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Controlled Chaos Bullets

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Back in 2006, I helped a friend design and test a bullet for a .50-caliber, short-action rifle cartridge he’d wildcatted. He needed a bullet that would withstand high-velocity impact without deforming to a wide frontal diameter and jeopardizing penetration. I showed him the French-made GPA bullet which I’d recently tested in Africa. The GPA is an all-copper bullet similar to a Barnes Triple Shock, except the petals are designed to break away. He took that information and teamed with Lehigh Defense to create a wicked mono-metal bullet for his unusual cartridge, which I also tested in Africa. Ultimately, Lehigh Defense refined this design, and it is now known as the Controlled Chaos.

The Controlled Chaos bullet is a mono-metal bullet made of copper that sort of bridges the gap that has existed with rifle bullets for some time; it gives both high energy transfer at shallow to moderate depth, but also provides deep penetration. The Controlled Chaos bullet has a hollow point and when liquid—blood, liquefied tissue or something similar—enters that cavity, the bullet erupts. It begins to flower open with petals similar to a Barnes Triple Shock, but before it reaches what you might call “full bloom,” those petals break away. What’s important is that they break away before they peel back along the shank.

By breaking away early, the petals radiate outward while maintaining forward momentum. The bullet shank, which remains at the unfired bullet diameter, is not hindered by a mushroom of lead or flowered-out petals, so it continues to penetrate. This provides a unique type of terminal performance, because you get the violent tissue disruption associated with bullets that deform with a wide-frontal diameter or fragment, combined with the additional wound cavities and hemorrhaging created by the separated petals, and also deep penetration like with traditional mono-metal bullets.

The first Controlled Chaos bullet I used was a prototype in .300 BLK during a varmint hunt. It delivered spectacular kills on rodents and badgers, even at the .300 BLK’s unimpressive velocities. I also used a .375-caliber Controlled Chaos bullet to take a big coastal black bear on Vancouver Island, and a few months later my son used the same size bullet on an African buffalo. I’ve also tested .243- and .264-caliber Controlled Chaos bullets on springbok, impala and warthog. During the detailed necropsies conducted afterward, in every case we found consistent terminal performance.

Since then, Lehigh Defense has been acquired by Wilson Combat and production is being moved from South Dakota to Texas. Bill Wilson, known for his high quality 1911s and AR-15s, is also an avid hog hunter; he swears by the Controlled Chaos bullet, especially for AR-15-compatible cartridges like the 300 HAMR. If you’re a hunter and find terminal performance like this appealing, Lehigh Defense offers Controlled Chaos bullets in .224, .243, .264, .277, .284, .308 and .311 calibers, and Wilson Combat offers Controlled Chaos loads for the 300 HAMR. But, Underwood Ammunition is the best source for Controlled Chaos ammunition. It has loads for more-common MSR cartridges like .223 Rem., 224 Valkyrie, 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39 mm, as well as loads for more traditional hunting cartridges.

I recently tested the Wilson Combat 110-grain Controlled Chaos load for my primary AR-15, chambered in 300 HAMR. But, I was more interested in how it might serve as a personal-protection load. When fired into Clear Ballistics, from entry until about 4 inches, the wound cavity looked like what you would see from a conventional bullet. But, at that point the petals—which weighed between 10 and 14 grains—separated and began creating their own individual wound cavities for an additional 7 to 8 inches. They radiated out from the primary bullet path by about 1.5 to 2.0 inches, drastically enhancing wounding at depth. The bullet shank, which had a recovered weight of 43 grains, continued, punching a .30-caliber hole, with straight-line penetration, to a depth of 27 inches.

By comparison, a conventional 110-grain .30-caliber soft point out of a 300 HAMR will only penetrate about 70 percent as deep. A 150-grain bullet fired from a 300 HAMR that retains 98 percent of its weight will only drive to about 21 inches. And like with the 110-grain soft-point bullet, the wound cavity reduces to the deformed bullet diameter after about 7 to 8 inches of penetration. With the Controlled Chaos bullet, you get more tissue destruction between about 7 and 12 inches and deeper penetration.

Another feature of the Controlled Chaos bullet I found that also has appeal is its ability to defeat intermediate barriers. For bullet deformation to occur, fluid or tissue must enter the small, hollow point in the nose of the bullet. This means that drywall and similar intermediate barriers will not initiate bullet deformation. Of course, the bullet’s ability to drive deeply opens the concern of over penetration in social settings. Penetration beyond 18 inches can be problematic when used in a situation where innocent people might be beyond the threat.

As unique as the terminal performance delivered by this load was, the performance of this ammunition on target and through the chronograph was no less impressive. My past experiences with Controlled Chaos bullets have often shown match-bullet-like accuracy and this load was no exception. Five, five-shot groups fired at 100 yards averaged just under 1 MOA. The velocity was incredibly consistent and averaged 2,530 fps with a maximum deviation of only 9 fps and a standard deviation of 4.2 fps. From a velocity standpoint, this is one of the most consistent shooting—factory or handloads—I’ve ever tested.

A single rifle bullet that will deliver ideal terminal performance for all applications does not exist. It’s your job to match the bullet to the target. However, if because of your location you keep a rifle for home defense against two- and four-legged predators, a Controlled Chaos load has a lot of appeal, especially in lower-power, AR-15-compatible cartridges. It will deliver that violent tissue disruption that often instantly stops an attacker, while at the same time punching deep enough to work on bruins that are after more than your picnic basket.

The irony is that, as new and revolutionary as the Controlled Chaos bullet might seem, its origin lies with that GPA bullet, which is still manufactured and offered by France-based Cartouches Sologne. You won’t find them on the shelf at your favorite local firearm emporium but, with the increasing availability of the Controlled Chaos bullet, who cares?


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