August 20, 2021
Brass rifle cartridges containing smokeless powder became popular near the end of the 19th century, and since that time the basic rifle cartridge design hasn’t changed that much. Sure, we’ve developed more sophisticated powders and much better bullets, but the overall formula for centerfire ammunition remains very much the same as it did well over 100 years ago.
But that’s changing. The revolution began in 2010 when a company in Garland, Texas, began experimenting with polymer composite-cased rifle ammunition. Over the years, that company, True Velocity, has perfected their design by combining the greatest minds in the fields of polymers, pharmacy, robotics, manufacturing, intellectual property, and chemical and electrical engineering and has created the cartridge of the future.
Let’s begin with a short vocabulary lesson because so many terms relevant to the rise of True Velocity ammo are used interchangeably and without much accuracy. True Velocity uses a polymer to create their cases. A Polymer is anything that is made of a series of monomers attached in long chains. There are natural and man-made polymers. Plastics are polymers, but not all polymers are plastics. Plastics are made from petroleum products and are either thermoset plastics, which remain in a solid state, and thermoplastics that can be heated down into a liquid and remolded. Some polymers like those used in True Velocity cases are composites, which means the polymer matrix is reinforced with other products which creates a material which is specialized to do a certain job, for instance to become stronger, lighter or resistant to electricity or heat.
Why is this important? Because shooters tend to roll their eyes when they see the term polymer. They did it in the 1970s when polymer stocks revolutionized sporting rifles and again when Gaston Glock unveiled his new semiautomatic handgun in the 1980s. The future of the gun industry has and does revolve around polymers, but not all polymers are created equal. After all, spray cheese and a 28-day-aged ribeye at Michelin-starred restaurants are both technically food, though I suspect you’d admit that they are not interchangeable products.
Why True Velocity Composite-Cased Ammo Works
Just as there are chefs who devote their lives to producing sophisticated table fare, so are True Velocity’s engineers who devote their lives to the development and manipulations of polymers to improve ammunition. True Velocity’s engineers designed a cartridge case that could outperform conventional brass cases. To do this, they focused on what makes a loaded cartridge accurate, and that boils down to a single word: consistency. Extruded brass can produce good accuracy, but this material has its limitations. First, the extrusion process allows for some variability in wall thickness as brass is stretched and formed. That variation is minor by some standards, but not by the standards of polymer engineers.
True Velocity case construction is entirely different. The forming process begins with a steel-cased head that’s overmolded with polymer. The case neck and shoulder are molded separately and then fused to the lower portion of the case. This allows for interior case dimensions that are far more precise than what is possible with brass; 10 times as precise, as a matter of fact. And since the True Velocity manufacturing facility looks and feels more like an aerospace lab with a full robotic operation and a fusillade of more than 600 checks and inspection points, including laser measurement sensors and AI algorithmic quality control. This level of sophistication means there’s an 80 percent reduction in manufacturing footprint compared to brass-cased extrusion, and a single production cell at True Velocity’s Garland, Texas, facility will have the ability to manufacture and load about 24 million rounds each year going forward.
Why the Military Wanted True Velocity
The Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) program is seeking a new 6.8mm round and to replace the 5.56x45mm cartridge currently fired through the M4A1 and M249 SAW weapons. One major concern for the military is not only performance but also weight. The loadout weight of True Velocity’s composite-cased 6.8TVCM ammunition is more than 30 percent lower than standard 7.62x51mm brass-cased ammunition. This means soldiers can carry more rounds with less weight, but it also means an overall reduction in the cost and complexity associated with moving large amounts of ammunition. But those weight savings had to come without sacrificing performance. True Velocity’s commercial 6.8 cartridge offers increased velocity and reduced weight with better consistency and accuracy, all while keeping pressures in the mid-60,000 range, which is simply something that cannot be done with conventional brass cases.
“The Next Generation Squad Weapon project is really as much about ammunition as it is about the weapon itself,” says Pat Hogan, True Velocity’s chief marketing and sales officer. “Given the performance of our 6.8TVCM cartridge, we feel well-positioned moving into the final phase of the NGSW program.”
In addition to weight savings and consistency benefits, polymer has another major advantage over brass; it doesn’t hold heat. Because composite cases are insulators, they help maintain lower temperatures inside the firearm chamber than brass or other metallic cartridge cases. This is a major concern for the military because of the potential for excessive heat buildup causing a round to prematurely fire because of a “cook-off” effect in the chamber. True Velocity’s lower chamber pressures and temperatures also help improve the longevity of firearms.
Why Shooters Want True Velocity Ammo
The answer is simple: True Velocity offers affordable composite-cased ammunition that functions with improved performance in existing firearms. With interior dimensions that are much more concentric than those in brass cases, and powder charges that are measured to a hundredth (0.00) of a grain, it should come as no surprise that True Velocity ammunition is exceedingly consistent and accurate.
I tested the company’s .308 Winchester ammo loaded with Nosler 168-grain HPBT bullets from a Springfield Armory Waypoint rifle topped with a Leupold VX-5HD 4-20x52 scope. From 100 yards, three-shot groups were consistently between 0.36 and 0.5 inches. At 200 yards, the groups were all under 0.9 inches with the best group at 0.75 inches. If you’re keeping track, that’s sub-MOA performance. Interestingly, Springfield Armory promises the Waypoint rifle will produce 0.75-inch three-shot groups at 100 yards with premium ammunition.
Yes, True Velocity ammunition is more accurate than many match-grade loads with brass cases. But what’s most impressive about this ammo is the consistent velocities and standard deviations (SD). SD figures appear on many gun reviews, but centerfire shooters aren’t as critical of SDs and maximum spread as competitive rimfire shooters. That’s because a centerfire rifle is far more forgiving with slightly varying velocity figures than a rimfire. But, if you want to consistently shoot half-MOA groups and win competitions or make clean shots on wild game at extended ranges, you’d better pay attention to SD, for it offers critical insight into what’s going on inside your case and barrel. I was very impressed with True Velocity’s .308 Winchester ammo; I calculated the standard deviation at 5.12 with a maximum velocity spread of 15 feet per second. Good standard deviations with brass-cased centerfire ammunition is anything at or below 10 for 10 shots.
As with polymer pistol frames and polymer rifle stocks, there are those who will see True Velocity’s composite-cased design as a gimmick. This ammunition was designed by some of the best minds across multiple disciplines like pharmacy, engineering, thermodynamics and robotics. True Velocity offers improved accuracy and more consistent performance over brass cartridges, and that’s why this composite-cased ammunition has the military’s attention.
True Velocity .308 Winchester ammunition currently isn’t widely available just yet but interested shooting enthusiasts can purchase 20-round boxes from their website by click here.
With the capabilities of the Ture Velocity Garland, Texas, facility, it wouldn’t be surprising to see composite-cased ammunition available in stores across the country in 2022. Once that happens, the doubters will find that the results speak for themselves, and that the world’s most advanced ammunition has finally arrived.
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