Making Ammunition With Plastic Cartridge Casings

Although many components of firearms are made of plastic instead of metal, there’s been little success further lightening the load by making polymer-based cartridge casings for ammunition. Now, PCP Ammunition in Winter Park, FL, has used new materials and patented designs to develop plastic cartridges that offer comparable performance to brass cartridges and with less weight, according to PlasticsToday.

The U.S. military has been interested in plastic cartridges since the 1960s, but companies have struggled to make cartridges that could withstand the high pressures and temperatures associated with firing guns, according to PlasticsToday.

The new plastic casings (shown in the video above) weigh half of what the brass ones do, which makes the loaded cartridge about 25% less than a loaded brass one, according to PlasticsToday.

According to the PCP website:

This technology has the potential to revolutionize small arms ammunition. We are excited to work with the U.S. Military and reach out to the Sportsman Community to introduce our new products.

brass ammo
New ammunition will use lightweight polymer casings, instead of these brass ones.

Five calibers are available, and the ammunition satisfies the Sports Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute specifications. The plastic cartridges can be loaded with standard equipment for a wide range of bullets for ground and air tactical units. PCP Ammunition says in the video that the cartridges can be reloaded.

The company states on its website that they are currently working on production of the ammunition.

Source: “Ammo maker takes aim at weight savings with plastic cartridge casings,” PlasticsToday, 9/29/11
Source: “PCP Polymer Ammunition,” YouTube
Image by joelogon (Joe Loong), used under its Creative Commons license.


Rachel Petkewich is a freelance science writer and editor. She has worked as a research scientist in the chemical industry and spent eight years as a staff writer and editor at various science journals and magazines, including Chemical & Engineering News.