Ruger ARX Ammunition by Polycase

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Ruger ARX Ammunition
Photo courtesy of PolyCase Ammunition, LLC

We received our allotment of Ruger ARX ammo (.45 ACP & 9mm Luger +P) last Spring for testing, but we were so busy with other reviews that we did not get around to it until now. In actuality, that is probably better for all concerned. The dust has settled after the initial introduction of ARX, other writers and editors have had their say, and we now get the last word.

Polycase ARX was designed to be the ultimate self-defense ammunition for home and law enforcement. ARX ammo uses a lightweight, non-expanding, copper-polymer matrix bullet with unique scallops that are intended to maximize stopping power.

The lower than normal sectional density (SD) of the lightweight ARX bullet decreases penetration compared to heavier for caliber, non-expanding bullets (FMJ, hard lead or solid copper). This reduces the potential for collateral damage due to over-penetration when compared to conventional non-expanding bullets. However, compared to typical JHP expanding bullets, ARX bullets exhibit increased penetration.

Tests in 10% ordnance gelatin indicated that penetration was 10% to 50% greater than selected JHP ammo. (Actual JHP bullets tested, their weight and impact velocity unknown.) The following table illustrates the penetration results with five Ruger ARX cartridges:

Ruger ARX ammo tech sheet
Illustration courtesy of PolyCase Ammunition, LLC

Rather than trying to paraphrase the specifics surrounding this ammunition, the following statement is from the ballistic engineers who designed and tested it:

"The non-expanding ARX bullet exploits the bullet's forward velocity to redirect energy laterally via flutes in the bullet ogive. This unique profile transfers maximum energy to its target through a fluid dynamic effect. The result is a bullet with stopping power and terminal performance that rivals many expanding handgun bullets."

One of the first things we noticed while testing the ARX ammunition was the reduced recoil of the .45 ACP and 9mm rounds we were firing. This reduced recoil allowed us to get back on target faster than when using conventional rounds. How much less, we could not say, but a factory engineer was able to measure a reduction of 15-35% less recoil, on average.

Maximum energy transfer and lower recoil are great, but if the accuracy is not there, what's the value? As with all of our tests involving pistol ammunition, we did our shooting at 25 yards, using the Caldwell Pistolero handgun rest. To achieve the following results, we fired multiple five-shot groups for record. Our 9mm test gun was a Springfield Model XD-9 service pistol and our .45 ACP test gun was a Colt Gold Cup Series 80 MK IV target pistol.

  • 9mm Luger +P, 80 grain ARX, MV 1,445 fps, ME 385 ft. lbs.: Smallest group 1.12 in.; Largest group 1.50 in.; Average group size = 1.35 in.
  • .45 ACP, 118 grain ARX, MV 1,307 fps, ME 448 ft. lbs.: Smallest group 1.25 in.; Largest group 1.75 in.; Average group size = 1.55 in.

This is good accuracy for self-defense handgun ammunition. Ruger's ARX ammo is not only accurate, it increases energy transfer and decreases potential collateral damage in close quarters combat, compared to ammo loaded with conventional non-expanding bullets.

However, due to its lighter than normal bullets and higher than normal velocity, ARX loads are unlikely to shoot to the same point of impact as conventional ammunition. If you decide to adopt AXR as your service ammunition, you will probably need to re-sight your handgun. This should not be a problem if your gun has fully adjustable sights, but it is likely to be a problem if you are using fixed sights that do not incorporate elevation adjustment.

Ruger/PolyCase ARX is too pricey for most shooters to use for routine target practice or plinking. For routine target practice, Polycase offers its Inceptor Sport Utility Ammo. This ammunition is ballistically matched with equivalent ARX loads and it is priced competitively with conventional FMJ cartridges. Interceptor ammo is designed for training purposes and offers high frangibility against hardened steel targets. This allows it to be incorporated into close quarters drills using steel targets.

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Copyright 2016 by Jim Clary and/or All rights reserved.