for this round. Thanks MAC! Probably will take years of use in the field before major law or military org.’s trust a new round like this. Should be very interesting. Different situations call for different ammo, problem is making the ammo do what you want it to do each and every time. At least there is an ongoing effort for new concepts in ammunition.

  • Chris

    Send some over to tnoutdoors9 please for ballistics gel testing…

    • Zach S

      TN outdoors has already posted a response to a bunch of similar posts on the infomercial video that he is not interested in testing it.

  • Russ

    Considering your interest in multiple projectile bullets, check out this site they have very interesting projectiles.

  • Ryan

    The very basis of this ammo to me goes against the principals behind all self defense ammunition, shot placement. We use sights and aim to provide the bullet with the proper path to an area of the body that induces enough trauma to stop the attacker. Randomizing the nature of shot placement with this spinning contraption seems to me to be counter productive. Furthermore, none of these sub-projectiles will have the abilities of hollow point ammunition in terms of depositing energy and wound size. If the desire was simply to create more lead projectiles in the attacker, I wonder what this ammunition brings over traditional buckshot. I am not trying to attack a new idea, but I do not see a round that intends to provide a substitute for marksmanship as something that should be encouraged(a shooter is responsible for every shot fired). Personally, I believe any money spent on exotic ammo in the attempt to increase hit percentage would be better spent on more practice ammo. I understand if others don’t agree, looking for any edge, but I just don’t see it here.

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  • Marc M. DeBower

    Semi-lethal? Isn’t that similar to “kinda pregnant”?

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  • LarryEArnold

    What happens when a projectile misses the target? Does the tether retain it, or does the tether snap and leave the projectile flying off in some completely unpredictable direction, looking for something you don’t want to put a hole in?

    • Adam

      The tether isn’t suppose to snap but instead pull on the “anchored” round that had made its mark and vector back torward the point of impact. Basically wrapping around and striking the target from the side or rear or wherever.

      • shaw08

        That is almost wishful thinking. While its possible its going to depend on how many of the 3 impact the target, and the type of material it impacts. I imagine if it impacts a harder(metal) material its likely the tethers will snap. I would like to see more info on how well the tether is anchored to the projectiles, but given that its lead even if the tether is made up mythical unbreakable material the shear forces at work will likely pull the teather from the lead. I agree with what you state in other post. A lot of these new inovations really provide no real rewards without exponential gain in risk.
        The ultimate risk mitigation in a self defense scenario is situational awarness, and accuracy. If you are not 100% on whether or not you should pull the trigger you should not pull the trigger. The fact of the matter is that you dont pull your gun unless you abooslutely have too, and you dont pull the trigger unless your abosolutely sure of your shot. These are split second decisions in some cases and should not be taken lightley. As MAC has stated in a few posts the general marketing of some of these products is in extremely bad taste and leads people to think the wrong things about fire arms and how to use them

  • NoGunz4me

    Fuck this shit, what about the innocent people that get hit with these bullets by some scum bag like the one who made them? That innocent person will have a way less chance of living now. Fuck guns and fuck every single person on the planet that has one, and fuck every coward pussy that buys these bullets. Innocent people will die even quicker now when the wrong hands get a hold of these bullets. Many wrong hands probably already have them locked and loaded.

    • 1StrngPatriot

      So when someone kicks your door down and robs you, or mugs you at gun point I’d bet you want a gun then? 98% of people that have guns have them for protection and self defense. For the record guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Blaming a gun for someones death is like blaming a car for driving drunk. But I wouldn’t expect an ignorant miss-informed self centered liberal asshole such as yourself to understand something so simple. Places with more gun control (Chicago) have the highest homicide rate and crime rate. Places with free open carry/conceal carry have a lesser crime rate and homicide rate. Go read a book and do some homework before you open your mouth.