It has been said that “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” Very true, especially when the “cat” is improving effective delivery of kinetic energy from a bullet to a threatening target.

Self-Contained Handgun Cartridges

From the introduction of self-contained handgun cartridges up until the 1960s, defensive pistol and revolver cartridges were topped with full metal jacket or plain lead bullets of either round nose or semi-wadcutter configuration. With defensive cartridges like the .45 ACP and .45 Colt, this wasn’t a problem, as both rounds were quite effective just as introduced. However, with lower-powered, smaller-diameter cartridges such as the .38 Special or 9mm Luger, stopping power was less than desirable.

Jacketed Hollow-Point Ammunition

Then in 1963, Lee Jurras introduced the first jacketed hollow-point ammunition to the commercial market. Driven at higher than standard speed, with bullets of lighter than standard weight, the “Super Vel” ammunition line ushered in the modern era of defensive ammunition and ignited an “arms race” among ammunition manufacturers to see who could “skin the cat” in the most effective manner.

Since that time, the expanding hollow-point bullet driven at the highest speeds possible within pressure specifications has been the standard path to kinetic effectiveness. Various permutations have been introduced from time to time to achieve kinetic energy delivery “perfection:” ultralight bullets, deeper cavities, fully jacketed hollow-points, partially jacketed hollow-points, subsonic heavy weight hollow-points, center expansion posts, and so on…with new designs introduced on a regular basis. Occasionally, those designs do away with the traditional format altogether. One such design is the Polycase Inceptor ARX.

The Polycase Inceptor ARX

Inceptor’s non-expanding ARX bullet is injection molded from a specially blended copper/polymer matrix. It is not a hollow-point bullet and thus should be legal in those few jurisdictions (such as New Jersey) that ban hollow-point ammunition for use by civilians and off-duty cops outside the home.

The ARX bullet is a unique tri-flute design that harnesses the fluids in living tissue to increase kinetic impact. As I understand it, as the bullet enters tissue and rotates, the flutes force fluid away from it at high pressure, thus increasing impact effect. The fact that there is no hollow point means that an ARX bullet has no nose cavity to plug up with intervening barrier material such as clothing. This tendency to plug up with barrier material inhibits expansion in many conventional hollow-point designs. Obviously this is not possible with the ARX design.

The Inceptor line uses a much lower than standard weight Polycase Inceptor ARX bullet driven at a higher than standard velocity to make the most of the design. Weight of the tested 9mm ARX load is 74 grains and published velocity is 1475 feet per second, yielding 357 FPE.

Testing at the Gun Range

I managed to get a quick test in at the range between rainy periods on Saturday. (Due to the rain, I did not run the loads over a chronograph, but I don’t doubt the actual Inceptor velocity is pretty close to published speeds, especially since I tested the ammo in a full-size pistol.)

The test pistol was an unaltered 1995 vintage Generation 1 Glock 17, which had problems that I don’t believe were the fault of the ammo. With the lightweight ARX bullet, recoil was non-existent, but so was smooth cycling. I had a failure to extract/feed jam with each shot UNTIL I took a very tight two-handed grip on the pistol. While those early Glocks ran beautifully with 115-grain and 124-grain loads, 147-grain loads were problematic, and unless you held them with a rock-solid, locked-wrist grip, they exhibited malfunctions. That issue was worked out in subsequent Glock versions, and I highly doubt that later generation 9mm Glocks exhibit the same tendencies.

The group I got at 30 feet was very tight (easily a fist-sized group), even with malfunctions—and the rounds landed right to the point of aim. Satisfied with the accuracy potential, I fired a test round into the 25-pound, 8- by 12-inch block of moist modeling clay. The Polycase Inceptor ARX bullet struck dead center and exited the block. The Polycase website states that average penetration in ballistic gelatin is from 12 to 14 inches, so the clay medium matched up with the ballistic gel performance.

The block was expanded at the point of entry. Sectioning the block revealed a cavity that measured 4.5 inches at its widest point and narrowed to ¾ of an inch at the exit hole. Performance in ballistic clay was about as textbook as it gets.

Conclusions on Polycase Ammo

Polycase seems to have a good concept going with its Inceptor line. I am positive that there would not have been any malfunctions with my Beretta 92. However, the malfunctions again showed the importance of testing any defensive load in your handgun before you carry it in harm’s way.

Inceptor ammunition is also available in .380, .40, and .45 ACP calibers. For more information visit the Polycase website at

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