Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ruger ARX 9mm +P Ammunition Test and Review

This is my second test of the Ruger ARX ammunition produced under license by POLYCASE Ammunition.  My first test was run on the 380 Auto ARX and I would encourage you to link over to that review if you wish to know more about the ARX bullets and their unique bullet shape that enhances hydraulic displacement as the bullet plows through the gel test media.  My previous test of the Ruger ARX 380 Auto can be found HERE.

Coming out of the ARX 380 Auto test, I was thinking to myself that the 9mm +P ARX might be a great ammunition choice for the Ruger LCR 9mm revolver.  The short barrel on the LCR revolver doesn't build velocity the way a longer barrel can.  To date, I've only found one jacked hollow point ammunition that will reliably expand when tested from the LCR revolver.  My gut told me that the 9mm +P ARX would be a decent performer in the LCR 9mm revolver.  I just needed to get out on the range and get it tested.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that has a similar density to 10% ordnance gelatin.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

Direct Link to Video on YouTube

My Thoughts on This Load:
Man, I love it when my gut steers me right.  As it turns out, the Ruger ARX 9mm +P performed exceptionally well in this test.  Hitting all the marks I look for on penetration across all test scenarios.  The video didn't cover this, but I do want to mention that felt recoil from the ARX is about 10 to 20 percent less (as felt by me) than shooting my chosen 9mm 124 grain +P load in the test revolver. With those little bantam grips installed on the LCR, any recoil reduction is welcomed as long as the ammunition performs on par with traditional jacketed hollow point bullet designs.

For those that may consider this ammunition for use in your revolver, I can also report that bullet pull or crimp jumping is negligible. To test this I loaded a 5 shot moon clip with three rounds of ARX and  two rounds of Golden Saber +P 124 grain.  I fired 4 rounds from the revolver and measured the last remaining ARX round.  The overall cartridge length had increased from 1.147 to 1.149.  As I suspected, there wasn't enough bullet movement to worry about it.

For those concerned that the tested velocity was 100 feet per second less than the 1445 specified by the ammunition manufacturer, I think it's fair to assume their test firearm wasn't a revolver with a 1.875 inch barrel.  I expected to see less velocity in this test, but what I found interesting is that the ARX generates nearly identical impact energy as the 9mm +P 124 grain JHP ammunition I typically use in this revolver.

Pick or Pan:
I will certainly use Ruger ARX in my LCR 9mm revolver.  In this test it has shown it will penetrate to the desired depth, without the risk of over penetration that exists when traditional jacketed hollow point bullets plug with fabric and fail to expand.  The small reduction in felt recoil over my usual ammunition is a secondary benefit that also entices me to use ARX.  For now, the ammunition is generally available at prices comparable to other premium self-defense ammunition options.      

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs.  It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.


  1. I tried this ammo with my own Ruger LCR 9mm. Felt recoil was less than typical self defense ammo. It printed decent groups. My problem was that after shooting all five rounds the cases swelled and locked my cylinder up. The cases refused to eject and I had to wait to get home and smash them out with a rubber mallet. Not good.

    1. Interesting. Were you using a moon clip? Just measured the 4 spent brass cases from my bullet pull test. Remington GS 124 +P cases measured .391 at their largest. Ruger ARX measured .392 at their largest point. I didn't experience what you are describing. Were you using the older 74 grain ARX or the newer 80 grain ARX? That's the only thing that comes to mind that would be different other than my use of a moon clip if you didn't use one.

  2. Thanks for doing this test.
    When the LCR was first released there were some scoffers, same for this ammo.
    Your test shows good performance of the LCR and ARX, and thanks for reporting on the crimp jump. Or not.
    I have yet to fire a round out of my LCR9, just ordered some of this ARX will report back.

  3. So why is this ammo OK but you arent using wadcutters in your 38 Ruger? Both penetrate and neither expand.

    1. Because Winchester 38 Special +P PDX or Ranger 130 grain JHPs work wonderfully well in the LCR 38. Why not use them?

    2. Thats really my point. You want a 38 load for a snub that offers some expansion and reject the wadcutter because of the lack of it. Yet in 9mm you select what amounts to a ball round instead of hollowpoints that would offer some expansion. At the velocity of the ARX thats all it is a ball round..perhaps at rifle level that changes but not in a snub.

    3. Aside from the difficult to find Remington Golden Saber BONDED 124 +P, I have not found a JHP load that expands reliably (passes all clothing tests) when fired from very short barrels. In my personal testing, even my perpetual favorite HST 124 +P fails the heavy clothing test and over penetrates at very short barrel velocities. This round seems to work well for all seasons/clothing barriers at very short barrel velocities.

      You appear to have an affinity for the 38 special wadcutter. I do use them, but only in revolvers not rated for 38 Special +P pressures.

      ARX 38 Special should be coming along pretty soon. It will be interesting to see how it performs.

    4. I also train and carry the 80gr ARX in my LCR 9mm. Very pleasant for long training sessions unlike 115gr and 124gr loads that turn my hand to mush after 30 minutes.

      An engineer from Polycase was in the next shooting lane (they are local) and showed my double secret probation pictures from some of their 9mm, 38spl, and .380ACP tests.

      Looking at their ballistic gel tests, I'm reminded of a boat propeller slightly cavitating as it spins.