Monday, May 9, 2016

Need to Keep an Eye on This

A noteworthy innovation appears to be coming in ammunition.  Shell Shock Technologies has introduced a two piece case, in what appears to be the first major change in cartridge technology in decades, called NAS3. Ammoland news summarizes the design this way:
The NAS3 two-piece case consists of a solid nickel-plated aircraft aluminum head and a proprietary enhanced nickel alloy stainless cylinder. The 9mm case is 50% lighter and costs significantly less than conventional brass cases. The weight savings will be even more dramatic for rifle cases. Shell Shock will be releasing additional pistol cases (380 and .45ACP) by year-end and a selection of rifle calibers over the next 12 months, all of which will feature NAS3 technology.
I find this pretty interesting, but your first thought has got to be, "How much?  What's this all going to cost me?"  skipping ahead in the news piece, they include:
Cost is king and NAS3 cases are priced lower than brass and beat brass on every performance metric. NAS3 cases contain no ‘red metal’ based raw materials.  Unlike brass, unstable and unpredictable swings in copper prices do not effect NAS3 pricing. In addition, NAS3 cases are drawn not extruded, drawing is a cheaper, faster and a more accurate production process.
Cheaper and better?  Now you're talking my language.  Some more highlights:
The nickel plated aircraft-grade aluminum head, offers greater lubricity than brass and will not abrade, clog, foul, wear-out or damage breach and ejector mechanisms. SST’s patent pending design also prevents ‘ballooning’ caused by pistols and automatic weapons with an unsupported breach.  The head can be anodized in different colors for branding purposes and easy load identification.
The proprietary nickel alloy stainless cylinder offers uniform wall thickness and a case capacity that is fractionally larger than a standard 9mm shell. Outside dimensions comply with SAAMI specifications.
The combination of materials offers greater corrosion resistance, tensile strength (2x stronger) and elasticity than brass. NAS3 cases will not split, chip, crack or grow (stretch) and are fully-reloadable with SST’s custom reloading dies. Testers have reported up to 40 reloads. NAS3 cases eject cool to-the-touch and can be picked up with a magnet (great for outdoor ranges). SST will buy back spent cases from range operators for the same price per pound as brass cases.
For all the time I've spent bent over, walking the club range looking for my 45 ACP cases, the idea of swinging a magnet on a stick around to pick them is appealing (yeah, I'll have to be sorting out the cheap, crap ammo).  (And if you're a regular reader here, and probably also anal retentive, you'll say "Hmm.  That 'nickel alloy stainless' must be 400 series stainless"). 
The NRA "First Freedom" gang got their hands on some to review and loved the new technology.
It was hard not to be impressed from every perspective, and there are a whole lot of those.

The big one is that they shoot just great. We tried our samples in several Glocks, a Springfield XD, a Grand Power X-Calibur, a Kimber and a JP PCC AR. Almost as important, if you really like to shoot (and hence, handload), the cases are the reloader’s dream made real—magnetically retrievable. 

A laundry list of other great qualities fill out the rest of those perspectives. While you’ll need a die swap to handle the nickel alloy body of the case, it will pay off: The discharges are cool on ejection, need less resizing due to higher tensile strength, and are fabulously consistent in internal capacity. H.P White Laboratories data shows a 10-round string of Berry’s 124s over Titegroup with 3 ft./sec. overall variation. Think that might provide an accuracy boost? We do, too.
Now that they've got my attention, it's time to put on my engineer's (skeptic's) hat.  First off: it's new.  Never believe initial claims.  "In God we trust, everyone else bring data and keep your hands where I can see 'em".  Second: let's say it really is all they say.  Are all the other makers going to pay them patent license fees to use their process?  Or are we looking at another SawStop, suing the sh*t out of competitors to keep similar products off the market.  (As an aside, my 35 year old table saw has some issues, and if I replace it, I'd consider one with the finger saver technology, but SawStop has alienated me with their behavior and my inclination is to avoid them, even if I have to buy a "finger eater" design). 

Like I say: I need to keep an eye on this.  This could be a really major development.  If you've got a time machine handy, why don't you pop ahead five or ten years and see if everyone's using them, would you?
Photo credit:  Darren Parker at America's First Freedom 


  1. I feel the same way about Saw Stop- great idea, great product, but trying to ram it down everyones throat by regulation and litigation really turns me off. I would have bought one by now except for that behavior.

  2. Appears to have possibilities.
    Picking up spent cartridges with a nail sweep would be great,no hot brass would be great too.
    I've been using table saws,miter saws,and an old radial arm saw for years,never cut any fingers,let alone cut any off.
    Sure,the sawstop would be great for inexperienced users,or overconfident people who get careless-but trying to force people-and .gov funded schools-(our local "career center" has sawstop table saws)- to buy it makes me sure I'll never own a saw with sawstop technology-the table saws and miter saws I have now will last the rest of my life,and probably my kid's live if they take are of them.

  3. Any time I see "new technology" in the gun world these days I try to look at the angles that might be used by our gun hating federal government. I'm not saying that I see such an application in this in particular... but I am saying to look very closely for something they could use against us. Remember that they have commented that, if you can't control the guns... control the ammo. We have to ask ourselves how a shift from brass cases to these might be used by them. I hate to always be a conspiracy theorist... I hate it even worse that the theories are so often true.

    1. That's a good attitude, but I don't see anything particular about this technology. If they mandate it for environmental reasons, or something else they pull out of their "nether regions", they could overwhelm SST's ability to produce it and cause another ammo shortage.

      The article said it was "the perfect platform to support lead free and frangible projectiles. Lighter bullets demand +P and +P+ loads", so maybe it could be a way to force lead bans and impact bullet casting. That's all I can see.

  4. I remember someone experimenting with two-piece cases back in the 80's. I believe it was the Germans with brass or steel heads and plastic cases. I picked up a few at a range as a curiosity. Too bad I don't know what happened to them.

    I don't think it was a very successful experiment - heat being the major factor.

    1. I figured it was a safe bet that people have tried this, just because firearms are so mature as technology. Still, they've got to know the hardest problems they're facing are heat and pressure.