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Handloading Beyond The Basics
Rifle Magazine
August - September 1999
Volume 34, Number 4
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 200
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Product Tests
Safeguard Multi-Slug Systems

Al Miller

Those who have made a study of such things tell us that most shots fired in self-defense are aimed at targets 10 to 15 yards away. With this in mind, a Florida outfit, Safeguard Ordnance Systems, came up with a new approach to an old solution to problems posed by short-range combat situations: multiple projectile loads. They don’t supply the ammunition, just the projectiles. When asked, they can recommend loads though.

There’s nothing new about multiple-projectile loads, of course. Lots of past attempts have been effective enough, but none were particularly popular - not for very long, at any rate. It will be interesting to see if Safeguard’s design will fare any better.

Three or four years back, Remington advertised two such loads: one in .357 Magnum, the other in .38 Special. Both featured two 70-grain 000 buckshot. Their purpose was stated on their boxes: "For law enforcement use only. 140-grain payload. Multi-strike potential. Soft lead balls have less ricochet and building structure penetration for improved safety. Light recoil for controllable second shot recovery."

Their performance was impressive. From a Smith 3-inch .38, velocities averaged 775 fps 10 feet from the muzzle. A cylinderful kept all balls inside 2 inches at 25 yards.

When fired from a Colt Python, the .357 Magnum balls clocked 1,027 fps and chopped out a one-inch hole at 25 yards.

Those rounds were dropped from Remington’s catalog some time back. Too bad. They might have been created with law enforcement personnel in mind, but in my sixguns, they proved extremely effective against snakes and small game.

Safeguard’s multi-slugs are offered in six calibers: .38 Special, 9mm, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Special and .45 ACP. Some of the latter were submitted for testing.

The .45 Tri-Pro, as it’s called, consists of three separate .452-caliber projectiles. When loaded, they are stacked one on top of the other. The top projectile weighs 135 grains and is shaped like a hollowpointed semiwadcutter with two-thirds of its body missing. The other two sections are flat, disc-shaped wadcutters, and each weighs 50 grains. Bases are jacketed; faces are exposed lead.

Accompanying literature suggested two loads: 6.0 grains of Unique and 8.0 grains of AAC-5. The Unique charge was selected. Ten feet from the muzzle of the .45 Auto’s 3 1/2-inch barrel, those slugs averaged 656 fps. Extreme velocity spread was only 55 fps.

When assembling the loads, bullet seating required a few extra steps. The assistance of the case-belling die was needed. After the cases were charged with powder, a disc-wadcutter was placed so it rested evenly on the belled case mouth. Then, case and wadcutter were raised gently until the wadcutter contacted the bottom of the die’s expander stem. Further pressure shoved the little disc down inside the case until it rested on top of the powder charge. The second disc was seated in the same manner.

When the hollowpointed nose piece was seated, some cases were given heavy crimps, as recommended by the manufacturer. Others were taper crimped to see if there would be any difference in effectiveness. There wasn’t.

The idea behind the crimps was to keep the nose projectiles from backing out under recoil. Overall cartridge length was held to 1.275 inches.

The test pistol was a Colt 1911 that was massaged by Pachmayr a decade or two ago. It has seen a lot of use but is just as tight and as accurate as ever.

At the range, the first target was set up 12 yards from the bench. Two rounds were fired, using a six o’clock hold. As the accompanying photo reveals, the two nose projectiles struck an inch apart. Three of the disc-wadcutters formed a cloverleaf just above them in the black while the fourth smacked the target 2 1/2 inches to the right. Any human or beast so targeted would have been in big trouble.

When the target was moved back to 25 yards, a center hold was taken. One of the nose pieces drilled through the 10-ring. Its companion landed 3 inches to its right. None of the disc-wadcutters hit anywhere on the target, which was 14 inches square.

Subsequent testing indicated the Safeguard Tri-Pros are pretty reliable out to 15 yards. Beyond that distance, the hollowpointed nose sections still go pretty much where they are pointed. The disc-wadcutters, however, are completely unpredictable. They are liable to swerve away in any direction.

Of course, the Tri-Pros were designed for defense purposes, and since most shootouts take place at rock-throwing distances, the multi-slugs should prove valuable to anyone so engaged. They should be just the ticket for snakes too. Any rattler more than 8 feet away is no threat, but if one is encountered closer than that, a handgun loaded with Safeguard slugs would come in mighty handy.

Anyone wanting to try some should contact Safeguard Ordnance Systems, Inc., Box 2028, Eaton Park FL 33849.

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