DefenseReview recently published an article by Bob Taubert on high-tech small arms ammo titled Ammunition Improvements for 21st Century Mil/LE Urban Operations, in which ammunition made by NATEC, Inc. was discussed. Well, one of our readers who read that piece, a Mr. Tom Kampert, sent us an email message that included a message and photos regarding NATEC polymer-cased PCA-Spectrum ammo (5.56x45mm/.223 Rem.) he tested that he says suffered "cracked and separated case necks". When we last spoke with Mr. Kampert, he still had not yet received a response (to the email message below) from NATEC, Inc. We’re reprinting a slightly edited (for privacy) version of this email message below, with Mr. Kampert’s permission:
"From: Tom Kampert
Date: Dec 8, 2005 6:29 AM
Subject: Photos of NATEC cracked and separated cases
To: David Crane
David, I’ve attached the photos of the cracked and separated case necks that we spoke of. I’ve also attached a copy of the e-mail that I sent NATEC regarding this problem [below]. Please understand, I"m not trying to damage NATEC in any way. I still think that they have a product with great potential. It’s just not ready for "prime time" yet.
[The following is the email message Mr. Kampert sent to NATEC, Inc.]
‘Sir, I am [a magazine writer], and, last Feb., I was supplied with 200 rounds of your .223 ammunition for use in a comparative test with other name brands of the same caliber ammunition. I started the range work several months ago and found that one of the rifles I was using had been altered to the point that it would…
not detonate the primers on your ammunition. I informed you of that problem shortly there-after. At that same time, I put a box of 20 rounds through a Ruger Mini-14 with good results. Function and accuracy in the Mini-14 were comparable to other brand name ammunition on hand at the time. My only question, and I think I mentioned it in an e-mail at the time, was the partial neck separation that occurred on several of the rounds fired in the Mini-14. I had attributed it to the violent extraction of a semi-auto rifle rather than a flaw in the material used in the cartridge assembly. However,since that time I have been able to acquire a new Remington Mod 700 in .223 caliber on which I have installed a 6-14 power telescopic sight. Today, I finally got to the range with your ammunition to complete the comparison testing. What happened has me wondering if I should continue with the actual write up of the results. During the course of fire I experienced several partial neck separations…and one COMPLETE separation that forced me to forgo further testing because the case neck was stuck in the chamber. That particular round also exhibited signs of higher than normal pressure. (The primer was slightly extruded around the firing pin)
Because this ammunition is not widely available..at least not in my area…I am reluctant to publish the results for fear of prejudicing readers against your ammunition. I feel that it is a problem that can be corrected…and I hope it will be. It is my feeling that your company, through reports such as mine, will be able to improve their product to the point that such things as neck separations will no longer occur and a truly reliable, and less expensive, ammunition will be the result.
While reloaders might not beat your doors down, I think that there is an important market with the military. A market that, according to your web site, you are already exploring. At any rate, it is my intention at this time to put aside the actual write up of the results in the hopes that the problem will be corrected and I will be able to obtain the improved product for comparison testing some time in the future. I would appreciate any new information regarding further development of your ammunition.
The Lot number of the ammunition sent [to] me is PCA05FEBA1.
(photos attached) The primer on the left is the extruded example.’"
DefenseReview will try to follow this story as things develop and print a follow-up as we learn more. We’ll also try to contact NATEC, Inc. to find out what they’re doing, if anything, to address the issues described by Mr. Kampert, and to find out what they have to say about Mr. Kampert’s experience with Lot #PCA05FEBA1 of their ammunition.