Black Talon is a type of ammunition that was produced by Winchester Ammunition in the 1990s primarily for law enforcement and self-defense. This ammunition became known for being one of the earlier types of ammo to exhibit an extreme expansion effect upon impacting soft targets (flesh). Black Talon ammunition was available in many of the common calibers including: 9mm, 10mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .44 Magnum, and .308 Winchester calibers.
The Black Talon bullet is a jacketed hollow-point bullet with perforations designed to expand sharp edges upon impact. The bullet included a Lubalox (a proprietary oxide process, though widely misreported to be Teflon, molybdenum disulfide, or wax) coating, giving it an unusual black appearance compared to copper-jacketed or lead bullets. The Lubalox coating was to protect the barrel rifling, and did not give the bullet armor-piercing capabilities. This coating in fact is still widely used on many of Winchester's rifle bullets today. The bullet also had a unique appearance with a star shaped perforation on the black tip, giving it the nickname Starpoint.
The bullet was designed in 1991 under the supervision of Alan Corzine, who at that time was VP of research and development for Winchester. The round became well known amongst shooters, law enforcement, and dealers as a very effective bullet. Col Leonard J. Supenski of the Baltimore County police department said "It has the stopping power that police officers need and it is less likely to ricochet or go through the bad guy."
The ammunition was targeted by those opposed to handguns, and the reputation was very different in the public, and eventually the Talons became to be known by the moniker "cop-killer" bullets. The hype of the Black Talon ammunition was the black coating on the bullets themselves. There were false rumors that the bullets were armor piercing and could penetrate the Kevlar vests worn by police officers. To further the controversy, some medical personnel claimed that the sharp barb like tips could potentially cause tears in the surgical gloves and hands of the medical workers, exposing them to greater risk of infection, however there are no documented reports of this actually happening.
The ammunition was used by the gunman of the 1993 Long Island Railroad mass murder. In 1996 a lawsuit was subsequently filed by one of the victim's family members (McCarthy v. Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc., 916 F.Supp. 366 (S.D.N.Y., 1996)) claiming that Olin Corp should be liable for the shooting spree based on the design, manufacture, marketing, and sale of Black Talon ammunition. The claims against Olin were dismissed because it was held that the bullets were not defectively designed.
Winchester bowed to pressure and in 1993 removed the ammunition from public sale for a time, and eventually law enforcement also bowed to the pressure, but at no time was it, nor is it presently, illegal to possess the Black Talon ammunition.
Winchester voluntarily pulled the ammunition from the market completely in 2000. The "Ranger SXT" ammunition sold today by Winchester is essentially the same ammunition without the black Lubalox coating on the bullet. Among shooters, the running joke is that SXT stands for "Same eXact Thing"; the correct abbreviation is "Supreme Expansion Technology".