MKE 9mm

MKE is a Turkish company that manufactures ammunition.  I won’t get into the history of the company or their process, and will focus more on my actual experience using their ammo, specifically their 9mm 124 gr.

First, some disclosures…

The MKE 9mm I’ve used was provided by Steel City Ammo (SCA) for testing purposes. 

SCA sells this ammunition, and MKE has also manufactured the previously sold Diamond Dogs 9mm ammo as well.

I have a working relationship with SCA and will do my best to remain impartial and honest.  My priority is providing honest feedback and do not allow SCA staff to review my findings prior to publication.

Scientific testing can be useful, but likely isn’t necessary for the scope of this review.  I primarily wanted to focus more on how well the ammo would run vs velocities and accuracy.  With that in mind, I primarily tracked how many rounds I fired and how many rounds I could document how many failures there were and what type.  This firsthand information was coupled with observations from others who have also used either Diamond Dogs or MKE 9mm.

Onward and Forward

I received approximately 300 rounds and shot it through four different handguns, a Glock 19, Shadow Systems MR918 build (essentially a G19), and two S&W M&P’s.  Both of my handguns used factory internals with no aftermarket parts to the action.  One of the M&P’s had factory internals, while the other had modified internals for competition with reduced power springs used in the action.

I personally shot approximately 200 rounds of ammo between my two handguns. 

Out of those 200 rounds, I had approximately 5 failures.

Out of those 5 failures, 1 was a failure to fire and 4 were failures to feed.

The failures to feed could be directly attributed to the mags used, which had significant amounts of dirt and mud inside them from being dropped in mud during reload drills.

The failure to fire was a light strike on the primer.  Upon further inspection of the firearm used, I found that there was significant amounts of oil and carbon buildup in the striker channel from a lack of cleaning and maintenance.  This likely caused the striker to strike the primer with less force, resulting in a light strike.  I encountered no further issues with light strikes following a quick cleaning of the slide assembly and all internals.

My colleagues fired 100 rounds each through their M&P’s.  The M&P with factory internals had zero failures, while the M&P with aftermarket or modified internals had 5 total failures.

All the failures were failures to fire, which fired after a second chambering and trigger pull.

Inspection of the primers indicated light strikes, with noticeably shallower striker marks on the primers.  This indicated to both myself and my colleague that the slightly reduced power springs used in the modifications were just enough to induce intermittent light strikes.

So out of 200 rounds, I had 1 failure that could be attributed to the firearm and poor maintenance.

My colleague encountered 5 failures that could be attributed to the firearm, specifically the reduced power springs used with the internals.

All the failures involved light strikes.

From observations…

I’ve seen firsthand and had reports of the ammo running flawlessly through plenty of guns, with a mixture of spotlessly cleaned guns to ones that haven’t been serviced for hundreds of rounds.  I’ve also seen guns that would have failures to fire every few rounds, regardless of how recently cleaned, oiled, or maintained the firearm was.

The common factor for whether the gun could run the ammo was whether there were aftermarket parts used in the action, specifically lightened springs.  For example, competition trigger packs and striker assemblies that reduced the weight of the trigger (which typically included the striker spring).  Other factors were guns that were well worn in, at thousands of rounds, that likely needed new springs as general maintenance.  The former is more likely to happen than the latter, though there were a couple shooters I met who shot often enough that the latter was possible.

Light strikes

As far as how the ammo felt while shooting…

Zippy.  It felt like a 124 +p, so on the hotter spectrum of 9mm ammo.  It has more recoil and a hotter powder charge than any 115 grain 9mm I’ve shot to date but is just below 165 grain .40 S&W that I’ve used for competition.  This is in line with how I remember military ball ammo, which reinforces what SCA staff have said about MKE being NATO spec ammo.

Accuracy was fair.  I don’t have grouping measurements to share, but I can consistently put rounds into the headbox of a USPSA target at 25 yards with my G19 if I do my part.  I wouldn’t consider this match grade ammo, but it was at least consistent and reasonably accurate for what it is.

Jon running the ammo

What does this tell me?

MKE is military ammo.

The ammo felt like it was +p, which is typical of military.  The primers are crimped and sealed, which is also typical of military ammo.  The ammo burns dirty, which also reminds me of how military ammo was.  SCA staff has stated that it is NATO spec ammo, from a NATO country.

So what? 

It’s reliable ammo, with a caveat.  The primers are hard, more so than CCI primers.  They require a heavy striker or hammer spring to be used in conjunction with the ammo to function without issues.  This means that modifying the action of your handgun, not maintaining your handgun, and/or having worn springs in your action will increase the chances of a failure or malfunction.

Is it good or bad ammo?

It’s ok ammo.  Accuracy is fair, and more accurate than I am as shooter.  I haven’t done any significant testing, but being able to consistently hit the headbox on a USPSA target at the distances I was hitting is pretty good.

Reliability… that’s where people will need to pause for a moment.  It’s military ammo.  The primers are hard as rocks.  If you’re using at least an OEM 5.5 lbs striker spring you should be fine, barring other mechanical issues from neglecting maintenance. 

Given all that, it’s been priced reasonably.  At the time of writing, it’s around $15/box, and I haven’t seen it for more than $17/box.  I wouldn’t be overly upset about a failure to fire every couple boxes, which is roughly the same failure rate as other budget level ammo that I’ve shot.

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