Review: NovX Ammunition

NOVX Engagement Extreme ammunition

There has been a tremendous amount of development in ammunition during the past few years. Among the most interesting of these has been the advances in nonexpanding ammunition. These loads are intended to produce good wound potential for personal defense without the problems of jacketed hollow point manufacture and performance.

NOVX Engagement Extreme ammunition
The Engagement Extreme self-defense loading is an interesting loading.

While hollow point or expanding bullets have been the standard for personal defense for decades, they are far from perfect. Older generation handguns may not always feed hollow nose bullets properly. After all, wide mouth hollow points did not exist when many were designed and even more modern handguns were designed for military use. The bullets may close up on the nose after striking bone or plug with material from clothing.

While many JHP bullets with advanced designs are reliable, there is room in the market for non expanding bullets. NovX Engagement-Extreme Defense bullets are designed to cut and push tissue aside by a cutting action. This action begins as soon as the bullet touches flesh, while a JHP does its main damage only after it expands.

Fluid dynamics are important as the bullet has flutes that create hydraulic pressure after penetration. The Engagement-Extreme Defense projectile is similar to the original ARX, a patented design once offered under the Polycase brand. The bullet is a mix of sintered copper and bonded by polymer. The bullet, the maker stresses, does damage by using fluid dynamics rather than hydrostatic shock.

Nov ammunition box
The distinctive NovX packaging houses a modern load.

Hydrostatic shock is controversial when it comes to pistol bullets. The velocity isn’t considered high enough to produce hydrostatic shock, which is more common with rifle bullets. My tests indicate that at 1,500 fps or more, the NovX works as advertised.

A new twist to the NovX loading is the two-piece cartridge case. This cartridge case, pioneered by Shell Shock Technologies, is made up of a stainless steel casing mated to an aluminum case head which houses the primer. The result is a lightweight, but very strong, cartridge case.

Lubricity is also good. The loading is designed to produce very high comparative velocity for a handgun cartridge. Since copper and polymer are longer for the caliber than lead and copper jacketed bullets, and less dense, the bullet weighs only 65 grains. The 9mm ARX Engagement Extreme Self-Defense loading uses a 65-grain copper-polymer bullet that is designed to produce velocities in excess of 1,500 fps.

NovX practice loads
The practice loading doesn’t feature nose flutes.

An advantage of the bullet is that it is self-lubricating, so leading of the barrel isn’t a concern. Likewise, since there is no lead, the bullet isn’t restricted from indoor ranges. The NovX tends to break up on contact with hard surfaces, due to the construction of the bullet.

The standard pressure loading breaks 1,575 fps while the +P loading with the same 65-grain bullet reaches 1,655 fps. There is little difference in felt recoil with the +P loading, due to the light projectile. There is also a less expensive CrossTrainer Competition load in standard and +P loading as a training load. This loading uses a standard round nose bullet without the flutes of the personal defense loading.

The Crosstainer Competition loading cost about the same for 51 rounds as the 26-round box personal defense loading. That’s right, 51 and 26 rounds, which is unconventional but in this day of high capacity handguns an extra round or two, compared to a 20-round box of personal defense loads, is welcome. These loads are lighter than standard 9mm Luger ammunition due to the lightweight bullet and aluminum cartridge case. The result is a weight savings of two ounces for a 15-round payload.

I have tested the NovX loads in several 9mm handguns. The SIG 365 Compact is a new 9mm that is quite light and conceals easily. I also test fired the new loading in the Glock 19X pistol. Function was good and accuracy was excellent. I have fired a 2-inch 15-yard group from the barricade with the NovX load.

The NovX burns clean, offers little recoil, and is a viable option for personal defense. It is accurate enough for any personal defense chore and recoil is light. Although not designed for long range use, the load shoots flat over a distance and was a fun load to fire at extended range. NovX has something here.

Do rely on a round other than a traditional hollow point for self-defense? Is it the NovX? What has your testing or results shown? Share your answers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (32)

  1. I’ve used Glaser PowerBall in .45 ACP, and it fed flawlessly and had better than adequate expansion and weight retention. Excellent round.

  2. I’ve used these with good results, no feed or eject problems. Able to shoot 2″ groups at 7 yards with both compact and sub-compact Ruger semi-autos. I’ve switched to the ARX Inceptors because they are a tad cheaper and I get a casing that I can reload (can’t reload the 2-piece casing – 1st hand experience). For personal defense I carry a combination of JHP and the Inceptor +P.

  3. 100% agreed. Eat em…donate the food, but your second idea is way better. In fact…’they’ are so short on these drugs used for executions…firing squad is so fast and simple, plus you get free ballistics reports! Even better…

  4. Not an animal rights activist by any means…just don’t see the need to kill so you can feel good about ammo…when there’s other good means.

  5. No problem with using live pigs,cattle,serial killers for tests.You realize “the Chicago stickyard tests” using cattle,were used to qualify the 45ACP[actually a 30 caliber Luger did just as well]
    Of course doing live tests,will have the animal rights types,ACLU,Democratic Party all screaming and filing injunctions….
    but to hell with them anyway.I see zero reason to keep serial killers alive,feel free to use them for medical experiments as well.The money saved [100sK/individual/year] can be used for better purposes and deprive the charlatan lawyers/shrinks/clergy of funding.

  6. How about doing a comparative test by shooting live pigs with the NOVX and hornady critical defense and some other good defensive hollow points

  7. I am too old I guess, but only 65 grains bothers me. Between bones, jackets, pure size of opponent, I prefer a heavier bullet. I would be more interested if they made a 115 or at least 100 gr version.

    1. The point of a smaller round is that its velocity is faster. Trade weight for speed and youÔÇÖll still roughly get the same force with more penetrating potential.

    2. Lighter bullet an go faster, can have better penetration…think about 300 lb guy winding up to punch you…wouldn’t want him to connect…but you 300lb slow, not agile…floyd mayweather is the 62 grain…easy to shoot, low recoil and fast as hell!


  8. I have been using Lehigh Defense Super Penetators in my 380 for some time now. Is the NovX a copy? Or did it come first?

    1. The bullets NovX are using came after Lehigh and are not exactly a copy. They have a similar design idea, but are made lighter and loaded hotter to produce more energy on target.

  9. These rounds appear to work well as a close personal protection projectile. Like the article states, they break apart striking a hard surface. We shot three rounds through a car windshield. They penetrated through the glass, but did no damage to the targets. The best you’re gonna get there is hoping the subject get glass in his eyes. I’ll stick with jhp.

  10. I generally carry Hornady critical defense in a glock 19 or taurus pt 709. Although I have delusions of carrying my shiny new M9A3 and may be on the hunt for some new ammo. I have read about the arx bullet for a while and still have concerns about it. I feel like light body armor would present a problem for this and similar. rounds. Even heavy clothing.

  11. Would the long term storage of these dissimilar metal cartridges have corrosion and reliability problems? The article does not address this issue.

  12. 1st, there is a reason frangible bullets are not used for self defense. What happens if it hits a rib, or if all you have is a side shot and the round has to pass through an arm.

    2nd, $1.20 per round for defensive rounds and
    $.55 for practice rounds is way to expensive, especially for an unproven round. I will stick with my Gold Dots at .60 and my Lawman at .19.

  13. Glaser is made by Cor Bon

    MagSafe is gone

    The so called stopping power books were discredited on poor and junk science at best and perhaps a hoax at worst

  14. Does anyone use the Glaser[silver version] or Magsafe encapsulated shot cartridges these days?
    What about the multiple ball loads?When either was introduced ,they were proclaimed/marketed as the ultimate defense loads.Has there been
    ann updated version of Marshall&Evans”Ultimate Handgun Stopping Power[loads]?The criteria was was based on 1 shot chest hits.,derived from autopsies.

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