Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winchester Ranger T-Series 357 Sig 125 Grain Denim and Clear Gel Test

Over the last two years, I've really come to appreciate the 357 Sig cartridge.  From my limited testing, it has consistently performed through the heavy clothing barriers that cause other calibers to experience expansion failure.  If I had to guess why it performs so well, I would guess that the added speed this cartridge generates helps expansion.

The Winchester Ranger series of ammunition is Winchester's Law Enforcement ammunition line.  The T-Series bullets are a modern version of the old Black Talon ammunition line that was vilified in the press and subsequently removed from the market many years ago.  I was really looking forward to testing this the Winchester Ranger T-Series because so many people on various forums speak so highly of it, and this load has "street cred".   I expected it to be a great terminal performer based on how stringently Winchester tests this line of ammunition.

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.  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.
Step 6)  Repeat steps 1 to 4 with each barrel length.  

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
Over the last few test reports, I've been hinting that the number of expansion failures was increasing since switching over to 4 layers of 14 oz denim material.  I really didn't expect that this load would fall into the expansion failure category.

You may be looking to me for a reason why the bullets failed to expand.  I can only offer the following picture showing all three recovered bullets with their hollow point cavities completely plugged with denim.  They are arranged in the order they were shot with the 4.5" barrel test shot on the left and the 3.4" barrel test shot on the right.  The 4" barrel test shot is in the middle.  You may notice that the petals were trying to separate on the left-most bullet, but performance was virtually identical with all three recovered bullets.

The one bullet that did expand, when shot into bare gel, experienced significant fragmentation.  I believe this test shot may be the lowest recovered weight percent of any of my previous tests.  The Ranger T-Series bullets are not bonded so some fragmentation is expected as the jacket peels back from the lead core.  I was really surprised by how much of the lead core was dropped in the wound channel.

Pick or Pan:
Plugging with denim and failing to expand across barrel lengths ranging from 3.4 to 4.5 inches pushes this load into the pan category.  With the plugged bullets having the potential to penetrate to 30 inches or more, that's just not something I'm comfortable with.

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. Fairly surprising result, but the 325lb NFL nose guard size assailant will have through and through GSW to contend with!

  2. Just wanted to mention that ... and I have no clue if this is a viable thing to consider ... some people on another board discussed multiple failures of this load in 9mm and opined as to the possibility that the machinery cutting the grooves meant to aide expansion was "dulled" so that the round was not expanding as it once did earlier in production.

  3. I think I'll stick with my HSTs in 45.

  4. Evan Marshall's follow up work on this round after his book, "Stopping Power," was released in 2002 show it to be a 93+% "one shot stopper" in actual street shootings (45/48 incidents) when fired from a 4+ in barrel; see: Apparently "jello in blue jeans ain't people."