Allegiance Ammuntion Frangible: Yep, It Blows Stuff Apart
Eve Flanigan 03.24.20
Get to know a longtime gun person, and you’ll likely uncover a more- or less-obvious related affection for some certain type or brand of ammunition. With me, it’s frangible. It’s fascinating, after all, that what is, at the molecular level, basically a snowball of substances melded together, can accomplish as much and often more damage than a solid lead bullet, with or without a jacket.
I’ve tested frange on produce, plywood, and plastic. Cycled it through handguns and rifles. So when the chance came to take some Florida-made Allegiance Ammunition home for a trial, I eagerly said yes. It’s a little different, after all, than some others. In the manufacturing process, Allegiance uses tungsten in many of its loads. With its Swedish-derived name meaning “heavy stone,” tungsten is a novel yet intuitive choice for hard-hitting ammunition—and that’s exactly what Allegiance makes.
My first encounter with the brand was at a gun writer’s conference in 2016. There, I witnessed Allegiance 9mm being fired into a 16-inch, bare gel block from a full-size handgun three feet from the block. To everyone’s amazement, the gel block literally jumped up, writhed, and fell off its platform onto the floor. The Allegiance developer/owner claimed to have killed an adult feral hog with this ammunition in .380 ACP. Intriguing, to say the least.
In case you’re not up to speed on what frangible ammunition is, check out this article where I advocate for this type of ammo for self-protection because, while it delivers a devastating impact on the target, it disintegrates on impact with hard steel or poured concrete. This practically eliminates risk of ricochet injuries in urban or steel-rich environments, including ships and certain industrial facilities. The 2012 Empire State Building shooting, in which multiple jacket- or bullet-ricochet injuries occurred to bystanders, is the current prime example of a setting in which frangible ammunition may have prevented unintended damage or even tragedy.
In this test, we looked at several grain weights available from Allegiance Ammunition. This company’s product is different than most in that the bullets, though frangible, are copper-jacketed and filled with a frangible insert. They have a very different appearance from other frangible HP rounds, which are visually very similar to any HP load except they have no “petals.” Allegiance frangible material is colored, and with the variety of choices the company offers in a single caliber, that’s a good thing as it makes it easy to distinguish one type from another after unboxing.
I was interested to find out for myself if the damage these rounds wreak delivers on the promise of no over-penetration—a claim other frange producers don’t make. As a concealed carrier, I’m also interested in minimizing the number of rounds fired and commensurate reduced risk of a shot landing somewhere other than on the intended target. The more damage one round inflicts, the sooner a determined attack stops.
Testing was done on one watermelon (an unusual purchase for this time of year) and two medium-size pumpkins, one with an unusually hard and thick shell. To simulate some aspects of FBI ammo testing protocols, two layers of denim were stapled to the doomed produce – a thick-walled white pumpkin and a regular “Halloween” pumpkin, both basketball-sized, and a ripe, round watermelon, slightly larger than the pumpkins hung vertically in the middle of each was a panel made of 0.25-inch thick phenolic, a cloth-and-resin-based plastic, to simulate bone.
At the manufacturer’s suggestion, a jug of water was placed behind the denim-covered, phenolic-bearing produce. Although no distance was selected, I chose 20 inches—a reasonable distance, at least prior to the current practice of social distancing for Coronavirus, that one person might stand behind another in a crowded room. To further represent a defensive encounter, all shots were fired from a distance of 21 feet, allegedly representing the maximum distance of 95 percent of criminal attacks. The firearm used is a popular one for concealment – a Sig Sauer P365 with a stock 3.1-inch barrel.
Three of the four loads – 85 and 95 grain Power Strike, as well as 130 grain subsonic Silent Strike, penetrated all the elements but the water jug completely. Holes punched in the phenolic were of consistent size, about a half inch.
For each of these, the copper jacket was recovered in one piece inside the water jug, which in each case had an entrance but no exit hole.
In each case, the denim layers remained stapled in place with a neat entrance hole. While Silent Strike’s performance was similar, its signature was quite different. It left a black, powdery mess on the targets.
One load—70 grain One Strike, was chosen for the same test, but using a watermelon. Here the results were dramatically different. The stapled-on denim was blown clean off the melon and flew several feet. The phenolic was unpenetrated. The watermelon was quite thoroughly destroyed; with deep cracks on the approximately 60 percent of the rind that was left on the table. The rest had been exploded into chunks of no more than four inches wide. Inside the “meat” were a few tiny fragments of jacket, a big contrast to the others.
Unfortunately, the limited supply of both produce and phenolic limits any even half-scientific conclusions here. A watermelon’s consistency certainly represents flesh more closely than a hollow pumpkin. And though the destruction of the watermelon was impressive in comparison, the lack of penetration of phenolic is curious.
It is notable that the promise of full-cycling subsonic ammo was fulfilled here, albeit with an un-suppressed firearm. Those looking for reduced recoil but great performance from their 9mm defensive round might do well to consider 70 grain Silent Strike or the company’s 45 ACP load of the same variety. I have also personally witnessed Allegiance Ammuntion’s .223 subsonic load cycle reliably in a suppressed AR-platform carbine.
This test delivered some varying but not unexpected results based on tests I’ve done with other brands of purpose-made frangible – which penetrated concrete block, wall-panel plywood, and a 2×4 board. The promise of frange for defensive purposes lies not in the assurance of over-penetration, but in the comfort of knowing that over-penetrating or errant rounds won’t bounce off objects harder than the bullet itself. While tissue disruption effects can be argued in either direction when compared to traditional HP, there is no doubt that frangible out-performs FMJ as a defensive round. Like any ammunition, your frangible of choice bears testing for reliable performance in your gun before being carried as a life-preserver.
Allegiance Ammuntion can be ordered direct. Prices vary between loads and calibers, but expect a premium comparable to the best JHP and subsonic loads.