9mm Shellshock Brass
While much of our work on this website is devoted to the history and development of current and retired cartridges we also love to keep up to date on current and future firearms technology developments. Today we will be taking a dive into the new developments behind the Shellshock Brass and see what kind of changes and improvements that Shellshock Technologies purports to make over traditional brass cases. With their new 9mm cases that they are now offering directly to the public.
A New Innovation?
The Shellshock Brass case claims to have a number of advantages over traditional brass cases. First off is a 50% reduction in weight vs traditional 9mm brass cases. Furthermore the case does not use brass instead the body of the case is made from a nickel alloy and the base of the case is made from nickel-plated aluminum. This means that it boasts a doubled strength when compared to brass. For those of you already familiar with nickel-plated brass this will make sense as nickel has a greater lubricity than brass, this is why it can be found on a number of defensive loadings such as the Winchester PDX line. Other manufacturers have also opted for nickel-plated brass and the use of a nickel alloy is definitely a forward thinking design by Shellshock technologies. But there is still more to go.
Shellshock Technologies also claims that their new brass design will not abrade, damage, wear out, or foul the breach and ejector components. They also say that the brass ejects cool to the touch and has magnetic properties for easy clean up in both indoor and outdoor ranges with a strong magnet. Finally to round out the claims made about this new wonder brass it is supposedly rated at up to 65,000 PSI without case failure. For reference, a hot 9mm +P load will have a maximum average pressure of about 38,500 PSI. This gives these cases an advantage over other types of cases in an unsupported chamber with less likelihood of ballooning out or rupturing. In independent testing the cases also have highly consistent velocity when fired from a four-inch barrel. With this brass being able to accept all modern bullets and supposedly being cheaper it seems that this case is a no brainer from a technological standpoint.
Digging a Bit Deeper
So all in all it looks like we have a new wonder case on our hands that will even clean itself up, ok sort of. But let’s dive deeper and see if there is some proof in the pudding. As such, great claims require great evidence.
So let’s start with our first rub. Yes, this brass will work in current presses such as those from Dillon, Lee, and Hornady but your current dies will not work. If you are going to start reloading with Shellshock brass you are going to have to set aside your dies and use the ones sold by Shellshock Technologies. Currently these carbide dies are priced at $100 for a set of two dies, one for sizing and de-dapping, and one expanding and flaring. With carbide die sets coming in at around the same price these seem to be competitively priced, if somewhat annoying if you have already dumped the money into a good set of dies only to have to replace them for your new Shellshock dies. However there is one redeeming element to this, by switching to Shellshock Technology’s dies you will be able to still use them for standard brass, possibly with fewer scratches and chips from the dies during the reloading process.
Next let’s take a look at the claims about the lifespan of each case. While I can’t vouch for the “ejects cool to the touch claim”, we do have video evidence of a single case being reloaded 32 times. It’s not quite the 40 times as some articles on the Shellshock brass claim, but firing and reloading a single piece of brass 32 times in succession is pretty impressive and does show that there just might be some voracity to the longevity claims made by Shellshock Technologies. The video below is from S3Reload.com and Volo, the original developer of the NAS3 brass who is now working with Shellshock Technologies on the new brass design and has brought it to market for manufactures and reloaders. You can see the full video below.
Now let’s look at the independent testing done on the Shellshock cases. It was done by HP White Laboratories, a 75-year-old company that exclusively tests ballistics and the effectiveness of body armor and other personal protection equipment. So what were the results, see below.
As you can see here and from the full report the tested velocity of each of the ten rounds is very close together. However I see some issues here. First only ten rounds were tested, this does not give us any idea as to the quality control of the manufactured ammo using the Shellshock brass. But given the highly controlled and precise nature of HP White Laboratories’ testing I’m not surprised that there was little deviation in the velocity of these rounds. When you have highly precise equipment you can produce the same or similar results over and over much more easily. Reloaders or ammunition manufacturers churning out hundreds of not thousands of rounds using Shellshock brass might not have the same quality control standards and precision tools and thus will likely have less consistent results than HP White Laboratories’ testing. Furthermore this is with just one type of powder, how will other powder and bullet combinations perform? This is something that will have to shake out in more real world testing.
So Far So Good
In the end the issues of useable case life and consistent velocity will have to play out in real world testing with both more companies, reloaders, and shooters trying out the new brass and seeing what it’s really made of.
What about cost? Shellshock Technologies claims that their brass is cheaper, currently they offer cases of brass ranging from 500 to 10,000 with an individual cost of between 12 and 9 cents per unit. This is on par if not cheaper than just about all new unfired brass on the market. While once fired brass may be able to give you even lower costs, at only a couple of cents more per unit, it might make more sense to a new reloader to go ahead a try Shellshock’s brass and dies, especially if the longevity claims shake out in real world testing.
So what does the future look like for Shellshock Technologies new wonder brass? Pretty good actually, with a number of manufacturers such as American Bullet, Creedmoor, Velocity Munitions, Fallout Ammunition, and others picking up the brass for their production runs it seems that this new design might catch on and be a real contender in the shooting world. While we still have our reservations about this new, two-part, design we are always happy to see innovation and new developments in the shooting world. It’s this drive to innovate and improve that keeps us coming back day after day.