Friday, December 6, 2013

Lehigh Defense 45 ACP 174 Grain Maximum Expansion Denim and Gel Tests

Over the last 18 months, the folks at Lehigh Defense have sent me several boxes of their ammunition for testing.  The most recent samples included a box of their 174 grain Maximum Expansion 45 ACP loading.  I tested this load previously in two short barrel pistols so this time around I tried both short barrel and long barrel tests.  I really appreciate the folks at Lehigh Defense for proving the testing samples.

Lehigh Defense manufactures several lines of projectiles and ammunition for competition, hunting, and personal defense.  They machine their bullets from solid copper or brass with special purpose designs.  Some bullets are designed to fragment, others excel at penetration, and the tested load is designed for maximum expansion.  Lehigh Defense ammunition is premium priced and I've always found their quality to be exceptionally good.

Test Pistols:

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 test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim and into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second optional 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 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:

Short Barrel Test

Longer Barrel Test

My Thoughts on This Load:
This load performed perfectly in all three test shots.  It opened completely and expanded fully.  I included the picture below so you can see how Lehigh machines the bullets so they expand to the largest possible diameter without the petals over-expanding and wrapping back to the bullet shank.

In the picture below, I've arranged all three recovered bullets.  The bullet at the top center was fired from the shorter barrel and 981 feet per second wasn't quite enough velocity to allow the bullet petals to expand to their maximum.  Both shots from the 1911 achieved their maximum expansion with their petals resting nearly perpendicular to the bullet shank.  In the Clear Ballistics terminal test media, 1000+ feet per second appears to be the velocity threshold for this bullet to achieve optimal expansion.  I decided to include the quarter from the Great State of Arkansas so you can see how huge the recovered bullets really are.  If Arkansas had a half dollar coin (1.205" diameter), it would still be smaller than these recovered bullets.

Pick or Pan:
If you are looking for a load that delivers maximum expansion, this is your high water mark.  I've never tested anything else that expands, and maintains expanded diameter, like a Lehigh Defense Maximum Expansion bullet.  Penetration pundits will dismiss this load since it fails to achieve 12 inches of penetration.  That's OK.  Love this load for achieving what it was purpose built to do.  Don't punish it for falling short in other performance areas it was not designed to meet.

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.

1 comment:

  1. "The perp was totally shredded like cole slaw, but since the bullet did not exit the carcass, TEH FAIL!"

    This looks like a very effective stopper, and the 4 layer/heavy denim had minute effect. Nice...