Crimson Trace

September 14, 2018

Editor's Notebook: New Ammo, Accuracy Check

I was recently advised that friend Peter Pi, originator of the Cor-Bon Ammunition brand, had joined up at Super Vel. Almost simultaneously, I discovered that he’d moved to do something similar to the DPX line he began at Cor-Bon at Super Vel.

Super Vel was the brainchild of Lee Jurras, cartridge designer and industry great. At a time when nearly all of US law enforcement carried 38 revolvers with the 158 grain roundnose lead bullet designed 70 years or so before, Lee sought to improve on the status quo. An ammo-tinkerer, he found if he used a lighter bullet, he could get more velocity – the “vel” in Super Vel. A jacketed bullet prevented the buildup of lead in the bore typical from hot .38s with swaged lead bullets. He started with a jacket that didn’t cover the bullet’s nose – a soft point. Making the tip of the bullet open, a ‘hollow point,’ gave the bullet a chance to decelerate in target materials – for cops that means ‘dangerous felons.’

To say this was noticed by agencies and the firearms industry is an understatement. If you want to see the beginning of “+P” and “defense ammo,” looking to the Super Vel story helps fill in lots of details.

To get back to the current state of the art, Peter Pi brought his considerable experience to bear on the issue of homogenous bullets. The DPX used an all-copper bullet, low-standard – to – low for caliber in weight, at high speeds. I had some of the DPX and it impressed me in terms of its speed and accuracy.

While on the ammo-checking binge, the 45 was checked in a used, trade-in Glock 21SF (below). The FN 509 T was the test vehicle for the Super Vel 9mm +P Solid Copper HP - and, as it hadn't been checked for accuracy at 25 yards, with other rounds as well.

I received samples of the 9mm and 45 ACP loads -- 45 ACP +P 160 gr. “Solid Copper Hollow Point” – SCHP and the 9mm Luger +P 115 grain Solid Copper Hollow Point. As the FN 509 Tactical was here for testing, I thought it appropriate to put the two together. For the 45 ACP, I selected a worn, trade-in Glock 21 SF.

The 9mm load is rated at 1,250 fps according to the box. The 45 ACP is supposed to get out there at 1,200 fps. I wondered how close the rounds came to the advertised velocity – and if the loads hit to the sights. The test would be remarkable as I had the Trijicon RMR Type 2 on the FN – it’d been rough-adjusted for slower training ammo – but seeing how close it’d come from the bench at 25 yards would be interesting.

While I was about it, I’d check the relative accuracy of the FN 509 Tactical with other loads as that was something I’d left undone.

It was cool and humid, mid-60s temperature, on the fringe of the Flint Hills the morning I undertook this enterprise. I found that the FN 509 Tactical easily beat the factory rating, averaging 1,275 fps – plenty close enough. The extreme spread was only 19 feet-per-second.

The old Glock 21 SF yielded an average of 1,128 fps with an extreme spread of 59 fps. The 45 load seemed very light, a function of bullet weight. It was well balanced; at 25 yards over a rest, the five-shot group hammered into 3 ½” – with the best three of the five going into 2 1/8”. As Massad Ayoob has found, the “best three of five” knocks out the human error and closely approximates what we could expect out of a machine rest. That’s my experience too.

The FN 509 Tactical “suffers” from “4 + 1” disease, a not-uncommon malady where you get four of the five rounds in a group tightly clustered with one outlier. The idea is that it’s the gun, not the shooter. In this case, I called the flier on a pair of groups fired . . . it was the shooter, not the gun, suffering from the “4 + 1.”

The Super Vel 115 grain +P SCHP load printed four shots into a group measuring 1 1/2" x 1 1/4". I’d like to take some credit for that, but the excellent pistol and having only to place the dot over the target – not line up iron sights, but use the Trijicon RMR Type 2 – sure did help. That fifth round, the one I yanked, made the group a hum-drum 4 ¾” affair. That was my fault.

The Super Vel ammo functioned smoothly in both guns.

The Super Vel group shows the FN 509's "4 + 1" disease -- except that the flier was caused by the shooter.

As to the other loads in the FN? The proof’s in the shooting:

Ruger 65 gr ARX +P


4/5: 2 7/8"

DoubleTap 124 gr Bonded Def +P


3/5: 2 1/2"

Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX

3 1/2"

4/5: 1 1/2"

The Ruger ARX load was light; if I’d changed the recoil spring (provided by FN for use with light-recoiling training ammo), it could have worked. As it was, it barely cycled the slide.

The Hornady Critical Defense load worked just fine in the FN 509T; the “best three” in the group would have been under an inch – I used the best four as a “best guess” of real attainable accuracy with that load in that gun configured that way on that day. And an inch and a half at 25 yards is okay for me.

I’ve not shot the new Super Vel through ‘jello;’ I’m not much of an enthusiast in that regard. I’m more concerned about point of aim/point of impact disparity.

I shot left with the Glock. If you’ve read my stuff for more than a couple of weeks, you know that’s my tendency. I was quite surprised to see that tight 45 group zero for elevation at 25 yards, though slightly left. It seems to shoot to the same point as factory ball . . . 160 grain +P versus 230 grain standard pressure.

What kind of wizardry is this?

As to the FN 509 Tactical with the 115 grain +P Super Vel, it hit just under point of aim. I’d zeroed the gun/sight with Federal Aluminum 115 grain ball, a standard pressure load. No surprises here at all.

I think Super Vel really has something here. And I’m still digging the FN 509 Tactical with the Trijicon RMR.

- - Rich Grassi