You may not be aware of this, but ammo has gotten pretty cheap these days – almost the cheapest I’ve seen it since 2008. You can get quality brass-cased 9mm ammo for 20c a round, and steel-cased 5.56×45 is not far behind. As long as you’re not into .22lr, this is a good time to be shooting.
Wideners has been selling IMI 115gr 9mm FMJ ammo for under 20c a round (edit: sold out now), and IMI 115gr 9mm EX-STAR JHP for 22c a round. While I’m not a purist about shooting Israeli ammo through my Israeli guns, I’m always down for some good ammo. I ordered a couple cases. Here’s what I found…
The first thing you notice is that these boxes are packed tightly compared to what I’m used to. I regard that as a big plus, as I found I was able to fit about 1200 rounds into a standard 50cal ammo can. That’s more than the usual 900 or so. If you don’t have a lot of space, that’s a very nice side benefit.
The boxes have markings that make me think they were destined for the UN at some point. Despite the frequent allusions to being “military spec”, there’s no NATO cross on the headstamp. Israel isn’t a NATO member, so this doesn’t mean much of anything, but does lend credence to the UN-as-original-destination theory.
The FMJ cartridges look about the same as any other 115gr FMJ I’ve ever seen, excepting that they have sealed primers (didn’t see any sealing around the bullet, not that it’s needed).
The EX-STAR cartridges are somewhat more interesting due to the JHP construction. Tests on the interwebs suggest these don’t expand very well, despite what looks like a reasonably constructed bullet. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good place to do gel testing. That said, I can pretty much guarantee FMJ isn’t going to expand at all, so that’s worth thinking about. You aren’t going to find new JHP ammo at 22c a round besides the EX-STAR.
I have run the 115gr FMJ ammo through any number of firearms discussed on this blog with no problems. I recommend it without reservation. I did have one round this time with a primer that didn’t want to go off in the SD9, but that round did work fine in my M5. These things happen with all brands of ammo, so I don’t read too much into it.
The Wideners product page has dire warnings about the EX-STAR ammo having hard primers leading to fail-to-fire problems with certain pistols, especially subcompacts. In order to test function and feed, I ran it through a couple different guns: my BUL M5 9mm, and my Sardius SD9. Neither gun had any issues with it. I found that it had substantially more kick than the FMJ ammo, but without a chronograph, couldn’t tell you if it was reaching +P velocities or not. The claim that it was made for submachine guns certainly seems plausible. I’ll continue to test it in other handguns, but it seems like it’s good stuff.