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 .38 spl and 9mm info
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Jim Higginbotham
Moderator

USA
9295 Posts

Posted - September 13 2017 :  4:36:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A good friend (and retired deputy) and I started working on some bullet testing and, while I don't want to bore folks with a lot of useless information some might find the results of our testing loads over the chrono somewhat useful.

The first load we tested was Remington 148 gr. Wad-cutter - this is an old box (red and green). It was *very* consistent.

From a 4" Colt Diamondback it gave an average of 689 fps with an SD of 3!
From a 1 7/8" S&W Bodyguard it gave and avg. of 652 SD wasn't quite as low but still under 10.

I was pretty impressed that it did not lose much velocity with the shorter barrel.

We also checked the Speer .38 +P 135 Short Barrel Load.

In the Colt 4" it gave an average of 957 fps with an SD around 12.
In the 1 7/8" Bodyguard it gave 835 fps, similar SD.

The Federal Nyclad std. pressure 125 Hollow point, advertised as a short barrel load as well, gave 871 and 782 respectively in the 4" and 1 7/8"

We also tested the 9mm Speer standard pressure 124 Gold dot for use as a standard for comparison in our test medium and from a Browning P-35 it clocked the expected 1112 fps but SD was around 18 (still not too shabby).

We tested several rounds of each load to establish a baseline for penetration and expansion, or lack of it (I wanted to get info on rounds that were a few hundred fps apart to make sure our tests did not favor high or low velocity - well high or low for handguns).

We tested in water in 1/2 gallon paper cartons, in wet newsprint soaked for 48 hours, also in a combination of a 2 liter bottle of water (lengthwise) with news print behind it and a few other arrangements.

The last gave an interesting figure (not by design but by accident).

Doing a bit of research I found that the 148 gr. Wadcutter normally gives about 14" of penetration in actual 10% Ballistic Gel and a bit over 15" in Clear Ballistics Gel and it gives 6.5" in the "calibrated" wet newsprint prepared by the IWBA protocol for that (i.e. 6" stack weighs 40 lbs).

In the cartons of water the Wadcutters (all rounds clocked between 687 and 690) penetrated to the 7th carton and while it hit the back wall of the last carton every time it did not crack it - giving us a figure of 28" of water. Of course I could not gauge just how hard a round hit the back wall so I'm sure in gel or other media there would have been some difference.

Oddly enough when we shot the 2 liter bottle (which gives a column of water 11" long) backed up by newsprint, this load (from the 4" revolver) gave 13.25" of penetration total to the front of the bullet. There was a slight deformation of the nose of the bullet - I would not call it expansion but it was about .37"

The penetration for the 1 7/8" revolver was actually 13.75 - half an inch more! - with the bullet being about .358" in diameter at the front. I'm going to take a leap here and say that little bit of deformation in the higher velocity round was the cause of it penetrating slightly less.

(now for sure I was not actually trying to replicate gel here it was a coincidence I think).

By comparison I see several different results for the 9mm Gold Dot from different testers but typically it expands to about .60 or .62" and goes around 13.5".

In the water cartons it gave 6 cartons and bounced off the back wall for each round tested (only 3 it takes a LOT of cartons!) for a total water penetration of 24"

In our 2 liter test backed up by the newsprint it gave 13.5" of total penetration and expanded to .60" - retained weight was 120.5 gr.

No big surprises there.

I have been testing our wet newsprint as to time of the soak and depth of penetration of a steel BB at 590 fps (not to compare it to gel but just to see what effect the length of the soak has).

Dry print gave a penetration of .27 to front of the BB
Soaked 24 hours gave a penetration of 1.5"
Soaked 48 hours gave a penetration of 1.75"
Soaked 72 hours gave a penetration of 1.75 again (might be stabilizing?)

Tested multiple times and the vel on the BB has been very consistent - 5 pumps with this particular gun gives 587 fps. I've now tested this about 20 rounds and the SD is around 6 fps, it is quite predictable.

I've also checked it over time with 3 different chronographs.

We also did some more ambitious configurations of the combination of water, newsprint and hard materials but I'll wait until I am ready to come to some firm conclusions on that.

Jim H.

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