You probably know the goal of my blog is to be more "practical" than 'tactical". It says that right on the header of the blog. I take so much crap from people that ask why I don't follow FBI ballistic testing protocols, but hey, I'm not taxpayer funded and I don't have the same ammo requirements as an FBI employee so why should I follow their test protocol? With practicality in mind, I hit the range today with a "freebie" block of off- color Clear Ballistics Gel and what I thought was a practical cold weather clothing test. My idea was to terminal test through 3 layers of leather and two layers of denim before the bullet entered the gel block. I thought this would be a good simulation of leather vest and jean jacket.
About the leather. Months ago, I purchased a tanned pig hide with the thought of soaking it and using it under a couple layers of denim to mimic skin. Well, tanned pig hide is some really stout stuff so no amount of soaking was going to soften up that leather. 3 layers of the tanned pig skin leather looked about right for a substitute for a leather vest or jacket.
I added two layers of denim behind the three layers of leather to simulate a jean jacket. I stapled the stack together and lit out for the range to commence testing with this new barrier material. In my mind, this would be a great torture test for most JHP bullets to see if they would plug or fully expand after passing through the clothing barrier.
I was doing short barrel tests from a G27 40 S&W with added 9mm and .357 Sig barrels. Instead of just the typical bare gel test, I ran all three rounds through the leather and denim before they went into the gel block. I got through the test pretty quickly, packed up my stuff, re-qualified for my CHL, and headed back home. I really couldn't wait to see if the new blue background had made a difference in the high speed footage and I also wanted to see if the barrier material had an impact on the temporary stretch cavities. What I discovered in the footage pretty much blew my mind. At this point, it's probably best if you watch the video to see what happened today.
If you watched the video then you saw the micro explosions happening in the wound channel. I've never seen this before and you can believe I have studied each clear gel high speed video to death. I have to believe the flash fires/explosions are being caused by either an agent used in tanning the leather that is reacting to a component of the gel, or a huge dose of static electricity is being dumped into the copper jacket as it passes through the barrier material and sparking the gel as it is vaporized by the bullet. Not sure I will ever get to the bottom of this mystery, but it sure makes for a good video. The double flash with the 9mm was really impressive.
As far as meeting my goal of a torture test for the bullets, it was mission accomplished. Only one of the three rounds tested expanded fully, but all showed some expansion. All rounds penetrated the entire 16" block and came to rest lodged in the phone book behind the block. I'm planning on writing up each test individually at a later date.