Sunday, September 29, 2013

Clear Ballistics Gel - 1 Year Review


In September 2012, I was first introduced to a new ballistics testing gel from a local company called Clear Ballistics.  In this introduction article I went into the details about the product and why I was really looking forward to adopting the gel as my ballistics testing media.  At that time, I wondered how the gel would hold up over the long haul.  I decided then that I would circle back with a review after a year and see how well the gel stands up to heavy use.

I'm more comfortable looking forward than back so I didn't keep meticulous records of how many times I shot and recast each block.  The reality is that the blocks end up co-mingled over time with the most abused gel ending up in the garbage and I would replace what was thrown away with an equal quantity of new gel.  I did run a quick count and determined that I completed over 80 terminal tests with the clear gel over the last 12 months.  Several of those tests included intermediate barrier testing including denim, cotton fabric, leather, and wood.  We had a drought last Summer and walking around our range was like walking on the moon.  It was impossible to keep dust off the gel blocks.  As I said previously, my gel sees hard use.

I made a short 5 minute video showing one of my dirtiest blocks as compared to a fresh block that had not been previously used.  Aside from the yellow tint and suspended un-strainable particulate, the gel continues to perform and has held density specification.  Several folks have asked about bb calibration so I added that into the video too.   


Overall, the gel has held up really well.  I've used it to test everything from FMJ to frangible ammunition with good results.  It took some time to learn how to recast the blocks in order to get a completely bubble-free block.  I also spent a considerable amount of time finding the best way to strain out the wood, fabric, bullet fragments, unburned powder, hair, and dust from the gel.  If you take care of the gel, it should last a long time.

I recently took delivery of a new set of fresh blocks.  I plan to work them into the rotation as needed.  My original blocks are going to be set aside for the most abusive tests, like the artificial bone (wood block) tests.  I discovered that the red oak I'm using adds even more yellow tint to the gel if it's not completely removed from the gel before reheating.  It's like a tea bag giving off tannins that color the gel.  The gel block featured in the video has been "wood tinted".

As I mentioned in the video, I'm very pleased with the gel.  I'm not aware of any other ballistics testing product that provides the in-block visibility and density stability, at all temperatures, that the Clear Ballistics gel does.  I had high expectations for the gel in my initial review and the gel has met them all.  Temperature stability is very important for me since I have to do all my tests on weekend days when temperatures are at their peak.  I grabbed this video frame showing test table temperature of 115 degrees F earlier this Summer.  That was a bit warmer than typical, but the gel did fine.

The Clear Ballistics Company seems to be doing very well.  I occasionally have the chance to catch up with the Owners, but most of my updates come from their Facebook page.  They have been getting some recent press in several gun related publications and will have their new torso featured on the television show The Good Wife.  The company seems to be aggressively growing, which I see as a very good thing for their customers.


If you have any questions about my use of Clear Ballistics Gel, please feel free to leave a comment on this post and I'll answer as soon as I can.  I'm all for full disclosure of how I capture my test results and run my tests.  I'll be adding another post next week giving an update on my test protocol.

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