UTM's 9mm Man-Marker training rounds.
UTM’s 9mm Man-Marker training rounds. author photo

Anyone who has used training rounds of any kind knows they come with limitations, either in observable effects or in realism of function in existing firearms. One company, UTM Worldwide, is changing all that with their extensive line of training ammo and firearm conversion kits.

At this year’s SHOT Show 2016 Media Day at the Range, UTM was on hand, along with the people from Target Tracker (the motorized platform the replicates the movements of an armed assailant in various situations) to show just how effective and realistic their training system is.

There are a few types of UTM rounds made for training, including blanks, but the standouts were their 9mm Man Marker Rounds, which are intended for force-on-target (shooting at targets) or force-on-force (shooting at people) training. How it works is remarkably innovative yet surprisingly simple.

The back of the casing looks like a normal round with a typical primer. That’s where the similiarites end. When the primer is struck, it operates the action and ignites a secondary primer that sends the projectile out the barrel. It’s this innovation that allows the UTM training rounds to function like real ammo in training situations, without raising the performance of the pellets to dangerous levels to operate the action.

All this requires a conversion kit, consisting of a new slide and barrel assembly, which are available for Beretta, Glock, Caracal, HK, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Walther, and FN Herstal firearms. The MMR rounds are loaded into the gun’s regular 9mm magazines and leave easy-to-see marks on target.

I had the chance to run through some training drills with Wayne McGregor, CEO of Target Tracker, with the UTM rounds in a Glock 17 along with his moving man-sized 3D dummy targets. This included a couple extremely close combat (chest to chest) drills I would never have had the guts to try for the first time with live ammo. The recoil, shot-to-shot recovery, and firearm mechanics were identical to live fire exercises, but with not enough noise to require ear protection, and no risk of permanent injury…or death, which is always nice. One volunteer took a round in the thigh from about 12 feet and she didn’t even flinch. The rounds are accurate to about 25 yards.

Target Tracker's mobile target unit is remote controlled and extremely agile.
Target Tracker’s mobile target unit is remote controlled and extremely agile. author photo

McGregor said the training ammo is so safe that he runs drills in his home. Let’s face it, shooting at static targets straight ahead at the range is fun and great for building muscle memory, shooting mechanics, and accuracy—but in the real world, self-defense situations will not present targets at chest height that don’t move. Even using the UTM rounds on static targets, shooting from cover or from awkward positions can offer valuable insights into gaps in shooting abilities and in home security.

UTM offers a variety of products, including training rounds for 5.56 rifles. Check them out, and just try to tell yourself you don’t want a setup like this.