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Def-Tec 40mm Reloadable Training Round

        The Def-Tec(r) eXact iMpact(tm) 40mm Sponge Round is one of the most effective, accurate and popular of all the impact munitions. However, the legendary XM1006 costs (on state bid) about $18.40 a round. That makes it expensive to practice with 40mm less-lethal munitions. Even still, as the liability argument goes, not practicing - no realistic training - can be a more expensive decision.
        The solution: Def-Tec just introduced their 40mm Reloadable Training Round. Designed to duplicate the 40mm Sponge Round, the net cost is about $3.35 each. The 40mm Reloadable Training Round comes in 50-shot and 250-shot kits.
        Caveat: the Reloadable Training Round is intended for training use only, and for use only against non-human targets. The bright yellow, wiffle ball-like Reloadable Training Round is both visually and tactilely very different from any of the other Direct Impact(r) or eXact iMpact 40mm sponge-foam rounds. Grabbing the wrong round should not be an issue.
        The Reloadable Training Round can be used for function drills, training in distance management and used for less-lethal certification and re-certs. The Reloadable Training Round can be shot, the case recharged and the projectile reloaded in under 60 seconds, so the training downtime is minimal. Again, the 40mm Reloadable Training Round is not a less-lethal munition. It is a training round only, and should not be used on-duty.

Minimum Engagement Distance

        The eXact iMpact 40mm Sponge Round has an "optimal" range between 100 and 200 feet. According to Def-Tec, it can be used at engagement ranges as close as 5 feet. On the other hand, the 40mm Reloadable Training Round has a lengthy minimum deployment range. To prevent injury from bounce back, Def-Tec instructs not to fire this projectile at a target closer than 60 feet (20 yards).
        They also caution to use a target capable of absorbing blunt force without deflecting or rebounding the projectile. That is, don't use the Reloadable Training Round against a solid, flat target or backstop that would bounce the projectile back. And, don't use it against a solid, angled target or backstop that would ricochet the projectile. The risk is high for ricochet with these hard and round plastic projectiles.
        The very best targets for the Reloadable Training Round, and the most training realistic, are the full-size mannequins used for firearms training. Optionally, you could place a dozen (or more) layers of cardboard over a standard handgun target or backstop. Take serious the penetration ability of this hard plastic projectile. It went 6-inches into hay bales after four layers of cardboard - three times that of the eXact iMpact sponge projectile.
        You could also fire the round through a paper target with just a sand, dirt, grass backstop. Finally, hay bales or archery backstops are a good option. For the longest useful training life of the projectile, you want the projectile to come to some sort of cushioned stop. The projectiles are easy to damage by impact with hard backstops, and from one projectile striking another projectile caught in the backstop.

Training Kit

        The 40mm Sponge Round uses smokeless powder ignited by a standard primer. The 40mm Reloadable Training Round is fired by essentially a custom starter pistol charge or blank charge. The blank cartridge that fires the 40mm Reloadable Training Round is called a "loaded propulsion insert." This firing insert is held in the blue anodized reloadable shell base with a 10-24x3/8 set screw. A 3/32-inch Allen wrench (provided) is required.
        The 250-shot kit includes 250 propulsion inserts, 25 aluminum housings and 25 plastic projectiles. To prevent excessive re-use of the projectiles and shell casings, the propulsion inserts are not sold separately. That is, you can't buy just the inserts, you have to buy the entire kit.
        The blue aluminum training housings will only accept the yellow plastic training projectiles. This reloadable training housing will not accept once-fired eXact iMpact sponge projectiles. The once-fired eXact iMpact silver aluminum housing will not accept the reloadable propulsion inserts.

Reloading the Cartridge

        To load the case and projectile, back the set screw out so it does not protrude into the center cavity. Place the firing insert into the shell base until the surface of the primer is flush with the bottom of the shell base. Tighten the Allen set screw to just snug the insert in place. Over-tightening may strip the aluminum threads in the shell base or crush the insert, making it hard to remove.
        Once the shell has been charged, snap the projectile into the base. The rifling driving band should be uniformly seated on the shell base. It helps to use a twisting motion while pressing the projectile into the cartridge case. Once the projectile has been fired, loosen the set screw, let the insert fall out and discard it.
        Before each reloading, inspect the primer hole where the propulsion insert sits. Look for loose fits or where the charge has flashed back past the insert. Of course, discard any shell bases with cracks, stripped threads or dents around the (seating) case mouth. According to Def-Tec's reloading instructions, the plastic projectile and aluminum shell case can be re-used only ten times before accuracy deteriorates.
        The projectiles will eventually wear to the point that the accuracy falls off. Even if the projectiles have a soft impact landing, the rifling band (driving band) will be worn a bit with each firing. Eventually, the launcher rifling won't have much of a band to engage and accuracy will suffer.

Less-Lethal Accuracy

        The maximum effective range of any less-lethal impact projectile is determined by its accuracy, not by energy retention at longer distances. The projectile has to hit the target, but more importantly, the accuracy has to be good enough to avoid no-strike parts of the body - neck, head - with a belly button point of aim. That is, the round can't be so inaccurate, or the range so far, that the projectile aimed at the center of the belly will actually strike the face.
        Just like the 40mm Sponge Round, the 40mm Reloadable Training Round is spin-stabilized. The raised "rifling collar" on the plastic projectile engages the 40mm launcher barrel rifling.
        We tested the point of aim versus point of impact of the 40mm Reloadable Training Round compared to the 40mm eXact iMpact sponge duty round at 20 yards (60 feet). This is the minimum range for the training projectile and a realistic engagement distance for the duty round.
        We fired the 40mm eXact iMpact sponge duty round from a Penn Arms PGL-65 Multi-Launcher with an EOTech holographic weapon sight to get a zero and a group size. Then we fired a bunch of Reloadable Training Rounds with the same point of aim. We measured the group size and distance from zero.
        From 20-yards, the eXact iMpact consistently grouped three projectiles into a perfect 2-inch cloverleaf - all three touching one another. This is an extremely accurate less-lethal load. In comparison, the Reloadable Training Round consistently grouped into 2.5-inch cloverleaf almost every time.
        The practice projectile had a zero (point of impact) 3-inches higher than the duty projectile at this range. Overall, the training round is just as accurate as the duty round and has nearly the same point of aim-point of impact...perfect for training and qualification.
        In spite of its toy-like appearance, the Reloadable Training Round is no wiffle ball. It has the same long range reach as the 40mm Sponge Round. With a belly button point of impact (zero) at 20 yards, the training projectile had a flat enough trajectory to stay in the air past 65 yards. Of course, it then ricocheted off the grass and bounced another 25 yards downrange. Impact and ricochet off harder ground than grass would extend the downrange threat. Take this training round seriously.
        Overall shooting impressions? At $18.40 for the Sponge Round and $3.35 for the Reloadable Training Round, and the same accuracy and point of aim-point of impact, the Def-Tec 40mm Reloadable Training Round is an ideal training solution.

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2012

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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