October 15, 2022
Winning Streak the idea of utilizing an illuminating agent on a projectile is not new. Since the 1500s, even, there were recipes used for cannon munitions that would allow the crew to adjust fire according to the trail of an outgoing projectile. These primitive “tracers” were hit and miss. (Yeah, that pun was absolutely intended.) The concept proved sound and technology got better through the centuries. The first true small-arms tracer was developed by the British during World War I: “Cartridge S.A. Tracer .303-inch Mark I,” which debuted in 1915. Not long after, the U.S. followed with the M1917. You guessed it, the year was 1917.
For the non-military user though, tracer rounds can be problematic. The mechanism that illuminates most tracers is usually a highly flammable metallic fuel such as magnesium. The tracer doesn’t stop burning until its fuel is depleted, which can result in massive fires. The 2018 Lake Christine fire in Colorado was caused by tracer ammunition and the folks who started it were charged with fourth-degree arson. If you have military surplus tracer ammunition, do us all a favor and leave it as militaria.
If you’ve been wanting to enjoy the fun of tracers without the combustibility and liability, Ammo Inc. has what you’ve been looking for. Streak Visual Ammunition features a luminescent coating applied to the base of the bullet instead of a metallic fuel. Streak ammo is no more likely to cause a fire than traditional copper-jacketed rounds.
The coating is similar to the “glow-in-the-dark” coatings you’ve seen on common items in your life. When you fire a Streak round, the powder ignites and burns once the primer is struck. The muzzle flash is what activates the glow-in-the-dark coating. It also works similarly to using a flashlight to activate the luminescent paint on the dots of an older watch. Luminescent paint is even used on some imported night sights. The effect is a little more subtle than a traditional tracer, but it is still noticeable when you’re behind it. If you’re standing some 30 degrees at an angle away from the rear of the flying bullet, the illumination appears invisible. (So, if you’re worried about a bad guy determining your position by watching the bullets’ path (like tracers on a battlefield), rest easy.
I see some practical uses for Streak ammo — and a couple of impractical ones. A practical purpose would be to use it as a training aid during live-fire, low-light training. This ammunition would be great for shoot-house work or some sort of tactical shooting course. In scenarios like these, the instructor is often behind the shooter and, unlike a coach on a flat range, the instructor isn’t looking at the shooters hand and gun. During live-fire shoot-house training, the instructor can watch the decisions unfold with an awareness of the bullets’ general impact; there’s no need to wait and see where the student struck the target. Streak could lead to a more interactive coaching session and improve that knowledge transfer. Caveat: The shooter should be on the intermediate side so they’ll be less likely to look at the streaking red or green light instead of what they’re shooting at.
Another benefit comes down to my experience when shooting the Streak ammunition. I have noticed that when shooting Streak through a gun with iron sights, if I am focusing on the sights rather than allowing my focus to drift, the light trail is less obvious to me. It’s there, but because of my “focus,” I’m don’t see it that well. To my mind, this makes Streak a great training aid for an intermediate shooter to work on sight focus. A new shooter might get distracted too easily, while an experienced shooter might be able to self-diagnose mistakes by looking at the groups on the target. For that intermediate shooter, I feel that Streak could be a helpful tool. If the trail is bright, focus harder on the sight. (You’re welcome to use that, Streak guys). When shooting with a red-dot sight, I have observed the opposite to be true. If I get “sucked” into the dot, I lose the trails a bit. If I let the dot float and look at the target, the lights give me a show.
One area that I see limited usefulness for Streak ammo is the ability to “walk” or “adjust fire” on a target during a gunfight. There’s a big difference between using a belt-fed at 200 meters loaded with tracers and using a pistol at 3 meters. Self-defense gunfights happen so fast and (usually) so close that I don’t see illuminating projectiles as something I would depend on. In certain limited instances at greater distance? Perhaps, but that would require preparing for a specific circumstance within an incident with a very low percentage of probability. You’re better off getting proper training and learning how to shoot, move, identify threats and put yourself in a position to win than you are to depend on using a bullet’s light trail to walk rounds into a target. If it’s a contingency you want to plan for, Streak does offer the coating on hollowpoint projectiles for various calibers. Maybe you want to train with a similar bullet as the one you carry.
The most impractical use for Streak ammunition is one that I think is just as valid as the training benefits: It’s fun! Red or green streaks look cool on a dim range or at dusk, and shooting should be fun. I guarantee that if you bring a person out to the range and load some Streak ammunition, they’ll be hooked on shooting by the end of the session.
The Streak ammo I’ve shot has a little more recoil than similar grain-weight offerings from other manufacturers. Streak ammunition is not loaded to +P levels, but it was slightly noticeable. I imagine this is because they wanted to ensure enough muzzle flash was available to light up the coating. However, the amount of muzzle flash in many of the calibers I shot was not that distracting.
The quality and accuracy of the ammunition is solid. I had no malfunctions with any of the loads I tested for Guns & Ammo. I shot 9mm, .38 and .45 ACP. Across the board, accuracy results were very good. (This isn’t match ammo though.) From an FN High Power, the 124-grain 9mm round impressed me with several sub-2-inch groups from 25 yards. The .38s with a 125-grain hollowpoint rewarded me with several groups in the low 3 inches from a Taurus Executive Grade 856. It was one of the most accurate loads I’ve tested in that gun.
Pricing is on par with other premium ammunition, and well below what we were paying during COVID. As a unique training tool, or just for fun, Streak is a high-quality and unique addition to anyone’s ammo locker.
For more info on Ammo Inc.'s Streak Visual Ammunition, visit: ammoinc.com
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