Every so often I get a sample of ammunition - usually less-lethal but sometimes just a specialty munition - that doesn't warrant a full review on its own. This week's review is going to cover two such samples that I received: first is the Lightfield Nova-DR 12g distraction round. Second is the Extreme Shock handgun ammo that I received in loadings for .380ACP, 9mm and .45ACP. Let's start off with the 12g distraction rounds and then move into the handgun stuff.
Lightfield Less Lethal Research forwarded me a couple boxes of their new NOVA-DR Distraction Rounds for testing. Designed for use in 12 gauge shotguns the NOVA-DR rounds are obviously more compact, easier to store and easier to transport than contemporary hand-thrown flash-bangs (NFDD). At an agency price of about $3.25 per round the cost savings - where the NOVA-DR can be substituted for an NFDD - are also significant.
Along with the rounds I received a print out with some information about the rounds to include intended use, advantages and training requirements. You all know me: I always take such information with a grain (or five) of salt because I consider it mostly sales-hype. In this case there is some very good info available. In the Intended Use section Lightfield states:
The NOVA-DR is intended as an indirect fire diversionary load. It should never be fired directly at persons. (emphasis mine) The intense blast signature and flash are intended to serve several purposes.
It goes on to list the intended purposes as:
- Entry teams can deploy the NOVA-DR to mask team movement or entry by discharging the NOVA-DR at a point away from where the team is operating.
- The NOVA-DR can be deployed at the entry point or within the structure as an alternative to hand thrown NFDDs
- Ideal in the Corrections environment for Cell Extractions and Disturbance Control
- Can be used as an alternative method to control or redirect dangerous animals
The larger value of the rounds can be found in the list of advantages, only a couple of which I'll list here:
- No ATFE controls for purchase, inventory, storage or transport
- Little or no risk of fire, no fragmentation
- Easy to carry; not heavy or cumbersome like NFDDs
- No costly and repetitive user or instructor certifications
- Significantly less expensive than hand thrown devices
I added the emphasis about the user and instructor certifications. For smaller agencies with even more restrictions on budget but no less requirement for special services, those savings can be signficant. I would even go so far as to suggest that these rounds may be invaluable to properly familiarized patrol officers in active shooter / immediate response situations. Prior to any use though it is imperative that agencies insure minimum training or "familiarization" is completed. Such should include basic firearms training (duh) as well as familiarization with all applicable or related federal and state case law, as well as local and agency guidelines, use of force general orders, SOPs, etc.
Now, with all that said, I discharged several of these rounds during a range day with a couple other firearms instructors. We were all quite thankful for our ear protection (most of us wear earplugs AND muffs). The energy delivered through the sonic blast is intimidating indeed. If you're not expecting it, and/or aren't familiar with it, it can be plain scary. I highly recommend (as does Lightfield Less Lethal) that any intended or authorized users be made familiar with the blast under controlled training conditions.
For more information visit Lightfield Less Lethal online (link below).
Now let's talk about this Extreme Shock handgun ammo I recieved...
I received two types of Extreme Shock ammo to test: The first was the Explosive Entry Enhanced Penetration Round abbreviated as EPR.
The second was the NyTrillium Air Freedom Rounds abbreviated as AFR.
Let's talk about that Explosive Entry Enhanced Penetration Round - the EPR. Specifically designed for greater penetration capability on thick or hard surfaces, the EPR is supposed to have greater terminal success after having traveled through wood or glass (common situations for shootings). The round was designed to stay together while traveling through the more dense material and then fragment in the softer tissue beyond.
To test this I set up a stand with a 1/2" sheet of plywood ten inches in front of two back-to-back plastic milk jugs filled with pudding (yeah, pudding. It's cheaper than ballistic gelatin and still provides a thicker medium than water). The down side was that I could only fire one round. I thought I'd be able to get multiple rounds fired but the first one destroyed my milk jugs. The hole in the plywood was nice and neat. The hole in the front of the first milk jug was also nice and neat. It was of the same diameter (as best I could measure) as the hole in the plywood. However, that's where "nice and neat ended". The bullet obviously fragmented inside the first jug as there were multiple exit holes and matching entry holes in the next jug. All such had to be pieced together from the recovered pieces of plastic milk jug as they were shot off the stand and broke apart. My test concluded two things:
- At ten yards, point of aim / point of impact matched that of my usual duty loads fired from my Springfield Armory 1911 pistol, and
- The projectile did hold together through the harder wood but broke apart upon entering the softer medium of the pudding.
Moving on to the NyTrillium Air Freedom Rounds - AFR - I had to attempt a different testing process because they were designed for a different purpose and use. The AFR was designed for use inside aircraft against terrorists / hijackers. The intention of the designers was to create a round that was lethal to humans but would fragment to dust on impact with a hard surface such as the inside of the aircraft fuselage or the aluminum seatbacks in commercial aircraft. The Extreme Shock website that, most times, the AFR will even fragment upon impacting 1/2" sheet rock leaving nothing but small fragments and/or dust to hit the next layer of sheet rock and little to nothing that would present a threat to people on the other side of a contemporary residential wall.
The easiest test for this was to set up a small "wall" composed of standard wood frame, two layers of sheet rock - one on either side - and a paper target three feet on the other side of the wall from my shooting position. I loaded my magazine with six of the test rounds I'd been sent and fired them through my Springfield Armory 1911. All six rounds were fired through the wall. Five of them fragmented as they passed through the first layer of sheet rock as determined by the small bits and pieces that caused holes in the second layer of sheetrock. The paper target three feet beyond the "wall" and showed not any sign of having been impacted by any fragments or even dust that I could find.
With that kind of fragmentation and breakup being caused by sheet rock I had to wonder if the round would actually penetrate any tissue type of material. Out came another plastic milk jug full of pudding. One AFR round into it was sufficient to convince me that the projectile does indeed hold together to penetrate a bit and then start coming apart to deliver its lethal energy. The milk jug blasted apart in an almost straight tear up one corner, but the entry hole was nice and neat. Pudding was blasted everywhere, some of it landing on other target stands about six feet away. Conclusion? The AFR acts like it was designed to. It won't penetrate hard stuff but will drastically destroy softer tissue.
Like any specialty ammo, the EPR and AFR rounds aren't cheap. The AFR ammo runs about $2.50 per round. A 5 round pack lists at $16.29 with a 20 round box listed at $51.43 on the Extreme Shock website. The EPR rounds are priced slightly lower and you should keep in mind that the prices I'm quoting are for .45ACP ammo as that's what I tested and will get more of for my own use.