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Registration date : 2007-06-27




During the Apartheid years South Africa was under a severe United Nations arms embargo. With a bush war being fought on the borders, and with urban terrorism plaguing the cities, the South Africans were forced to create a substantial domestic arms industry producing everything from the G5 artillery cannon to the Rooivalk Attack Helicopter. Today, with President Mandela governing, terrorism is, thankfully, no longer the problem. However, crime is. South Africa is now the "murder capital of the World". Rape, car-jacking and burglary, are pandemic too. The security industry is booming, houses are fortified and armed-response patrols prowl the suburbs. Self defence is a prime topic of conversation. Fortunately, concealed-carry licences are easy to obtain, making South Africa the most heavily armed society in the World. In response to this demand several excellent handguns have been developed, notably the "ADP", designed by Alex Du Plessis to combine features of the H&K P7 with the Glock. This very compact weapon is marketed in the US by Heritage Arms of Florida, as the Stealth. Ammunition too has been produced domestically, and in this article we are going to examine the developement of the more exotic types.

[The Glaser round was copied in RSA. This photo shows various types of "pre-fragmented ammo", with the red-cap domestic Glaser second from right]

Several years ago the French government-owned arms company SFM created a unique munition specifically for police use. Named "THV" from the French Tres Haute Vitesse ("very high speed"), it certainly lives up to its name! The 9mm version clocks a true 2600fps from a 4" barrel. The THV even looks exotic, with its' distinctive reverse-ogive spire configuration. On first sight you would think that it wouldn't feed in autos, but it works well, even in sub-guns on full auto.

The shape, combined with the high velocity, gives the THV enormous trauma potential. The concave ogive acts rather like a lens to focus shock at 90° to the track of the bullet. There are conflicting theories on the effectiveness of this mechanism, but theories are only interesting to theoreticians. What concerns the end-user is reality, does it work on the street? As we will see below, those currently using THV are happy will its' performance.

[THV ammo box, from my collection]

The bullet usually stays in the body, so over-penetration is not a concern. The figure usually quoted is 12" of tissue, but I know of a case where the bad guy was shot in the base of the throat and the bullet didn't exit. Amazingly though, the THV will penetrate armour. It doesn't exit flesh but will blast through Level 2 kevlar! Even more amazing it was invented by the French! (Just joking). I once demonstrated THV to a bodyguard class by placing a kevlar panel on an earth bank and shooting with a 9mm. As expected the 45gr brass bullet whizzed right through the vest, and I dug into the earth to recover the bullet to show the class. Well I got my arm in up to my shoulder and never reached that bullet!

Operators with a high risk of weapons disarm tend to be wary of THV. It makes sense to carry ammo which will be stopped by your own vest. Some guys, however, carry the round in a backup magazine, so as to have a high-penetration option available.

I was on a bodyguard contract in South Africa in the mid-eighties and wandered into a Cape Town gunshop. Talk quickly turned to ammo. This was at the height of the UN embargo and imported high-performance ammo was rare and expensive. I mentioned THV and took a round from my backup mag to show the guys. The shop owner asked if he could buy a round and, as I had plenty, I gave him a few for free. After discussions with his gunsmith he told me he could copy the THV and would I mind. Not owning stock in the French arms industry I told him to go ahead, as long as I got some free samples. Sure enough on my next visit THV bullets were on sale all over South Africa. Although sold to the general public as reloading components the South African Police (SAP) contracted with a local ammo manufacturer for fully loaded cartridges to be issued to some of their units. Over the years this domestic THV proved popular with such police groups as the Internal Stability Unit (ISU). The bullets are still on sale, and if you are interested in THV South Africa is the place to get it because the French stopped making it several years ago.

As the result of discussions between the SAP and the government-owned arms company PMP an "upgraded" round was developed. The SAP liked the performance of the THV, but because they used a variety of pistols, some quite old, they needed enhanced reliability. Andre Van Dyke, a R&D specialist with PMP, came up with the concept of a plastic nose cap over the bullet. This new round was called the "MONAD", {from MONsieur/Andre van Dyke}. Used primarily by the  police Special Task Force (TAC MAG), and the military Special Ops Teams (SPEC MAG), it is a very rare item.

When Andre Van Dyke left PMP he joined Ivan Monsieur in forming New Generation Ammunition Co (NGA). They began working on a new special purpose bullet, and part of their inspiration came from Germany.

Many readers may have heard of BAT ammunition, but I wonder how many realise that it wasn't developed primarily for shooting people? The German police experienced numerous failures to kill escaped bulls/cows with duty 9mm ammunition. German police don't issue shotguns, and the patrol officers carry 9mm pistols, and possibly a 9mm sub-gun. They wanted to develop a "universal" round which would work on anything, from humanely destroying cats after a road accident, to large mammals. This would be preferable to training/carrying a variety of weapons, from sub-calibres to rifles.
GECO (a division of Dynamit Nobel) produced the BLITZ AKTION TRAUMA ("Fast incapacitation") round. Marketed in the US as the BAT, it is  known in German police use as Aktion-ein. The bullet is copper, with a PE plastic nose-cap. This nosecap maintains the profile of a regular FMJ round, and thus feeds well through auto/semi-auto actions. A small hole down the centre of the bullet vents gasses upon ignition.The cap blasts off before the bullet leaves the case, and being asymetrical, spins off and falls to the ground. Without the cap the bullet has an aggressive hollow point and expands reliably.

The Germans consider BAT conforms to the Geneva/Hague Conventions. Hollow point ammunition is illegal in Germany, even for the police, but BAT is permitted. Thus it may be a good choice for those who live in places like Canada and New Jersey where hollow points are banned. (Check out the legalities thoroughly)
Regular patrol officers issued BAT only for special cases. SWAT Teams, known as Spezial Einsatz Kommando (SEK) can use it as their issue load.
The pure copper BAT bullet weighs 86gr, and goes at 1400 fps from a pistol. It shoots to different points of aim in different pistols, and will shoot to a different point of aim than the regular police duty FMJ load. The MP-5 had to be modified to suit the BAT pressure curve.
Despite these drawbacks the BAT had one positive worked. It produced an impressive wound channel, and the humans shot with it were generally incapacitated.

Inspired by the plastic nosecap and the copper bullet of the BAT, and the shock-generating potential of the THV, Van Dyke and Monsieur set out to create a totally new round, specifically for close-range defensive combat.

[MONAD, Eliminator & THV rounds]

What they came up with was THE ELIMINATOR. On first sight it appears to be a convention FMJ with a red tip. Looking closer you notice that the red tip is plastic. If you prise the cap off you see that the bullet resembles a wadcutter, but with a distinct cutting rim, concave dish and a central projecting button. This complex shape was arrived at after lengthy calculation and trial. Like the THV it produces shock waves; unlike the THV it expands. Like the BAT it is made of copper; unlike the BAT it is nickel plated to reduce barrel fouling.
In 9mm the 78gr bullet matches the 1400 fps of the BAT. It will not penetrate a Level iia Kevlar vest. Like THV and BAT the Eliminator usually stays in the torso, so over-penetration is not a concern. This is of special interest to VIP Close Protection Teams, who envisage ammo going through the bad guy and hitting the VIP. Not a good way to earn your Rolex!

[Current generation Eliminators shown with nose-cap removed on left, and in place on right]

The plastic nosecap assists feeding through auto actions, or into a revolver chambers from a speedloader. Originally the ELIMINATOR nosecaps performed like the BAT, they exited the bore and spun off. This could be a problem. One government agency chronographed the BAT and noticed that the nosecap has penetrated linoleum baffles around the equipment. The implications in a surgical-shooting situation were enough to disqualify the BAT from use with the hostage-rescue agency. The current Eliminator cap disintegrates completely about 12" from the muzzle.

[At close range the nosecap can still cause trauma. Photo taken in 2004 with Metro Police issue ammo]

There can't be many ammo manufacturers who have used their products for real life defence. Ivan Monsieur, who is a police reservist, was in a confrontation with two armed robbers. After taking an AK-47 round Ivan returned fire and cancelled the two bad guys. One was hit between the eyes and both temples blew out! Talking with various police officers, bodyguards and civilian shooters the word on the street is that Eliminator works. It feeds in all types of pistols and it does the job if you do yours, and you can ask no more of a bullet.
Special Purpose ammunition,is, by definition, tailored to a specific task. Some types work impressively on an unprotected target, but display poor tactical barricade penetration. Murphys' Law says that you will find yourself in the very situation that your ammo wasn't designed for! Eliminator is less limited than most exotic rounds, lacking only long-range capability. It penetrates car windshields, sheet steel and other likely barriers.

Since I first wrote this article, in 1997, there have been some changes. Mandela, who was a shining light for reconciliation has gone; replaced by the current incumbent Jacob Zuma, who heads a corrupt regime. South African police have had advisors from other countries, introducing such wonders as “community policing”. Among the changes, SAP are now not allowed hollow-points, and must carry FMJ ball ammo. This is in contrast to the situation in most places where original restrictions on ammo have been relaxed, so that the cops can carry rounds that incapacitate, without the danger of over penetration. The
Special Task Force, however, still carry their favourite loads.
It is with sadness that I must report that Ivan Monsieur was killed by criminals in an ambush. Ivan supplied our course ammo, so several times a year I would go to his place and chat with him. RIP
As a final point, the study of ammunition is interesting, but is less important than Mindset, Tactics and Training. And as my old mate Evan Marshall said “After studying the effects of ammunition for all these years, my best advice is four in the face”.

This article and photographs are Copyright © Dennis Martin

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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