Monday, December 31, 2012

Knowledge is Power - 2013 Proposed Firearm Legislation

I watched this video earlier tonight and thought I would pass it along. It does a really great job illustrating the scope and potential impact of new legislation that will be proposed in 2013. It is very important that you understand what is being proposed and make your voice heard with your legislators to let them know what you think of what is being proposed.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

PMC Starfire 380 AUTO 95 Grain SFHP Clear Gel Test


I'd like to thank the folks at Lucky Gunner for donating the ammunition for this test.  They contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in testing some of the PMC Starfire ammo they carry.  I took them up on their offer because I was really interested in seeing how this load would perform.  I first started buying PMC Eldorado Starfire ammunition in the 1990's when it was made in the USA by the Eldorado Cartridge Corporation in Boulder City, Nevada.  When the Winchester Black Talon was pulled from the consumer market, the buzz was that the Starfire was a hollow point bullet with expansion characteristics similar to the Black Talon.  I actually found one box of .357 Magnum in the cabinet with the old packaging, but the rest of the old stock went into the berm years ago.  At some point over the last 20 years, Eldorado was dropped and PMC Ammunition is now manufactured in Korea. 


In the last few years, I've shot a bunch of the PMC Bronze full metal jacket practice/range ammo with very good results.  I was really looking forward to seeing how the Starfire would perform in terminal testing.

Pistol Specs:
Kahr P380  2.5" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullets.  Immediately prior to shooting the block, I take a 5 shot velocity test over my chronograph.



The video below documents my entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.


My Thoughts:
PMC publishes a muzzle velocity of 925 fps for this load as measured from a "test barrel".  I honestly don't know what the proper test barrel length is for the .380 Auto, but I could tell during the 5 shot velocity average testing that it would be a miracle if this load fully expanded at the velocities measured during that phase of testing.  Even with the gel test shot running 22 fps faster than the 5 shot velocity average, it only achieved minimal expansion.  Weight retention was good at 94+ grains so I have to believe the dark areas we saw in the wound channel was simply smudging of the gel by the very dark lead core of this round.  12.25" of penetration would have been an excellent result if the bullet had expanded fully.  With partial expansion we would expect to see 14" to 16" of penetration as we have with flat nosed FMJ loads of similar weight and velocity.     

I really appreciate the folks at Lucky Gunner for supplying the ammunition for this test.  I'm probably guilty of shielding readers from more test results like this.  I like to write about, and I'm sure you all like to read about, the loads that perform well.  It's not quite so interesting to see the loads that don't perform perfectly in testing.  My gut told me that this load couldn't possibly expand fully at the velocity measured during the initial velocity testing.  Normally, I just move on to the next load and won't bother with a gel test.  Since the ammunition was provided for testing with the expectation of seeing an actual test result, I pushed ahead with the gel test.   

This load is simply hampered by low velocity.  If reconfigured to safely achieve 925 fps from a short 2.5" to 3" barrel, I feel more confident that it would expand as shown on the PMC website.  I have some rounds left after this test so I may try it again in the future with a longer 3.2" barrel and see if velocity improves to something closer to the 925 fps advertised for this load. 



Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  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.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winchester 22 LR 36 Grain HP 555 Bulk Pack Clear Gel Test

To date, pocket guns have been limited to .32 ACP and up as far as the blog was concerned.  I'm actually surprised that no one has called me out on this and asked about .22 and .25 testing.  I always wanted to cover the whole spectrum, but I never wanted to make the investment in .22 LR and .25 ACP pocket guns.  That changed recently and thanks to an early Christmas present, I found myself as the new owner of a pair of pocket Berettas in .22 LR and .25 ACP.  The pair of used - as new Berettas arrived at about the same time as a new block of Clear Ballistics Gel.  I decided to use the new block for some baseline testing with the Berettas.

Thinking through it, I considered which ammunition I should test first.  I decided to run some baseline tests with the most widely available .22 LR loads around.  If you've been to a mass retailer then there is a good chance you've seen the various 500 round bulk packs sitting on the shelves.  The packs typically sell between $20 and $30 and offer a whole lot of shooting per box.  This test focuses on the Winchester 555 22 LR Bulk Pack 36 Grain Copper Plated Hollow Point.

Pistol Specs:
Beretta 21A 2.4" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullets.  Immediately prior to shooting the block, I take a 5 shot velocity test over my chronograph.




The video below documents my entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.

My Thoughts:
I think it is very unrealistic to think we would see 1280 FPS from this load and pistol combination.  Velocity in the high 800's seems very reasonable from the very short 2.4" barrel.  As you can see in the data chart, the retained weight was 100% at 36 grains.  Penetration was the big surprise for me when I measured over 11" for this shot.  In the photos above you can see that the bullet tried to expand, but the low velocity kept it from expanding to its full potential.  

 
So there you have the first of what may be many more terminal tests with .22 LR and .25 ACP.  I plan to stick with the same testing and reporting format used with the larger calibers.  As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions for improving the quality of the tests.


Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  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.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Federal Premium 380 AUTO 90 Grain Hydra-Shok Clear Gel Test

Back in the Spring, I terminal tested just about every 380 JHP load that I could get my hands on.  I had just started using the SIM TEST ballistics media and was experimenting with my standard test protocol and also deciding what data I wanted to capture from each test.  After testing over a dozen popular 380 JHPs, I started formulating some general conclusions about the caliber and how it performed in terminal testing.

Three loads stood out as good performers.  All three shared some basic characteristics.  All three demonstrated moderate expansion and good penetration.  There just isn't enough mass or speed behind the 380 AUTO to allow a large expanded round to push through a dense gel block to what I think is the minimum penetration depth of 10".

This test is a retest of one of the three rounds I determined to be a good performer, but this time it was tested in the Clear Ballistics gel media.  I really wanted to see what was happening inside the block as the bullet progressed down through the media.

Last week, I was goofing around with with my 2013 Wish List and commented that I would love to see Federal come out with a 380 load in their HST line of ammunition.  Reflecting on the results of this test, I'm not so sure that would be a good idea.  If the HST expanded much more than the Hydra-Shok tested here, I don't think we would get the penetration required.  That may be why we will never see a box of ammo like the one I mocked up in the photo below.    



Pistol Specs:
Kahr P380 2.53" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullets.  I forgot to take a 5 round velocity average prior to this test, but the test shot was right in line with previous velocities captured with this load and pistol combination.

The video below documents my entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.

My Thoughts:
Federal publishes a velocity of 1000 feet per second for this load.  I've never had any shot register more than 930 feet per second from the 2.5" short barrel of the Kahr P380.  The load will average about 970 feet per second from a 3.5" barrel.  I don't fault the ammunition.  I think Federal develops their velocity numbers using longer test barrels.  Weight retention and penetration depth were both in line with results seen in previous tests.  The new data from this test was seeing the wound channel left by the bullet as it expanded and penetrated through the block.   
 

In the first paragraph of this article, I mentioned doing quite a bit of 380 Auto terminal testing this year.  I did a little digging in the archives and found three other recovered bullets from previous tests of this load.  In the photo below from left to right, bullet number 3 is from this test.  The rest were recovered from previous tests.  I really appreciate the consistent performance of this load as it inspires confidence that it will consistently preform as expected.  For that reason, it remains on my short list of good terminal performers in the caliber.



Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  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.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clear Gel Terminal Testing Speer 38 Special +P Short Barrel Gold Dot Hollow Point


This Speer Gold Dot offering can be found in 20 count Retail boxes or in 50 count Duty Ammunition boxes.  For this test we used ammunition from a 50 count box provided by Ammunition Depot.  According to the Speer product description, this loading has been optimized for use in short barrel revolvers.   I've included a small snippet from the Speer website describing the virtues of their short barrel line of pistol ammunition.  "Speer’s specialized ammunition designed for back-up guns was designed to work in 2-inch barrels. We redesigned select Gold Dot bullets to make the cavity larger for reliable expansion at the reduced velocities common to short barrel handguns."

Over the last few months many readers have asked me about running this specific test.  It is probably one of the most requested tests this year.

Pistol Specs:
Ruger LCR 1.875" Barrel


Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullets.  Immediately prior to the terminal test, I shoot a five shot velocity test string from 8 feet over a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph.


The video below documents my entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.

My Thoughts:
This load preformed exactly as advertised by Speer.  We achieved the published velocity and expansion diameter published by Speer.  The small amount of lead fragments left in the wound channel accounted for less than 1 grain of total bullet weight so the bullet also gets high marks for weight retention.  I did notice that this bullet has 7 petals versus the 6 petal design of the Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P 125 grain loading.  I have to assume that the bullet design change to 7 petals was done to make it "short barrel" friendly.

The key thing I learned from this test is that ft/lbs of calculated bullet energy doesn't always indicate if a load will be good or poor terminal performer.  221 ft/lbs of energy is almost a third less energy when you compare this load to the 124 and 115 grain Gold Dot 9mm standard pressure loads as fired from a short 3" barrel, but this round expanded to similar diameter and penetrated to similar depths.

As my first year of serious terminal testing winds down, I'm finally getting to where I've wanted to be as it relates to comparing various loads for specific calibers.  Earlier this year I tested the Speer Gold Dot 125 grain and Remington 158 grain 38 Special loads.  Pulling up the test details from the two other tests, I can start roughly comparing terminal performance versus this 135 Grain loading.  Data sheets from the previous tests are shown below.

While the previous two tests are not exact comparisons due to terminal testing media change and elimination of denim barrier material in the 135 grain short barrel test, I feel they are fair comparisons.  All three tests were successful and I have been saving all my recovered rounds.  The two pictures below show all three recovered test rounds.  The good news for me is that all three are perfectly suitable for my needs and I'm confident loading any of these in my carry revolver.


Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  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.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2013 Wish List

Last March I posted my 2012 Wish List well after all the new stuff was announced at the annual SHOT Show and folks had the chance to write up their impressions of the new stuff.  For 2013, I'm going to compile my list ahead of the show and we'll see how many of my wish list items will actually be available in the new year.  Breaking from a strictly pistols list that I posted last year, I'm also including ammunition and gear on the list this year.

You know how wish lists go.  You throw everything against the wall in the hopes that one or two things will actually stick.  While it would be great to at least evaluate everything on the list, I doubt I will see more than three of these items this year.

Boberg XR9-L
The 2012 wish list had the XR9-S on it and it was one of the pistols I was actually able to purchase in 2012.  The ownership experience has been great, and while you might not find the grip forward design of the XR9-S to your liking, I have come to love it.  For me it's a great fit and I shoot it very well.  The XR9-L, at its base, is simply a longer XR9-S.  With the additional slide length you get a 4.2" barrel, accessory rail, and the inherent advantages of a longer sight radius and more weight in the muzzle.  The XR9-S is a dream to shoot even with the stoutest 9mm +P defense loads.  The XR9-L should be even more pleasant to shoot.  Also due out in 2013 is a new short stroke trigger for the XR9 series of pistols.  I have no problems with the standard length trigger pull, but I'll try the new length just to see if it improves my shooting.  Review is available on the GUN REVIEWS summary page.

DoubleTap Defense DoubleTap
Back on the list for 2013 is the DoubleTap from DoubleTap Defense.  This one was on the 2012 Wish List with the same name, but being produced by Heizer Defense.  After a tumultuous year of missed release dates and unfilled distributor orders the DoubleTap appeared on the cover of the September 2012 Guns&Ammo magazine.  We all expected imminent release, but found out that production would be moved to a new manufacturer and brought to market by DoubleTap Defense.  I still like the concept and uber thin design so I'm in for the long haul.  The current availability estimate is for late Q1 2013.  I'm hopeful.

Springfield XDs .357 SIG
One of the best parts of writing the blog this year was the opportunity to review some new to market pistols that I didn't have to actually purchase.  The loaner guns allowed me experience some of the best new products released last year without the hassle of scrambling around to find one and investing my money in something I might not like.  The Springfield XDs 45 Auto falls in that short list of really excellent new products.  I liked the XDs so much that I purchased it from the person that loaned it to me.  I would pick up another XDs if it was available in .357 SIG so it's on my wish list.

Sig Sauer P224 SAS DAK .357 SIG
Since this is the second 357 Sig chambered pistol on my wish list, you may have figured out that I've become enamored with the 357 Sig cartridge.  I believe the P224 was announced at the 2012 SHOT Show, but never did make it out to the market in 2012.  As a fan of DAO or striker fired pistols, the Sig proprietary DAK trigger system seems to offer the best of both systems.  Adding the SAS or Sig Anti-Snag treatment to the P224 should make this small double stack a dream to carry.         

Beretta Nano .40 S&W
Beretta classifies their Nano 9mm as a pocket pistol on their website.  It is proudly displayed beside their 22LR/25 Auto Bobcat and 32 Auto Tomcat models.  I really like the incredibly clean look and slim width of the 9mm Nano, so I'm holding out for the .40 S&W version.  If they can maintain the current 9mm dimensions, but upsize the caliber to 40 S&W it's a winner in my book.  I've been hounding the Beretta tweet-keepers about availability of the 40 and have been told that maybe sometime in 2013.  When it's available, it will be mine.  If the price point holds to current 9mm levels, it's a steal.  Review is available on the GUN REVIEWS summary page.

Caracal SC
I'm really intrigued with this brand, but have held off tracking one down this year in hopes of finding the third model released in the US.  The third model is the smallest SC (assume sub-compact) model.  The main draws for me are the Quick Acquisition Sight System set up and that it's another poly framed sub compact 9mm that I have not had the chance to try yet.  This one was due out in late 2012, but I have not yet seen it available at my usual product availability checking spots. 
 
????????? 50th Birthday Pistol
3 years ago I resurrected my previous tradition of "the birthday pistol".  It's a simple tradition of finding one pistol that is unique or special to me.  The big Five-Oh is coming up this year and I would like to get something really special to mark the event.  I think an expensive watch is traditional, but I haven't worn a watch daily in almost 7 years so that would be a waste.  Living so close to to Nighthawk Custom and Wilson Combat it's logical for me to head on over there and see what they have to offer.  I've narrowed my "wants" down to a 4" or 5" 1911.         


New additions for the 2013 Wish List are ammunition and shooting gear items that I would like to purchase or at least review and evaluate.  I promise to buy it if the manufacturers make it.

Hornady Critical Defense .32NAA
Hornady recently announced that they will be adding the .32NAA to their Critical Defense line of ammunition.  Loaded with a 80 grain FTX bullet, the load has an advertised muzzle velocity of 1000 fps.  Having tested the only other two commercially available 32NAA loads, I found performance to be less than impressive.  I'm hopeful the heavier bullet and good velocity will really allow this cartridge to achieve its potential.

Federal HST .380 Auto
Just in case you couldn't tell, I photo-shopped the picture above from one of my HST 9mm test photos.  I don't understand why Federal hasn't added a 380 Auto version to their excellent HST line of ammunition.  HST performs really well in short barrel 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP.  This is one more reason why I would really like to see the 380 version released.

Corso Inc. MagGuts +1 Magazine Conversion
This is going to sound too good to be true.  With the parts kit shown above, you can cram one extra round into the factory magazine tube of the Ruger LCP and KelTec P3AT.  I don't own either one of those, but another kit is on the horizon for the Diamondback DB380 which I do own.  I hope the concept flies because the kit I really want is for the Diamondback DB9.  I follow a few different forums and so far the reports on this magazine conversion kit have been positive.  You can get one more round into the magazine and still have reliable feeding from the magazine.

Galloway Precision Reduced Power Hammer and Firing Pin Spring Set for the KelTec P-32
Long and heavy triggers don't work well for me.  I don't mind a long trigger pull as long as it's light and consistent all the way through the pull.  I'm going to try one of these Galloway spring kits on my P-32 to see if it helps improve my accuracy.  With the tiny sights on the P-32, I'm open to trying anything that helps me dial in on accuracy.  The nice thing about this kit is it's only available as a calibrated spring set.  If you've ever tried to re-balance the firing pin spring after changing the hammer spring weight, you can appreciate the value of this calibrated spring kit.

That's my list.  Not too much stuff on it really.  I do reserve the right to amend the list after all the new stuff gets announced at SHOT in January.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Speer Gold Dot Multi-Caliber Stress Test

I can't remember when I first thought about trying this test, but it was on my mind for several months before I actually had the chance to run the test.  Much of the credit for the test has to go to Clear Ballistics for giving me one of their scorched blocks that went off-color during processing and did not pass their quality assurance standards for color.  Rather than discard the off-color block it was offered to me for whatever purpose I could dream up for it as long as I let folks know that while the block met density standards, it did not meet their color standards.

My test idea was to run some popular hollow point bullets in the gel, but instead of just bare gel I would introduce some barrier material in front of the block.  I had a big swatch of thin tanned pig skin leather that I had purchased back in March.  When I purchased it, my original plan was to soak it in water and put one layer under my standard two layers of denim to simulate skin.  What I discovered was that soaking the leather was impossible because the leather refused to absorb water.  It was also much tougher than I expected it would be.  I ultimately decided to use 3 layers of the pig skin and two layers of medium weight denim for this test.

I grabbed three different calibers of ammunition that were all loaded with Speer Gold Dot Bullets, in popular bullet weights, for the test.  No logic went into the decision of what to test other than I just happened to have some of each of these three on hand.  The specific details on each load and the recovered bullet from each test are shown in the pictures below.  







A few weeks ago, I posted a blog article about the versatile Glock 27 that can be a multi-caliber pistol with a simple magazine and barrel change.  All velocity testing and terminal test shots were taken with the Glock 27.  Lone Wolf conversion barrels were used for the 9mm and .357 Sig tests.  The stock factory barrel was used for the .40 S&W test.  All barrels are approximately 3.5" long.


Each test was documented and produced as an individual video.  The videos contain the 5 shot velocity tests, high speed camera footage of the bullet traversing the clear gel block, still picture capture of maximum stretch cavity, and detailed analysis of the wound channel left in the clear gel block.


The videos have been up for several days and I've received several inquiries about the final expanded diameters of the recovered bullets.  Initially, I didn't plan to include any specific data about the bullets because this was just a trial run of the new test protocol and the testing process may change if I decide to run another stress test.  I've received enough inquiries, that I measured all three min and max expanded diameters.

9mm -       .397 min     .502 max
40 S&W -  .483 min     .552 max
357 Sig -   .507 min     .544 max

Unfortunately, I know the testing process will have to change if I decide to run this test again.  I discovered that the pig skin leather I was using would flash (combust) due to either the heat, pressure, or some combination of these two, as it was pushed through the gel block.  In the high speed footage, you can literally see 1 or 2 of these fireballs in the wound channel of each test shot.  You can also see a large amount of smoke pouring out of the bullet entry point in the 40 S&W test video.

After I recovered the bullets and documented the wound channel artifacts left in the block, I started cutting into the block to extract all the denim fibers and leather pieces left in the block.  This was an incredibly tedious process that left me with the hand-plucked pile of denim and leather pieces shown below.  Several gel pieces will have to be discarded because the soot from the fireballs can't be cleaned from the gel.


If I run this test again, I will skip the denim and locate some verified vegetable tanned leather to replace the pig skin.  This may eliminate the flashing problem with the leather, but we won't know for sure until we try it.  I don't believe the two layers of denim added enough to the barrier to be worth the effort of cleaning it out of the block.

My Thoughts:
I was really surprised by the results of this test.  This was my first opportunity to shoot through a barrier other than simple 2 or 4 layers of denim.  Two layers of denim never caused a significant impact on bullet expansion in previous tests.  4 layers of denim would impact some of the slower and lighter 380 Auto bullets, but didn't really stress calibers 9mm or larger.  The leather was a real game changer and proved to be a significant barrier that impeded the expansion performance of everything except the .357 Sig.

All recovered rounds were within 1 grain of their published bullet weight.  All rounds penetrated at least 16".  As I mentioned in the .357 Sig video, it was the only bullet that had to be pulled from the gel block.  The 9mm and 40 S&W bullet noses both cleared the block and were ultimately stopped by the phone book backing the gel block.  I wouldn't say that any tested load was a failure.

The epiphany for me was the performance of the .357 Sig load.  Prior to this test, I had never shot .357 Sig, so I had only heard about it's terminal performance virtues from tests others have done.  I generally dismissed the round as an expensive niche caliber.  To see it preform as it did under similar conditions as the 9mm and 40 S&W test shots was the real ah-ha moment when I discovered something new.  For me, the ah-ha moments have always been the payoff from my testing.

Ideally, I'd like to find a dedicated 357 Sig pistol that could work for both "in the pocket" or IWB carry.  I'll probably start practicing with the G27 and 357 Sig conversion barrel.  Currently, I'm not satisfied with my ability to control the small Glock and may need to step up to something a bit larger like the Sig P239.  A Glock 32 is another option, but I have a difficult time hiding the mid size Glock grip frames IWB with appendix carry.  Two additional wild card choices that may or may not be available could be the new Sig P224 or perhaps Springfield will come out with a 357 Sig version of their XDs.  A 357 Sig XDs would be my first choice over anything I've previously mentioned.

Alternately, I'm really curious to see how the lighter 40 S&W 155 grain Gold Dot bullet would do on a retest.  The short barrel Glock 27 had no problem exceeding the published 1050 fps muzzle velocity of the 165 grain load.  The 155 grain Gold Dot load boasts a published velocity of 1200 fps.  Perhaps the additional speed of the 155 grain load will allow it to fully expand after clearing the stress test barrier. 

Then there are all the other bullet families to test.  Requests to run similar tests with Federal HST, Tactical Bonded, Winchester Ranger T, and Hornady Critical Defense/Duty have been flooding my in box.  There is so much to test and so little time available that I'm not sure I will have the chance to get to them all. 

I'll close this out with one more picture of our test subjects in a side by side comparison photo.  It was a fun test, and I think I learned a few things.  I'll probably take what I learned from this test and try it again in the future.


Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media. Terminal performance in all other media will show different results. 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. Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Clear Gel Testing Fiocchi 32 Auto 60 Grain JHP


As a follow up to the Sellier & Bellot .32 AUTO FMJ test I published last week, I decided to include a terminal test of what I believe to be one of the best performing .32 AUTO JHP rounds available.  Fiocchi makes this load in two varieties.  It's available in their Extrema line and also in their Shooting Dynamics line.  I've tested both lines, as well as different manufacturing lots within both lines, and I find them to be very similar.  The only difference I have ever noticed between the lines is that sometimes the Extrema has nickel plated brass while the Shooting Dynamics line always comes with standard brass cases.  Both lines appear to be loaded with similar bullets and generate similar velocities.  The Extrema line specifically calls out that it is loaded with Hornady XTP bullets and the Shooting Dynamics line does not.

I'll spare you the video documentation, but prior to performing my terminal gel test, I shot 2 different lots of Extrema and one lot of Shooting Dynamics over a chronograph.  The ammo used for this test is from the Shooting Dynamics line because it tested the fastest of the three tested boxes.

As I mentioned in the Sellier & Bellot test recap, some folks will only use FMJ ammunition in their .32 Auto.  Others prefer to use JHP ammunition even if it means trading off penetration.  I don't feel strongly in favor of one or the other so I felt it was best to give both sides of the debate some new data to consider.  I do want to point out that this JHP test and the previous S&B FMJ test were all done in the same gel block.  This eliminates any question of the tested rounds going into test blocks of varying density.

Just to dump a bit more fuel in the FMJ vs. JHP fire, I ran a long and short barrel test on this loading.


Short Barrel Pistol Specs:
Kel-Tec P-32 2.7" Barrel

Long Barrel Pistol Specs:
Bersa Thunder 32 3.5" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullets.  Immediately prior to the terminal test, I shoot a five shot velocity test string from 8 feet over a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph.

Short Barrel Results


Long Barrel Results

The videos below document my entire test from range testing to bullet recovery.  The short barrel and long barrel tests each have their own video.


My Thoughts: 
I'll start off by saying that I'm not at all surprised by the results of these tests.  Earlier this year you may have seen THIS TEST with the Fiocchi Extrema 60 grain .32 AUTO XTP JHP.  From that earlier test we learned that the little 60 grain .32 slugs can expand and also penetrate to reasonable depths.  When reviewing the results from the previous tests, I think it's important to note that the bullets in this test demonstrated greater expansion with their petals folding back all the way to the bullet shank.  The recovered round from previous test had a larger expansion measure simply because the petals did not fold back as far as the bullets in this test.  This may indicate that the Shooting Dynamics line, used in this test, is not loaded with the Hornady XTP bullet.

The clear gel used in this test is an optimal test bed to demonstrate expansion and penetration.  It was very interesting to review the measurements and artifacts left in the clear gel from both test shots.  Terminal performance was very similar between the two rounds for everything except penetration depth and recovered weight.  The extra barrel length of the Bersa allowed the round to enter the test block approximately 100 feet per second faster than the short barrel Kel-Tec.  The extra velocity led to bullet fragmentation and also an extra 2 inches of penetration.

Short Barrel Recovered Round

Long Barrel Recovered Round


Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  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.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.