Winchester Ammunition announced a new defensive ammo called the Hybrid-X. The Winchester Hybrid-X ammo merges multiple bullet technologies to provide rapid incapacitation of a violent attacker.
But, is the new design an improved manstopper or just a gimmick? Although the ammo has a long way to go to prove itself, I think the line has some merit. Let’s take a look at what it is, where it may have drawn some inspiration and what it actually does in a testing medium.
The new bullet design combines a polymer tip, a copper jacket and a segmenting lead core. As the bullet strikes the target the core is designed to break into smaller projectiles and, according to Winchester, “deliver massive energy transfer.”
Looking at the illustrations of the bullet, it would appear that the polymer tip makes up the majority of the rounded cone on the leading end. The segmenting core appears to have something akin to a wadcutter profile.
Initially, the new ammo will be offered only in 9mm. However, the company is likely to expand the line based on consumer feedback and request. The 9mm load uses a 124 grain bullet and is loaded to +P pressures. At the muzzle, the bullet’s measured velocity is 1,225 fps. Although the design is uncommon, the bullet’s weight and velocity are in line with other conventional loads.
Quik-Shok: Inspiration from the past?
Rounds like the Hybrid-X have been made in the past. For example, legendary defensive bullet designer Tom Burczynski designed a projectile called the Quik-Shok. This bullet technology was licensed by the defunct Triton ammunition company that sold the rounds in a wide variety of calibers.
According to an article written by Burczynski in the book Street Stoppers, the Quik-Shok bullet fragmented into three parts upon impact. Compared to typical fragmenting self-defense loads of the time, the Quik-Shok round delivered deeper penetration (about 10″.) Burczynski wrote he designed the load “primarily for law enforcement use in hostage situations or special situations where extremely rapid incapacitation is paramount.”
The Winchester Hybrid-X appears to be a different animal, though the concept is appears to be similar to that of the Quik-Shok. It is likely the company engineered this round to penetrate to the arbitrary 12″ minimum depth of the FBI testing protocols. If so, this load may offer a significant alternative to both citizens and law enforcement agencies deciding on what to carry.
Recently, Rob Pincus became the first person outside of Winchester Ammunition to test the Hybrid-X ammo. Pincus is the director of the Personal Defense Network and a firearms trainer.
According to Pincus, the Hybrid-X ammunition “ran flawlessly” in multiple compact and full-size self-defense handguns. Pincus also said that accuracy with the round was “solid.”
Pincus shot a number of these new rounds into Clear Ballistics testing medium. Clear Ballistics makes a synthetic alternative to ballistics gelatin that is used for FBI testing. While it is not identical to the “official” testing medium, it does offer an early look at potential performance.
All shots into the Clear Ballistics blocks were made at 12′ and with two layers of cotton clothing over the facing side of the block.
From the photos Pincus provided me, it appears the 9mm load penetrated to about 7-8″ before it broke into its designed shards. These pieces continued to penetrate deeper into the block. It appears in the photo above that two of the pieces penetrated to about 12″ and a third went to about 13″.
“I’m still a fan of the modern bonded hollowpoint,” said Pincus. “Rounds like the Defender round or the “D” from Winchester’s Train & Defend line are my primary choice for self defense. However, the Hybrid-X is an impressive option for a non-traditional approach. The design offers the feeding characteristics of a ball round but with far greater wounding capacity.”
Pincus said that a video of his testing will be posted at the Personal Defense Network in the near future.
I’ve always liked the idea of this kind of bullet. None of the segmented bullet designs to date, however, have ever managed to convince me to move away from traditional hollowpoint designs.
The testing information and photos provided by Pincus are suggestive that Winchester Ammunition has a product that offers better performance than older fragmenting bullet designs. Additional testing through barriers and with traditional ballistics gelatin will likely be instructive on how far the company has moved the design forward.
I look forward to seeing testing of this ammunition, and expect Winchester will have demos run at the 2018 SHOT Show.
Note: This article has been updated to include first hand testing information from Rob Pincus. Thanks to Pincus for giving me permission to use his photos in this article.