The cogs of technological advancement within the shooting industry rotate at different speeds. We see dozens of new guns and optics popping up every year, but significant changes in designs, materials, and manufacturing processes tend to be incremental. Ball designs continue to advance through computer aided design and constant investment in research and development. Laser sights have seen the fastest evolution, similar to other types of electronics, resulting in much more powerful, compact and affordable options.
However, if you think about it, when was the last time you heard of a whole new type of socket? One-piece brass holsters have been on the scene since day one of the cartridge firearm. He remained the king of ka-boom for a century and a half because it is malleable, reliable and reusable. Unfortunately, brass is not as cheap as it used to be. It is also quite heavy which contributes to the shipping costs of raw materials and finished products.
So the quest for a lighter and cheaper socket has been going on for some time now. Manufacturers have successfully designed aluminum, mild steel, and polymer cases that work reliably, but can only be safely loaded and pulled once. This is why they are fitted with non-rechargeable Berdan primers.
In 2016, Shell Shock Technologies (SST) introduced the NAS3 9mm cartridge case, which offers an innovative approach to reduce case weight and cost. Instead of a one-piece, one-material construction, these sockets have a two-piece design. Instead of more expensive “red metals”, which are subject to unpredictable price swings, NAS3 enclosures consist of a solid nickel-plated aircraft aluminum enclosure head combined with a proprietary nickel-reinforced stainless alloy cylinder. These two components are mechanically locked together to form each cartridge case. The nickel plating of the aluminum base prevents galvanic corrosion from occurring.
Due to its design, the NAS3 cartridge case is stronger than its brass counterparts while weighing 50 percent less. The thinner cylinder walls provide increased internal volume allowing them to be loaded at + P speed levels without + P pressure levels. A larger flash hole allows for more even ignition of the powder. Able to withstand 40 or more passes through a home reloading press, the housings don’t stretch like brass, so they won’t need to be cut. Nickel alloy cylinders allow used cases to be picked up with magnets, simplifying the retrieval process at the shooting range.
NAS3 enclosures sell for $ 0.10 each when purchased in bundles of 1000 units from the SST website. In comparison, I have found reputable brass cases, Factory Fee + P, selling for $ 0.15 – $ 0.25 apiece online. Specialized reloading die sets required to work with these housings are also available through SST.
When NAS3 box technology hit the market almost two years ago, it was first marketed to shooting enthusiasts who enjoy hand-loading their own ammunition. Although I’ve driven mine in the past, I don’t charge a lot these days. So this socket slipped off my radar.
However, SST products reappeared not too long ago with the launch of Novx ammunition. This company chose to complement the lightweight NAS3 cartridge case with the even lighter Inceptor Ammunition injection molded poly-copper ARX and RNP projectiles. In fact, more than a dozen in-store ammo makers are now loading this box, including Creedmoor Sports, Velocity Munitions, and L-Tech (which can be ordered directly from the company via email at [email protected]).
It is not uncommon for shooting enthusiasts to hesitate to adopt new technologies, especially when they are adapted to personal protection applications. Like other CCW licensees, a doctorate. level analysis of the science behind the formation of a new cartridge is not high on my priority list. Instead, question number one (once the basics are covered) is, will it work reliably in the gun of my choice? If a particular cartridge does not operate the pistol, all other issues relating to the accuracy, speed and performance of the bullet are irrelevant.
To verify the reliability of the NAS3 9mm cartridge holster, I contacted the folks at Novx and SST for a good sized test ammo set. Novx sent 102 series of Cross Trainer / Competition 65-gr. RPN + P with a listed muzzle velocity of 1550 fps. (Novx includes an additional cartridge in each box placed in a small display window for easy identification). SST shipped a case of 500 L-Tech cartridges loaded with 124 gr. All-copper hollow points launched at 1150 fps.
Out of curiosity, I pulled out a digital powder scale to see how 50 cartridges of Novx cartridges are lighter compared to brass fillers. A typical 9mm brass tusk load topped with a 124gr load. the hollow point weighed 21.7 oz. The factory charge Inceptor with a brass case and 68 gr. poly-copper projectile weighed 14.8 oz. The Novx NAS3 box and 68 gr. poly-copper bullet charge tips the scales at just 12 oz.
With the ammo in hand, I lined up six different 9mm semi-automatic pistols and a shiny revolver to wring out the charges. This was a reliable test of feeding, firing, and ejection. No formal accuracy testing, just lots of flying cases and a well-used Maglula UpLULA magazine to keep all different sized pistol magazines full and ready for use.
The 6 + 1 challenge was to fire this ammo through a total of six semi-autos and a shiny wheel pistol which were all different sizes (utility size pocket pistol) in various cleanliness conditions (freshly washed to dry and sale) encompassing shopping at custom prices ($ 225 to $ 1000).
The subcompact end of the size scale was represented by the single-battery Kel-Tec PF-9 and the dual-battery SCCY Industries CPX-1, both of which have affordable price tags.
The Arex ReX zero 1 CP fulfilled the compact category well.
The two large pistols included in the range test were the Ruger American Pro Duty and the Walther PPQ M2 Q4 TAC.
The custom pistol slot was covered with a Glock Gen 3 G34 which was designed entirely for competition a few years ago.
I wanted to add at least one weird rig, something ammo makers maybe haven’t even considered, to see how NAS3 would work. The most unusual 9mm I could find was the Smith & Wesson Model 547 revolver. Manufactured from 1980 to 1985, this model was discontinued with just over 10,000 units completed because of the proprietary non-extraction system. moon clip was difficult to manufacture. The likelihood that the SST casings were fired from this wheel pistol was pretty slim.
Originally, I had planned to prepare a nice table to cross the seven guns with the two 9mm NAS3 envelope loads in order to clearly and clearly display the test results. But once the cartridges had been properly emptied at the low end, it was clear that a table was not needed. There was not a single malfunction during the entire testing period. No power failure, no faulty ignition and every case ejected properly. An examination of the recovered bushings showed that they were completely free from cracks, bulges or other mechanical problems. They were a bit covered in soot but ready to be recharged.
The (relatively) new Shell Shock Technologies NAS3 9mm cartridge case represents an innovative breakthrough in the development of reusable cases that are lighter, stronger and cheaper than traditional brass cases. While other authors broached the subject of manually loading these suitcases almost two years ago, I waited to see how the ammunition-making community would accept them.
Manufacturers of military-grade ammunition build their reputation on the reliability of their products. If they can support this new technology then I should be willing to try it too. Although my testing process was not exhaustive, I learned what I needed to know. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see NAS3 packaged cartridges included in future gun tests. To learn more, visit shellshocktechnologies.com