Review: NOVX Ammunition

Gun News

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.

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.


Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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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!

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