MORE IS LESS
By Matthew Kirkpatrick
By Matthew Kirkpatrick
Police patrol carbine programs are becoming very common in Canada. Given their increased range, it may be challenging for some police services to find a safe and suitable place to train with center fire rifles.
The range danger template for standard 5.56 mm ball ammunition is 3.3 km long. This is much larger than ranges for pistols and occasional shotgun use were designed for. Urbanization and residential encroachment of many existing police ranges has only complicated the challenge to find a suitable training environment.
A new product may solve this problem for many agencies. Simuntion Shortstop® short range training ammunition (SRTA) is now available in 5.56 mm – suitable for police patrol carbines such as the Colt Canada C8. The maximum range danger template for SRTA is only 600 m, less than that of 9mm.
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This new ammunition is designed to destabilize very quickly outside the muzzle, lose velocity and fall to the ground quickly after closely following conventional bullet trajectory out to 100m. Nearly all rounds, regardless of the angle from which they’re fired, will be on the ground before 350 meters thanks to four small vanes on the nose of the bullet.
The bullet is constructed from an injection molded nylon and copper mix that is completely frangible and easily stopped by ¼ inch steel plate. The curved outline (ogive) closely resembles standard ammunition and feeds reliably in any firearm designed for 5.56 mm or .223 Rem.
I obtained a sample of several hundred rounds and tested it in a number of scenarios through a Colt C8 IUR at the MILCUN Range Complex near Minden, ON.
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Groups were fired on paper targets alongside military full metal jacket ammunition at 25, 50, 70 and 100 m to test for accuracy and ballistic match. The marketing literature claims a ballistic match to 25 meters however it was nearly a perfect ballistic match out to 50 m. While the SRTA impacted noticeably low beyond that, it was still close enough for most training purposes out to 100 meters. Since the ammunition works by destabilizing the projectile, all impacts were disconcertingly sideways, however the groups were astonishingly tight and there were no stoppages.
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A full magazine was fired at painted steel plates from 30 meters and then three meters to determine frangibility. Several rounds were fired at a steel plate from 1 meter through a cardboard target 50 cm from the steel plate to check for splash back. There were no fragment holes through the cardboard. The remainder of the magazine was fired in automatic bursts from 2 m with no splash back. The C8 was zeroed for conventional ammunition yet all shots on twelve inch steel plates with SRTA were solid, centered hits.
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The SRTA performed accurately enough to be used in all but the longest-range patrol rifle qualifications that I have witnessed. It was reliable, with no malfunctions, and would be a transparent change for any user to switch to for training or evaluation.
The benefits of SRTA will be immediately obvious to any service with patrol carbines and limited access to ranges designed for rifles. The US Army has converted some older conventional ranges with limited space into combat ranges capable of firing 360 degrees using SRTA. The ammunition is non-toxic and frangible, making it an ideal choice for indoor ranges previously certified only for pistol calibers. This will also be of interest to any service facing environmental scrutiny on their range programs. The bullet, primer and propellant contain no heavy metals. The ability to shoot at close range on steel reactive targets safely adds flexibility and interest to any range training program.
Shortstop short range training ammunition provides a unique opportunity to enable or enhance patrol rifle training for agencies with limited rifle range access or indoor facilities. The potential cost savings of using existing pistol ranges for rifle training can’t be ignored. The fact that it is non-toxic and frangible is just an added bonus.