CheyTac .45 ACP Law Enforcement Ammunition Test
CheyTac Associates, LLC is now offering lead free, law enforcement ammunition in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Other ammunition manufacturers do this as well, but Chey Tac approaches the issue of "stopping power" via high velocity coupled with a large hollow point filled with a polymer ball. Though this sounds similar to Corbon's PowRball, there are significant differences. In .45 ACP, the PowRball weighs 165-gr. and is advertised at 1225 ft/sec and is rated +P. Chey Tac's bullet is listed at 150-gr at 1370 ft/sec. It is also rated at standard pressure. Being a homogeneous bullet, this round seems sort of a cross between the Corbon PowRball and DPX. Unlike the PowRball, there is no jacket surrounding a lead core. Mr. Anthony Taylor advises me that the bullet is a proprietary copper/nickel alloy and is turned from a solid rod. He also said that this work was done "in house."
Here is what the company says:
"The CheyTac Lead Free, Law Enforcement Handgun ammunition provides a revolutionary method for expanding the wound channel diameter while at the same time maintaining an accepted standard of wound depth. Today's accepted standard for wound depth is a penetration of 10-12 inches in 10% ballistic gelatin. Our ammunition performs in that exact manner. Our ammunition, however, also creates a much wider secondary wound channel than traditional projectiles, which penetrate, to the 10-12 inch level. The result is greatly enhanced overall stopping power, a critical factor in reliably stopping an armed adversary. All of which is accomplished with standard pressures (not +P).
The specific physics, which makes this action possible, is a compression/expansion effect caused when the polymer tip seals and quickly compresses an air pocket within the bullet. When this compression overcomes the jacket material, a violent expansion occurs as the pressure causes the jacket to expand and rupture. This innovative process neither decreases the penetration speed or the penetration depth of the remaining bullet base."
There are two basic approaches to "stopping power" enhancement in pistol cartridges: "slow and heavy" vs. "light and fast". Proponents on either side of the issue will find "fault" with those adhering to the opposite theory. This article will not take sides, so to speak. It will simply take a look at the Chey Tac .45 ACP round and relate observations on its actual performance over a chronograph, functioning in test guns, accuracy, and expansion. Readers can make up their own minds whether or not the ammunition is or is not the right choice for them.
Test Guns: Two different makes and styles of semiautomatic pistols were used. A conventional 5" 1911 pattern pistol was used, as these remain a most popular choice in this caliber. The 1911 tribe was represented by a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec. Representing the non-1911 is a SIG-Sauer P220. It was chosen instead of a Commander length pistol for two reasons. It has a barrel that is also approximately 3/4" shorter than the 5" gun but lets us check functioning in pistol having a different design.
Here are the two test guns for this article. Both are using the standard factory barrels and recoil springs. The Mil-Spec has had trigger work. It has been 100% reliable with all types of ammunition used in it. Likewise, the P220 has proven itself reliable. Will they be with the CheyTac?
Ammunition: This Chey Tac .45 ACP came in a white 50-round box and was marked as follows on one side:
On the other side was:
LOST RIVER BALLISTIC
ARCO, IDAHO 83213
Here are the Chey Tac .45 ACP cartridge components. The primed case is from Winchester and is so marked. The powder weighed 6.7 grains and I am advised that it is Bullseye. This bullet weighed 149.1 grains on my RCBS scale. The widest diameter of this bullet measured right at 0.450" and is somewhat reminiscent of the "driving band" on Remington Golden Saber bullets, albeit longer. Past this area toward the front of the bullet, diameter was measured at 0.4415". Cartridge LOA measured 1.187". Pulling the bullet was tough. It was tightly seated in the case. I do not believe that this round will have the potential setback problems common to some other makes of .45 ammunition.
Shooting: The two previously mentioned firearms were used in shooting. A total of 99 rounds were fired as one was "sacrificed" to show the components of the Cheytac cartridge. Groups were shot in slow-fire and from a rest at 15 yards. Controlled pairs and failure to stop drills were fired at 7 yards with each shot fired starting from a low ready and the trigger pressed as soon as the "flash sight picture" could be obtained.
The load was chronographed from both pistols. Average velocities and other data are based on 10 shots fired approximately 10 feet from the chronograph screens and data provided is measured in ft/sec.
CheyTac 150-grain .45 ACP Chronograph Results:
SA Mil-Spec w/5" bbl
SIG-Sauer P220 w/ 4.25" bbl
10-Yard Controlled Pairs & FTS Drills: These were fired with both pistols and my best results were achieved using the 1911 SA Mil-Spec. This does not imply that it is more accurate than the P220, but shows that I am more practiced with this type pistol than the DA/SA automatic.
The Mil-Spec/CheyTac ammo combination worked well. The flyer was my fault and I knew it would not be a true shot when I fired it. This ammunition is quite easy to control at speed. Performance with the SIG-Sauer P220 was similar and felt recoil in the aluminum frame pistol was very easy to handle.
15-Yard Slow-fire Groups:
I had concerns that the slightly smaller diameter 0.450" bullet might not provide required accuracy levels as other .45 ammo I am familiar with uses 0.4515 to 0.452" diameter bullets. It appears that my fears were unfounded. Notice also that the paper is cut in fashion similar to what we see with the SWC.
These bullets are individually machined from a specific copper/nickel alloy. Note the sharp edge where the bullet nose begins to taper. This explains the fairly clean cut holes in paper. How this might or might not translate to tissue I cannot say.
Expansion Testing: In these informal "tests" this load was fired into both water and wet pack. The water was in plastic jugs while the wet pack was newsprint that had been soaked in water for 24 hours and allowed to drain approximately 30 minutes before shooting. Shooting was from approximately 20' in each medium.
On the left we see two bullets recovered from water and on the right, two recovered from the wet pack.
I fired 6 other rounds into water with the same results shown above. 6 more shots were also fired into the wet pack with the same results. The recovered bases weighed an average of 97.8 grains. Recovered fragments averaged 4.7 grains. The expanded bases averaged 0.472 x 0.484 x 0.31" tall and penetrated right at 8" in the wet pack. CheyTac advises that this round will penetrate 10 to 12" in 10% ballistic gelatin. I believe it will penetrate at least that. Fragments were found in the main wet pack "wound track" as well as in separate, smaller channels they created away from the main one. The deepest was roughly 3/4 of an inch in depth.
It appears that this bullet is a "hard" one. Impacting water at over 1200 ft/sec from the Mil-Spec and P220 did not result in more than deformation. Bullets recovered from the super-saturated newsprint all showed consistent expansion/deformation when fired from either pistol.
This bullet appears designed for the bullet wall surrounding the hollow cavity to fragment on impact, leaving a homogeneous wadcutter to punch the rest of the way into or through the target. It appears that the CheyTac bullet is not designed to go to maximum diameter, as does the somewhat similar Corbon PowRball. In water and wet pack, penetration is significantly deeper with the CheyTac bullet. Though a homogeneous bullet like the Corbon DPX using the Barnes X-bullet, it appears not designed to expand and hold together but to create larger than normal fragments at its initial penetration of the soft target and continue with the wadcutter. The closest bullet I can relate to this type expansion is a Nosler Partition rifle bullet fired either at very high velocity or hitting a soft target at very close range.
Observations: This ammunition seems well constructed and there were no misfires or failure of any of the 99 rounds fired. Case expansion indicated that the company's rating of standard pressure is true. None of the usual signs of possible high pressure were present.
Felt recoil is subjective but to me, the load mimicked that of a 200-gr. SWC at roughly 850 to 860 ft/sec. In other words it was mild. Second and third shots were very easy and quick.
Falling plates were very easy to knock down rapidly with the low-recoiling CheyTac .45 round.
It appears that the 3/4" longer barrel of the Mil-Spec did not give significantly greater speed than that of the P220. Though this certainly might not prove true in each and every possible gun/barrel combination, I suggest that it does indicate that the quick burning powder doesn't put the slightly shorter service barrel length at any disadvantage.
Functional reliability was 100% with the Springfield Armory pistol using the factory supplied 7 shot magazine and a McCormick 8 shot PowerMag. There was one failure to fully chamber using the SIG-Sauer factory 7 round magazine when releasing the slide on a fully loaded magazine. This occurred one time. There were no malfunctions of any kind when the ammunition was fired through either handgun. Since total ammunition to be fired was limited, each gun started with a chambered cartridge and a fully loaded magazine even if fewer shots were to be fired.
Mr. Taylor advised me that he is not yet aware of any actual shootings using this ammunition but that it is being evaluated by some law enforcement agencies. I know that I have heard of none. The real story on how well this ammunition performs "on the street" has yet to be written.
It has been my observation that probably a majority of .45 ACP fans favor the heavier traditional bullet in this caliber. Such has also been my usual weight of choice. Some believe it offers superior wounding ability or "stopping power." Others might prefer lighter, faster bullets but have concerns about too little penetration. This low-recoiling, standard pressure ammunition is easy to handle in both all steel and aluminum frame service size pistols and I suspect will penetrate at least 12" in 10% ballistic gelatin.