Action Safety patents:
https://www.google.com/patents/US4175492 (Action 1 and Action 3)
https://www.google.com/patents/US6971315 (Action 4, Action 5, Action 6, and Action Effect)
https://patents.google.com/patent/US20200370872A1 (Action Extreme, Action SE SXF, and Norma MHP)
The Action Safety round was developed by Geco (Gustav Genschow & Co.), an old German brand. Geco and the other companies of Dynamit Nobel Ammotec GmbH were ultimately acquired by the Swiss company RUAG in 2002.
The goal was to provide an expanding projectile that would feed as reliably as FMJ in semi-auto and full-auto firearms. Up to the 1970s, few firearm manufacturers had ever considered the requirement to feed JSP or JHP ammunition in their designs. On the opposite side, most ammunition manufacturers still had not come up with a way to make reliably feeding and expanding JSP and JHP for self-loading firearms. Rounds that fed reliably often didn’t expand, and rounds that expanded often didn’t feed reliably.
Geco’s first attempt was a conventional plastic capped, lead-core bullet, sort of like a Nosler Ballistic Tip, dubbed the Effectnose-Geschoss. This was abandoned in favor lighter solid copper bullets featuring a plastic cap.
With the early Action Safety variants, the plastic plug was actually blown out the front of the projectile when it was fired. If you look at the product sheets, you can see that there was a small hole drilled all the way through the bullet. Later versions retained the plug to reduce the downrange hazard.
Another German ammunition manufacturer, Metallwerk Elisenhutte GmbH (MEN), came up with its own answer: the Quick Defense. The Quick Defense originally had a thin metal cap over the hollowpoint. The cap collapsed into the cavity when the projectile hit its target, but the cap was not substantial enough to effect expansion. The cap was later replaced by a ball, kind of like the current CorBon Pow’RBall.
Along the same lines, the RUAG SeCa was an in-house design that predated the acquisition of Geco. In fact, it dated back to the time when RUAG was known as Swiss Munition.
The light projectile weight for these rounds was inspired by the terminal ballistics theories of the 1970s that worshiped high velocity and kinetic energy. Back in the US in those days, the hot ticket in 9x19mm was the Super Vel 90gr JHP and the Federal Cartridge 95gr JSP briefly issued by the Illinois State Police for their S&W Model 39. In a 1972 document, the ISP claimed that one of the reasons they had adopted a 9x19mm pistol was that if they found the need for higher velocity, they could always rebarrel their pistols for .30 Luger! The ISP document explained that the advantages of lightweight, high-velocity projectiles were that they gave good penetration in barrier materials, yet limited penetration in flesh. The lightweight projectiles would also slow down faster in flight, giving a shorter maximum range. This would reduce the danger to bystanders further downrange.
Several of the later variants in the Action and QD family were redesigned to appease political sensitivities. For instance, the Dutch Police wanted to adopt the Geco Action Safety back when they adopted the Walther P5 back in the 1980s. Once learning of this decision, various leftist organizations protested the issue of expanding ammunition as “inhumane”. So they were left with the choice of either issuing standard military FMJ, or a reduced velocity/lightweight FMJ.
Between 1990 and 1992, the Dutch police were finally allowed to adopt the Action 3 variant. This was considered politically acceptable, as the hollow point didn’t expand at all. Around 2002-2004, the Dutch replaced it with the Action Effect variant, in which the nose does not expand beyond the original bullet diameter. In 2009, the Dutch announced the adoption of a new variant, the Action NP, with a distinctive orange cap and other features to aid forensic identification. This was reportedly based on the Action 4 design.
For other markets, the limited expansion MEN QD2 was positioned as an alternative to the Action 3 and Action Effect.
Archived copies of RUAG’s individual brochures for the Action family:
Here is another RUAG brochure with a chart comparing the Action variants.
This is the most recent RUAG brochure. Unfortunately, it does not show the earlier Action variants.
For additional background on the original German police ammunition requirements, please check the following article.
And here is a 1986-vintage article that discusses the Dutch Police’s initial attempts to adopt the Geco Action Safety for their Walther P5.
More recently, we’ve seen the introduction of fraternal triplets – the Geco Action Extreme, the RUAG Action SE SXF, and the Norma MHP. These were designed for maximum expansion, and do away with the nose plug.
Some of you may remember the old “Blitz Action Trauma” or BAT. Geco had nothing to do with the BAT marketing campaign. That was solely the work of the US importer Phil Engeldrum. The BAT label was pasted over the standard Action Safety box, and served as a box seal. The label was thin enough that you could see the standard Geco markings under it. For a time, he even imported the .357 Magnum vaiant.
For those who never saw any of his magazines (“Pistolero” and “Handgun Tests”), Engeldrum was a very colorful character.
“Pistolero” and “Handgun Tests” archive