Alchemist Ammunition Z-Clean 9mm 100gr Solid Zinc Projectile Ammo Review

Alchemist Ammunition's Z-Clean 100gr 9mm solid zinc projectile ammo performed admirably during my testing.

I’m finally getting to some actual product reviews, rather than obscure think pieces and pretty pictures of firearms. I’m starting things off with a review of Alchemist Ammunition’s lead-free Z-Clean solid zinc projectile ammunition in 9mm…

As I detailed earlier this year, there’s been great strides in the “green” ammunition industry. No longer are we limited to hideously expensive options from the major players, where the products were of questionable performance at best. Now everyone in the ammo game, big and small, is offering up green options, some of which are of comparable performance to traditional lead-based offerings.

One such manufacturer is Florida’s own Alchemist Ammunition. A division of National Police Equipment Exchange, a leading provider of frangible ammunition and training equipment for law enforcement, Alchemist has hit the market with offerings such as the C3 compressed copper cartridge, and of course Z-Clean.

I purchased samples of both C3 and Z-Clean via Clark Armory, which has made a business out of selling exclusively green ammunition. I’ll be reviewing the C3 ammunition shortly.

Formed from solid zinc, Z-Clean’s 100 grain projectile is paired with environmentally-friendly propellants and primers, all being housed in a sturdy brass casing by Truelove & Maclean, hence the “T&M” headstamp on the cartridge. Sold in boxes of 50, Z-Clean’s pricing is competitive with traditional lead-based offerings, making going green a realistic option for every shooter. Since zinc is harder than lead, there may be increased wear on your barrel, but not in any significant amount to worry about.

To The Range

Z-Clean loaded up in a magazine for a Heckler & Koch VP9.

After some basic photography for this review, I gathered up my Heckler & Koch VP9, some boxes of Z-Clean, and some boxes of Federal American Eagle AE9AP 9mm FMJ ammo for reference.

A short drive later, I arrived at Shoot Straight in Davie, FL, figuring for a less-crowded range. As it was a Monday when I conducted this review, my thoughts were correct. As a word of caution, when shooting zinc ammunition, there is an increased risk of ricochet since zinc is harder than lead. Make sure whatever shooting facility you use has a properly prepared berm or a professional bullet trap to minimize the risk of those zinc beauties zinging back at you.

Since in my semi-formal testing procedure involved checking the cleanliness of my firearm after a course of fire with both Z-Clean and Federal, I started off by running 100 rounds of Z-Clean through my VP9.

The blast and recoil were no different than conventional FMJ or hollow-point 9mm ammunition, which is what one should aim for when selecting a training ammunition. You want the ballistics to be equivalent, and for the most part, ammo manufacturers can usually hit the mark on this. No surprises there.

Accuracy was great. I hadn’t run a course of fire with my VP9 in awhile, and I was pleasantly surprised to be “on my game” somewhat, and performing acceptably at 10 yards. I’m no Jerry Miculek, but I try. The ammunition fed well with no issues, as well.

Z-Clean is accurate and reliable...

After running 100 rounds, I was curious to see the cleanliness of my firearm. Usually, after 100 round of almost any ammo, there is noticeable fouling, especially on the feed ramp. With Z-Clean, the residue was, in a word, negligible. Another noticeable, and pleasant aspect of the ammunition was the distinct lack of vapors and smoke, even after sustained rapid fire. I ran a full magazine of Z-Clean, and for comparison, a full magazine of Federal, and the difference was definitely noticeable. Little to no visible vapors with Z-Clean, and a definite amount of visible smoke and vapors with conventional Federal ammunition.

Little visible residue in the chamber.

A Viable Alternative

Z-Clean impressed me. It’s accurate, clean, and reliable. Ballistic performance is comparable to any conventional FMJ or hollow-point 9mm load that I’ve run. I’d dare say I like Z-Clean more than my usual standby, Speer Lawman, specifically because of the clean-burning characteristics of this ammunition, which is especially evident during courses of rapid fire. I’d love to run this ammo in a full-auto piece to really see the “clean”, actually. It’d also be interesting to run this through a fresh firearm to evaluate barrel wear. But, don’t let that stop you. This is ammunition you should be buying. Train hard, safe, and do a little favor for your health and the planet while you’re at it.

Z-Clean 9mm 100 grain ammunition is currently priced at $14.00 per box of 50 over at Clark Armory.

A reminder

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Z-Clean 9mm 100gr solid zinc projectile lead-free ammunition.