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Sunday, April 29, 2012

32 ACP JHP Shoot-Out


Last week I posted an image that showed two blocks of SIM-TEST media that had been recast and were ready for ballistics testing use.  In that post I asked for some reader input on future testing candidates.  One long time blog reader and I share a common interest in the Kel-Tec P-32.  The diminutive P-32 is a true pocket pistol that is so small, light, and flat that it simply disappears in the pocket even when carried in a decent pocket holster.  Eric asked me to do some tests with the .32 ACP and I was happy to oblige because this same testing had been on my radar for months.

I could write for hours about the Kel-Tec P-32, but I'll summarize by saying that our test gun has been a real pleasure to own.  Even in it's stock configuration without the add on LaserLyte, it has small sights machined into the slide that facilitate all the shooting accuracy you need for close range self defense.  It's relatively modest retail price, light weight, slim profile, and 7+1 capacity have made the P-32 a popular choice in the pocket pistol category.

I was surprised that even in the full daylight, I was able to use the LaserLyte to help with my aiming of the test shots.  The primary reason for purchasing and installing the laser was to help me accurately shoot test shots like these and this was my first chance to use the laser in full light.  At the distanced I needed it, it worked great.

Many months ago I did a study on the .32 ACP and .32 NAA cartridges.  At that time I was simply running rounds over a chronograph to capture their speed and calculating their muzzle energy.  I had started investigating some terminal ballistics testing so from the previous testing I knew that the CORBON .32 was a decent expander and I also knew that the Fiocchi Extrema was the next fastest JHP available so it should also expand.  The previous ammo study can be found HERE.

With my previously gained knowledge on the CORBON and Fiocchi loads, I decided to test these two head to head in the same block of SIM-TEST.  The video below documents the full test from the range through bullet recovery.  Both loads where shot through two layers of loose medium weight denim and into a SIM-TEST block that approximates the density of 10% ballistics gelatin.

The final results were a bit surprising in some aspects and expected in others.  Let's review the detailed data captured from testing.  On the top line, I was pleased to see that both loads did expand in the test.  The two loads did demonstrate large variances in the amounts of expansion and penetration.  Weight retention was excellent on both tested rounds.  I'll recap each load individually below.


Fiocchi Extrema 60 grain XTP


The Fiocchi Extrema line uses the Hornady XTP bullet in place of the JHP bullet used in the Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics line of ammunition.  From previous testing, I knew the Extrema line is loaded "hotter" than the Shooting Dynamics line.  My gut feeling told me that this loading had a high probability of demonstrating at least some expansion.  I was pleased to see that my gut was right and the recovered round did expand even after penetrating two layers of denim.  The surprise came when measuring the penetration depth.  11 inches of penetration is really quite remarkable from this little 60 grain slug.  The load demonstrated a great balance of penetration depth with some modest expansion.

CORBON 60 Grain JHP


From previous tests, I knew that the CORBON was a real screamer in the velocity department.  No other round previously tested comes close to the velocity and subsequent calculated ft/lbs of energy of this CORBON loading.  I also had the expectation of massive expansion from this load and the CORBON again delivered on that expectation.  The recovered bullet exceeded 1/2 an inch in size.  That's really incredible and on par with many loads in .380 AUTO and even some 9mm loads I've previously tested.  The tradeoff for this massive expansion comes at the cost of penetration.  Regardless of initial velocity, the wasn't enough speed and mass to push this round for deeper penetration.

Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
With this test we have a classic example of expansion vs. penetration.  The Fiocchi load has a fine balance of both expansion and penetration that allows it's moderately expanded XTP bullet to reach a full 11 inches of penetration depth.  The CORBON load is built for speed and expansion.  It trades off penetration depth for it's caliber leading expansion.  The fact that both loads exhibited expansion in terminal testing may end up being the key learning from this test.  Many folks just don't believe that any JHP load will expand due to their slow velocities.  These two loads demonstrate that isn't always the case.

Supporter Update
I'd like to thanks Steve T. for his very generous contribution to help fund testing like this and also keep the blog up and running.  I really appreciate the support Steve.

If anyone else would like to contribute, you can always use the Fund More Research tab at the top of the blog or just click HERE.

23 comments:

  1. As an avid P-32 fan I was very interested in your test results for the JHP rounds. Have you ever experianced any problems with rim lock? My P-32 only uses 73gr. FMJ range ammo that hasn't caused rim lock and penetration for such a small caliber, in general, seems more important than bullet expansion. But your info was good to know.

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    1. The Corbon will rim lock without the rim lock prevention kit in the magazine. Any .32 ACP with an OAL of less than .940 runs the risk of rim lock. The Fiocchi and S&B are about .970 OAL so they should be free of rim lock. Their specs match your description.

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  2. Just wanted to say thank you for doing this review. As a result of your test, I bought a couple hundred rounds of the Extrema and think they shoot very accurately and reliably from my P32. They are too long to fit in the magazine with the rim lock preventer installed, but I had flawless functioning shooting through a box of 50.

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    1. Happy to point you in a new direction Jason. FYI...I've heard that Corbon has changed their bullet in their .32 JHP loading and I've been asked to test it. Not sure when I will get around to that, but it may get done.

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    2. That was a great review. Fiocchi has for a long time been my favorite in my 32 PPK. I use all 3 ,fmj, jhp, & Extrema. I think they are the best 32 round available. At my age 32 is often the limit I can shoot , but I can put a full mag in 2" at 25'.

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  3. I noted you indicated Fiocchi's Extreme loads were hotter than their Dynamics loads, but the posted numbers indicate Extreme comes out at 1,000 fps & Dynamics at 1,100 fps, with corresponding stronger numbers downrange. Any thoughts on this. Also, I've always had a health suspicion about posted numbers, but guys like you, who have gotten more exposure via the internet, may be keeping the salesmen a little more honest. Thanks for a great article. Chris - 1903 Colt .32

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    1. It might be my test barrel was a different length than the barrel Fiocchi tested in. Also it could be lot to lot variation in the Extrema or Shooting Dynamics line.

      Also the Shooting Dynamics previously used a semi jacketed bullet, but it now appears to be loaded with the Hornady XTP. This may also be a factor for the difference.

      I recently refreshed this test, but have not published the results yet. In the new test, the Shooting Dynamics line was faster than the Extrema.

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  4. Have you conducted any test using Buffalo Bore ammo with the P32?

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    1. Only this one. http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2012/06/buffalo-bore-32-acp-75-grain-hcfn.html

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  5. Have you tested this ammo: Prvi Partizan 32 ACP 71 Grain FMJ ?

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    1. I tested it here and found it very slow and exceptionally dirty due to the primer sealant flaking off into the action. It is fine for practice. http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2011/09/look-at-32-acp-and-32-naa.html

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    2. Appreciate your fine work!

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  6. Just recently purchase a Keltec P-32. I am very please with its size, weight and performance! I own many other handguns, 1911's, Sig's, Glocks and Smiths all of which are wonderful in their own intended purpose..I find myself grabbing this P-32 first nowadays when leaving the house..It's a spoiler!! Function is flawless with 8 rounds! Accuracy out to about 20 feet or so is acceptable 4 to 8 inch groups, not too bad for a mouse gun! As far as ammo, (costly and hard to find nowadays), that is some of the above mentioned brands which I'm sure are top of the line..I shoot just plain old 71 grain FMJ and have had no problems what so ever! 400 rounds so far without a glitch!! A triple tap of this ammo at close range with one hand in a precarious situation of unannounced danger, (as it always is), is definitely an attitude changer, if not deadly I would imagine!!..The little gun is "ADDICTIVE" to carry!

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    1. Actually the Fiocchi 32 JHPs were really quite reasonably priced 6 months ago. I like this 73 Grain FMJ. http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2012/11/clear-gel-terminal-testing-sellier.html

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  7. When it comes to carry ammunition, I prefer to use FMJ for "serious social situations." Penetration is your best friend.

    A friend of mine named Erich that worked in conjunction with The Albuquerque County Coroner's office, witnessed the results of many a "street shooting." He told me that in every shooting with either a .32 or .380 the most damage was inflicted by FMJ ammunition. Greater penetration, more bleeding accompanied by enhanced opportunity for organ/neurological damage.

    The projectiles from both cartridges are travelling too slowly to attain both adequate penetration and expansion.

    It's as simple as that.

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    1. I "know" Erich from crossing paths on various forums and he knows his stuff. Good information and thanks for sharing. You will love what goes up on the blog tomorrow.

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  8. Without taking a side on the JHP-vs-FMJ debate for .32 and .380, I will say that *if* one believes in JHP, the Hornady XTP seems like a great choice. Expands moderately but leans more to penetration; a good way to "split the difference." Your results with the .32 Extrema here support that view.

    (I also like XTPs in 9mm Luger because they are beautifully accurate when loaded hot. Back a few years ago when you could still actually find Black Hills pistol ammo commercially, I shot a lot of the Black Hills 124 gr JHP+P w/ XTPs in CZ pistols. It was the most accurate centerfire handgun work I've ever managed.)

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    1. I have to agree with you on the accuracy potential of the XTP bullet. I reloaded 9mm and 380 Auto back in the 90's and applied the same attention to detail to my load development then, as I do to terminal testing now. I didn't load high volumes so I loaded XTPs exclusively because I found them to be the most accurate of any bullets I tried.

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  9. I'm dying to try the Fiocchi Extrema in my Colt 1903 Model M. With it's longer sight radius and 3 3/4" barrel, not to mention it's greater overall weight and ergonomics I'm really wanting to shoot some of these and get a feel for them.

    Unfortunately they are out of stock virtually everywhere so I am reduced to shooting pedestrian rounds like Winchester FMJ hardball in .32 ACP.

    I wanna see a test of the Fiocchi Extrema .32 ACP in a gun that has a longer barrel as I intend to carry a .32 ACP as soon as licensed to do so.

    VooDoo

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    1. You need to check the Ammo Tests tab. That test was done ages ago. http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2012/12/clear-gel-testing-fiocchi-32-auto-60.html

      Enjoy.

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    2. Sweet! Thanks for pointing at the test with a longer barrel....now all I giotta do is get my hands on some of this stuff!

      VooDoo

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  10. I had the opportunity to test the .32 ACP against the .380 ACP when I was stationed in Germany in the Army. I mention that point to note that I had available excellent German GECO and Austrian Hirtenberg ammo in .32, while my load for the .380 was Winchester FMJ. I used a stack of old encyclopedias to measure penetration (this was 1982 and I hadn't even heard of ballistic gel). In any case, the hot-loaded German .32 out penetrated the .380 by about 25 percent and tumbled end over end during the process, creating a larger "trauma" tunnel. I began to understand why the .32 had been used for police work in Germany. Loaded a good 100-150 fps hotter than American loads and having a better ballistic coefficient than the .380, the .32 performed better than the .380 when shot from full-length pistols (Llama .380, Beretta Model 70 .32). I think the .32 ACP's greater length versus diameter compared to the .380 -- hence better ballistic coefficient -- promoted penetration and, at the same time, with the round-nose profile promoted the tumbling that caused the .32 to create a wound channel larger than its nominal diameter. One thing to consider, more handguns were produced in .32 ACP/7.65MM Browning than any other caliber during the 20th Century -- and not just for pocket use or as a police sidearm. During World War One trench fighters used full-size .32 ACP pistols (many were copies of Browning designs produced in Spain) to good use. In fact, they were quite popular, especially those with high-capacity magazines. My understanding is that some trench fighters were armed with a fighting knife in one hand and a .32 ACP pistol in the other. No doubt the .32 provided an unpleasant surprise for the unfortunate German soldier, one that was quickly followed up with the knife. Yep, the 9mm or .45 ACP would be my choice in that situation, but the fact is the .32 worked. In fact, it proved the basis for the fledgling Spanish gun industry in the Basque region. Just Google the words "Ruby pistol" and read the histories.

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