In early 2017, Guns & Ammo received an exclusive invitation to meet with True Velocity President Chris Tedford for a first-look presentation outlining what the young ammunition company was developing. What we observed was literally the next level of ammunition technology and manufacturing techniques on display –something others had attempted but were unable to accomplish. Our lasting impression was that True Velocity was different: They had the financial backing, on-staff engineers and motivation to actually make it work. We relayed our encouragement and when production samples were ready, True Velocity asked if G&A would break the news to the industry.
A year later, True Velocity was ready and on the brink of going into full production with its distinct composite-cased ammunition. The company had set its sights high and felt the customer who could benefit most from its technology was the warfighter, and Tedford and his team were quickly advancing toward that goal.
G&A decided a visit to the factory was in order and brought Rifles & Glass Editor Tom Beckstrand, a retired Special Forces officer, along for a closer look.
After several days on the ground, both at the factory and at the range, G&A left the facility sold on the technology, manufacturing and performance of the ammunition. We opined that the technology had legs and was going to be the future of military small arms ammunition. We felt so strongly about it, we featured True Velocity on the cover of our June 2018 issue, complete with an in-depth look at the company and its achievement.
Less than a year later, G&A is here to bring you news that True Velocity is announcing a couple of very strategic alliances, bringing them steps closer to its intended goal of supporting the warfighter with a revolutionary new form of small arms ammunition.
Alliance with Dillon Aero
Dillon Aero is best known for its bullet-hose, the M134D minigun, in service with the U.S. Military and 30 of its allies. Mounted on everything from small MATV’s to rotary-wing aircraft, the M134D is capable of firing in excess of 3,000 rounds of 7.62 NATO per minute.
“Dillon Aero is excited about partnering with True Velocity,” said Dillon’s Nick Perfetto, vice president of business affairs. “Their advanced technology and weight reduction bring an advanced level of capability to today’s warfighter. The combination of True Velocity’s ammunition and the Dillon M134D on the battlefield is a game changer!”
Following a lengthy period of rigorous safety and functionality testing from both ground and aerial platforms, True Velocity and Dillon Aero have agreed to a strategic partnership aimed at providing the U.S. military’s rotary wing and ground units with a firepower solution that is far more effective and reliable than any other small-caliber solution currently available.
The Fine Print
True Velocity has been working closely with Dillon Aero to validate the effectiveness and reliability of their composite-cased ammunition in the M134D weapon system, firing thousands of rounds through the minigun over the course of the last year. The M134D reliably cycles True Velocity’s ammunition, a claim that no other composite-cased ammunition can make. Even brass-cased ammunition has had reliability issues in the M134D.
To put it in perspective, the standard loadout on a AH-6 “Little Bird” equipped with an M134D is 6,000 rounds of 7.62 NATO. As compared to brass-cased ammunition, True Velocity ammunition yields a 240-pound weight savings per basic payload, which allows the helicopter to take on enough additional fuel to allow for 39 additional minutes of flight time.
One of the concerns associated with the M134D is the way it can cook-off live rounds with brass-cased ammunition. A cook-off occurs when a cartridge sits in a hot chamber and spontaneously fires because the powder inside the case becomes hot enough to ignite.
Dillon has a 1,500-round test they run on the M134D and found brass-cased ammunition will cook-off after sitting in the chamber for anywhere from 3 to 60 seconds. Using True Velocity’s composite-cased ammunition, Dillon recorded a 20-percent lower bore temperature (thanks to the case insulating the chamber), which ultimately led them to a 2,200-round test on the ammunition. Dillon had to wait 5 minutes before one case got hot enough to melt — but the bullet never left the barrel. The absence of cook-offs in a Minigun should bring a welcome sigh of relief from end users.
Next Generation .50 Caliber Machine Gun
The developmental partnership will also extend to Dillon Aero’s forthcoming M503D .50-caliber machine gun, which the company expects to field before the end of 2019. Designed for employment by air, land and sea, this new gun will feature three barrels and the ability to shoot 1,500 rounds per minute. It is said to be lighter, faster and smarter than existing .50-caliber machine guns.
“We’re very proud of the work that went into forging this relationship with Dillon Aero,” said True Velocity President Chris Tedford. “This alliance represents a combination of Dillon’s unsurpassed rate of machine gun fire with True Velocity’s revolutionary case design, reduced cartridge weight and unmatched reliability. This is the alignment of two very innovative companies, based solely on the goal of better equipping our fighting forces.”
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems
In July 2018, the U.S. Army awarded contracts to five companies to develop prototypes of the Next Generation Squad Weapons Systems to replace the M4 and M249 platforms.
One of the contracts went to General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), who partnered with True Velocity to support its new weapon systems. True Velocity’s composite case design will yield significant ballistic improvements over traditional brass-cased ammunition, while also reducing the weight of a loaded cartridge, improving accuracy, decreasing thermal heat signature and diminishing wear and tear on the weapon system.
The most obvious difference between brass-cased and composite-cased ammunition is a weight reduction of 30 percent, on average. While most of us are not overly concerned with the weight of ammunition as it relates to aviation, the guys on the ground should pay attention.
A basic loadout for any soldier is seven magazines for a total of 210 rounds carried. Switching nothing but the ammunition to True Velocity’s composite-cased 5.56 NATO cartridges allows the same soldier to carry 300 rounds at the same weight. If sticking with the 210-round basic load, the weight savings would allow that same soldier to carry more water or mission-essential equipment.
Any infantry or special operations veteran who reads this will immediately grasp the magnitude and can appreciate the savings. For those not familiar, “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.” Carrying weight for miles makes the guy carrying it conscious of every ounce.
“True Velocity is committed to producing composite-cased ammunition that is superior to standard brass-cased ammunition in every way,” said True Velocity President Chris Tedford. “We feel strongly that our partnership with General Dynamics will result in a disruptive, technologically advanced weapon system that will afford our military a distinct advantage on the battlefield.”
The Next Generation Squad Assault Rifle (NGSAR) is expected to improve upon the effective range of the M16 and M4 platforms, while according to the Army, simultaneously yielding capability improvements in accuracy and lethality. The platform will weigh less than its predecessor, fire lightweight ammunition and have reduced acoustic and flash signature.
While True Velocity declined to discuss the specifics of the 6.8mm cartridge they are developing to support the GD-OTS weapon system, they did emphasize that the case design will be noticeably different from traditional brass-cased cartridge designs.
“We’ve developed and are currently validating a revolutionary 6.8mm case design to support the (GD-OTS) submission for the NGSAR program that we feel cannot be achieved using cases built from brass or even a combination of steel and composite,” said True Velocity Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Pat Hogan. “We think it will change the paradigm of cartridge design and cause the ammunition industry to reconsider what is ballistically achievable in small arms ammunition.”
Hogan indicated that early testing has shown the new case design is capable of withstanding in excess of 80,000 PSI of chamber pressure, while generating muzzle velocities in excess of 3,100 feet per second.
During our visit to the company’s Garland, TX, manufacturing facility, G&A did conduct and validate the accuracy potential of True Velocity’s 7.62 NATO ammunition with an Accuracy International AXMC rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. The best five-shot group achieved at 100 yards measured .33 inch, and an average of five, five-shot groups was just .46 inch, which demonstrates what this ammunition is capable of from a precision standpoint.
Another important advantage of True Velocity’s ammunition is the way it handles heat. High temperatures rapidly accelerate weapon wear and tear by softening the material doing the work. When you combine high pressure from firing with heat, parts start breaking.
An example is the chamber of an AR-15 and M4 carbine. When the rifle fires and begins extraction, residual pressure remains in the chamber. That pressure creates a binding force on the bolt’s lugs and it gets worse the higher the chamber pressure and shorter the gas system. True Velocity’s approach with composite cased ammunition prevents parts from heating up too quickly, allowing increased longevity of the platform and its wearable parts.
“By integrating the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Next Generation Squad Weapon with True Velocity’s superior composite-cased ammunition, we can provide the U.S. Army with the right balance of lethality, weight reduction, and overmatch capability. We are excited for this partnership as we build on our capabilities as a system integrator” said Steve Elgin, vice president and general manager of armament and platform systems for GD-OTS.
Ammo for the Average Man
When we visited True Velocity nearly a year ago, the company’s focus was exclusively on providing an effective, light-weight ammunition solution to the defense market. But as the company continues to advance, its horizon seems to be expanding, with additional focus and bandwidth being devoted to the international and domestic law enforcement markets. It appears that the civilian commercial market is now in play as well.
“While we’re currently laser-focused on meeting needs in the law enforcement and defense markets, both domestically and internationally, the demand from the commercial sector is coming across loud and clear,” said Hogan. “We recognize that demand, and we’re currently exploring a number of options that would lead to commercial availability of True Velocity’s composite-cased ammunition in the near-term.”
G&A continues to maintain a close relationship with True Velocity and is closely monitoring the development and adoption of its composite-cased ammunition both at home and abroad. For news and updates, continue to visit us at www.gunsandammo.com.