New Ballistic Gelatin Tests At Ammunition To Go

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 2 months ago

Ammunition to go has an entirely new round of ballistic gelatin tests on personal defense ammunition that should be a great contribution to the knowledge base for making informed choices.  The link is here.

I won’t steal their thunder and rehearse the results – go see for yourself.  It’s a massive collection of data.  But I will convey some very quick analysis I did on the data.  I didn’t calculate the standard deviation of the data for each round like I did with the Lucky Gunner tests, but these data should inform you a bit concerning 9mm and .45 ACP results.

.45 ACP: Average penetration = 16.62″.  The variance was high, with the minimum penetration at 11.08″ (165 gr.) and the maximum penetration at 23.64″ (185 gr.).  The high and low were for bullets other than the standard 230 gr.

9mm: Average penetration = 19.32″.  The variance was extremely high.  The minimum penetration came in at 11.78″ (115 gr.) and the maximum penetration came in at 33.38″ (115 gr.).

A few thoughts.  First of all, the variance is large because this isn’t a stochastic process amenable to averages, variance, and so forth, although I’ve provided you with the data.  Powder loadings and compositions vary, QA varies, technology varies, and [most importantly] expansion varies, with some successful expansion, and then some not so successful expansion.

Bullet weights [reduced] didn’t seem to hinder penetration, but it’s also not clear that reduced weight assisted penetration.  However, you wouldn’t want to get tagged with any of these rounds, heavy, light, 9mm or .45 ACP.

Nothing, not even this battery of tests, could quench my appetite for more data.  I’m an engineer, I always want more data.  It’s who I am, it’s what I do.  Finally, there are no “flying dimes” in the lot of them.

Prior:

Oversimplifying Ammunition Ballistics

Pistol Ammunition Ballistics Part 2

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Comments

  1. On March 29, 2018 at 6:36 am, Jack said:

    “Nothing, not even this battery of tests, could quench my appetite for more data. I’m an engineer, I always want more data. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.”

    I’ve never met an engineer (or statistician) who would argue with that self-description

  2. On March 29, 2018 at 7:28 am, Fred said:

    Yep, all engineers need to be told to stop designing and start building. The trick as a manager of these men is to know when the design is sufficient for the application at hand. It’s a hard balance. There’s money being spent and money to be made but they might, and often do, hit on something brilliant.

    Engineers are one of my favorite types. Can’t put my finger on the why though.

  3. On March 29, 2018 at 8:19 am, MamaLiberty said:

    I’m always interested in seeing such tests, though I don’t know how to apply them very well to actual potential conditions. I’m not going to be confronted with a vat of gel, but a real person with a wide range of body types and clothing.

    So many variables we can’t test very well. And I have no real idea how to go about it either. The only comfort is that almost any round will do the job if it is aimed right, fired at fairly close range, and followed up with additional rounds if necessary.

  4. On March 29, 2018 at 12:47 pm, H said:

    Bullet weights [reduced] didn’t seem to hinder penetration

    Looking closely at the .45 ACP data but without formally grinding the numbers, it seems that expanded bullet diameter does “hinder” penetration, which I take to mean it’s dumping a lot more energy in the target and per Dr. Martin Fackler significantly increasing the critical permanent crust cavity. Most penetrations seemed to be “enough”, but I only looked closely at the ammo I carry (230 gr Gold Dot).

    Again, just by eye, it didn’t look like the 9mm results after expansion were as good, and a number didn’t expand beyond the .45″ that you get for free with .45 ACP.

  5. On March 29, 2018 at 1:07 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @H,

    Well, sectional diameter is not the same thing as bullet mass. I could do a whole lot more in assessing the performance of each round but just don’t have the time.

    It looks like Speer Gold Dot for any caliber doesn’t perform as well as its claims imply if penetration is the goal. If KE deposition is your goal, Gold Dot performs exceptionally well.

  6. On March 29, 2018 at 2:04 pm, moe mensale said:

    Concerns over penetration, expansion, clothing, body armor can all be mitigated quite simply. Head shots. Particularly at self-defense distances.

  7. On March 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm, Rocketguy said:

    I’m an engineer and, while I usually agree – more data = better, I once encountered too much.

    Test engineer: What sample rate do you want?

    Me: As fast as you can.

    TE: You sure?

    Me: Definitely. More data is better, right?

    TE: Sure thing, buddy.

    Holy enormous data file, Batman.

  8. On March 29, 2018 at 6:11 pm, H said:

    Permanent crush cavity, for which KE deposition is obviously linked and is desired WRT to overpenetration, was precisely my goal in picking Gold Dot many years ago, when the major competition to the point of being the standard was Hydro-Shok, which was said to be tuned for the FBI’s tests, which demanded a lot of barrier penetration. This data shows Hydro-Shok barely expanding, 0.04″, with 29% more penetration. Hmmm, I wonder if Hydro-Shok expanded better in calibrated animal gelatin, it certainly wasn’t advertised as being essentially non-expanding. On the other hand, manufacturers are known to change bullet construction without giving us notice….

    As for penetration sans barriers, at the time Gold Dot seemed to have enough, i.e. the FBI Miami shootout penetrate a shoulder and then reach the vitals metric, and to the extent this synthetic ballistic gelatin is comparable to flesh (didn’t find anything on BB calibration tests, plus it’s a different material), it would seem to be enough.

  9. On March 30, 2018 at 7:45 am, MN Steel said:

    I try not to overthink.

    HP in the pipe, ball in the mag.

    Load what your rig will eat, and hit what you aim at.

  10. On March 30, 2018 at 10:42 am, Ned said:

    I still like Winchester Ranger 230 hp in 45 ACP. Too bad they’ve become an LEO Only One ammo. I hope that seriously hurts Winchester.

  11. On March 30, 2018 at 11:44 pm, DAN III said:

    ALCON,

    I grew up on 1911s and .45 ACP. However, I have transitioned to 9mm pistols if for no other reason, cost. I could cite several arguments for using 9mm vs 45ACP. Why ? This argument has been debated for 50+ years.

    Choose whatever you decide to own and shoot. Practice. Make yourself right with your God. Again….practice. But, understand this:

    Nobody wants a hole in them….no matter how small or shallow.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Ammunition and was published March 28th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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