Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lehigh Defense 9mm 70 Grain Maxiumum Expansion HERO Denim and Gel Test

I would like to thank the folks at Lehigh Defense for supplying the ammunition used for this test.  I introduced blog readers to Lehigh Defense back in May 2012 in this post.

Since the first introduction post, I've tested a few of their pistol loads from their Maximum Expansion line.  Overall results have demonstrated huge expansion from the four petal bullets.  I was really interested to see how this new 6 petal Professional Series H.E.R.O. load would perform in comparison to the heavier 4 petal loads previously tested.

H.E.R.O is a Lehigh Defense acronym for High Energy Retaining Ordnance.  By my dictionary, that translates to fast, light, lower felt recoil, and oodles of kinetic energy.  The energy is interesting because this new 6 petal bullet design introduces more drag on the bullet in the gel block which leads to some very impressive energy transfer.  As you watch the high speed video, watch how high the gel block jumps off the table and how long it stays above the table.  While the energy transfer is impressive, what matters most is hits on target.  The lower bullet weight and reduced felt recoil should facilitate faster and more accurate follow up shots.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:

Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
The one thing you can expect from the Lehigh Defense Maximum Expansion loads is simply maximum expansion.  The bullets are designed and manufactured in a way that prevents the petals from collapsing back on the bullet shank like most typical jacketed hollow point bullets with a lead core and copper jacket.  When the bullet reaches maximum expanded diameter, the petals remain extended and our recovered rounds were nearly twice as large as their starting diameter.  The 4 layers of heavy denim posed no expansion challenge for the 6 petal bullet.

The very high velocity contributed to very high calculated energy values even though the starting bullet weight was a very light for caliber 70 grains.  In previous tests, velocity measures exceeded the manufacturer specification.  I was actually a bit surprised that we came in under the published 1650 fps published velocity specification with our 4 inch test barrel.   

Penetration fans will dismiss this load because it didn't achieve 12 inches of penetration in our testing.  Lehigh Defense publishes a 10" penetration specification for this load and our test results were within fractions of an inch of specification for both the bare gel and heavy denim test shots.

Pick or Pan:
If you are shopping for a round that delivers exceptional expansion performance, lower felt recoil, and limited penetration, then this load is worth a look.

Lehigh Defense does not label this load as 9mm +P, but the Starline brass cases have a +P headstamp.  If +P ammunition is not suitable for your firearm, it would be best if you contacted Lehigh Defense to confirm this is a standard pressure load before purchasing.

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.

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