A company called Shell Shock Technologies has announced a new 9mm cartridge case design that uses two pieces and promises a variety of technological and marketing improvements.
Shell Shock divides the case into two parts: the head and cylinder. The head is made of nickel-plated aluminum, while the cylinder, or body, is made of a nickel alloy. The company states that the benefits of the design include:
- weight reduction – 50% lighter than a conventional brass 9mm case
- nickel has a greater lubricity than brass (nickel’s lubricity was the chief reason why Liberty Ammunition selected it as a bullet jacketing material)
- patent pending design is said to prevent “ballooning caused by pistols and automatic weapons with an unsupported breach”
- head portion can be anodized with different colors for branding or color coding purposes (polished nickel and black heads are available currently)
- less expensive than standard brass
Of course, one of the primary concerns a lot of people will have relates to the case strength. Shell Shock Technologies claims the cases have been tested to 65,000 PSI. As a reference, the SAAMI maximum average pressure (MAP) for 454 Casull is 65k PSI. MAP for the lowly 9mm +P is only 38,500 PSI.
Sure, but what about reloading? Well, SST seems to have that covered as well. They claim that in testing, the cases have been reloaded up to 40x each. I’d like to see more information on this – like the average lifespan of a case.
One of the things that might cause a little bit of an issue for reloaders is the case size. The exterior dimensions are SAAMI spec, allowing them to be used in any 9×19 chambered gun. However, the cylinder is thicker, requiring the use of SST loading dies. This suggests that the case capacity will be reduced. (Update – This appears to be an error on my part, please see the update below.) To combat increased pressures of a smaller case volume, the company enlarged the flash hole slightly. Standard Boxer primers are still used.
The company states that 9mm is the first case to be released, with .380 ACP and .45 ACP to follow on later this year. During the next 12 months, the company plans on including a number of rifle cases as well.
After speaking to a company representative, I need to correct and hopefully clarify some of the information I originally provided in this article.
First, the company states the “cylinder offers uniform wall thickness” and a case capacity that is “fractionally larger than a standard 9mm shell.” I was told the case volume has increased “about 2-3%.” I originally reported the case capacity was reduced, and this was an error on my part.
Secondly, I was informed that the case wall is not thicker than normal 9mm cases.
Lastly, I wanted to reiterate that the external dimensions of the case and loaded ammunition are within SAAMI specifications for the 9mm cartridge. In fact, according to Andrew Vallance with Shell Shock Technologies, the external dimensions are exactly the same as conventional brass.
The reason for the special reloading dies/adaptors is they include a spring that pushes the case out from the inside, instead of pulling the case out from the outside. According to the company, the dies will work perfectly fine with normal brass cases, and could actually reduce chips and scratches on the brass.