TPF would hazard a guess that many of our readers have never heard of Cascade Cartridges Incorporated. Or at least not by the full name which it is commonly known as. CCI Ammunition was founded by Dick Speer under the original moniker of Cascade Cartridge Incorporated nearly 60 years ago in 1951. Yes, Dick Speer is related to the man who founded the Speer Bullet company, Vernon Speer. What started as a small venture to have commercially available brass cases and primers for reloaders has since blossomed into one of the premier ammunition manufacturing companies in the world today.
While CCI is well known to reloaders for their primers, it is their ammunition which has given wings to the company. Known for their rimfire ammunition in so many varieties and configurations, CCI is considered by many to be the leader in rimfire ammunition. Obviously this precludes dedicated target ammunition such as Lapua and Eley, as neither of those have rimfire ammunition commonly available at larger box stores (aka Walmart) and smaller gun stores.
What about centerfire ammunition you may ask? CCI does indeed have centerfire ammunition, but not quite like you may expect. It is true that CCI and Speer do have a combined effort in Blazer branded ammunition, but in itself CCI only manufactures specialty rounds in centerfire. Many thanks to Mr. Anderson of the Canadian Reload Radio Network for supplying TPF with this specific product for evaluation.
TPF is proud to take an extended look at CCI’s Centerfire Handgun Shotshell, to be known as CHS for the remainder of this review. In this specific instance TPF will be looking at the 9mm Luger calibre yet several others are available. Available for rimfires in the both .22 LR and .22 WMR calibres, these are by far the most commonly available versions in Canada. However, besides 9mm, calibres such as .38Spec/.357Mag, .44Spec/Mag, .45LC, are available, as well as the .45ACP and the modern .40 S&W. Now before you all run out and decide to have a slew of fun shooting miniature shot loads from pistols, please be advised that most shot loads mass 1/3 or less of regular cartridges and therefore may not reliably function in your firearms. Originally designed for revolvers, the PCS was initially to be used for defending oneself from small animals such as rattlesnakes and other pests which can pose a threat to humans. Additionally, in a survival scenario, a firearm loaded with shot makes short range, small game harvesting much easier.
The CHS are created using the following items. The aluminum case ,from Blazer brand ammunition, is primed with CCI primers when centerfire and an unknown powder mixture. TPF did not get masses of the powder as chemical composition was impossible to determine and would be of no help. The shotshell casing consists of a transparent blue polymer capsule which holds the shot load. A light, flexible wad seals the shot in the capsule and acts as a wad does in a shotgun by transferring and delaying energy into the shot mass. According to the specification data available from CCI, the 9mm shotshell contains approximately 53grams worth of #12 shot. The standard diameter for a #12 shot pellet is approximately 1.27mm (0.050″). TPF measured and massed three cartridges to find the averages. Shot from three cartridges measured 0.31mm (0.012″) up to 1.37mm (0.054″) in diameter and was not consistent. The shot of the three rounds massed at 51.6, 52.1, and 51.4 grains for an average of 51.7grains, which is close considering that CCI states that shot is loaded into the shells by volume.
For this review, TPF decided to do some actual testing on these 9mm shotshells. The test outcomes were very interesting, and TPF will share the results with you. A total of 7 rounds were used in testing. Three rounds were sacrificed for construction evaluation.
Tested: CCI 9mm Luger #12 Shotshell
Firearm: Glock 17
Range: 3m (10′)
Target 1: Plain cardboard target
Target 2: Plastic cap over triple cardboard backing
Target 3: Unblemished golf ball
The review was based upon the assumption that these specialty loads were primarily for use against hostile snakes, which seems like a very valid and plausible use. A distance of 3m (10′) was determined to be an approximate engagement distance. The Glock 17 utilized was bone stock except for an aftermarket disconnector. Unless otherwise noted, all magazines used were loaded with a single round and loaded by charging the handgun by engaging the slide release. Note that between fired rounds, the firearm was checked for obstructions and functionality. No obstructions ever became stuck or lodged in the barrel of the firearm.
Round #1 on Target 1: The shot patterned roughly a 204mm (8″) circle, and were spaced relatively evenly. Noted extremely light recoil compared to standard 9mm round, in fact the reduced energy did not fully cycle the slide, resulting in a stovepipe of the empty brass. The pellets easily penetrated through the single sheet of 3mm (1/8″) corrugated cardboard. Spread of the pellets was even, and a hole where the wad shot through the cardboard and small blue plastic fragments were embedded about the target. Subsequent shots had triple layers of corrugated cardboard as a target backer.
Round #2 on Target 1: Misfire, what appeared to be a light primer strike on the primer. Round was removed and will be mentioned further onward.
Round #3 on Target 1: Perceived recoil of the shot was approximately double that of round #1. Shot patterned roughly a 410mm (16″) circle, and were spaced relatively evenly. Pellets passed through triple layers of cardboard. While still much less than a standard 9mm in felt recoil, the performance had enough energy to fully eject the case, but not enough to lock the slide back on the empty magazine.
Round #4 on Target 1: Results were identical to previous round (#3).
Round #5 on Target 2: On target 2, a small plastic cap was attached to act as a focus point as well as additional resistance for the pellets. The cap had a material thickness of 1.17mm (0.043″) and was typical to those found on 20L (5Gal) water bottles. Pellets passed completely through the cap and as prior tests passed fully through all three layers of cardboard backing. Same shot spread and recoil results as round #3.
Round #6 on Target 3: For the third test we used a golf ball, specifically an brand new, Spalding Top-Flite Plus. The ball was raised up a small bit on a cardboard stand to allow for a stable target in this test. The wad missed the ball, albeit not by much, and the ball itself was only hit by two (2) pellets. Pellets did penetrate into the outer cover of the golf ball, but did not pass through. Same shot spread and recoil results as round #3.
Round #7 on Target 1: In this test we loaded two of the 9mm CHS rounds into the magazine. Round #7 would load first, followed by the previous round #2. The purpose of this test was to determine if the recoil of the round was enough to load subsequent rounds into the chamber of the test firearm. Upon firing of round #7, which had the same performance characteristics as round #3, the next round had the blue plastic shot carrying case shattered during the loading process, which resulted in a tip up failure to feed and #12 shot cascading through the firearm. Now it is unknown the storage condition which these rounds have experienced, and the plastic capsules were extremely fragile. The cause MAY have been age of the plastic as well as thermal and/or moisture absorption. TPF has an email inquiry into CCI about the manufacturing date of that specific batch of ammunition.
Testing results show that the 9mm CHS round is indeed a very effective round for it’s intended purpose. shooing through multiple layers of cardboard and some pellets retained enough energy to perforate coroplast which was downrange at 10m (33′). At the tested distance, there is no doubt that if the rounds perform as they should, that nasty rattlesnake would never threaten another hiker again. Here in Canada, it is TPF’s opinion that the 9mm and other centerfire versions would not be as popular as the rimfire versions.
The 9mm Centrefire Handgun Shotshell cartridge, manufactured by Cascade Cartridges Incorporated, better known as CCI, has an MSRP of $15.95 USD, and is available at places such as Target Sports Canada. As always, it is up to you to determine if it is tactical, practical, or fantastical?