A FMJ bullet that yaws or tumbles — tumble upon impact (TUI) — when it strikes soft matter will deliver almost explosive impact. Having previously worked with several 1:12 twist ARs and M16s, I was intrigued when I saw an online advertisement from Fort Scott Ammunition for specialized TUI ammo. As well, the pointed shape of the bullet advertised should enhance smooth reloading of long cartridges like the .357 Magnum and .38 Special. Based on those two interesting points, I purchased a 20-round box for testing.
A Worrisome Start
The .357 Magnum Fort Scott load features a finely crafted, match-grade, solid copper 125-grain bullet that ends in a small flat point. Velocity, according to the specification sheet, is 1,424 feet per second from a 6-inch barrel. That works out to 563 foot-pounds of energy. However, I discovered several issues on the two-page Spec Sheet for the .357 Magnum load.
At the top of the Spec sheet in big bold letters the .357 Magnum load is proclaimed to be “357 MAG (TUI) Rifle Ammo.” But shooters should never load hard-pointed bullets into rifles with tubular magazines. A pointed bullet is capable of “firing” the cartridge ahead of it in the magazine tube during recoil … with disastrous results. The second page of the spec sheet also indicates Fort Scott used a Henry Repeating Arms .357 lever-action rifle to test the .357 Magnum ammunition.
These issues are particularly problematic because the Fort Scott .357 Ammunition box says on the bottom in small red letters: “Warning: Not for Use in Tubular Magazines.” Though the statements on the spec sheet differ from that on the box, do NOT use hard-pointed ammunition in a tubular rifle magazine. (The only pointed .357 Magnum ammo that I know of that can be safely used in a tubular magazine rifle is Hornady’s .357 Magnum Flex Tip LEVERevolution load.)
Testing the .357 TUI Ammo
I tested the .357 TUI Ammo using the 5-inch barreled Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 327 TRR8 revolver I had on hand. Its barrel length was closest to Fort Scott’s test barrel length. I grabbed a couple of Revolver Supply Company eight-shot moon clips preloaded with .357 TUI loads and headed to a range.
It was a cold day with some light snow flurries. I tacked up a Thompson Target HALO Reactive X-Ray target and fired seven rounds of an eight-round clip from 25 feet. The result was a six-round, 2 ¼-inch group. Four rounds ended in the same hole and two just outside the four, while the seventh was a called flyer. The entire group was clustered 3 inches below my point of aim. This left me with one round in the moon clip for the 25-pound clay block I had brought along to see if Fort Scott’s TUI ammunition did tumble upon impact.
I should have held a bit higher on the block based on my target results. At 15 feet out, the .357 TUI struck about 2 inches lower than I had hoped. But it was still a good enough hit. The TUI slug penetrated to a depth of approximately 6 inches, creating a 2-inch channel. From there, the bullet turned downward and exited the base of the block.
The block had been sitting on a piece of 2×6 treated lumber. The impact split the 2×6 and flipped half of it onto the ground. I was unable to recover the slug because of its unpredictable path of travel. It appears the TUI slug did, in fact, tumble. It also turned downward through the block and the supporting board. This would have been a devastating wound if it were an abdominal hit on an attacking suspect.
Is Fort Scott TUI Ammo Good for Self-Defense?
Sadly, my hopes for rapid reloading were dashed. Upon attempting to kick the empty moon-clip rounds out of the gun, I found the empty cases had expanded somewhat during firing. I was unable to free them by tapping on the ejector rod with the heel of my hand. To clear the cylinder, I had to tap the end of the ejector rod on the tailgate of my truck, causing the moon clip to pop out. When I examined them, it appeared powder fouling must have flowed around the cases during firing, stopping above the case rims of all eight rounds. I’ve experienced no problem firing the TRR8 with other magnum or .38 Special loads.
I called an experienced reloader to ask about the empty casings. He thought the problem could be the pressure levels were a bit high for plain-brass-cased ammo. Nickel plating could help relieve or eliminate this problem. But I am aware of the supply chain shortage of nickel other companies have noted.
I think the Fort Scott TUI concept holds a lot of promise. I notice several of the 9mm loads feature nickel- or black-TPD-coated cases. Coating the .357 cases with either of these materials could eliminate the problem. If you are looking for new defensive ammo for your handgun or box-magazine-fed carbine, you may want to try some of the other Fort Scott loads with plated cases. The innovative Fort Scott TUI defensive ammunition holds significant promise.