NovX ammo is really popular now. Along with Ruger’s ARX ammo, this very-light-for-caliber bullet moving at hyper speeds is helping redefine self-defense ammo. The light-bullet-moving-fast trend isn’t new – Lee Jurras helped push that idea in the 1960s with his SuperVel company based out of Shelbyville, Indiana. Now, NovX has taken up the baton with its super-light, uber-fast 9mm ammo.
The Question…Faster or Slower?
SuperVel’s light JHP bullets were pushed along at a good clip, helping set up the argument about a slow, heavy pistol bullet being more effective than a fast, light bullet. There is no clear answer to the question of which is more effective. It really depends on the situation you’re in. If the weather is warm and people are dressed lightly, a fast-moving JHP might be more effective than if it’s winter with its attendant bulky coats. Another scenario pops up if you have to shoot through a barricade. In this case, the slower, heavier bullet might win the day. Here’s another argument for slower, heavier bullets…the British have typically chambered a lot of their revolvers for slow, heavy .455-caliber “thumper” bullets. It was explained to me by someone who should know that sometimes that’s required. In defending the Brit’s use of the big, slower bullet, the example was given of shutting a safe’s door. A slow, steady push will close it (the big, slow bullet) whereas a quick “whack” with the hand (the fast, lighter JHP) will just bounce off. Where you stand on this is your business. In our modern times, the trend seems to go both ways depending on who you buy your ammo from and your particular situation. I’ve seen heavy, cast or jacketed bullets sold alongside the zippier JHPs. We do know, however, what side of the argument NovX falls on.
NovX ammunition is built differently than conventional lead-and-copper bullets in a brass case. The big difference is the bullet. In terms of what is “normal” (other than the setting on your dryer), most 9mm rounds use bullets of 115, 124 or 147 grains. These can be FMJ, JHP, coated or lead. The NovX 9mm loads use bullets of 65 grains, made as (the company calls them) poly-copper matrix projectiles…lead free. They are claimed to weight 40% less than lead and to be harder. These bullets are designed to go through glass and to create massive soft tissue wound cavities. They will, however, fragment upon contact with hardened steel or concrete. This is to lessen the danger of ricochets.
The bullets are loaded into a two-part stainless steel NAS3 case. Here is an illustration from their website…
As you can see from this and the photo at the very top, the bullet is fluted. It is sort of similar to a 3-bladed Phillips-head screwdriver. Other companies load 4-fluted bullets…this is becoming more popular. Here are a couple of claimed advantages of the NovX round… 1. It tends to have less recoil than “normal” +P 9mm defensive ammo. (I did feel less recoil when I shot it). 2. You can buy lesser-expensive practice ammo that is the ballistic twin of the “corkscrew” round. This “cross-trainer” ammo uses a rounded 65-grain bullet made of the same materials as the self-defense bullet, but is a little lesser expensive. Here’s a shot of both types…
Here’s a closeup of the case that I shot:
You see the two-part construction. Here’s another screen shot that goes into a bit more detail about the case:
The stainless steel case is an interesting twist. For one thing, it supposedly increases lubricity over brass which helps in chambering rounds. Another nice feature is that you can pick up your cases from a range session with a magnet…no more bending over a zillion times to pick up brass. And, being a reloader, I value the very-shiny aspect of stainless steel. But, alas…these cases are not reloadable. Don’t try, in spite of what they say above (not sure what they are referring to, “9mm reloads are increased”). I tried to reload one, and pulled the base off the upper part with the very first die. I am the inquisitive type – I know that a two-part case would probably not be able to be reloaded but I just wanted to see what would happen anyway. Now I know. I got the stuck case out and now promptly throw all NovX cases in File 13 (old-timer slang for the trash). Do not get them near a resizing die.
Even The Box Is Different…
What might a young company looking to create a niche in the decades-old ammo market do to attract attention to itself? Maybe they might change the packaging the product come in, and then throw in an extra round with every box. Let’s look at the boxes these rounds are shipped in.
We see a modern-looking box with a window that displays the 26th round (self-defense ammo) or the 51st round (practice “cross-trainer” ammo). In the 26-round box is this folded flyer:
A Package Deal
One of the smartest things they did is to make two similar loads… the fluted-bullet self-defense load and the same-weight round-nose practice load. As we look at velocities (below) we see that they are fairly well matched. You can practice with the round-nose and carry the fluted-bullet load and not worry about them shooting to different points-of-aim.
Speaking of shooting, what does the company claim in terms of velocity for their 9mm loads? Let’s look at the numbers from their website…
|Ballistic Gel:||Gel w/Alumimum *||Gel W/Car Windshield: **|
|65-gr. Fluted, +P||1800||468||16.75"||13.75"||12.25"|
|65-gr. Cross-Trainer +P||1800||468||19.25"%|
* aluminum 10″ in front of gel
** car windshield 10″ in front of gel
This is all well and good. We’ve all seen terminal ballistics numbers from the manufacturers that put their product in a very good light. But…what if it were true? What if the velocities they claim really do happen (or are close) when you pull the trigger?
By and large, I can vouch for the velocities. I shot the ammo (regular pressure, not +P) in three different guns:
- Taurus G2C, 3.2-inch barrel
- Sar K2P, 3.8-inch barrel
- Troy Industries A4 “Other Firearm”, 13.5-inch barrel
In the Taurus, I got about 1400 fps on the chronograph, not too far off from the advertised 1730. You might expect this, with the shorter barrel of the compact 9mm Taurus. Where it got interesting was with the 3.8-inch-barreled Sar. This excellent CZ75 variant shot the fluted 65-grainer right at 1700 fps…not bad at all. Figure in a target-model 9mm with a 5-inch barrel and then you might even get more velocity than they claim.
How about a 13.5-inch tube? The Troy M5 gave me 1930 fps with the self-defense load…200 fps more than advertised. I know, the velocity they got was in a pistol, but the 9mm pistol-caliber carbine/rifle is gaining in popularity and can be found in many bedrooms as a home-defense weapon. With this ammo, that makes sense. Five hundred and thirty-eight foot-pounds of energy from a 9mm is nothing to be sneezed at…you’re knocking on the .357 magnum’s door. Add in some secondary uses for this round…varmint control, target shooting, plinking, competition… using the Cross-Trainer round-nose version, you could have a lot of fun.
So…what is NovX up to? What can we expect in the future? According to their site, they are working on the introduction of a .223 rifle round. Here is what they are working on…a 35-grain bullet of similar construction at 4120 fps, with 1318 ft-lbs. of energy. Talk about a flat trajectory… This would be the round to try some distance shooting with, if you like your AR or bolt .223. According to the company, it gets 19.25 inches of penetration in gel and expands to 1 7/8 inches.
I’ve not seen this on any store shelf yet. They are also projecting ammunition soon for the following calibers:
- .380 Auto
- .38 Special
- .40 S&W
- .45 ACP
- 7.62×51 (.308)
- .300 Blackout
I assume they will do what they did with the 9mm – bring out a self-defense load and a practice load, at least for the handgun calibers. I think it just cements in place the notion that the 9mm is “the” self-defense handgun caliber today, at least according to NovX, in that this was the first caliber that they actually have produced ammo for. I’m partial to the .45 ACP, but interestingly enough I own more 9mm guns than .45 autos …I guess that says something.
Anyway, check out the NovX ARX ammo. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Run your own penetration tests, if you are in a place that will let you do that. Check the velocities like I did… you might come away very impressed. I think NovX is on to something here. I’d bet Lee Jurras would be onboard with what they’re doing – he got the ball rolling over four decades ago.
Let me know what you think below, especially if you’ve shot this ammo. I’m always interested in what you think about these topics. As always, go shooting and stay safe!
Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 8-and-counting grandkids.