BVAC .40 S&W 180 grain JHP
In the month of November, I used the BVAC .40 S&W 180 grain JHP ammo exclusively in competition and training. Between several classes and regular practice, I fired over 2000 rounds of this ammo through the Ruger SR40 or the Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Pro Series. When reviewing ammo, I like to look at five different areas to establish my “rating” on a specific load from a manufacturer. Those five areas are: 1) Felt Recoil, 2) Reliability, 3) Accuracy, 4) Consistency, 5) Appearance. Obviously, “Felt Recoil” and “Appearance” are both subjective measures, as what defines unpleasant recoil to me may not be the same for you. “Appearance” isn’t how the ammo looks, but rather how clean/dirty it makes your gun look. If you’re fastidious about gun cleaning, than “Appearance” may be more important to you than it is to me. Reliability is a measure of how well the ammo functions in various platforms, accuracy measures the mechanical accuracy of the round, and of course consistency is an indicator of how stable the velocity remains from cartridge to cartridge. With that in mind, let’s see how the BVAC .40 ammo stacks up.
I fired 2000 rounds of the BVAC through two very different platforms to try and establish these number. About 1600 rounds went through Ruger’s new SR40 platform, which is designed as defensive/carry pistol. The other 400 (with another 1000 to come) went through the new S&W M&P .40 Pro Series five-inch. In both platforms, felt recoil with the BVAC load was more like shooting a hot 9mm than the snap and roll you come to expect from a .40. For comparison I fired a box of Fiocchi 180 grain FMJ, which was borderline unpleasant to shoot even in the longslide S&W pistol. According to the manufacturer, the BVAC ammo is loaded to about 960 FPS which would give it a Power Factor of about 173, good enough for USPSA major. Compared to other 180 grain hollow point loads, the BVAC load seems to have less felt recoil when fired through our test platforms.
In terms of reliability, the BVAC has performed flawlessly. 2000 rounds through two different platforms, including 1400 through a single pistol in two days without a single malfunction. I took my Ruger SR40 straight from the manufacturer’s box to a class and fired 1402 rounds of the BVAC ammo through it without cleaning or even re-lubricating the gun once. The BVAC ammo continued to function without a hitch when I ran it through the S&W pistol under the exact same shooting conditions.
Accuracy was also spot on. In pistols, hollow point ammo tends to be more accurate than pure FMJ, as defensive rounds are often loaded to a higher level of quality control than simple range rounds. Additionally, hollow point bullets tend to have their weight more evenly distributed through the bullet, which results in a more consistent flight pattern to the target. I did not shoot the BVAC ammo off a bench, but instead shot it offhand at 25 yards using both test platform guns. Each gun had a total of 50 rounds fired at 25 yards in 10 separate 5 shot groups. With the Ruger SR40, my average group was 3.7 inches, with my best group coming in at 2.8 inches and my largest group at 4.4. The S&W M&P Pro Series, with its longer barrel and better sights had an average group size of 3.1 inches with my best group at 1.92 inches and my worst group at 4.1 inches. Accuracy didn’t appear to be a problem with this round.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chronograph available to test the muzzle velocity of the rounds, so I can’t speak to how consistently they’re loaded. From a shooting standpoint, I never encountered any rounds that sounded or felt different during firing. There were no obvious light loads or overcharged loads in the 2000 rounds I shot.
And now on to appearance, probably the most subjective section of any review. To me, how “dirty” ammo runs isn’t really important – as long as my gun keeps running and putting hits on target, I don’t really care what it looks like. However, if the amount of fouling produced by the ammo impairs function, then we have a problem. In the case of the BVAC, the ammo does produce more fouling than Federal American Eagle ammo. However, at no point did the fouling interfere with the function of the gun, as previously mentioned. My SR40 has a stainless slide which meant that the fouling was pretty obvious. But again, it never caused a problem with the gun actually running. Any residue left behind by the BVAC ammo cleaned out as easily as any other non-lead ammo.
In my opinion, the BVAC ammo represents a great value – you’re getting a quality round loaded with Speer bullets on remanufactured brass for what factory FMJ costs. It’s accurate, dependable, and most importantly in these times it’s cost effective. More bang for your buck is always a good thing, and I personally think the BVAC ammo delivers that.