To learn more, visit http://libertyammunition.com/.
Liberty Ammunition’s Civil Defense ammo subscribes to a different theory for rapid incapacitation. We tested two varieties, the 9mm and 45 ACP rounds to see how they stack up.
Taking the idea of “light and fast” model to new levels, the Civil Defense projectiles weigh in at well under half that same caliber traditional bullets. For example, the 9mm projectile weighs just 50 grains. Compare that to 115 or 124 grains for common 9mm defense rounds. The .45 ACP bullets weigh in at 78 grains as compared to a more traditional weight range of 185 to 230 grains. The result is blistering speed. The 9mm ammo is factory rated at 2,000 feet per second while the .45 claims 1,900 feet per second. Even with those velocities, recoil is shockingly light, owing to the superlight bullets.
When you look into the “hollow point” cavity of a Civil Defense bullet, you’ll see a seemingly bottomless hole. The cavity is cut nearly of the base of the bullet itself. I described it as a hollow point, and it appears that way, but it’s not designed to expand in the traditional manner. The idea behind the bullet design is that the solid copper, nickel-coated projectile will pass through barriers without major upset or deformation. When it hits an organic target (read liquid-filled), the pressure of liquid against the interior of the cavity causes the projectile to split up into multiple fragments. The bullets aren’t scored, cut, or pre-fragmented, they just break apart from fluid pressure. The desired results is a big wound channel followed by 10 inches or so of penetration from the base of the projectile.
That’s the design theory; let’s see how the two calibers performed.
Shooting Some Liberty
Recoil was fantastic. Meaning there was hardly any, for either caliber. That physics thing about weight and velocity is legit, and lighter bullets like those used in the Civil Defense load will feel a lot easier on the shooter. In a handgun application, that’s great for reducing flinch and facilitating quick follow-up shots. However, since the velocity is through the roof on both of these loads, you will hear some significant noise. Since I’m one that considers happiness as the sound of gunfire, I didn’t care. I’m just passing along the observation that both the 9mm and .45 ACP loads were noticeably louder than standard loads with more traditional bullet weights and velocities.
The 9mm Civil Defense load has a velocity rating of 2,000 feet per second while the .45 ACP load claims a leisurely 1,900 feet per second. To see how fast they actually performed from my test handguns, I set up a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph 15 feet down range to measure actual velocity. The 9mm Civil Defense load, fired from my Sig Sauer P229 Legion, averaged 1,917 feet per second. The .45 ACP version, fired from a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP averaged 1,916 feet per second.
I did notice that both calibers tended to impact high and a little left to point of aim at 25 yards. I might be going out on a limb, but I’m thinking that the extreme hyper-velocity is causing an anti-matter, cyclical vortex, black hole through the time-space continuum as they fly. Or, maybe not :). This is no big deal, nor a reflection on the ammo, just an observation. If you choose any ammo with weight and velocity parameters outside the “average” for caliber, you’ll want to drift your sights accordingly to get to the point of aim/point of impact relationship that you want.
For accuracy testing, I set up targets 25 yards downrange and used a Blackhawk! Titan III rest anchored by a 25-pound bag of lead shot.
To test the 9mm variety, I used a Sig Sauer P229 Legion pistol and sighted with the SigLite sights. As the company sent a limited supply of ammo, I was only able to shoot two 5-shot groups for accuracy. Those measured 3.56 and 4.73 inches center to center for all five shots.
For the .45 ACP ammo, I used a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP pistol. I used the same rest and also sighted the old-fashioned way and got five-shot groups of 2.53 and 3.96 inches.
As this is self-defense ammo, I shot into Clear Ballistics 10% ballistic gelatin blocks. I covered the front of the block with FBI heavy fabric to simulate clothing. This fabric consists of four layers, loosely sewn together. On the outside is a denim layer, followed by an insulation layer and two different cotton layers. The idea is to approximate the effect of a shirt and jacket worn as clothing.
I tested the 9mm round, figuring that’ll be the most commonly used version. The angle of the photos are a bit deceiving, but the penetration of the bullet base was just a hair under 12-inches into the gelatin. I dug it out and what was left weighed 30.1 grains. About two inches into the gel block, the bullet fragmented violently, creating about ten different fragments moving out in different directions at a 45-degree angle. Those fragments penetrated to a depth of about 3.5 inches.
Summing it up
Normally, I accuracy test ammo using a UM Tactical rail scope mount and a Bushnell Elite 3500 Handgun Scope. I find that this takes 90% of the potential “optical iron sight” error out of the equation, so as a result, groups shrink by a significant factor. I was not able to do this for this outing, so assume that the groups shown here are worst case scenario. With the optic, based on other ammo performance, I suspect I could have reduced the group size by 40% or so if I had been able to use the scope.
Lack of recoil and muzzle flip is the big benefit here, although there is plenty of noise. The lack of felt recoil was shocking, to say the least. As for penetration, you’ll have to make your own call there. Terminal ballistics are half science and 94% voodoo, so if you’re cool with the explosive fragmentation a couple of inches in, then this ammo might be for you. Personally, I would like to see more depth of all pieces, base and fragments, but that’s the tradeoff. You can have negligible recoil paired with big velocity for lot’sa foot-pounds of kinetic energy, or you can have a heavy bullet that penetrates deep, but it’s hard to have both.
To learn more, visit http://libertyammunition.com/.