Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT) Ammunition

By Chuck Hawks and Rocky Hays

DRT ammo box
Illustration courtesy of Dynamic Research Technologies.

DRT produces lead free, jacketed, rifle and pistol ammunition. The unique aspect of DRT ammunition is its bullet. DRT bullets are formed from a core of densely compressed, 99.9% pure, powdered metal. (The actual types of metal used are not specified.) This core is not sintered or bonded, only compressed. It is inserted into a highly concentric copper jacket and the final 9mm bullet is formed with a cup point. (A "cup point" is a wide, shallow hollow point.)

The resulting bullet is claimed to be highly accurate. It is also claimed that the DRT bullet will disintegrate if it hits a hard metal surface without ricocheting. In soft tissue, "expansion" (actually reversion of the core to its powdered state) is supposed to be initiated by hydrostatic force, resulting in complete disintegration of the bullet's core and massive soft tissue damage.

We were asked to review a DRT ammo product and settled on the 9mm Luger (9x19mm) caliber, since we had a number of 9mm pistols on hand. DRT supplied two 50 round boxes of their standard 9mm ammunition for this review. These cartridges were loaded in Sellier & Bellot (S&B) brass with 124 grain bullets, although the bullet weight was not printed anywhere on the attractive white and maroon DRT box in which the ammo is packaged. Nor is any sort of ballistic information provided, not even the claimed muzzle velocity. To a consumer buying DRT 9mm ammo over the counter, it is mystery ammunition.

Other handgun calibers available from DRT include .38 Special, .357 SIG, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. DRT also offers rifle ammunition in selected calibers ranging from .223 Remington to .505 Gibbs. For details, see the DRT website: http://www.drtammo.com

We selected Glock 19, Beretta 90-TWO and HK-USP pistols as representative nines in which to test fire some DRT ammo. Guns and Shooting Online's Gunsmithing Editor, Rocky Hays, assisted me with the shooting chores. These were our personal pistols and well broken-in. Unfortunately, we did not have a new in the box 9mm pistol on hand to test with DRT ammo.

We were able to verify that the supplied DRT 9x19mm ammunition was indeed quite accurate. Shooting at 25 yards from a Pistol Perch sitting on a solid bench rest, we were able to achieve three and five shot groups as small as 1" with both the Beretta and Glock pistols, while the HK managed a 2-3/8" five shot group. The average group size for all three pistols ran about 2-1/2". This is good performance for ammunition fired from unmodified service pistols.

DRT ammunition appears to be a carefully manufactured product. Reliability was 100% (Of course, we were shooting highly reliable pistols!) Subjectively, the recoil and muzzle blast of the DRT 9mm load felt like normal 9x19 ammunition. It does not seem to be loaded to +P velocity and pressure, nor does it seem to be a low recoil load. We think that it is probably standard pressure ammunition loaded within the SAAMI maximum average pressure specification of 35,000 psi.

Unfortunately, we were not able to confirm the bullet expansion/fragmentation claimed by DRT. At a distance of about 10 yards, we shot into gallon jugs of water, nine layers of 7/16" oriented strand board (OSB) and, in desperation, a dirt bank. In no case did we get one of these supposedly frangible bullets to expand. It made a 9mm hole through the water jugs, a 9mm hole through all nine layers of OSB and a 9mm hole in the dirt. All of the bullets that we recovered were essentially unchanged except for rifling marks. We we do not have access to calibrated ballistic gelatin and therefore were unable to reproduce the test results documented by DRT on their web site.

We fired a variety of other brands of ammunition/bullets at the same test materials as a sort of control, including Winchester 9x19mm 115 grain JHP, Remington .38 Special 125 grain SJHP, Remington Golden Bullet .22 LR-HP and Hornady .17 HMR 17 grain V-MAX. (The latter was fired from a rifle.) All expanded as expected, reaffirming our confidence in the performance of standard, lead core, hollow point handgun ammunition for general-purpose use.

DRT's Director of Sales, Nathan Dudney, wrote to me after reading our shooting results and told me that DRT bullets only break-up on surfaces harder than themselves. They are designed to shoot through all the barricade substances used in FBI testing, such as wood, walls, sheet metal, soft armor, soil and auto glass. Here, in part, are Nathan's comments:

"There are only two circumstances our rounds are designed to come apart. One if they hit tissue. Two if they hit something harder than themselves. This would be steel, very hard concrete or asphalt, or something of this nature (if they hit something hard enough to make lead ricochet). If you shoot anything in-between these two extremes, the bullet will stay intact and it is designed to do so."

That being the case, our results would be typical. Unfortunately, were unable to find any people willing to be test subjects, so we could not verify expansion in living tissue.

After we returned from the range, Rocky pulled a few DRT bullets for experimentation. DRT is pretty coy about what their bullet cores are actually made of. Hitting a DRT bullet with a hammer flattened the bullet, but it remained largely intact. He then removed a bullet core from its copper jacket and hit the core with a hammer. This basically powdered the core. Rocky then turned the flame from a cutting torch on the powdered core and discovered that some of the core material melted and some did not. He suspects that the metal that melted might be tin, probably used as a binder. The material that did not melt in the flame is probably something heavy, akin to tungsten or bismuth; possibly the sort of material used in Hevi-Shot and other lead shot replacements.

Our conclusion is that the DRT ammo we tested is highly accurate. It may be a viable alternative for police use. (We do not have the facilities to test this.) Bear in mind that police requirements and civilian self-defense requirements are quite different. We would not recommend this ammunition for personal or family defense use in an apartment, condo, mobile home or typical urban house, as an errant bullet would easily penetrate walls, endangering people on the other side. The DRT ammo we tested is definitely not a substitute for pre-fragmented ammunition, such as MagSafe or the famous Glaser Safety Slug.

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Copyright 2008, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.