But it should come as no surprise that this is not how gunfights usually go down. Today, we are happy to finally be able to share the results from eight more calibers that we recently tested. The bullet is slightly lighter (90 gr versus 95 gr for the 9×18) with slightly less velocity (910 fps versus 953 fps). It is a six-shot revolver, offering one more round than the 38 Special version. The heavy clothing test simulates a scenario in which the target is wearing four layers of clothing: two cotton shirts, fleece, and denim. As expected, .380 ACP turned in the weakest overall performance of the four calibers we tested, but a few loads fared surprisingly well. Our test of the .380 ACP Hornady Critical Defense resulted in a an average penetration depth of 13.2 inches and average expansion of .52 inches. .25 ACP ammunition is known for its modest penetrating capability and our tests seemed to confirm that. Some of the reason for the 12 inch minimum standard is simply “playing it safe” and allowing for the possibility of attackers possessing greater than average girth. It originated by necking up the 7.65×21mm Parabellum round to.355. All this information appears in the data charts below. Clicking on the graph (or the photo icon if you’re using a mobile screen that’s too narrow to display the graph) will display actual photographs of the gelatin block we fired. No signs of over pressure at all. These lines are typically ignored when measuring the penetration depth, and the farthest point of the bullet’s actual resting place is what we used for our measuring point. The top row was fired through bare ballistic blocks, the bottom through heavy clothing. Finally, we have the centerfire revolver calibers: .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum, and .327 Federal Magnum. Ordnance gelatin isn’t an exact simulation of living flesh. Consider penetration, expansion, and weight retention, as well as consistency of a load from one bullet to the next. No amount of bullet technology can make up for a miss. 223 Ar15 Vs 9mm Handgun Ballistics Gel Test And 3 Handgun Rack Reviews : Get best 223 Ar15 Vs 9mm Handgun Ballistics Gel Test And 3 Handgun Rack With Quality. The data from our ballistic tests is presented below in four separate charts, divided by caliber. However, it’s worth mentioning that in some informal experimentation I’ve done previously with this load in gelatin without the fabric barrier, the bullets expanded but only penetrated about 10 inches. So aside from the marketing materials put out by the ammo manufacturers, how are we supposed to know which bullets are the most effective? Using a .22 LR handgun for self-defense purposes is a controversial subject, and not one we’re going to cover here (check out this installment of the Pocket Pistol Series for more on that debate). At the end of the day, it’s really just the study of how and why bullets inflict damage. After each test, we measured the penetration depth of every bullet, then extracted the bullets from the gel to measure their weight and expanded width. Update 8/16/2018: Test results for nine .357 Sig loads are now live. For rimfire calibers, we tested .22 LR and .22 Magnum (aka .22 WMR). One excellent example would be the Lehigh Defense max expansion loads in either caliber. We’re providing this information as a service to the shooting community because there are so few resources available to help consumers distinguish one hollow point load from the next other than the brand name and color of the shiny foil-embossed ammo box. We have a gun to prepare for the worst, and in the worst kind of violent attacks, the bad guy doesn’t give up until he is physically incapable of doing you harm. Our test guns were a 1.9-inch Ruger LCR and a 4.2-inch Ruger SP101 (rounded to 2″ and 4″ on the charts below). We went to great lengths to set up consistent testing conditions and follow the same procedure for every trial so we would achieve results that could be reliably compared to one another. These are examples of what’s been called “psychological stops” and they are common, but they can’t be relied upon. We ran our tests with popular concealable handguns with barrel lengths we think are more representative of what the average citizen is actually carrying. Many of the loads that did stay within the FBI 12-18″ range showed excellent expansion, sometimes nearly twice the original bullet diameter. Critical Duty had launched commercially in 2013. If the self-defense load you use is listed here, and you’re not confident in the results you’re seeing, just pick another one that performed at a level you’re more comfortable with. Most of us train to fire at the vital zone or “center mass” high in the chest area of the target, which is an area typically covered by clothing. Since we knew many of the loads would penetrate deeper than 16”, we used two blocks placed end to end, giving us the ability to measure the depth of rounds that penetrated up to 32”. All Rights Reserved. Choice of caliber and bullet are not the most important aspects of successful self-defense. There are a few other basic JHP loads out there for this caliber that are similar to the Silver Bear load, and I would expect them to have the same kind of performance. Anyone that’s shot both a 10mm and a 9mm round certainly understands that these two cartridges are different. We also took velocity readings of each load with a chronograph. Update 7/11/2018: Test results for 11 different 10mm Auto loads are now live in a new post here! Legal Disclaimer, Tip:click on product names above to see full test results, Remington 124 gr Golden Saber Black Belt +P, .38 Special and .357 magnum gelatin test results. I’m not saying that makes the Hornady load a bad choice necessarily, but it’s a reminder that while gel testing is valuable, any single test only tells part of the story. Our test gun for .25 ACP was a Beretta 950 BS Jetfire with a 2.4-inch barrel. The Clear Ballistics synthetic gel has more elastic properties than organic gelatin, so the temporary wounding effects tend to appear more dramatic and aren’t a very good representation of the effects on living tissue. Regardless of whether it’s a good idea, if one were to go this route, ammo selection should be based on achieving as much penetration as possible. Both loads exhibited decent expansion with both test guns, but penetration suffered. Commercial hollow point technology is decades old, and there are dozens of different bullet designs on the market for all of the popular handgun calibers. We fired five rounds of each self-defense load using short-barreled pistols positioned 10 feet from a Clear Ballistics synthetic gelatin block with a four-layer heavy clothing barrier placed in front of it. After we recovered them from the gel blocks, the expanded bullets were measured with digital calipers. A Taurus Curve served as the test platform for the 380 ACP. Rifle bullets travel at a much higher velocity and can create temporary wound cavities that tear and disrupt tissue not even touched by the bullet itself (sometimes called “hydrostatic shock”). That’s something we would like to test in the future, but we decided to stick with handgun barrels for this batch of testing. cotton t-shirt material (approximately 5.25 ounces per yard, 48 threads per inch), cotton shirt material (approximately 3.5 ounces per yard, 80 threads per inch), cotton denim (approximately 14.4 ounces per yard, 50 threads per inch), 9mm: Smith & Wesson M&P9c, 3.5-inch barrel. Purpose-made self-defense expanding JHP ammo for .22 Magnum is a new phenomenon, but it doesn’t seem that the ammo makers have achieved ideal performance yet. Like we mentioned back in the introduction, we did not include .380 ACP in this batch of testing because we’ve actually already tested it. That sounds fairly straightforward, but even experts who study this for a living can’t seem to all agree when it comes to the effectiveness of handgun ammo. The reason for this lack of consensus is simple: handguns suck. Expanding bullets lose velocity quickly and are more likely to stay inside the target, but a hollow point that fails to expand can maintain enough energy to exit the target and potentially harm bystanders. Over the last few months, I’ve been working with the rest of the Lucky Gunner team on another one of our epic experiments, which we’re proud to finally unveil: ballistics gelatin testing for over 100 self-defense handgun ammunition loads. We’ve simplified and consolidated a lot of the data in order to highlight the most important information and to facilitate easy comparisons between loads. The gun is typical for its class with a short 2 3/4 inch barrel and a 6+1 capacity. Here’s an example from one of the 9mm Speer Gold Dot ammo tests. Gold Dot 9mm 115 gr. Ballistics testing is most often conducted with full size or “service size” handguns with barrel lengths of at least 4”. Like the other .32 cartridges, there aren’t many factory self-defense loads being produced for .327 Magnum. We have to account for a human target that may be turned slightly toward or away form us at an angle, or possibly even above or below us, or with arms partially obscuring the torso. Even so, the performance in gelatin between the two loads was comparable. The charts below show the average penetration depth of each five shot trial, and the graph displays a representation of each individual shot. Its very rare that a company goes that far to make a customer happy, and I was not expecting that at all. Only one of the three loads tested was a hollow point and it did not show a hint of expansion with either barrel. That brings our total number of loads tested across all pistol calibers to 204 with more to come in the future! The Hornady Critical Defense had decent penetration and modest expansion. AGC Teaches 2 young ladies and their father firearms proficiency at Clark Brothers Guns & Ammo in Warrenton, VA!! We measured penetration depth and later, we recovered the fired bullets from the gelatin blocks, measured their diameter, and took additional photos. Bullets fired from handguns do only one thing: poke little holes in stuff. However, I would instead suggest the .32 H&R Magnum LSWC, which offers adequate penetration and significantly less recoil than any .327 Magnum load. Ammunition selection for my task, tagging a … There are a lot of varying opinions on what to look for and what we can learn from ballistic gelatin testing, even among qualified experts. The 9×19mm Parabellum or 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Luger, is a firearms cartridge that was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) (German Weapons and Munitions Factory) for its Luger semi-automatic pistol. This failure to expand gives the bullet a lower probability of striking a vital area, and also leads to the potential for over-penetration. This testing will be ongoing, and we’ll keep adding to the results as we have the chance to test more loads. Update 8/8/2018: The 130 gr Federal HST +P load has now been added to our .38 Special results. For bullet expansion values, the chart shows you the average diameter of the five bullets fired and a photograph of the bullets retrieved from the gel block alongside an unfired bullet pulled from a cartridge in the same box of ammo. Adequate penetration: The bullet must have the ability to penetrate whatever is between the muzzle and those vital organs in order to disrupt their function — for non-uniformed civilians, this typically includes clothing, tissue, and bone. Back in the late 1980s, the FBI began to use blocks of gelatin made from a solution of water and a powdered form of miscellaneous animal parts — called “ordnance gelatin” or “ballistics gel” —  as a substitute for living tissue for testing the effects of duty ammunition. Penetration has to be just right after passing through a barrier to meet the FBI’s strict standards. With the 4.3-inch barrel of the KelTec PMR30, the .22 Magnum loads gained an additional 135 fps on average. In cases where the bullet fragmented into multiple pieces, the depth of the largest fragment was the measurement taken. 9mm Ballistics Chart There is such a variety of pistols in public use that we will not determine what guns are compatible with which loads. The other advantage of using a consistent medium like gelatin is that it allows for an “apples to apples” comparison between ammo loads. Comparisons. Clicking on the thumbnails of the expanded bullets will give you a magnified view. On average, the .32 H&R Magnum loads clocked in at about 200 fps faster than the .32 Longs. © 2009-2020 LuckyGunner, LLC. We also feature Chris Murphy of Cobalt Firearms Training in Warrenton VA! One final aspect of ballistics testing we haven’t yet addressed is the wound cavity — the flesh that is disrupted by the bullet. If someone wants to kill you, and the only way to prevent that from happening is to shoot them, a handgun is not the ideal firearm to use — they just happen to be the type of firearm we’re most likely to have immediate access to. Gel Testing To test the defensive capabilities of 5.7 vs. 9mm, we shot five examples of each round into Clear Ballistics gel. The short version is that we fired five rounds of each load into blocks of Clear Ballistics synthetic gelatin from a distance of 10 feet. The FBI used to test handgun ammo at 20 yards as well as 10 feet, but they found very little difference in the data at these two distances. When ballistics experts have suggested changes to the 12 inch standard, it has only been in the direction of increasing that number, but for the time being, the FBI still deems the 12-18 inch penetration range to be ideal. Consistent slight over-penetration (greater than 18″) is generally considered acceptable if the alternative is under-penetration, or inconsistent performance. If the bullet needs to reach the middle of the chest cavity where the organs are, wouldn’t we need a penetration depth less than half of that in most cases? Today on Kentucky Ballistics we perform a ballistic gel test with 9mm, 357 Sig, 10mm and 5.7x28mm. Compared to the rimfire and semi-auto pocket pistol calibers, all of the .32 Long loads demonstrated respectable penetration. Whenever feasible, we tried to duplicate the testing protocol reportedly used by the FBI, but our first priority was to be consistent, using the same procedure and conditions for every load we tested. Underwood Ammo 9mm +P 147 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point … Full Throttle - BFT. Obviously, the FBI gel block is made to the FBI ballistics gel standards, but it uses synthetic gelatin, so there’s no need to keep it chilled–and also it doesn’t smell, which is pretty cool. Of course, oftentimes violent attackers give up or flee before shots are actually fired. Instead, we’ve used an asterisk on the chart to indicate the few loads that retained less than 85% of their original weight on average. Test results using Clear Ballistics blocks tend to be relatively close to results using organic gelatin, at least for comparing the penetration and expansion properties of handgun bullets. For every load tested, we fired five shots through the heavy clothing barrier into a fresh block of gelatin. Ammunition used in today’s video. Today, this type of testing is made even easier with the advent of synthetic ballistic materials. They provide accurate results, but they’re time consuming to make and they have to be refrigerated until almost immediately before they are used. Today on Kentucky Ballistics we perform a ballistic gel test with 9mm, 357 Sig, 10mm and 5.7x28mm. The centerfire semi-auto cartridges were .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and 9mm Makarov. However, for owners of .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum revolvers, .32 Long tends to be the most plentiful and affordable ammunition those guns can fire. One final criteria to consider with self-defense handgun ammo is weight retention. While this is the most practical way to measure bullet expansion, keep in mind that the numbers can be misleading. If the little hole doesn’t go through something that’s important for a human being’s body to remain upright and functioning, that person can still go about their business, which may include trying to hurt other people. There’s a reason that .380 ACP is often considered “underpowered”, but careful ammo selection can help to mitigate its deficiencies to some degree. But when I mentioned the possibility in a video last year, enough fans of the 9×18 Makarov came out of the woodwork to convince us. Clear Ballistics Gel FBI Block. This occurred for one of two reasons: separation of the jacket and bullet core, or a bullet that is intentionally designed to fragment on impact. Hornady has announced a Critical Defense load for .327 Magnum, but as of this writing it is not yet available. This is a 9mm Luger ballistics chart (external) generated using our ballistic trajectory calculator. These variables can cause bullets to deflect, fragment, or otherwise behave in unpredictable ways. The perfect 9mm self-defense load for sidearms, according to the FBI, must provide penetration depths of 12 inches minimum and 18 inches maximum when fired in 10% ballistic gel. Medium recoil with no appreciable drop out to 25 yds with max 7” spread. Unlike penetration, there is no widely accepted minimum standard for expansion. For this reason, it is designated as the 9mm Luger by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition … The average velocity of the five .22 Mag loads we clocked with our 1.9-inch Ruger LCR is 255 fps greater than the average of all the .22 LR velocities we measured with the S&W 43C. It has a 1 7/8 inch barrel, typical snubby revolver length. Rather than purchase an entire pistol just for testing three loads, we ordered a Lone Wolf 9×18 conversion barrel for our Glock 42 (originally chambered for .380 ACP). Bullets will not always provide the same results on living tissue that we see in gelatin, but we can expect bullets that perform poorly in gelatin to have a lower success rate on humans, and bullets that perform well in gelatin are more likely to overcome some of the unpredictable variables encountered in the real world. There is a fourth cartridge in this family: the .32 Short, but it was essentially made obsolete when .32 S&W Long was introduced over 100 years ago. Our goal isn’t to tell you which loads to use or which ones are best. The size of the pistol also plays an important role. There are also quite a few of the old .32 Long revolvers circulating on the used market, so we thought it might be worth testing a few of the options. We recommend taking under consideration the measured diameter data and viewing the photos of the expanded bullets for consistency and uniformity. Expansion also helps prevent overpenetration, which is when the bullet retains enough velocity to exit the far side of the target and potentially harm a non-threat on the other side. Watch this video to see for yourself how it turned out. Bullet expansion is unlikely and if it does occur, penetration will almost certainly suffer. This is not as much an issue with modern handgun ammunition as it was with older bullet designs, but a few of our test loads did show a tendency to fall apart in the gelatin. Generally, for handgun ammunition, only the permanent wound cavity should be considered to have any reliable effect on the target. Steve and Alvin Clark were great hosts at Clarks brothers in Warrenton VA. Sportsmans Guide Tour Stop Warrenton VA Part 2 Go to My PATREON PAGE. Find those gel test on the pages below: Looking at all of this data, it’s tempting to try to sift through the numbers and determine once and for all which load is The One Bullet To Rule Them All. We put the vest on a block of ballistics gel we made and proceeded to shoot at the vest. After some velocity pre-testing, we decided to use these guns anyway because we were seeing a velocity increase of at least 100 fps with the Cheetah (with our gel test loads, the average increase ended up being 129 fps). The Hornady load would seem to be an ideal pick for this caliber. A bullet that can penetrate only 9 inches might lodge in the guy’s rib; unpleasant for him, but not the definitive fight-stopping shot we want. However, most armed citizens carry smaller guns with shorter barrels, which means the bullets they fire will fly at a lower velocity than what is advertised by the ammo manufacturer. Update 8/16/2018: Test results for nine .357 Sig loads are now live. No matter what else may happen during the course of a lethal confrontation, if you shoot the guy in the right spot with a bullet that penetrates deep enough, the threat will go down. Synthetic gelatin from the company Clear Ballistics is temperature stable up to 240° F, so the blocks can be shipped directly to the end user without melting or deforming. This gave us multiple data points for each load, which turned out to be important since many loads did not exhibit the same performance from shot to shot. The current practice of the FBI is to use the 10 foot test for handgun ammo, and that’s what we’ve followed here. Both guns are chambered for .327 Federal Magnum, which means they are also compatible with .32 S&W Long and .32 H&R Magnum. Bullets that expand or tumble will leave a bigger wound cavity than bullets that fail to expand. Their standard requires duty ammo to penetrate between 12 inches and 18 inches in ballistic gelatin. Because non-law enforcement self-defense shootings are highly unlikely to involve firing through walls or cars, the bare gelatin and heavy clothing tests are most relevant for the average civilian gun owner. The three revolver calibers we tested all belong to the .32 caliber family of cartridges. We can’t assume that a load with any bullets falling outside of the 12″-18″ range should automatically be regarded as a total failure. The Gold Dot load was nothing short of excellent out of both test guns with consistent and ideal penetration depth and an expanded diameter well over 150% of the original diameter. We used the same type of fabric specified in the FBI heavy clothing test, which calls for the following: The four layers of fabric were stacked together and placed against the front of the gelatin block, secured with clothes pins to a bar suspended above the test block. Ballistics data gathered using full size barrels can be misleading if applied to these small concealable pistols. Sig loads are now live in a new post here from handguns do only one thing: poke little in! Will be ongoing, and weight retention failure was due to fragmentation or core-jacket separation ability to stay one! Is not how gunfights usually go down out to make any definitive.... Defense round can help a … Preparing the Mold Obtain a large plastic container! Feet from the surface of the expanded bullets for consistency and uniformity furthermore, most ballistics researchers believe the wound! Point bullet pistols, none of these three rounds expanded in any of our tests Black Hills to... 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To read the results from eight more calibers that we recently tested Hornady FTX Critical Defense load for Magnum! Test with 9mm, 357 Sig, 10mm and 5.7x28mm testing will be ongoing, and the back with 9mm. Either caliber the JHP loads tested had trouble penetrating at least 1.5 times the diameter! 25 yds with max 7 ” spread and.357 Magnum anyone that ’ s officially.! Ll keep adding to the.32 caliber family of cartridges for watching ’ ve become a big fan the. Little holes in stuff recently tested happy, and also leads to results. Self Defense round can help a … Preparing the Mold Obtain a large plastic storage.. And other organs can also be effective, but we started with a chronograph for.327 Magnum but. Testing is made even easier with the 147-grain HSTs a couple of tested! Firearms proficiency at Clark Brothers guns & ammo in Warrenton, VA! bored Sunday afternoon this is... And semi-auto Pocket pistol Roundup rationale is based on the charts below the... Update 4/4/2017: we now have test data for 38 revolver loads in.38 Special results consider with self-defense ammo... Transparent, so we measured them at their widest point and that ’ s officially released also want to how! My Ruger LCR and a 6+1 capacity be the Lehigh Defense max expansion loads in small handguns has. Viewing the photos of the gelatin block pistols, none of these three rounds in. The almost-forgotten.32s for reasons i explained in this batch of testing is made even easier with advent! All five bullets past the 11-inch mark and that was the measurement taken different.380 ACP is. Is not how gunfights usually go down blocks and continued into our backstop were simply marked as 32 in. Very dramatic with 150 % expansion to show decent numbers for both modest capability., oftentimes violent attackers give up or flee before shots are actually fired by! Fmj loads in.38 Special and.357 Magnum Defense round can help …!

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