Subguns in the Basement

By James L. Ballou

I fired my first Ingram Mac-10 in my neighbor’s cellar. The M-10 was an original Powder Springs, with matching suppresser in 9 mm. This was great fun, save for one obstacle; his wife kept her clay statues for her ceramics class near the impact area. Our fun came to an abrupt end when an errant round punctured a water pipe ruining thousands of dollars worth of stock. Oh, what we would have done for a sub-caliber device for home use!

Leave it to the Swedes to come up with an ingenious solution to “in-house” training.

In 1981, while working on the Viking program, I was shown a sub caliber device developed for the M-45 B, the Swedish K. This is a unique device that could affect the way you shoot subguns forever. Paul Reed of the Navy Arms Co. has come up with a large supply of the special sub caliber rounds in 9mm that may be used in any firearm chambered for same.

The cartridge consists of a 9mm projectile made of plastic with a 5.2 mm steel BB embedded in the tip. It was made to be fired in a confined area quite safely, as long as the usual safety rules for live full powered ammunition are followed.

The sub caliber barrel was written up in SAR’s Premier issue, October 1997 Vol.1 No 1 p. 35. Once one removes the bulbous safety device, a 5.2-mm smooth bore is revealed. You may have seen the blank firing device in the movie “ Invasion USA” with Chuck Norris. This large safety cone is held on with a spring clip that, when removed allows it to be screwed off. Danger !!!, The barrel could chamber a ball round and its detonation could prove to be disastrous.

There are two distinct types of practice rounds. The red one is strictly a blank; and a black round, tipped with a steel pellet is the practice round. Both can be contained within the safety device. The best part is that both rounds operate the K in full auto reliably with the regular bolt. The only problem is the smell of burning plastic.

Each box of 36 rounds has the added bonus of the en-bloc clip that became the basis for the C-3 Systems rapid loader. With the loader, you can load a magazine in less than 3 seconds.

Navy Arms is contemplating the production of the sub caliber barrels. It could even be used in pistols. Now for the brilliant idea. Find a burned out K-barrel, Sten barrel or any 9-mm barrel and insert a 5.2 mm barrel “ Viola!” You too can fire your Sten, Uzi, in your own basement.

Just follow all precautions you would for a pellet gun or .22 rifle.

The ammunition comes packed in a small wooden box with two sealed battle packs of 432 rounds weighing, for a total of 864 rounds, weighing 2.7 KG (5.94 pounds).

Test and Evaluation

July 31,2001 19: 00 hours—My faithful crew arrives for photos and field-testing. My ace photographer, Jim Crump, is followed his faithful companion, Vic Duphilly, loaded down with bundles of guns, cameras, and chronographs. I can see the patient owner of Bob’s Tactical, Frank Smith, as trepidation and curiosity make his eyes begin to roll. In a matter of seconds the equipment is ready to record. Even Frank’s lovely wife Judi, who happens to be a master machinist, helped us to accurately record our findings.

As we progress, the project takes on a more dangerous aspect. To our surprise, this round is not as innocuous as was first thought.

At 21 feet, particles from the plastic bullet obliterated any results on an NRA target. They shredded the B-2 target. The smell of burning plastic permeated the range. Then a more sinister discovery emerges. Using the local yellow pages (2” thick) we fired a single round and the steel projectile completely penetrated the book and embedded itself in the rear wall. Then I tested the round on soft pine. Six inches of penetration, more than assures lethality. This would indicate that much more caution is needed in the use of this practice ammo. Treat it exactly as .22 ball ammunition. A steel ball will be prone to ricochet more than a lead projectile.

Loading and firing the black plastic rounds are just as simple as with ball ammunition.

The cyclic rate is identical to ball ammunition.

Price will be $43.00 per case, which works out to approximately 5 cents per round. When was the last time you saw ammo that cheap and so much fun?


9X19 mm
Small powder charge 3.6 grains
Plastic Bullet with embedded steel pellet
Berdan Primed
Mildly corrosive primer
Steel BB 5.2 mm 8.9 grains
Velocity estimated at 925 ft./ sec.


Navy Arms Company, Inc.

689 Bergen Blvd.
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
Phone: 201-945-2500
Fax: 201-945-6859

Testing Facilities

Bob’s Tactical

90 Lafayette Rd.
Salisbury, MA 01952
Phone: 978-465-5561

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V5N4 (January 2002)
and was posted online on March 14, 2014


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