Polymer ammunition cases- is the future here?

PolyCase Ammunition is a brand new company that recently released their new .380 ACP ammo. The caliber is not as unique as the polymer that the cases are made of. The company talks about how plastic is:

  • Cheaper
  • Easier to come by than brass
  • Lighter (military troops and planes can carry more ammo)
  • “Green”- plastic produces less carbon emission than brass during the creation process, and PolyCase cases are recyclable.
.380 ACP cases, in black, and in pink. The polymer can be color customized.

.380 ACP cases, in black, and in pink. The polymer can be color customized.

PolyCase meets SAAMI standards with their .380 ACP line, and they plan to come out with .45ACP and 9mm later this year. If they ever get to rifle calibers, perhaps they can apply for the U.S. Army’s FBO solicitation from last year which we covered here on TFB.

The one drawback is that these cases cannot be reloaded. Of course, you’re probably wondering how they shoot. The folks over at Guns.com have a video for us:



Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career. He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. www.TopShotChris.com.

Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.



  • okto

    Another consideration: polymer doesn’t conduct heat as well as metal, and one of the main reasons the military doesn’t use aluminum-cased ammo is that it doesn’t carry as much heat away from the weapon as brass during automatic fire.

    • Nick Pacific

      True, but with low powered pistol ammo and the rate at which it’s fired I wonder if that’s as large a concern.

    • Bull

      well.. it works two ways. poly cases wouldnt transfer as much heat INTO the firearm either.

      • bbmg

        Sure, it would insulate the chamber… but what about the full length of the barrel?

        • Bull

          there are polymers that are decent heat sinks. if heat was the mayor consideration then steel cased , polymer coated cases would be much worse than brass.

  • noob

    I wonder if the lubricity and stiffnes of the polymer is close enough to brass to survive fluted chamber roller delayed firearms in +P 9mm? Or would the case be driven into the chamber grooves, stick and then undergo case head separation?

    Also I wonder how close the case capacity is to a brass case or does the polymer case need a thicker Webb for strength?

    • TheBLB

      There was an article in Small Arms Review a few years ago in which they tried polymer-cased ammo in either an HK91 or an HK93 and ended up spending a few hours cleaning polymer out of the chamber flutes. At the time the manufacturer claimed they did not support fluted chambers in any form. It’s possible that advances in polymers have resolved this problem, but I’m skeptical.

      • noob

        Cool! Do you remember what year SAR published the article? If you still have that back issue it would be an interesting read.

      • Back in 2006 Vector Arms found it cheaper to replace the barrel and refinish the weapon than pay someone an hourly rate to pick polymer out of the HK flutes.

        My personal experience with the polymer 5.56mm (in an AR15, 2005-2007) was highlighted with the metal base ripping off during extraction frequent enough to be annoying. If the new stuff fixes this latter issue I wouldn’t mind using it.

        • Hammer45

          I’ve fired several thousand rounds of Polymer enCased Ammunition from Natec and never had a failure to extract.. but I’ve heard of issues with extremely worn chambers causing such an incident… I still have a couple thousand left… been saving them for a rainy day, they are completely waterproof and half the weight of brass cased is the most interesting thing about them….

        • Anon. E Maus

          Maybe polycase is just better fit for small cartridges such as .380 and .32?

    • Esh325

      Even if polymer cased ammo doesn’t work well in those firearms, it’s still a good trade off I think, since roller delayed blowback firearms are going the way of the Do-do bird anyways.

  • NorThor

    Isn’t this what LSAT has been working on for 8 years now?

    • Vek

      Polymer-cased telescoping ammo. Very different concept, more like the hull of a shotgun shell with a bullet seated within surrounding propellant down inside the casing, and held in place by a gasket sealing the case. this is traditional-cased ammo, wih ploymer sidewalls instead of metal.

  • Komrad

    I really want printable ammo.
    Hell, printable cases and bullets for training with revolvers or other manually actuated guns would be cool as hell.

  • Hmm. I wonder how much it will cost?

    • aka_mythos

      Other articles I’ve seen point to it cutting the price of cartridges close to half. While it may suck for people who want to reload, the economics of getting nearly twice as much ammunition is likely to eliminate the cost benefit of reloading.

  • With the buying insanity and low production, it wont be in my range bag any time soon, even though I would love to find some to test and talk about on my podcast.

  • erwos

    It really amazes me how EVERYONE wants this stuff, yet no manufacturers have been able to mass market it yet. You’d completely revolutionize the market if you could get working polymer-cased ammo, even if it was only for pistol calibers.

  • Bill

    Another concern is long term storage inside a magazine. Range ammo, no big deal. Polymer defensive ammo, yes, if they came out with polymer defensive loads.

  • Wish I could reload it. Love reloading and it’d be nice to be even more environmentally friendly from the get-go. Oh well, that’ll come in the future.

  • John

    What I’m most worried about is the effect steel feed lips may have on these cases. Would they deform like shotgun shells do when stored in a box magazine for an extended period of time?

  • arron

    the fact that you can’t reload it would mean it would have to cost less than brass ammo.

  • how is it that there is not a single post on this blog about the impending banishment of nearly every rifle highlighted here? Full List fyi:

      • mike207

        This blog does not cover politics.

      • its disgusting, but this blog says in its title, firearms, not politics. but i do agree something should be said to help us help ourselves

        • Manuel

          A suggestion to this blog. Since we live in the internet age, why don’t you add a “block politics” button to wipe all political content for those willing? You can have the button “pressed” by default, you know, blue-pill style.

    • BD

      You can go to every other firearm blog to read about it. Having one place just about guns is actually great.

  • Josh

    What ever happend to PCP ammo? They where talking about this like 2 years ago.

    • zardinuk

      Fuck yeah! And LSD ammo while yer at it.

  • milo

    very intresting, cant wait to try it out. but brass will always hold a special place with me.

  • i think a torture test is in order. wonderful idea, maybe make them biodegradable after they are expended somehow. would love to see .300 BLK among other more common calibers. are they cheaper than brass or steel cased ammo?

  • Later this year?? The time is now!

  • tee

    how about long term storage?

  • zardinuk

    Forget the casings. Replace bi-metal jackets. Put a thick layer of polymer/resin on the steel-lined jacket and experience less barrel wear than copper. Stick with steel casings, chamber and extractors don’t seem to care much.

  • Drebin

    If they make it reloadable they’ll have a big hit on their hands, till then brass will reign supreme.

    • noob

      Would you accept loading your own unfired poly cases cheaply even if you had to throw away the cases after firing? Sort of how rimfire cases are sold to re loaders now. Would you be interested in poly rimfire cases?

      • Drebin

        That would help but it would be really nice if you could maybe melt them down and reform them easily so you could use them over and over. Wouldn’t be interested in poly rimfire till it first became common for centerfire ammo, then I’d be down for some poly rimfires.

  • gunslinger

    cost vs reloading. if it’s 1/10th the cost. ok. if it’s about 90%…i’d say pass.

    but i guess what’s the “replacement/reloading” cost of brass? where’s the break point that single use poly would be cheaper?

  • Esh325

    I would be interested in trying out polymer ammo. The military is quite interested in polymer cases mainly for weight. It’s also said that polymer cases might decrease weapon wear. Accuracy might also be increased because case variation is probably less with polymer than metal. If the price of polymer cased ammo can be around the same price as steel ammo, I could see it being popular.

  • Lance

    DOne this before they tried both military and commercial with plastic polymer 5.56mm ammo around 2003-5 and never took off. Over all the weight deal is really over blown. fact caring both combined with body armor and gear its all extremely heavy plastic or brass.

  • Zermoid

    Why is it not reloadable? it basically looks like a mini shotgun hull, metal head and plastic body. What’s the reason?

  • Agree has ben R&Ded for 35 years.

  • My biggest concern would be UV degradation or breakdown of the plastic as it ages. Brass cased ammo will last a century.

  • Jacob

    The only questions I really care about is how much cheaper is it than the brass stuff, which guns can I shoot it out of? I don’t plan on ever reloading 9mm unless it goes way up in price so any cheaper 9mm is always interesting.

    • MontanansDontPlay

      Innovative products are usually higher priced. With the war on guns, don’t expect anything to be cheaper. Also, it will take time to get “the bugs out” this new product.

  • tincankilla

    I’m probably with a lot of people here, as I care more about lower cost per round than I do about weight.

    I’ll carry brass cased ammo, but I would adopt polymer ammo to practice more often at lower cost. I shoot 45ACP and it gets pretty damn expensive. Make it .10 per round and I’m an enthusiastic customer.

  • Sulaco

    Jury is still out somewhat for use in semi auto’s but should make cracker jack revolver ammo…

  • Secundius

    Sounds like a “Disintegration” cartridge round to me. Not that dissimilar to the “Cellulose Paper” cartridges the Germans tried to use, without much success during WW2. My biggest concern is about the Fulminated Mercury used as a Firing Primer at the base of the cartridge. Its probably an effort to keep the price of Ammunition down, by the increasing cost of Brass, Mild Steel or even Stainless Steel in cartridge construction.