Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sig Sauer P938 - Sneak Peek at My First Ever Sig


I managed to sneak away from my desk for lunch today and pick up my first ever Sig.  I've been waiting for this one to hit the distributors for months.  The prospect of a small, light-weight, single action 9mm was just too much to resist and I'm willing to be a beta tester if it means I get to own one now instead of a year from now.

I'll be giving it the standard Pocket Guns and Gear proof test over the next several days so if you follow the blog, expect to see some daily updates.  For now I will just say that it's absolutely perfect in every way.   While it is small, it appears that Sig has lavished the P938 with all the quality and features expected of this brand.  I am busting at the seams to get out and shoot this thing.

If you are wondering about size, it's sitting on a box of 9mm Silvertips.


I found the time to do the unboxing video tonight, but it's taking forever to upload to YouTube.  I initially thought I would do a quick 5 to 10 minute video.  I couldn't stop rambling and ended up with over 24 minutes of raw video that I trimmed down to 16 minutes in the final edit.  I guess I had more to talk about than I originally thought I did.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Recoil-Cam Returns

June 2011 was an interesting month for me.  I had just started the blog and was learning about YouTube, Windows Live Movie Maker, Blogger, Twitter, etc.  My first YouTube video was done as part of the first gun review featured on the blog.  That review was on the Diamondback DB9.  The video was intended to illustrate the difference in recoil between the DB9 and the Kahr PM9.  It was horrible, but I went forward with it anyway and promised in the opening title that I would eventually figure out a way to compare recoil between different pistols.

As a blogger with a primary focus on small guns, I get questions all the time about the recoil of specific pistols and also how one pistol compares with another similar pistol.  For me, recoil is subjective.  I'll shoot just about any pistol and enjoy it.  The only pistol I really don't enjoy practicing with is the Seecamp 380.  It's not fun....AT ALL, but it's special to me so I'm keeping it, even if I don't shoot it very often.  So I'm thinking that maybe I'm not the best person to ask about recoil, but I still get the questions coming in.  I really needed to figure out a way to deliver on the promise I made in my first YouTube video.

I started checking into high speed video and the cameras that were high speed capable.  I learned that most HD videos are shot in 30 frames per second.  After slowing down my own videos I could see the huge gaps in action between the video frames.  They almost look like the old stop-motion animation shows from the 60's.  Remember Davey and Goliath?

Luckily, technology has progressed quite a bit since the 60's and I found a camera that could do high speed video for a reasonable price.  It's not HD high speed, but it looked good enough for my needs.

Earlier tonight I uploaded a new video to YouTube that featured footage from the new camera.  After trying 120, 240, and 480 frames per second, I decided that 480 was the best option to really catch all the action taking place as a semi-auto pistol cycles and your hands deal with the recoil and motion.  I'm actually very pleased with this first video as I know that will continue to get better over time. 


As I was editing up the video, I really had a chance to analyze what I was seeing in the individual videos.  I had heard about "the twist" with the PM40 and PM45.  I've never shot a PM45, but I can clearly see the PM40 twist to my left with each shot.  I even caught myself doing the dreaded support hand re-grip with the PM40.  Watch those left hand fingers flutter.  The PM9 rules the roost with 5 aimed shots down range faster than any of the others.  Even though the video runs for about 1 minute per gun, it's really only about 3.5 to 5 seconds in real time.  I didn't rush my shots with any pistol.  I shot accurate aimed fire as quickly as I could reacquire the front sight.   

I would be remiss if I didn't post the first Recoil-Cam video, just so you can see how horrid it was.  Even though I still get negative feedback on it, I've left it up as a reminder to myself about how much better things are now versus when I started a year ago.

While you're here, you might as well check out this other video I did today.  I'm not saying that recoil comparison videos were my only reason for the new camera.  I like making videos like these too.  {smileyface}.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sig P938 - 2012 Wish List Update

Back in early March I compiled my 2012 Wish List after scanning through all the new product announcements made at SHOT and the NRA shows.  One announcement that really caught my eye was the new P938 from Sig Sauer.  In the Wish List blog, I posted a picture of the 938 variation I was most interested in getting and also my thoughts on why I really wanted to get my hands on one.  All the underlined text was in my March blog.

Sig Sauer P938 9mm
Why I want this pistol:  Capitalizing on the success of their .380 acp P238 , Sig has announced a 9mm will be available in a similar platform.  With a 6+1 capacity and an optional 7 round magazine (pictured) this 1.1" wide beauty sports a 3" barrel and 1911 like controls.  Sig has listed several variations of this model, but I'm most interested in the all black Extreme version pictured.  It's small with a light weight alloy frame.  I can't wait to get my hands on this little gem for discrete 2 O'clock IWB carry.

Getting back to today, Summer is in full force down here in Arkansas.  If you've lived here long enough you get accustomed to the heat and you just deal with it.  I've discovered my SIM-TEST blocks don't like the heat very much so terminal testing is on hold until things cool down a bit, but I think that may end up being a good thing since I've got at least 10 completed tests that need to be edited and fully documented for the blog. Taking a break from testing should allow me more time to edit videos and take the pictures that I usually include with my tests.

The blog has gotten "ammo test" heavy over the last two months.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I really want to get back to doing some gun and gear reviews too.  My problem is that the new guns on my wish list have been really slow coming to market.  So slow, in fact, that I have not been checking on availability as diligently as I have in the past.  I was actually quite surprised to find my P938 Extreme (as pictured above) available on one of the gun auction sites this morning with a buy it now price that didn't make me feel totally taken advantage of.  I'm sure I could have spent today traversing all the local gun shops hoping to track one of these down, but I don't think I would have saved any money by doing that and I probably would have returned home empty handed and disappointed.

Hopefully, I'll have it in hand by next weekend.  I've always loved the Colt Mustang, so I'm anxious to see how Sig up-sized the P238 to accommodate the 9mm cartridge.  You can look forward to the usual un-boxing and range reviews.  Based on the specifications from the Sig Sauer website, this little 9mm should be a really fun gun test out and hopefully work into the carry rotation.  Speaking of carry rotation, I better see if Alan at Remora has a holster for this model yet.

 









Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hornady Critical Duty 40 S&W 175 Grain FlexLock Terminal Test


Critical Duty is Hornady's newest line of pistol ammunition.  Unlike Critical Defense, the Critical Duty line features a bullet that has been constructed with an "Interlock Band" to help the core and jacket stay together as they penetrate various barriers.  I like the Critical Defense line of ammo and it has tested well for me.  I really wanted to give the new Critical Duty a thorough testing with a focus on terminal performance with the shorter barrel lengths that have become quite popular with the concealed carry folks.

While I was on vacation last month, I did a little ammo shopping during some downtime.  I just happened to be on the right website at the right time to pick up some very reasonably priced boxes of 50 rounds.  Having 50 rounds on hand gives me some wiggle room with my testing as I have plenty of extra rounds to spare for velocity testing as well as terminal testing.  Keeping with the short barrel focus of my testing, I opted to run my tests through two of the shorter barrel lengths.

This test was also a first for me.  Up until now, the majority of my testing has been on 9mm and smaller calibers.  Being my first test with .40 S&W, I thought it would probably go well, but you never know until the bullets start flying into the denim and SIM-TEST media.

Test Pistol Specs:




Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  There are two videos below.  The first documents the standard denim and gel test.  The second bonus video documents a 4 layer denim and water jugs test that I did just for fun because I had the water jugs left over after testing.



The two recovered test rounds and all their details are shown below. 

During the first video you will see I had a failure to fire on the second round of my velocity test string with my Glock 27.  It didn't show well on the video so I took a better picture when I got home.  I really don't understand why this round failed to fire when the rest worked just fine.  I have to assume it was loaded with a bad primer since the primer sealing red lacquer appears to be consistent with the other rounds.  


If you watched the second video of the water jug test, then you saw how disappointed I was that the bullet passed through all 4 jugs.  I did go to the berm to look for the round and suddenly realized I was standing in the middle of all my velocity test shots that had piled into the very hard dirt/small rocks and came to rest right on top of the dirt.  So I've added a new feature for this blog entry that I'm calling Tales from the Berm.  It's been fairly dry this spring and the rain we have been getting has been evaporating quickly with all the wind we've been getting.  The berms are especially hard right now and you can see how 3 of the 4 recovered rounds held on to their jackets even after plowing headlong into the hard pack berm at 655 miles per hour.   



My Thoughts
Since I've yet to test 40 S&W Critical Defense, I really can't draw any parallels between Critical Duty and Critical Defense.  Pretending that this was my first exposure to any of the Hornady Critical lines of  ammo, I would have to say that I'm impressed with the penetration and expansion of this loading through the sub 3.5" barrels.  Both rounds delivered more than the 12" minimum penetration that everyone seems to be looking for.  The thing that really impressed me about this loading was the consistency of velocities with both pistols.  Even though the PM40 has a shorter barrel, the velocity average was the same from both test strings.  Having both terminal test shots within 1 fps was really pretty amazing.  We didn't get the 1025 fps velocity published on the box, but with barrel lengths of less than 3.5" I wasn't expecting it.  I was actually pleased to see we were only 65 fps shy of the published velocity.  I thought we would lose more than that.

There were some disappointing and confusing points that came out of the test.  The biggest was the dud primer with the G27.  That's a bad deal and it could keep me away from this ammo if I experience any more duds in this box or the next box.  I'm also trying to figure out why the two test shots expanded to different diameters even though they entered the same block at nearly identical velocities.  The expansion difference explains the difference in the penetration depths.  It's not worth agonizing over 5 hundredths of an inch of expansion, but it is puzzling.

I'm not set up to test through barriers so I can't comment about the primary differentiation point between Critical Duty and Critical Defense.  I saw no evidence of core jacket separation and the retained weight of both rounds was exceptionally good.  You can see for yourself in the following photos.

I like the added weight of the 175 grain bullet and I had originally hoped to swap into this ammo for Winter carry when folks dress warmer and in layers.  I still have to run many more rounds down range to assure flawless functioning of the ammo in my specific pistol before I can make that change with confidence.  The results so far look promising.




Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Buffalo Bore .32 ACP 75 Grain HCFN Extreme Denim and Gel Test


Today was Father's Day so I spent the morning with the family with the intention of spending the afternoon out on the range.  Things worked out and one of the things I was able to do was a test by request from someone that has followed the blog and is also a member over at the KTOG forum.  Jason sent me some of the Buffalo Bore .32 ACP +P 75 Grain HCFN rounds to test.  As we swapped messages back and forth he told me that in his area people really have to dress warm in the Winter months so he wanted to know I would do a heavy clothing test on the Buffalo Bore ammo.  We decided that "heavy clothing" would equal 15 layers of medium weight denim.  As I was putting the swatches together I ended up with 16 layers that stack to about an inch thick when not compressed.

The video below documents the test and results.




At the range, I really thought the round had stayed in the block.  After running another test that I will publish at some future date, I had to search the berm for a lost round.  While looking for that one, I landed on a treasure trove of fired rounds in a small area of the berm.  I finally figured out those rounds were the velocity test rounds I had run across the chronograph earlier in the day.  I picked up one of the Buffalo Bore 32's because it was simply pristine, ok it was a little dirty, but it's shape was almost as new even after plowing into the dirt berm at full speed.  That recovered round is shown on the data sheet below.  I don't think it's the "lost" bullet from the denim and gel test, but it could be.

 

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for penetration from the .32 ACP, this round has it in spades.  Seriously, a full inch of denim and it still had enough uumph to plow though the SIM-TEST block 14.5" before escaping out the side of the block.  I've never been a big fan of FMJ or cast lead solids, but this test was a real eye opener on the penetration capabilities of a skinny .309" bullet running a shade over 900 fps.

Jason, I hope you enjoyed the test and got the information you were looking for.  Thanks for the opportunity to give this ammo a try.


Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs.  It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  +P ammo should never be used an any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states that is is safe to do so. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lehigh Defense 9MM 105 Grain Maximum Expansion Test


Late last month I posted a blog about Lehigh Defense ammunition as well as a preliminary test done with 4 layers of denim and some water jugs.  You can read that post HERE.  The post explains how I got my hands on this ammo for testing along with the background on Lehigh Defense.  This post documents my first denim and gel test with the 9mm Maximum Expansion load.


If you follow my blog and my tests, then you know my testing process.  If you are not familiar, please view the video as it includes footage from the range and also footage from the bench where I extract the captured bullets from the SIM-TEST ballistics media.  My testing process is pretty simple.  I take two shots at a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  This testing was done with a Glock 27 with a 9mm conversion barrel and a Diamondback DB9.

Test Pistols
Glock 27 with Lone Wolf 9mm Conversion 3.46" Barrel
Diamondback DB9 with 3" Barrel



The recovered bullets, and their corresponding measurements, are shown below.  The results were pretty close to what I expected they would be after my initial denim and water jug test last month.  Even with the short barrels on the pocket sized test pistols, velocities were coming very close to the advertised 1150 fps.  The recovered bullets had fully expanded to more than double their initial diameter and penetration was pretty good for a lighter weight 105 grain bullet.

My Comments: 
This was my first exposure to testing a solid copper hollow point in 9mm.  Overall test results matched up really well with the ammo specifications on the Lehigh Defense web site/web store.  My velocities and penetration depth measures came up a little short of the published specification, but I attribute that to the shorter barrels of the test pistols.  I have no doubt the published specifications would be met and exceeded from a service length (4.5") barrel even with the additional barrier of 2 layers of denim.  Expansion specifications were met even though the recovered rounds show a final expansion measurement less than .82".  As you can see in the photo below, both rounds expanded fully before their petals started to slightly fold back on the bullet base.

Lehigh Defense ammunition is in the super premium price category.  For those looking for super premium expansion performance and good penetration performance, from a standard pressure 9mm load, this ammo is worth a look.    

 
Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hornady vs. Heizer Defense?

Earlier today I got an email from a blog follower with a link to a new trademark lawsuit.  The lawsuit was filed today in Nebraska and there appears to be a bit of a dust-up brewing with Hornady and Heizer Defense/Heizer Firearms.  I got wind of the lawsuit here.

I immediately went out to both the Heizer and Hornady websites to see if I missed something in their logos that was similar.  Nope, the logos are quite a bit different.  Time for a bit of Googling.......

Google brought me to another Hornady trademark infringement lawsuit that was filed against Double Tap ammunition.  Reading through the documentation here, I learned that Hornady trademarked TAP when they brought out that line of ammo several years ago.  Hornady believes they own TAP and any use of TAP, even if preceded by "DOUBLE" infringes on their trademark.

I can see why the Hornady vs. Double Tap suit makes some sense.  Both companies produce ammo so it might indeed be confusing for the ultimate consumer.

If similar claims are the basis for the lawsuit filed today against Heizer, that doesn't make as much sense because Hornady TAP is ammo and the Heizer DoubleTap is a firearm.  With the limited information available on the filing from today, I'm making a guess about the infringement details.  I think it's a fairly educated guess based on the previous filing against Double Tap Ammunition.

Ultimately, this will be one for the courts to decide.  I like Heizer's moxie for coming out with a new and innovative spin on the classic Derringer, and I've been a fan of Hornady bullets and ammo for decades.  I'm not going to pick a side in this battle, but I do hope that an amiable agreement can be reached between the two parties.

Let's just hope this doesn't slow down the flow of Heizer DoubleTaps out to the marketplace.  I know I'm not the only one dying to get their hands on one.

 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Name Change

Inspiration for change comes from many sources.

Earlier tonight I received a comment that the title of my blog is really misleading. As commonly defined, Mouse Guns are typically small .22, .25, and .32 caliber pistols. The larger calibers don't qualify for mouse gun status. I gave it some serious thought and found myself agreeing. Heck, I don't even own a small .22 or .25 pistol. It made me realize that Pocket Guns and Gear may indeed be a better blog title.

Blogger made it quite simple to make the change so from this post forward the blog will now be called Pocket Guns and Gear.

Remington 38 Special +P 158 Grain LHP Denim and Gel Test


This is one of those tests that I've always wanted to do, but some other new or more requested ammo would always bump the test down the list.  Revolver folks don't seem to be as internet vocal as owners of the small semi-autos, but there are many that use .38 snubs as their concealed carry of choice.  I don't have any numbers to back this up, but if I had to guess I bet they equal or outnumber owners of small pocket semi-autos.

Known around the internet as the "FBI Load" the .38 Special +P 158 Grain Lead Semi-wadcutter Hollow Point or LHP as shown on the Remington box, has been around for a long time.  Personally,  I've carried this ammo since the early 90's in a S&W Model 60.  This decision was based only on the recommendation of the "old timers" that were kind enough to pass along their decades of wisdom and experience to me.  I didn't have any reason to doubt their recommendation, but I've always wanted to see how this ammo performed in the areas of expansion and penetration from a short barreled snub nose revolver.

In 2010, I replaced the Model 60 with one of those new-fangled Ruger LCRs.  I did this primarily because of the significant weight difference between the all steel Smith and the polymer framed Ruger.  The Smith has been retired to the safe for now and will most probably stay there until given to my son at some future date a few decades from now.  So this test was done with my Ruger LCR .38 Special +P.  

Test Pistol Specs:
LCR-LG Ruger LCR .38 Special +P 1.875" Barrel


Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.



I really wanted to do a good job on this test because I know many people would really like to see how this load performs from a short barrel revolver, but there just isn't much test result data out on the internet.  What is out there is 5 or more years old or just expansion testing.  I bet that's because this load has been around a long time (pre-internet) and its just not as new and sexy as some of the ammo released in the last 10 years.  The video below documents the entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.  I'll warn you that it's pretty long, but I tried to be as comprehensive as I could be during the testing so I even included a 5 round velocity test before the terminal testing. 



My Thoughts
After doing so many tests on different ammo, it's easy to get a bit jaded.  This test got me excited again for a few reasons.  The first was my concern if I could actually make an accurate shot into the test block.  The second reason was that this is something I've always wanted to test for my own information because there simply wasn't any data available that met my needs.  The results of the test and bonus test (you have to watch the video for the bonus test) were really pretty amazing.

With a velocity of 850 fps and 260 ft/lbs of energy, this load appears to sit between the .380 ACP and 9mm with respect to ballistic performance.  When you add terminal expansion and penetration into the mix the picture changes quite a bit.  This load actually expanded to .64" AND penetrated 12.5".  I have to go back through the 9mm I've tested so far, but I believe that's right on track with the best 9mm performers.  This is the heaviest bullet I've tested so far and I will venture a guess that the added weight helps greatly with penetration depth since the bullet is starting out 300 fps slower than the 9mm.

I'll admit this test was a bit of a wake up call for me.  Semi-autos offer several advantages over revolvers in size, capacity, and sometimes weight.  Unfortunately, semis can be fussy about ammo and cleanliness at times.  Their advantages are often lost if reliability concerns creep into the ownership experience.  Revolvers seem to have a better track record of reliability, but can be a real bugger to learn to shoot accurately and consistently.  I've been doing my revolvers a disservice by not spending enough time practicing with them.  Based on the terminal performance demonstrated in this test, I wouldn't have any concern swapping out the LCR in place of a pocket 9mm in my carry rotation, if I can train myself to shoot the LCR well. 




Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ballistics Testing Cor-Bon 90 Grain JHP



Since I was testing Cor-Bon DPX and Pow'Rball, I thought I would also include the 90 Grain JHP load too.  This is another Cor-Bon load that I have very little experience with primarily due to premium price of Cor-Bon ammo.  Cor-Bon's claim to fame is that they offer premium defense ammunition that runs at the top end of velocity, without exceeding SAAMI standard pressures.  My previous testing of Cor-Bon's .32 ACP ammo showed me that their velocity claims were well founded as their .32 ACP JHP ammo was faster than any other commercially available JHP load I tested.  Details of that test can be found HERE.  For this 380 ACP load, Cor-Bon publishes a velocity of 1050 fps and also claims expansion with penetration of 9" to 14".


Test Pistol Specs:
Kahr P380 with a 2.53" barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  For this test, my second shot at the block was a Cor-Bon DPX .380 Auto.



Aside from a small issue with symmetrical expansion, the test round expanded quite well from the short Kahr barrel even though the impact velocity was over 100 fps less than the velocity published on the box.  The video below documents the entire recent test from range testing to bullet recovery.





My Thoughts
I think the Corbon JHP shows some potential with it's good speed and moderate expansion.  I'm a bit concerned about the lack of uniform expansion from our one test shot, but I think it's worth revisiting this one again in the future for a follow up test to see if we can get full expansion from this load in additional testing.  The round shot into the block for this test may have been slightly "light" and a second test shot may deliver a higher velocity and more uniform expansion. 




Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Energy Dump & Penetration Data

I got a lesson is physics the other day and it's really opened my eyes to some things that are wrong with my testing.  You guys have seen my SIM-TEST blocks, so you know they are about a gallon and a half by volume and weigh in at about 14 to 16 lbs.  While testing some .45 ACP ammo, my penetration depths were coming in way less than those published by the manufacturer even though my SIM-TEST was calibrated to the density of 10% ballistics gel.  I did the calibration test by shooting the block with a BB going at about 600 fps.  The BB test is the generally accepted way to confirm the density/resistance of the block.  This concerned me quite a bit because if my results don't jive with those of others, then what am I really accomplishing other than to put more bad information out in the world through my blog.  I really needed to get to the bottom of this problem.

Two weeks ago I started doing two camera shoots.  If you've seen my Pow'RBall or Lehigh Defense water jug tests, then you have seen the two videos that had the two camera views.  Through my video editing software, I can now slow down the action and go frame by frame to see what's happening when the bullet hits the block.  I've actually used the video to "find" two bullets that skipped out of the block and into the berm.  This slow motion video analysis has been very helpful.

Let's take a look at a typical 380 shot with about 170 ft,/lbs. of energy.  At maximum, the block barely lifts off the table so the majority of bullet energy is being spent on penetration.  I feel pretty good about my 380 penetration numbers, but obviously they aren't going to be exact because the block does lift slightly off the table.

Let's see what happens when we step up to 9mm with about 275 ft./lbs. of energy.  That quite a bit more lift on the block and also a little squeeze action going on with that first water jug.  That's not good because the energy that should be driving that bullet forward is being wasted in lifting that 14 lb block up off the table.

This week was my first week to test .45 ACP that generated about 385 ft/lbs. of energy.  At one point, then entire 15 lb. block was up off the table.  I didn't pick that frame, but the one just after it that had the block lifted to it's highest point.  Again, look at all that wasted energy lifting the block and putting the big squeeze on the first water jug.

I did a quick google search on the FBI gel test protocol and found out that the proper gel block size is 6" x 6" x 16".  Quick math comes up to about 2.5 gallons and approximately 21 lbs.  That's quite a bit larger and heavier than the blocks I have been using.  In my mind, energy follows the path of least resistance and lifting my lighter weight blocks is easier than pushing the bullet forward into the resistance of the SIM-TEST media.  Thereby, invalidating my captured penetration data.  If I was shooting into blocks that were 12 x 12 x 16 I would probably see much less lift on the block and much greater penetration results. 

After having this epiphany, I have decided that I'm going to stop reporting penetration depths for tests that are done on calibers greater than .380 ACP.  I can still report side by side comparison penetration depths when I put two shots into the same block of SIM-TEST.  For example, if I shot 9mm 124 grain +P GDHP Short Barrel and 124 grain +P GDHP into the same block, I could measure the difference in penetration between the two shots. 

If you think my understanding of physics is whacked, please feel free to tell me so.  I'd also like to hear your thoughts if you agree or disagree with my logic and decision to stop reporting penetration.  I will still be capturing data about the expanded bullets and impact velocity/energy.

In reality, penetration data is always going to be sketchy because blocks of ballistics media are deemed "OK" over a pretty wide range of densities.  According to what I've read, the gel blocks are considered to be OK with BB penetrations ranging from 3.25" to 3.75".  SIM-TEST approximates ballistics gel density, but it was never intended to be a replacement for it.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did.  It's pretty amazing to see the results of the energy dump in a slo-mo environment.

UPDATE:  I know this blog entry hasn't been posted yet so I wanted to add an update to this post.  Earlier today I was back at the range testing a bunch of different ammos.  Taking a tip from tnoutdoors9, I started taping the nose of the blocks down to essentially make them heavier.  I'm really astounded by the difference this small change made to my testing.  Take a look at the photo below that I captured from my video testing of Hornady Critical Duty 135 Grain +P ammo.  Block jump has been minimized!  The energy from the bullet is now driving the projectile forward and not being wasted in lifting the block off the test deck.  I'm really starting to feel better about being able to collect penetration depth data again. 

I did a short video on the bb calibration process.  I put it up on YouTube so you can see that it's not quite as easy as it seems to be.