I was introduced to OATH Ammunition by Kel-Tec employees. For about a year, I helped them with product photos and supplied the design concept for their Max Cavitator rifle load. Over time, I started noticing poor quality control: overpressure pistol ammunition, rifle ammo with no powder, but assumed those were rare problems with pre-production loads. The story of their TSR 12ga expanding slug made me change my mind.
TSR is a highly expanding wasp-waisted hollow point copper slug available in plastic, aluminum and brass shotshells. I wrote about it before, but my articles were based partly on the information provided by OATH. Eventually, I got ten sample cartridges in plastic cases for a test fire. The results showed good accuracy from rifled shotgun, despite some degree of keyholing. The round was useless from a smoothbore for which it was advertised because it tumbled almost right out of the muzzle. Bigger problem was the lack of reliability: four out of ten rounds I had squibbed!
I let OATH know of the problem, they assured me that this was an isolated issue and supplied a lot more ammunition, nearly 80 shells in three types of cases. Test firing yielded the same 40% squib rate with the plastic hulls. About 35% of the brass-cased slugs failed to go into battery due to oversized shell. If squibs were easy to fix — the slug did clear the bore — the only way to return the shotgun to action with the brass cases was to hit the charging handle against a solid object like a tree. Aluminum cases fed and fired fine, but even the fully rifled bore of the SX2 failed to stabilize the projectiles.
Since the ammunition sells for a bit over $6 to $7 per shot, I expect that some people would buy a pack and save it for real action. Turns out that this would have caused problems — very severe with plastic and brass cases, slight with the aluminum cases — even if the ammo was used in a break-open shotgun, much less a repeater. Given the poor QC on current OATH products, I cannot recommend them even for recreational use.
EDITOR’S NOTE – We hope that the (expensive) ammunition tested and proved to be less than adequate is made better by the manufacturer and once we have evidence to that fact we will run a follow-up story. This issue shows very clearly the need to train and practice with what you use to make sure both your skills and your gear is up to the task. More than once I loaded some magazines for a pistol that I carried for self-defense with ammo I later found to be jam-prone, but that was ignorant and I was just lucky. Be smart and use ammo, guns and gear that YOU know work well so when the time comes to protect you and your family there will be no unfortunate tactical surprises.