Ruger Enters Ammo Business
On Monday, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc (NYSE:RGR) will announce has become is the latest major firearms manufacturer to jump into the ammunition business.
Ruger's initial entries into the ammunition marketplace will be in the most popular person-defense calibers.
The announcement will detail a new line of Ruger-branded ammunition in the popular personal defense calibers: .380 Auto, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45ACP calibers.
With this arrangement, Ruger joins Sig Sauer in the recent vertical integration of ammunition into their product lines.
There is, however, one major manufacturing and positioning difference between the two: Ruger has chosen a lead-free copper alloy/nylon binder bullet technology versus the more traditional lead-based projectiles.
Ruger's new lead-free ammunition will be produced under a licensing agreement with Savannah, Georgia-based PolyCase Ammunition. The Outdoor Wire Digital Network first reported on the company's new ammunition and the implications of their innovative manufacturing processes across the outdoor product categories in April of this year.
Ruger's ammo line will weigh less than traditional lead projectiles and use significantly higher velocities to compensate for those lighter weight bullets in overall effectiveness, while the faster ammunition will actually offer a reduction in perceived recoil.
The Ruger 9mm ARX round weighs 74 grains; Sig's variety of 9mm rounds begin at 115 - through 147 grains.
Having spent time testing the PolyCase ammunition (largely in Ruger firearms), I know the reduction in felt recoil isn't just hype.
While firing PolyCase ARX ammunition in calibers ranging from .380 in small concealed carry pistols (including a Ruger's LCP) up to .458 SOCOM in modern sporting rifles, the lessened felt recoil was noticeable while a shift in the point of aim was not while swapping between the ARX and "traditional" ammunition.
Likewise, testing the high-speed/light-weight bullets in ballistic gelatin under FBI test protocols produced more than acceptable penetration and excellent weight retention. A reduced permanent wound cavity seemed to be offset by the the terrific shock produced by the high-speed rounds. Additionally, the rounds were reduced to a powder when fired into steel and other hard targets, further reducing the dangers of over-penetration in self-defense situations - the initial positioning for the Ruger branded product line.
All these characteristics mean Ruger can offer their popular pocket pistols and revolvers along with an environmentally sensitive, custom-designed, Ruger-branded ammunition that is more pleasant to shoot in those small guns.
In testing last December (top), PolyCase ammunition produced extremely high velocities with its lightweight ARX bullets while simultaneously meeting FBI penetration test standards (below). OWDN photos.
The small .380 pistols like the Ruger LCP are excellent for concealment or discrete carry, but it's no secret they're not especially pleasant to shoot. Reduced recoil ammunition could actually remove one of the major obstacles to practicing with them- their decidedly "snappy" recoil.
There will undoubtedly be a discussion among the more technically inclined concerning the ARX bullet's inability to create a permanent wound cavity comparable with the traditional lead bullets. That argument may be less important with consumers simply because the ammunition's reduction in felt recoil will allow shooters to shoot more rapidly- and accurately- if the need arises.
On Wednesday evening, I spoke with PolyCase co-founder Paul Lemke about what the new licensing agreement, and asked what it would mean for the PolyCase brand.
"We're still selling PolyCase ammunition," Lemke told me, "and it won't mean our Inceptor ARX, Inceptor RNP, Inceptor TNP and Inceptor Firefly ammo won't be available. It's still being sold to buyer groups and independent dealers around the country."
What it does mean, however, is that PolyCase will go from being a small manufacturer with a limited penetration to the licensee-producer for a long-established company with major distribution abilities. "Ruger has the solid distribution system we so-desperately needed," Lemke told me, "and great leadership that worked with us to build a relationship that would work for all of us."
According to Lemke, the Ruger ammunition is already shipping and should be available from a variety of distributors and dealers around the country shortly.
And what's next for PolyCase?
Lemke's playing that one close to the vest, although he says there are "some very good things coming down the pipe."
We'll keep you posted.