I had the good fortune to run into Stan Chen at the SHOT Show back in January of this year, and he struck me as someone who cares deeply for both his work and his customers. Not only that, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever talk to. And after looking at some of his 1911s and shooting a fair amount of his ammunition, I’ve also come to the realization that Mr. Chen fully understands the importance of details in the world of firearms. There’s a lot to be said for that: details matter. So after meeting and speaking with Mr. Chen, I wasn’t all that surprised to find that this ammo is so consistent I ended up writing the same velocity numbers multiple times, or that the largest difference in crimp was within .0005″. Rather, I found myself in one of those rare situations where I was actually surprised at the lack of surprises. Considering the fact that I started out with very high expectations for this ammunition, there isn’t much more I could add that would make for any higher praise.
Mr. Chen will be the first person to admit that Asym isn’t cheap: that’s the point. Instead of simply loading his self defense ammo in a nickel-plated casing or slapping the word “match” on the box and calling it good, he has worked hard to make sure Asym lives up to both its reputation and its price point. For starters, that means that literally every round is chamber-checked in a Chen-machined chamber gauge and loaded on only the most advanced machinery. If you pull a round out of the box, it was individually inspected. Asym loads are put together with top-shelf components, and to make doubly sure any given load is even better than the sum of its parts, they’re all extensively tested to make sure they perform as well as they can. In high-precision or high-pressure applications, all of that matters, and that’s why shooters and instructors like Julie Golob, Brian Zins, Clint Smith, and Jason Burton (of Heirloom Precision) all have great things to say about Asym Precision.
The 9mm loads we tested were the 115 grain JHP Action Match and the 147 grain FMJ Practical Match, both of which performed admirably. OAL for ten measured rounds of each type was extremely consistent (range was within about .001″ for the 115 grain and about .003″ for the 147 grain, which was also harder to accurately measure with calipers because of the round nose), and chronograph results (below) were right on par with advertised velocities of 1075 fps and 900 fps, respectively, from a 4″ barrel. Although my velocity readings from a 5″ were just shy of what one might think for the 147 grain Practical Match, it’s worth noting two things: (1) there are a lot more variables than just barrel length that come into play with velocity readings, from chamber dimensions to how a particular projectile engages the rifling of a given barrel, and (2) as long as the load makes minor, which it still does by a comfortable margin, a little less velocity is actually preferable in a match situation.
|115 gr JHP Action Match||147 gr FMJ Practical Match|
|Mean Velocity||Mean Velocity|
*Chronograph readings taken from a Prochrono Digital, Temperature of 62°, 53% relative humidity. Fired from Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry 9mm with 5″ barrel.
For those of you who shoot competitively in IDPA or USPSA, without a question the load for you is the 147 grain. It makes minor and the muzzle lift from it is virtually nil. The 115 grain is designed for the lower power floor of NRA Bianchi, but would also work extremely well for Steel Challenge for any non-reloaders. Although 20% of the shots chronographed did, in fact, make the higher “minor” floor of IDPA and USPSA, there’s no reason to take the risk when the 147 grain shoots at least as smoothly, if not more so. The recoil of both was negligible, but the 147 seemed to have that characteristic “snapless” recoil of a heavier 9mm round, even though the muzzle flip of the 115 was barely noticeable. I have a trimmed flatwire spring in my Wilson, and the recoil was as smooth as it has ever been with no hiccups of any kind. Both rounds were extremely accurate, but for strictly accuracy-related purposes, the 115-grain load would likely be impossible to beat, as the sample I received used what appeared to be XTP and HAP projectiles, depending on the lot. There was no decipherable shift in point-of-impact from the XTP to the HAP, and they are both virtually unparalleled in accuracy. Also, for those of you wondering whether these rounds will feed through a full-auto MP5 (don’t lie, you know you’re curious), I ran five of each through a friend’s (legal) MP5 and had no issues.
While I was asking Stan some questions this year at SHOT, I circled one statement in my notes because it left nothing to be said:
“We aren’t trying to break any production records, or put out the most; we’re trying to put out the best. We want each and every round to meet the highest standards so that you can go out and win a national championship with it, or trust it enough to carry it on duty, or deploy with it.”
Although I certainly won’t be winning a national championship with it anytime soon (Brian Zins already did that anyway), I would go so far as to say that the Asym 147 grain Practical Match 9mm is the best 147-grain match option I have ever found in the world of factory-loaded ammunition, and I certainly plan to use it in a major match or two later this year. It’s the kind of ammo that puts a smile on your face, especially after seeing your splits. Although the 9mm can be pretty tough to find, and the Asym website is currently out of stock, the 9mm and .45 match ammo options are both available at multiple major online retailers, most of which are listed on Asym’s website. I’ve been told that the true test of something’s value is whether someone would make the same purchase over again. I ordered more last week. HP
–Colt Driver; Product Photos by kChanko (excepting the range pic); Asym Precision 9mm Practical Match MSRP $32.50 (50 rounds), 9mm Action Match MSRP $33.20 (50 rounds)
*Handgun Planet would like to sincerely thank Stan Chen and Asym Precision for the evaluation sample used in this review and for taking the time to interview with us at the 2014 SHOT Show. At right, Mr. Chen holding a tool-steel chamber gauge that he designed himself. If something isn’t up to his standards, he’ll design and machine his own.
*Originally Posted 3/18/2014