Ammunition

Range Report: Remington Black Belt Loads

Les Baer Concept IV pistol with Remington Black Belt ammunition

When I was a young hunter of 12 or so, my Grandfather taught me that if I used Remington .22 LR in my rifle, it would function properly. The Remington Golden Bullet was my choice. I learned that even if you had a cheap self-loader, good quality ammunition worked well. Today, Remington enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability with a far greater range of loads than ever.

Two Remington Black Belt green and yellow ammunition boxes
Remington has a winner with the Black Belt loads.

One of the products of development by Remington’s engineers is the original Remington Golden Saber. The hallmark of the Golden Saber is a driving band of bore diameter at the rear of the bullet. This driving band centers the bullet and produces excellent accuracy. As an example, during the evaluation of SWAT pistols by the FBI many years ago, the 230-grain Golden Saber bullet offered 1.25-inch groups for five shots at 25 yards—as demanded by the FBI. This was sensational performance in the day and remains a benchmark.

The Golden Saber also featured a scalloped nose with cuts that were spiral in design. This weakened the jacket to instigate expansion. Unlike every other service load of the time, the Golden Saber used a bullet that featured expansion by the jacket as a wound mechanism. The jacket, rather than the lead core, expands and creates a wound cavity.

The Golden Saber works well and offers a good balance of expansion and penetration. The new offering, the Black Belt, is an interesting development. The bullet is designed to offer less expense in manufacturing than a bonded core bullet, yet offer bonded-core performance. The belt around the bullet, forward of the driving band, controls expansion. The nose of the bullet expands rapidly while the belt stops expansion, resulting in a shank that remains intact. This results in good penetration and barrier performance.

.45 ACP Black Belt cartridge and upset bullet
This is a formidable expanded nose with the .45 ACP Black Belt.

Remington offers four loads in the Black Belt line. A 124-grain 9mm, 124-grain 9mm +P, 180-grain .40 S&W, and 230-grain .45 ACP are offered. I have tested the standard pressure 9mm and the .45 load. I began with a Glock 45 9mm pistol. I fired 60 rounds for accuracy and reliability testing. The loads fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. Recoil was not excessive and practical accuracy was good.

Average velocity was 1,060 fps. This makes for a controllable load. I also fired 60 230-grain .45s in the Les Baer Concept VI. Average velocity was 845 fps. Results were good and practical accuracy was excellent.

The muzzle signature was subdued, and the loads feature a clean powder burn. I fired a number of loads over the RCBS AmmoMaster Chronograph for velocity. Velocity was well within specifications and the standard deviation was low—a sign of good quality. The loads exhibited excellent quality control.

I also tested the loads for expansion in water. Water isn’t gelatin and overstates both expansion and penetration to a degree compared to ballistic gelatin, but this medium allows comparison of one load to the other on the cheap. The Remington loads exhibited a good balance of expansion and penetration without sacrificing one for the other.

If you do not have adequate penetration, you have nothing. Expansion of the bullet increases front diameter and makes for a larger wound channel. The single most important component of wound potential is ammunition integrity. The load must be reliable and feed every time. Shot placement is vital. Good shot placement may make up for power, but the reverse is seldom true.

Testing

Load Handgun Velocity 5-shot group, 25 yards
Remington 9mm 124-grain Black Belt Glock 45 9mm 1,060 fps 2.8 in.
Remington 9mm 124-grain Black Belt Glock 34 9mm 1,108 fps 2.0 in.
Remington 230-grain Black Belt Les Baer Concept VI 845 fps 1.5 in.
Remington 230-grain Black Belt Ruger SR1911 Commander 780 fps 2.6 in.

Notes: Accuracy is more than suitable for personal defense. These loads exhibit modest recoil. The emphasis is on control and good practical accuracy.

Expansion and penetration results, using water jugs

Load Penetration Expansion
Remington 124-grain Black Belt 18-20 inches .55 in.
Remington 230-grain Black Belt 20 inches .68 in.

Conclusion

The Remington Black Belt is a good product that places reliability first. Accuracy is excellent and wound ballistics represent good penetration and expansion. This load is clearly a good choice for personal defense.

Have you shot Remington Black Belt ammunition? What load and from which gun? Share your experience in the comment section.

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Comments (10)

  1. The Blackbelt ammo is fairly new. I havn’t tried them. I have shot quite a bit of the stsndard Golden Saber. My preference in 9mm is the 124 gr standard pressure. I know they are not bonded, but in all tests, even barrier test, they perform very well. And I can find them for about $.40 per round. If I had my ammo given to me like you do, I would shoot the expensive stuff to. Just kidding. I don’t know if you get it for free or not. If you do, I’m happy for you Anyway, the standard Golden Saber or Gold Dots are whst I prefer’ for 9mm anyway.

    1. Thanks for reading!
      Like most everyone I proof my guns with carry loads and fire cheap stuff and handloads for practice.

  2. When we were 12, those Remington Golden Bullet 22’s might have worked. Today they are junk. I must have shot a half million 22LRs and had a total of 1 dud. Today, I still have several 550 boxes of the Remington Golden Bullets left over from the great Obama bullet drought and I have 5 (or more) duds a box. Sometimes if you clock the round and try a different part of the rim, it will go off. Sometimes not.

    I’m sure their high end Blackbelt stuff is fine, but the 22’s, not so much.

    1. Assuming you are 50 years old congrats on 10,000 rounds a year since you were one. Your experience with the .22 does not mirror mine, although all brands will seem to have a dud to 3 or 4 per 500 round box, it is the nature of .22 rimfire ammo

    2. I just finished off 500 rds of Rem. Golden Bullet .22s I purchased at a local gun show last fall. I shot all of them through and HK MP5 and a custom built Ruger 10/22 …not one bad round …none. The Ruger was shooting one hole three shot groups at 25 yrds.from sandbags. I actually thought I had missed the whole target with two shots …then I looked closer at the single hole … no I didn’t believe it either.

  3. It’s funny how personal experience plays into it biases. I bought a bad batch of Remington .22LR nearly two decades ago. Long story short, I wasn’t paying close attention, and it blew the barrel out on my Remington rifle. I returned what remained of the box to my LGS. After test firing some remaining rounds from my box, they immediately pulled it all from their shelves. The rifle was sent back to the factory and Remington rebarrelled it, but I’ve since avoided green boxes like the plague. I should probably give them another try. I even have a new Remington shotgun that has never had Remington shells run through it. But, I probably won’t.

    1. I cannot imagine a .22 lr ‘blowing a barrel’

      It isn’t uncommon for a .22 to come into the gunsmith with five or six bullets stuck in the bore- a partial dud first then full power loads jamming the bullet in the barrel. Never seen a blown .22, do not think it is possible. Have seen .22 LR case split fired in .22 Magnum.

    2. The muzzle end of the barrel blew out. I was missing a roughly 1.5 inch long chunk of perhaps 25 to 30% of the barrel circumference. Remington 22 Thunderbolt ammo in a Remington Speedmaster rifle. It’s possible some defect was already present in the barrel from finishing and/or mounting the front sight and that the bullet stuck at/near the end exasperated it.

      Regardless, there is no question of possibility, it happened. Most likely a single batch of defective ammo in a rifle predisposed to failure. After Remington rebarreled it, it was subsequently traded in on a Ruger 10/22, which has had no issues, and will never run Remington ammo. Again, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone else who is a fan, just not for me.

  4. Writer is confused.
    The driving band is not bore diameter.
    The driving band does not center the bullet.
    Re-read the Remington press release as it is simply written and has pictures.
    The front section of the bullet is the bore riding portion – the driving band is the larger groove diameter and it is what engages the rifling.

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