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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 05 2017 : 09:49:34 AM
It is important to test your carry loads, especially if you are depending on the expansion of the bullet to improve performance.

Over the years I've seen 7 different shapes and cavity sizes or post sizes on just the .45 230 gr Hydra-shok. I have seen at least 4 changes in the Winchester Ranger .45 and the 9mm +P+.

Now we would like to assume that the makers carefully tested each change to make sure they perform up to standards but then again, not all lots even go the same speed (as Evan often reminds us the prime consideration for manufacturers is pressure).

I have two boxes, from different lots of Federal 125 gr. .357 Magnum JHP that go 1250-1270 fps and I have several, and from a later run, that go 1450 - with the same bullet one might think there is a difference in performance (actually I prefer the 1270 as the bullet is less likely to come "unglued").

So, the question is - how do we test?

I'm a lot more interested in this field than most and have spent an embarrassing amount of money on learning to shoot, and about bullet performance but even I find that Ballistic Gelatin is too cumbersome and too expensive for my particular needs - it can cost up to $500 to test just one load (if you are testing 5 shots - you might not have to spend as much in the screening process).

This is not a criticism of gel testing. It is a recognition that most of us don't have the time or money to invest in it. Still we need to test each new lot of ammo we buy unless it is something really simple like ball or a handful of bullets/loads that seem to be consistent over time.

So can we depend on the labs or independent testers to do the job for us. while I find that very interesting stuff I don't think so - hearken back to the above - factories change their bullets / loads all the time.

Their results may however give you some clues as to which types/brands of bullets have the traits you are looking for.

As an example. The FBI is hawking the Speer Gold Dot 147 G2 these days. Now I'm more amenable to a heavy for caliber bullet than most but I have now seen about 5 or 6 different test of this bullet which were all in 10% Gelatin or a synthetic claimed to be equivalent (it isn't but it is still a good product) - the thing is that in 2 of the bullet performed as advertised and in 4 it did not expand in the least bit (the nose deformed a little but the bullet was still .35 caliber) and penetrated way more than the standard calls for.

Does that mean the testers are dishonest? No, it means they have different lots of ammo.

I intend to use this thread from time to time to discuss various approaches to testing.

Onward and Upward

Jim H.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 08 2017 : 09:03:31 AM
Spot on GW.

For a while we had a detective who when with another agency shot a woman in the face with his 4" .357 shooting the issued 125 gr Remington JHP (the full power one - not a Golden Saber).

The bullet bounced off her cheek bone and she did not go down - but she did drop the gun in her hand so I guess you would call that a success.

The way he described it she was facing him - but he was shooting upward since she had knocked him down - so it was a sort of angled shot - not a huge surprise it bounced off.

Jim
gw Posted - November 07 2017 : 09:58:44 AM
Bullets aren't all that predictabe

trooper Coates was killed by a .22 round that turned in his arm and found it's way into the upper body

in turn at least 2 of his .357 bullets failed to penetrate the upper body of his attacker and traveled under the skin until they exited.

Ronald Reagon was almost done in by a .22 glancing off a door post and into his chest

a retired Federal cop tells me of a .45 acp hollow point that penetrated less than 2 inches on a frontal unobstructed hit,required a second round to get the agent out of trouble

folks are stacked up every year killed by .22s, .25s, and .380s, not toys

my .380 has fmj in it just in case I'm right about penetration, my .357 is another story

Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 07 2017 : 08:29:20 AM
Regards .380 ball - there is an example of the disconnect between testing in gel and testing in other materials - additional to gel, not eliminating it.

Most have seen the video of the police officer (in uniform) shooting himself in the hand in a gun shop.

Well that happened within 15 miles of the range I ran for a while and the investigating officer taught classes at my range.

The gun was a little Sig 238 and there was a magazine of 95 gr ball in it. The chamber was empty but the officer wracked the slide and in fact loaded it and while testing the trigger shot himself in the middle finger.

If you look carefully at the video there are 4 people right in the line of fire but none got hit.

The reason is that 95 gr. ball round bounced off the bone in his middle finger and turned 90 degrees to the right and hit the wall behind the clerks head that is showing him the gun!

I know of two other cases in which .380 ball bounced off a sternum - one is on film - it was a square on shot that hit nothing else before being perfectly placed.

If a .380 does not hit bone will be adequate? Probably.

But if we are shooting well and facing a threat we are bout 90% likely to hit bone.

Just sayin'

Jim
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 07 2017 : 08:22:00 AM
quote:
Originally posted by LittleBill

So would the converse to that be, 'If you wouldn't choose it to shoot a deer with, why would you rely on it for self-defense against a human?'





That certainly is a personal philosophy of mine though as many will point out - critters can behave differently (and I think a lot more consistently) than humans.

The thing is, in the only peer reviewed study (which is really not about ballistics but *potential* lethal force situations) we know that 90% of people who threaten violence will run away - or at least cease the threatening behavior - when the intended victim just shows he has a gun - without firing a single shot. Another 3-5% cease the attack when shot at and missed.

What is unsaid there is that these are situations reported by others as being the threat of violence - it is unsure how many of them would have actually been attacks had the victim not responds with at least the demonstration of his ability to respond with lethal force.

The other side to the coin is that people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, mind-set and degrees of effects of mind altering drugs.

Having studied both the hunting aspect and human lethal force I tell my students that you might be faced with a "Pee Wee Herman" or you might be faced with a "Cole Younger" - If you are prepared for Cole then an attacked by Pee Wee, it will probably end up in your favor - if you only prepare for Pee Wee (say a little pocket pistol in .380 and don't train hard to shoot it well) and you wind up being attacked by Cole then that might not work out so well.

Deer and wild boar fall in between those extremes. Me I am extremely unhappy if a critter I shoot does not fall within 2 seconds and my goal is to drop them on the spot - but I don't want folks to think I am successful in that goal more often than not - it is about 50-50. Typically I try to break a major bone because the norm is they run with a heart shot or lung shot.

I've interviewed 7 people shot in the lung - they all killed the person that shot them and they survived (of course or I would not have been able to interview them) - one of those was hit twice in one lung with an 8 X 57 Mauser.

Jim H.

LittleBill Posted - November 06 2017 : 7:04:49 PM
Glad to be of service!

I believe Sundlesí opinions, like Jimís, are based on real life shooting of real live critters. For many years heís been a guide in grizzly country, as well as an ammo maker.

rev. Posted - November 06 2017 : 6:08:17 PM
Bill, Thanks, that looks like some good information.
rev.
LittleBill Posted - November 06 2017 : 5:58:10 PM
Rev, hereís what Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore says, in favor of the hardcast flatnose bullet he loads in his .380 offerings:

ďThe 380 auto inhabits a valuable and useful place in our society, mostly because of the easily concealable, tiny pistols chambered for it. HOWEVER, because of the very limited size of the cartridge, it is plagued with limited power and therefore most of the existing ammo in 380 auto suffers from not being reliable as a man-stopper. We've studied and played with nearly all of the existing available 380 ammo and find it wanting as a reliable means of self-defense, especially against a large, insane, drugged up/pain-free, determined attacker.

Here's the problem:
The current 380 auto frangible ammo delivers a large amount of surface trauma but lacks serious penetration. For example, if you shot me or another sane man in the face with modern frangible 380 ammo, it would blow off a big portion of my cheek and send a few teeth down my throat, I would undoubtedly fall to the ground in shock and pain, but I would be very much alive and functional if I could get past the shock and pain as that frangible bullet would have stopped somewhere inside my face, never making it to my brain.

However, if you shot a drugged up maniac in the face with that same frangible 380 ammo and blew half his cheek off, he would keep right on coming because he is insane and is not thinking like you or I. Plus, he is likely pain free and fear free and won't know that half his cheek is missing and if he did know, he would not care. So whatever 380 ammo you shoot him in the face with, had better go through his face and blow his brain stem out the back of his head, because only a CNS (central nervous system) hit with a 380 is going to stop him. Likewise, a torso hit to the sternum needs to penetrate deep enough to blow all the way through his spine to shut him down spontaneously. If you fail to shut him down instantly, you and your loved ones are going to have to find a way to survive while you wait for him to bleed out and pass out. The best chance of survival for you and your family is to shut down the attacker instantly....

We've chosen a flat nosed solid bullet. The flat on the nose ensures that the bullet will cut/smash its way through flesh and bone and do much more destruction than typical round nose FMJ bullets. Round nosed bullets tend to slip and slide through matter, doing little damage as opposed to a flat nosed bullet. The flat nose not only wounds much more than a round nosed bullet, but it keeps the penetration straight and thus deeper.Ē


rev. Posted - November 06 2017 : 4:26:11 PM
Hey JLE3030 thanks for a real considered answer to a real question even if it was about the step child of defensive rounds. Some of us have a liking for the little snot in spite of its bigger brothers and want to get the most out of whatever its capable of.
Maybe Evan will let me stick around.
rev.
jle3030 Posted - November 06 2017 : 2:07:18 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gw

quote:
Originally posted by rev.

Little Bill, thanks for the response to my question......the only response posted.
Evan, please delete me from the list,
Thank you.
rev.



sorry, thought your question was rhetorical

Ditto. In answer to the specific .380 question, evolving thought seems to be that penetration to 16-18 inches with a possible tumble probably trumps (iffy) expansion from .36 to .45-.50 and predictable under penetration.

As we old dentists say, everyone has to work out their own salivation.


Sorry. Couldn't resist. I would only post that among friends.


Jeff
Evan Posted - November 06 2017 : 2:04:01 PM
My favorite comment ever on stopping power was made by Gunny Sgt George Truitt, USMC Fast Teams, "The only thing I know about stopping power is you have to shoot them until they think they're dead!"
Chris Christian Posted - November 06 2017 : 12:56:27 PM
quote:
Originally posted by LittleBill

So would the converse to that be, 'If you wouldn't choose it to shoot a deer with, why would you rely on it for self-defense against a human?'





Interesting question. My take is that a deer will run on the first hit (especially heart/lungs) you might find him anywhere from 25 to 400 yards away... or you may never find him.

But, the deer did run at the hit.

If only thugs would do that! Think of the ammo savings!
gw Posted - November 06 2017 : 11:35:31 AM
quote:
Originally posted by rev.

Little Bill, thanks for the response to my question......the only response posted.
Evan, please delete me from the list,
Thank you.
rev.



sorry, thought your question was rhetorical
LittleBill Posted - November 06 2017 : 11:22:17 AM
So would the converse to that be, 'If you wouldn't choose it to shoot a deer with, why would you rely on it for self-defense against a human?'

Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 06 2017 : 10:59:03 AM
I love to hunt, always have. Something about providing my own food, and besides it is healthier (for me not the game ).

But also there is the educational factor. I pay attention to the experiments too because they are more consistent.

We have a guy here on the list who is a great researcher and presenter, he doesn't post much any more as I think he has gotten really busy.

He has a saying I like when he suggests serious students hunt wild boar with their handgun: "If you would be afraid to shoot a 250 lb hog with your handgun why would you not be afraid to shoot a 250 lb hog rider with it?"

Jim H.
rev. Posted - November 06 2017 : 10:26:10 AM
Little Bill, thanks for the response to my question......the only response posted.
Evan, please delete me from the list,
Thank you.
rev.
Chris Christian Posted - November 06 2017 : 10:17:07 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Ace

Everything here encourages me to do what I've been doing--look first at street results of various loads, then find out what they do in gel. My country boy reasoning tells me that if a load with a good reputation on the street acts like 'this' in gel, then another load that acts just like 'this' in gel will--probably--do well in social work. So far I've not been proved wrong--or right, either. Ace



+1. "Country boy reasoning" makes a lot of sense.
Ace Posted - November 06 2017 : 10:14:04 AM
Everything here encourages me to do what I've been doing--look first at street results of various loads, then find out what they do in gel. My country boy reasoning tells me that if a load with a good reputation on the street acts like 'this' in gel, then another load that acts just like 'this' in gel will--probably--do well in social work. So far I've not been proved wrong--or right, either. Ace
gw Posted - November 06 2017 : 08:55:10 AM
yep, I'm swtching to .45 ball in a box stock gun....
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 06 2017 : 08:30:38 AM
quote:
Originally posted by gauchobill

Jim, I'm curious about the deer you shot and the bullets' expansion there. Did any of the bullets strike bones, big or little bones, and if so, a solid 90 degree impact or a glancing impact. Or were those expansion measurements without any contact with bones.

Incidental to this discussion, years ago I shot an armadillo with a .44Magnum, 240 gr. HP bullet, and it didn't even slow him down. I chased him about 100 yards before he expired. Exit hole was the same diameter as the entrance hole. Had a similar experience in New Mexico on an elk hunt where I shot a bull twice in the rib cage with a .375 H&H Magnum 300gr PSP boat tail bullets and tracked him about 125 yards in snow before he expired. Exit and entry holes both were the same diameter. I learned from these experiences that lots of boom with bullets that won't expand do not kill as quickly as something smaller in bore and case size.



More than half of these were deer that were down due to being hit by a car so the hits were square on and if the bullet went through I was able to recover it from the ground. I did shoot them all in the body but in those I did not do a thorough field dressing (the bullets that did not exit were just under the skin on the off side and I cut them out). I usually shot them in the heart - likely a rib was hit but the heart lies sort of behind the shoulder and I doubt any big bone was hit.

I did field dress the others - typically these were lung shots (being longer range) - sometimes a rib was hit, sometimes on both sides - the bullets still expanded though (of course the little post was smashed).

These deer went down as quickly as I've seen some shot with a .308 but they did not fall instantly - one walked (not ran) about 20 yards.

I don't think any of these were square on - mostly quartering away. They were not big deer though and so penetration was only about 12" - all were caught under the skin of the off side. While I field dressed these I did not do my on processing on them - I think at least one had a broken off side shoulder.

I have shot a good bit of 200-300 lb game with solid bullets - normally with a big flat meplat - and they do well but if a bullet starts out as a round nose I want it to expand or at least change shape.

I did shoot one deer with .45 ball from a Colt LW Commander. The thing collapsed instantly! That was actually a shock to me. I was going leaving to teach a class at Gunsite the next day so I had to process that one myself (it was a pretty stupid stunt but it was the last day of deer season and it was a nice big buck).

I hit him at at the top of the leg - which was just a bit back while stepping - I was shooting for the heart, and got lucky.

there was a 4" space in the leg where there was no solid bone! The heart had a 1 - 1.5" hole in it and the off side shoulder was broken (down low).

The bullet was under the skin on the off side. It did not expand but the nose was torn (probably from leg bone) and it was backwards when recovered which I think explains the rather large hole in the heart.

I would not count on that happening again

Jim H.
gauchobill Posted - November 05 2017 : 7:20:25 PM
Jim, I'm curious about the deer you shot and the bullets' expansion there. Did any of the bullets strike bones, big or little bones, and if so, a solid 90 degree impact or a glancing impact. Or were those expansion measurements without any contact with bones.

Incidental to this discussion, years ago I shot an armadillo with a .44Magnum, 240 gr. HP bullet, and it didn't even slow him down. I chased him about 100 yards before he expired. Exit hole was the same diameter as the entrance hole. Had a similar experience in New Mexico on an elk hunt where I shot a bull twice in the rib cage with a .375 H&H Magnum 300gr PSP boat tail bullets and tracked him about 125 yards in snow before he expired. Exit and entry holes both were the same diameter. I learned from these experiences that lots of boom with bullets that won't expand do not kill as quickly as something smaller in bore and case size.
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 05 2017 : 5:54:05 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gauchobill

Jim, this is an interesting thread. As a curiosity to me, I have read many times of the effectiveness of Federal's hydrashok ammo in various calibers and bullet weights. When you look at hydrashok results in ballistic gelatin (most any caliber or bullet weight) the results are always similar----lots of penetration but not much expansion. Federal's HST looks much better in ballistic gelatin, giving generally great expansion and decent penetration.

I can perceive the importance of penetration when a critical bone mass is impacted, i.e. backbone, femur, humerus, hip or pelvic bones, etc. However, absent a critical bone hit, it seems expansion is of greater importance with decent penetration than lots of penetration with no expansion. Just musing!



I don't disagree with that characterization - I do think if we are depending on leakage then we are settling for a period of time that is unpredictable - might be 3-4 seconds or it might be 3-5 minutes. In one case of a "center mass" hit with a .40 up in Washington it was 24 hours and the guy was still trying to kill cops - fortunately someone shot him again.

I've shot 7 deer with .45 230 Hydrashok (several different versions of the bullet but at least 3 were one of the truncated cone versions as I bought like 3 cases of that in one lot).

A couple went through but most were caught in the skin on the off side - most of these were does - not large deer. Expansion ranged from a low of .75 to high IIRC of .8 or maybe even .84 but the average is around .77" One lost its jacket but it was right there under the off side skin.

The one HST I used did expand bigger - close to .9" (and a Golden Saber did expand to .9") in deer. But those were both just one case each and I have no idea if it is a trend or not.

Whatever I carry, I don't want to automatically give up enough penetration to smash the spine. Excess penetration beyond that I'm not too interested in for self defense.

Jim
Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 05 2017 : 5:44:46 PM
quote:
Originally posted by LittleBill

OTOH, realizing that expanding loads like the Gold Dot canít be relied-on to penetrate even a small critter like a possum; Iím wondering, why not carry rounds like the BB Outdoorsman loads that you know will likely penetrate what youíre shooting at?

Since penetration to the CNS is what weíre all shooting for (no pun intended); and since a correctly-placed shot (one headed for the CNS) is useless if it fragments or stops short of penetrating to the CNS; why not carry a round you know will do itís partó i.e., penetrateó if you do yoursó i.e., properly place it so itís heading for the CNS?





Incidents like these do get our attention and for me I like bullets that will go through small critters like 'possums, raccoons, and woodchucks but it is harder to do than one thinks.

I've never actually gotten a .45 Winchester Silver Tip through a woodchuck - but then I never shot one that weighed less than 8 lbs with that load - all of them have been like .80 caliber or larger and all stuck under the skin of the off side.

If you have not fooled with them woodchuck hide is *resiliant* once the bullet reaches the other side of the body the skin stretches and catches it .

I had a Cor-Bon DPX (I don't recall if it was a 165 or 185) stop in a coon - and even though it was a lung hit, the coon did not stop either (it was a bit distressed). It crawled up on the garbage can it had knocked over and I shot it with a Winchester Ranger +P 230. But the critter was in front of my ammo shed. Killed the coon, exited and put a 1" hole in the T-11 paneling of the shed and buried about an inch into a wall stud - I left it there as a reminder to watch my backstop

I did not dig the DPX out it was late and I was lazy.

Bottom line, while I like my bullets to got through these critters (and up to deer and wild boar) I also understand that it does not mean it won't reach the vitals of a human.

Jim H.

Jim Higginbotham Posted - November 05 2017 : 5:36:26 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gw

your comment on the .357 is interesting

myself, I assume the 125gr magnum load/bullet staying in one piece after exspansion is the ticket

but I talked with an old retired Federal Agent that has seen that very load actually used on the street

to say he's a big fan is an understatement

for him, the fact that a125gr magnum bullet will typically fragment is a major plus, much preferred over heavier & slower

what we see in testing is fine, actual use is interesting as well

(increasing, I lean towards .45 ball in a box stock gun and avoid all the drama)



I think it depends on the bullet. I've shot the Remington full power 125 into various stuff including 10% gel, and deer and woodchucks, for over 40 years. Sometimes it expands into the classic mushroom retains weight and penetrates deep enough.

At other times it blows off the front half ends up about .50-.53" in diameter and weighs about 75 gr. and at least once I had it just go through a deer leaving a very small hole when fired from an 8" barrel - since I did not recover it I have no idea what happened - the damage inside to the lungs and to either side of the ribcage showed nothing like a lot of damage. I can only guess but I don't think it expanded - no idea why and that is certainly atypical.

I shot some in hamburger once (not that I consider that realistic just wanted to see how it would compare with a .38 Speer Gold dot short barreled load with both fired from a 3" model 65.

Both loads only penetrated about 9" of hamburger - almost exactly the same amount - the .357 bullet weighed around 60 gr. at the end and the Gold Dot still weighed 135. Oddly enough, the .38 made the same size hole and blew hamburger just as far as the.357 (but I don't think that means much - just like water jugs - it is not like living tissue and is already ground up).

Other brands might indeed stay in tact - I think Gold dots do pretty good, as do XTPs though they do not open large, I've not shot Golden Sabers in .357 (I have in .45 and 9mm) but I suspect they hold together as well.

I have not used the Barnes X in 125 gr. but in a handgun I expect they will do OK. I have used the Barnes 140 X (VorTX load) on a deer. Did not recover the bullet but the holes were a decent size.

Oddly enough, I've really been giving some thought to going back to .45 Ball in the form of the Browning BPT - but I stress I'm not claiming it is more effective on soft tissue or the load for everyone - I think it might be better for barriers and it seems to leave a big enough hole - if the hole is in the right place.

My testing is really not to tell folks what to carry rather how to figure out how to test their own bullets to compare different loads.

Jim

LittleBill Posted - November 05 2017 : 5:08:05 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rev.

So are we talking ball? Especially in a low power load like the .380?
rev.


The Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman loads I was thinking of are hardcast flatnose.

gauchobill Posted - November 05 2017 : 4:25:42 PM
Jim, this is an interesting thread. As a curiosity to me, I have read many times of the effectiveness of Federal's hydrashok ammo in various calibers and bullet weights. When you look at hydrashok results in ballistic gelatin (most any caliber or bullet weight) the results are always similar----lots of penetration but not much expansion. Federal's HST looks much better in ballistic gelatin, giving generally great expansion and decent penetration.

I can perceive the importance of penetration when a critical bone mass is impacted, i.e. backbone, femur, humerus, hip or pelvic bones, etc. However, absent a critical bone hit, it seems expansion is of greater importance with decent penetration than lots of penetration with no expansion. Just musing!

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