Ruger ARX Ammunition — It’s Wicked Look Is Only Surpassed by Its Performance

Box of Ruger ARX ammunition with 5 bullets lined in front

Ruger is branching out into products other than firearms. First knives and now ammunition. The branded ammunition is produced for Ruger by Polycase. The load feature an advanced nonexpanding bullet offering an advantage in wound ballistics compared to full metal jacketed ammunition.

Box of Ruger ARX ammunition with 5 bullets lined in front
Ruger offers an interesting concept with its ammunition line that is well worth a day or two at the range.

The .380 ACP has been fertile ground for ammunition development. The ability to drive a jacketed hollow point bullet fast enough to offer both penetration and expansion may not rest with the .380 ACP. To achieve adequate penetration is possible and good expansion is possible. However, seldom are those qualities possible with the same .380 ACP loading. As a result, many authorities recommend full metal-jacketed bullets in this caliber to ensure adequate penetration and to offer reliable function.

Ruger’s ARX load uses a uniquely fluted bullet of copper and polymer composite. The bullet is a lightweight for the caliber in every offering, which means high velocity. This translates to high energy for the caliber. The light bullet also recoils less than a heavier bullet. Moreover, even though the bullet isn’t designed to expand, a light bullet isn’t going to penetrate excessively compared to a FMJ bullet. In order to test the Ruger ARX .380 ACP loads, I used my personal Beretta 84, a double-action first-shot high-capacity pistol and among the most accurate .380 ACP handguns ever manufactured. I also used the popular Ruger LCP as a test bed.

bullet pattern on handgun target
Minute of cranium accuracy is possible at 15 yards.

I entered into the test with an open mind. I do not accept energy dump or wave theory as a reliable ‘mechanism of collapse’ whatever that means. There is a lot of junk science in the press. Only actual damage means anything to me. Even if that damage is severe, it doesn’t mean much unless it covers a vulnerable area such as the arterial region or nervous system. Blood loss causes the body to shut down.

The ARX bullet is designed to displace tissue by fluid movement or hydraulic pressure. Hydraulic pressure is proven as this is what opens the nose on a hollow point bullet. Let’s get this out of the way- during the test period two hundred rounds of Ruger ARX 380 ACP ammunition functioned without a single failure to feed, chamber, and fire or eject. Even though the projectile weighs but 56 grains, I was surprised at the high velocity. The Beretta demonstrated 1320 fps and the Ruger LCP 1255 fps with the ARX load.

Typical 90-grain JHP loads in the caliber will exhibit 950 fps in the Beretta. The lightest conventional JHPs will break perhaps 1,000 fps so the ARX is a speedy loading. Fast, but with light recoil which is always a plus. The majority of the rounds were fired in the Beretta 84 as this is a much more interesting handgun. It isn’t a hideout by any means but it is more accurate than most service pistols and an interesting test bed for .380 ACP loads.

I fired a number of rounds from a solid benchrest firing position at 15 yards. On occasion, the Ruger ammunition cut a single ragged hole. Average groups for 5 shots were 1.1 inches. This is an accurate handgun. Accuracy potential and reliability are confirmed. The flutes do not affect the travel of the bullet in the air, as expected. An important point is that these are not frangible loads. They do not break up on impact with walls and such. They are solid polymer and copper, not sintered metal frangible loads. This is good as they are service grade useful.

Beretta .380 pistol and Ruger ARX ammunition
The Beretta .380 and Ruger ammunition were a good combination.

A true frangible is useful for practice only. [Editor’s note: this is a personal opinion of the author and left in the story as such.] As an example, on several occasions I have suffered a fracture of the frangible bullet in the feed ramp of the firearm. Not often, but more than a few times. The bullet once cracked and left the nose of the projectile in the chamber of a pistol as I unloaded the handgun. Frangibles are a great training resource but not for service use. The Ruger ARX load isn’t the same thing. The bullet is solid.

The accuracy reliability and light recoil of the loading was impressive. It was a great excuse to get the Beretta out and going. Next, I moved to ballistic testing. I do this the proven way by shooting wet newsprint or water. Neither is gelatin but then gelatin is a means of comparing bullets and not a close approximation of living tissue. Water is consistent and may be used to compare loads. On average, the ARX bullet penetrated 11 to 12 inches of water.

This is adequate for a personal defense loading. The bullet never deformed and was recovered in the third water jug on average. As for improved ballistics over hardball this wasn’t difficult to qualify. Full metal jacket factory .380 ACP loads generally will penetrate 24 inches of water. A JHP load may penetrate as little as 6 inches although the better loads—with less expansion—may approach 10 inches.

Bob Campbell firing the Beretta .380 pistol
Firing off hand recoil was light with the Beretta .380 and Ruger ARX ammunition.

The qualifier is the effect on the water jugs. There was considerable energy transfer evident as the jugs burst and water rained out. FMJ loads are less dynamic. I believe the Ruger loads offer a counterpoint for those recommending only deep penetrating FMJ loads in the .380 ACP caliber. The ammunition is reliable, clean burning, and accurate. Shot placement will mean the most, but these loads are a meaningful improvement over hardball ammunition. They are also legal in those few jurisdictions in which JHP bullets are prohibited.

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Comments (27)

  1. Have any of you had a chance to see the extensive tests done on .380 and 9mm ammo by ShootingTheBull on youtube? Here is a link that may inform those who insist the only .380 is a FMJ. These were done with Taurus TCP 738 as a representative of the pocket gun class.
    Ammo Quest .380 Final Wrapup: finding the BEST ammo for a .380ACP pistol

    The winner? Pecission One ammo. But really, any ammo with a Hornady XTP bullet in front performed well in gelatin and through denim.

    He did the same for 9 mm with a 3+” barrel.

    Worth a look.

  2. My question about any light for caliber, greatly higher muzzle velocity load, is what does it do to point of impact. Most pistols are sighted for standard velocity loads. For pistols without adjustable sights, as most smaller “carry” pistols, and many full sized service pistols have, this can be a problem. This might be less a problem with the small “pocket” pistols that are only useful at closer ranges, but for service pistols that might be called on for 15 yard, and sometimes much longer range shots, this could be a real problem.

  3. Rats, I thought I invented that wet newsprint bullet test method.
    My way is to soak two Ft. Worth Yellow pages in a 5 gal. bucket overnight and dump the remaining water out. Then set the books up on end, back off about 10 ft. and let fly.
    I’ve tested many a factory hollow point, semi-wadcutter, and .410 loads this way, and it’s a good way to judge just how much your loads are expanding at bad breath range.

  4. Check out YOUTUBE; MILITARY ARMS CHANNEL review on UNDERWOOD AMMO, LEHIGH DEFENSE AMMO. This bullet type was invented by them years ago. It’s a CNC machined solid copper bullet. Not epoxied copper bits and pieces. M.A.C. videos test on gel blocks AND pig cadavers show awesome results

    1. Interesting design, but hardly the first solid copper bullet. Granted, no funky flutes but the solid copper bullet in any real production came out of France some 30+ years ago and under the name Arcane. Naturally, no significant numbers of this ammo came into the US because of ATF and the “sporting” guidelines as it was designed to destroy bullet-proof vests and body armor. Solid copper and pointy as hell.

  5. Have you seen the YouTube video of this polycase ammo in ballistics gel? It blows my mind! Doesn’t mean I’m ready to bet my life on it yet…

    1. just saw that video based on your recommendation. I understand fully your apprehension in trusting your life with such a new product. Return the favor and check out the originator of that bullet type; Lehigh Defense. Theirs is pure copper bullet CNC machined from a single block. Please see; MILITARYARMSCHANNEL YOUTUBE VIDEO. Underwood Ammo, Lehigh Defense, XTREME PENETRATOR< XTREME DEFENDER. They have been at it way longer, so you can "trust" them by their experience.

  6. Lehigh Defense has been making this same bullet out of pure CNC machined copper for a bunch of years now. One of their bullet designes is called the Extreme Penetrator. This bullet design is also used by Underwood Ammunition. This bullet works great in 380 as seen on the review on YOUTUBE by Military Arms Channel. They call it the “BEST” (I’m paraphrasing) In 9MM it over penetrates as on YOUTUBE by Ntrout outdoors 19. Lehigh Defense refined their Extreme Penetrator Bullet design with the Extreme Defender Bullet also used by Underwood Ammunition. The 9MM review by The Military Arms Channel on YOUTUBE calls this Ammo the “best” ( I’m paraphrasing). Both Underwood And Lehigh Defense make many other calibers too, not just 380 and 9mm for Both Bullets The XP and XD

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