First Gear | Ammunition—These Aren’t Your Daddy’s Cartridges

posted on May 8, 2016
main-image.jpg (3)
Darren Parker

Shell Shock Technology 

Sub 1” 10-shot groups were no problem at middling ranges.

Might as well get it out there right up front: We think Shell Shock Technologies is about to shake things up in the ammunition world. 

Big time. 

The Westport, Conn., firm showed First Gear their NAS3 Two-Piece Shell technology a couple of weeks ago through the auspices of the ever-hospitable Richard Abramson of the Centennial Gun Club. Despite electric glee—Richard assures us we hid it well—we raced home with the provided samples and shot them in every 9 mm we could round up. It was hard not to be impressed from every perspective, and there are a whole lot of those. 

The big one is that they shoot just great. We tried our samples in several Glocks, a Springfield XD, a Grand Power X-Calibur, a Kimber and a JP PCC AR. Almost as important, if you really like to shoot (and hence, handload), the cases are the reloader’s dream made real—magnetically retrievable. 

As handloaders, our minds reel at the versatility of externally, permanently colored cases. [Photo credit: Darren Parker]

A laundry list of other great qualities fill out the rest of those perspectives. While you’ll need a die swap to handle the nickel alloy body of the case, it will pay off: The discharges are cool on ejection, need less resizing due to higher tensile strength, and are fabulously consistent in internal capacity. H.P White Laboratories data shows a 10-round string of Berry’s 124s over Titegroup with 3 ft./sec. overall variation. Think that might provide an accuracy boost? We do, too. 

Our friends in law enforcement and armed services may hear about these soon, as well. At 50 percent lighter in weight, these will ride noticeably lighter on the belt or in a mag pouch. Finally, how about visually certain ammo ID from either end of the cartridge, to say nothing of hidden characteristics? Everybody knows about “green tip” and other variations of bullet coloration, but the “two-piece” business includes a nickel-plated, colorable aluminum base to the SST case. Bullets could be identical, but loads, powders, whatever can now be keyed to a color that doesn’t rub off. 

We know, we know: As soon as we know where to get more of them, you will, too. 

Visit Shell Shock Tech at 

Gorilla “Silverback” Defensive Ammunition 

Regular readers will know Gorilla Ammunition from these, ah, digital pages. A veteran-owned Florida company and premium ammunition maker, the company’s products often wind up at the top of our heap. (See here, here and here.) Beyond it-goes-bang-every-time credentials, small groups are the main reason, but it doesn’t hurt that company leaders are also some of the best people in our business, too. 

A recent arrival in their growing “band” (yes, that’s the term for a group of gorillas—we looked it up) is the Silverback line of defensive ammunition. Presently shipping in .380 ACP (95 gr.), 9 mm (115 gr. and 135 gr. Subsonic), .45 ACP (230 gr.; FBI penetration standard or “self defense”) and .300 BLK (205 gr.), all feature “Swiss Lathe” precision-turned, solid copper hollow-point bullets. 

With any concentration at all, consecutive shots touch at defensive ranges.

Our tests to date have only encompassed the 115-grain 9 mm loading, but they performed exceptionally well. In our reference Glock 17 they were smooth-feeding and very accurate; we’ll see if we can stretch them a little in the coming weeks.

We report now, however, because we hope those clever ladies and gents in Vero Beach have started a trend with their defensive offerings—powerful, effective ammunition that shoots similarly to other ammo you’re remotely likely to regularly shoot. In other words, superior bullet technology and careful loading replace faux up-calibering with over-pressure loads that hammer your technique (and maybe your gun) to pieces. You won’t mistake Silverback for “minor” loads, but you also won’t set your pistol down and rub your palms in remorse after half a magazine. 

If you believe as we do that you’re a lot better off with defensive ammo that doesn’t make your gun act like an abusively different primate when it matters most, then get some Gorilla Silverback in your defensive handgun.


NRA Gun Collector program
NRA Gun Collector program

NRA Gun Collector Programs

No doubt you have read about NRA’s Eddie Eagle program or the National Matches, but did you know that these are just two of the 130 programs administered by NRA General Operations personnel?

California Gun Owners Win Again in Court

In a major victory for California gun owners, a district court judge has struck down—for the second time—the state’s law banning firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Gun Skills - Concealment, Part 2

A concealed-carry setup can potentially be a bad one if you don’t know what to look for. So what should you be looking for when you carry?

Gun Review: Ruger Security-380

The reliability and ease of accuracy of this hammer-fired, semi-automatic pistol make it a no-brainer to recommend.

Supreme Court Case Reinvigorates The Second Amendment

Last year’s Bruen decision was not the end of the gun-control debate in America. Rather, it merely opened up new fronts in an ongoing struggle.

The Armed Citizen® September 29, 2023

True stories of the right to keep and bear arms.


Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.