Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiocchi 12 gauge Cyalume Tracer round.... a shotgun shooters training dream come true?


Sometimes, 'ol Carteach gets bored, and goes looking for something unusual to play with. A favorite stop on the journey is the website of ''. Besides being decent folks to deal with, every once in a while they have something..... different. Sometimes, very different indeed.

This time they came through like troopers in the 'different' category, and coughed up a box of the stuff pictured above. Fiocchi's new offering in their 'canned heat' line, 12 gauge tracer rounds using Cyalume chemicals.

Oh my.... now these are kinda kewl. The idea is pretty simple, even though actually making them is fairly complicated I expect. Sporting shotgun shooters don't have the advantage of clearly seeing where each load of shot goes. Sometimes an observer can tell them if they are leading the bird, or following it, usually by judging the path of the wad column as it flies through the air. This can work... sometimes... and the shooter himself typically can't see it as well.

Fiocchi came up with this solution as a training aid for shotgun shooters. It's a 12 gauge loading that features both a 3/4 ounce pile of #8 shot, and a capsule containing Cyalume type chemicals in a two part fixture. The shock of firing causes the container to set back and snap open the inner cartridge, mixing the chemicals together. What happens then is different from the Cyalume sticks we are all used to seeing every Halloween. The chemicals don't take long seconds to activate, but mere fractions of a second. Very short fractions of a second. In fact, the capsule is glowing fiercely within just a few feet after leaving the muzzle of the shotgun.

The candle that burns brightly, burns shortest... and these rounds are no different. The capsule glow lasts only seconds, but that is more than long enough to follow the shot column with the naked eye.

Fiocchi claims the capsule will stay centered in the shot column for up to fifty yards, sufficient for a sporting shotgun shooter to determine where the muzzle was pointed when the trigger was slapped.

Here, exclusively for our loyal Carteach readers.... one of the new Fiocchi tracer rounds is disassembled for your edification and viewing pleasure. That means I cut the blasted thing apart and took pictures to show you what's inside.....

There is no mistaking the shell as anything other than what it is. While it looks normal otherwise, a glance at where we'd expect to find the crimp show us the end of the chemical capsule. By the way..... Fiocchi says the chemicals are environmentally sound and safe.

Aha! The diamond bladed jewelers saw springs into action! Okay.... it's more like it 'slithered' into action, but the idea is the same. Looking carefully at the case, it was easy to spot a safe place to cut. After the powder, but before the shot filled wad. Just the case was cut, which the small saw easily allowed.

The 'shot wad' found inside the shell casing. Giving up the usual springy cushion part of the wad, the #8 shot is found at the base of the cup. Above it, the chemical capsule which peaks out the business end of the shell. The capsule rests directly on the shot load. It should be noted... dropping or throwing the shell harshly can set off the chemical mix, so the shells should be treated gently. Notably, Fiocchi states that merely being in the magazine of a shotgun as it's fired will not trigger the capsule.

The capsule itself.... which I did not take apart. Looking through the translucent case with a bright light, the inner capsule containing one of the binary chemicals is clear. The outer case is two part, and firing causes setback which makes for rapid and complete mixing of the two chemicals.

How do these trick tracer rounds work? So far, Carteach's highly scientific testing methodology has shown that they do indeed work as advertised. In other words, several rounds were fired across the back yard into a stand of bamboo, under evening light. The trace round was easily visible, and the capsule striking the bamboo left a glowing streak that lasted for five or ten seconds.

The shells come packed ten to a box for the early production runs, but should be coming out in cans by the time readers see this. The shells have a shelf life, like all cyalume does, and need to be used up by the expiration date. It's not a short date, but within a year or so would be a good idea.

These babies are not cheap, running in excess of $20 for a box/can of ten tracer shells. That said, it's not like a shooter would be blasted away round after round of trap with these. They are a training aid, enabling the shooter to get on target by showing where the shot column is really going. Just a few rounds would be enough to give a very good idea of needed corrections, and a box of ten could serve several shooting sessions, or several shooters. has them priced right now at $18.95 per box of ten, or $175 per hundred.

Interesting stuff, and 'Ol Carteach will try to get video of them in action if possible. Gee..... that means a trip to the trap range. The things we endure for our readers.....


Old NFO said...

Meh... I'd probably NEED all 100 rounds, I can't shoot a shotgun for anything... sigh

Anonymous said...

The only drawback that I see is that the Cyalume part has a very different trajectory than the #8 shot, past a certain point. In fact, having watched a video, it behaves like a lightweight slug. It would be simpler to omit the birdshot entirely.

That said, very cool!


That Guy said...

VERY cool! I have been looking for those since they were announced. now I know where I can get some.

My plan is to load a mag full of them in the saiga....

Anonymous said...

Great review. Note that these shells are too long to fit in a SAIGA drum magazine and are designed for a more conventional 2-3/4" type of shotgun you'd find on the skeet range.

When asking Fiocchi about this they responded with the following, "The length is necessary to keep from breaking the Cyalume insert. We are loading them to around 67mm, which is around 7mm longer than any "normal" star crimped shell. We have talked to Cyalume about trying to make a shorter insert, but thay are unable to do much at this time because of the glass ampule that is inside, and the quantity of the chemicals that is required. So we are kinda stuck at the length we are making them. Our only other option would be to leave the shot out of them, which would make the useless for what they are supposed to be. These are still within SAAMI length specs, and should chamber in any 2 3/4 gun, although it is probable that some of the different drum type magazines would show issues with the added length.
Hope that helps….."