Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rimfire Sniper - Missions 3 and 4

I've been neglecting to add the Rimfire Sniper Series videos to the blog. I know most of you view the blog for Gun Reviews and Ammunition Testing, but every so often it's simply too windy to make good quality video so out comes the 22 rifle and an interesting target. I've got a big tote full of interesting targets I'd like to shoot, but I'm always open to any suggestions you may have. For now, enjoy these two.





Thursday, June 27, 2013

Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 40 S&W Review


Late last Summer, I reviewed the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm.  Initially, I wasn't sold on the Shield because it really wasn't that much smaller or lighter than the older 3rd Generation Smith and Wesson single stack semi-autos.  I warmed up to the pistol after spending some time on the range and came to appreciate how easy it was to shoot and how reliably it functioned with any ammunition I used in it.  As I wrapped up the review of the 9mm, I made a mental note to add the Shield .357 Sig to my wishlist for future purchase.

I was very disappointed when the SHOT and NRA shows passed this year and no single stack polymer compact .357 Sig was announced by Beretta, Springfield Armory, or Smith and Wesson.  I had cash in hand and was ready to buy the first Nano, XDs, or Shield chambered in .357 Sig I could get my hands on.  Regrettably, all three manufacturers focused their line extensions in other areas so the market is still waiting for a single stack .357 Sig option other than Sig's P239.

Undaunted, I changed my mental note from Shield .357 Sig to Shield .40 S&W at about the same time I happened to walk into our local Cabela's and find a Shield 40 that the store had just finished checking into their inventory.  One very nice feature of many of the polymer framed pistols chambered for .40 S&W is their ability to use 9mm and .357 Sig conversion barrels.  If you aren't familiar with the barrel swapping feature, you can read this previous post about my 3 caliber capable Glock 27.  I'm hoping down the road one of the aftermarket barrel makers will come out with a Shield conversion barrel, but for now I'm quite satisfied with the 40 S&W and prospect of a possible conversion later on.

I'm skipping the unboxing video for this review because the Shield 9mm and Shield 40 S&W are essentially identical in all features and functions.  The only functional difference is the magazine capacity for the Shield 40 is one less round per magazine versus the Shield 9mm.  Since I skipped the unboxing, I also skipped the initial cleaning.  As a change of pace I wanted to see if the Shield 40 arrived ready to shoot from the box.  Over two weekends I ended up running 160 flawless rounds through the pistol before guilt got the better of me and I decided I better give it a cleaning.

The video below documents the highlights from three weekends with the Shield.  I'll be honest and admit that I wasn't super thrilled with my ability to shoot the pistol after the first two trips to the range.  I really struggled with accuracy and found that too many of my shots were going low and left during longer and faster strings of fire.  Prior to my third outing, I compared the Shield grip with another single stack polymer 40 S&W that I can shoot fairly well.  The Shield grip was visibly larger so that wasn't my problem.  I decided the stippled grip was not providing the aggressive gripping surface I needed.  I added a Hogue Hand-all Jr to the grip and that seemed to fix my problems keeping a grip on the pistol.  The Hogue grip works for now, but I'll probably install a set of Talon rubberized grips in the future.  

 

Range Review:

 


When it came time to pick out holsters for the Shield, I opted for a Remora Size 5MP ART SS holster for IWB appendix carry.  I also tried the Shield hybrid holster from Aegis Armory.  Both holsters were used in the range review video.

 

I tested a wide variety of ammunition over the 275 rounds run through the pistol during the review.  The Shield fed, fired, and extracted everything that was loaded into the magazines.  During the review I shot FMJ target/range loads from Winchester, Federal, Remington, CCI-Blazer, and Fiocchi.  All rounds were 170 or 180 grain weight.  I also shot Federal, Hornady, Remington, and MagTech JHP defense ammunition with 135, 155, 165, 175, and 180 grain bullets.  Again, there were no issues with any of the tested ammunition.  It appears that my Shield 40 came from the factory ready to run, with no awkward break-in rounds required.

As I was working through the review, I was also doing some terminal test work on another project.  Since I had the Shield and ammunition with me, I included a terminal test in the review.  I'm actually really glad I did the test because I think the 3.1" barrel of the Shield may not allow all 180 grain JHP loads to reach their minimum terminal performance velocity level.  The tested load below simply didn't perform to expectation and I have to believe it was due to insufficient velocity.  I'll be looking for carry ammunition in the 155 or 165 grain weights.

For those wondering about penetration depth of a FMJ 40 S&W, I think they 4 layers of denim test shot may provide you with some insight. 
  

       








Overall, I'm really pleased with the Shield 40.  Sure, I need to spend quite a bit more time behind the trigger and work on my speed and accuracy, but at least I won't have to worry about or question if the pistol will function.  With so many gun makers rushing stuff out the door to meet market demand, it was refreshing to have such a trouble-free experience with the Shield.

About that manual safety......yes, I did use it all the time.  I know some folks don't like the idea of the safety being on the pistol and would prefer if it wasn't there at all.  Others like the manual safety and may actually purchase the Shield because it has a frame mounted manual thumb safety.  As I started the review, I was on the fence regarding the thumb safety.  I never used it when reviewing the Shield 9mm, but this time I made sure to use it ALL THE TIME.

After 3 weeks with the pistol, I did an experiment comparing total time to draw, fire twice, and score two hits on a 6" paper plate at 5 yards.  I used the Shield 40 carried IWB appendix carry and a Kahr PM40 carried in a similar holster in the same location.  Split times from beep to first shot were virtually identical with both guns.  Like most things in life, practice makes perfect and sweeping the thumb over the safety during the draw became an automatic step by the third weekend.  One advantage of video recording much of my range time is that I can watch my own progress over time.  Week 1 I was botching the safety deactivation during the draw frequently.  By week 3, it was automatic and smooth.  If you are willing to commit the time and cost required to train yourself to use the thumb safety correctly, I didn't see any negative impact on my practice shooting.

I closed out the range video with "it's a keeper" and for me it will be.  I've got my shopping list put together for the modifications I would like to make.  I will be swapping the factory sights for XS 24/7 Big Dot Night Sights out of personal preference.  I mentioned the Talon grips earlier in the review to take the place of the ugly Hogue Handall Jr.  I've started shopping for a 357 Sig conversion barrel, but Bar-sto and Storm Lake have not produced a barrel for the Shield yet.  I'd also like to pick up a few spare magazines, but it's virtually impossible to find spare magazines unless you are willing to pay the on-line auction house inflated prices.  Hopefully the magazine problem will go away as demand stabilizes or starts to tail off.

Having reviewed both the Shield 9mm and 40 S&W, I can really see why the model has become so popular in the marketplace.  It's large enough to be a range gun you will want to practice with, but still small and light enough to be a comfortable carry companion.  You will be seeing more of this Shield in future ammunition tests.


Please see this important update on the Shield.  http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2013/08/s-m-shield-safety-alert-issued-8-22-2013.html

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.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

22 LR Denim and Gel Tests from the NAA Wasp Mini Revolver













Having recently acquired a North American Arms mini revolver chambered for 22 WMR with a 22 LR conversion cylinder, I thought I should probably run some terminal tests to see what kind of performance I could expect from the little 1 5/8" barreled mini pistol.  Since I'd never shot a NAA mini prior to doing these tests, I thought I should run a few practice rounds through the pistol before commencing with the test.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when my first 5 shots nestled into a 1" group when fired from the standard 8 foot testing distance.  That was plenty accurate for my needs so testing commenced with confidence.

The decision to run tests on two solid point loads was based on previous experiences with 22 LR hollow point tests run with a barrel almost 1 inch longer than the NAA used for these tests.  If the longer barrel wouldn't allow enough velocity for hollow point expansion, there was simply no way a shorter barrel would.  I picked these two specific solids because I had them on hand, they are usually easy to find, and the Federal Lightning is even cheaper than the Federal 550 bulk pack because it isn't copper washed.

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 8 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 8 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz. per yard heavy cotton denim.  Shot distance is 8 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 Tests from Range to Bullet Recovery:



My Thoughts on this Test:
My initial thoughts are if 22 LR performs this well in the revolver, why incur the additional cost, blast, and noise of 22 WMR ammunition.  I was particularly impressed by the performance of the budget priced Federal Lightning load.  If supply ever catches up with demand and prices drop back to levels seen 2 years ago, you could lay up a good supply of Federal Lightning for less than a $20 bill.

The CCI load also performed well in this test.  As we have seen in other tests with CCI rimfire ammuntion, the bullet shape or weight distribution will cause the bullet to tumble or yaw as it passes through the gel block.  This test was the first time we encountered a 180 degree spin instead of a full 360 degree rotation.  The 180 degree spin and base forward progress through the block negatively impacted the overall bullet penetration depth of the bare gel shot.

Pick or Pan:
I would be comfortable loading either one of these rounds.  I think it will be difficult to find other 22 long rifle loads of similar weight and velocity that can perform measurably better than these two loads, but we'll keep looking. 


Next week we will take a look at two 22 WMR loads and see how they performed from the same pistol.


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, June 17, 2013

Aegis Armory Shield Hybrid Holster Review


Hours after bringing home my new Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 40, I received an email from Stephen Landry at Aegis Armory inquiring if I would be interested in reviewing one of his Shield hybrid holsters.  I don't know about you, but anytime a coincidence as strong as this one comes my way, I'm definitely going to jump on the opportunity just to see how it plays out.  As it turns out, it was a happy coincidence and I've been very happy with the performance of both Shields over the last few weeks.


Aegis Armory claims that their Shield holster is "comfortable from day one".  Having suffered through lengthy break-in periods with previous hybrid holsters, I was really anxious to see if this claim was going to be truth or sales-talk.  I'm very pleased to report that for me the claim was true.  The Shield holster and pistol quickly found their comfortable spot on my waistband that works well with my wardrobe of cargo pants, jeans, and shorts.  In the photo sequence above, you can see I was two-shirting it when I took the photo series.  That wasn't due to the holster.  My Shield pistol had some uncomfortably sharp molding sprue left at the base of the magazine well that was rubbing me raw.  Rather than deal with the issue right away, it took me a couple of days to get the frame out on the bench and remove the sprue with an X-Acto blade.  Once that was removed, I no longer needed the undershirt.

If I had to make a guess as to why the holster was so comfortable, my guess would be the pre-cut back of the holster.  One more neat feature of the Shield holster is that the leather backer is cut so it can be looped through and worn outside the waistband or worn inside the waistband under the belt.  The belt cuts are strategically placed where most of the body contouring takes place as the holster mates with your body shape.   

In the opening photo above you may notice that I'm not using the standard metal clips that come with the holster.  My personal preference is to use narrow C-clips on my hybrid holsters.  Most of my belts are 1" or 1.25".  Being high-waisted, when I wear a belt 1.5" or 1.75" wide, I end up looking like Urkle.  That's fine for competition, but not a good every day look for me.  I have no reason to believe the standard metal clips wouldn't be entirely serviceable if I had used them.

Out on the range, the holster did well.  On Saturday, I ran 5 ammunition tests that involved me bending over, stooping, sitting, squatting, standing, and carrying.  I'm also in and out of my vehicle at least a half dozen times.  Though all of that activity the holster and pistol never changed position.  It was as tight in the holster at the end of the day as it was when I put it on in the morning.  That's just the way it should be with any holster.

On Sunday, I was back out on the range to do some draw and fire practice with the Shield pistol and Shield holster.  Feel free to watch the video review if you would like to see the holster in use.  At the end of the video I also include some close up bench video showing off some specific features I found to be notable with the holster.


Starting at $50, which includes your choice of 3 different color leather backers (black, brown, or tan), there aren't really many things you can do to increase the price of the holster other than select one of the 16 available Kydex shell colors that isn't Plain Black.  Even then, the up-charge is only $2 or $3 depending on which color you choose. 
 

Currently, the available gun models are limited.  A quick scan down through the available models list shows me spotty availability.  One example is revolvers.  If you have a Smith and Wesson J Frame, you can get a Shield holster.  If you carry the Ruger LCR, you are currently out of luck.  I think Stephen continues to add new models as he acquires blue model guns, but I did want to make you aware that your particular make and model may not be available yet.  Personally, I'd like to purchase another Shield for a Boberg XR9-L, but I doubt enough requests will come in to justify the expense of acquiring the blue gun.  Aegis Armory is still relatively new, so I expect their model list will grow as the business grows.

All Aegis Armory holsters are hand crafted in Flowery Branch, Georgia by Stephen and his family.  In addition to the Shield hybrid, the "Guardian" trigger guard and "Sheath" are Kydex only holsters that are also available.  Follow Aegis Armory on Facebook and you may even catch a glimpse of some prototype holsters as they are developed.  Here's a pocket holster design that Stephen recently posted on the Facebook page.  Dubbed the Scout, it appears to be for the Kahr PM9/40.  This holster is still on the drawing board, but may be available "on request".  As a pocket holster guy, I'll be watching how this holster develops over time.


Speaking of "on request", don't be bashful about asking for a custom holster for just about anything you may want a holster for.  Stephen also does custom knife sheaths and I've even seen some crazy cold beverage caddies that you can wear on your belt.  I'm not one to be overly bashful about floating new ideas that could be cool, so I asked Stephen to see if it was possible to create a cross draw appendix carry holster based off the Shield design.  He's checking into it. 

If you are in the market for a hybrid holster, you should definitely comparison shop Aegis Armory and consider the Shield before you buy.  The value at the current price point is really outstanding. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Buffalo Barnes and Corbon DPX 380 Auto Comparison Test

A big Thanks! to blog reader Ben S. for donating the Buffalo Barnes ammunition used in this test.  I had the Corbon DPX left over from this previous test.  After receiving the Buffalo Barnes, I thought it might be interesting to run a head to head comparison test between the two loads into the same gel block just to see if there was a significant performance difference between the two.  Both of these super-premium priced rounds are loaded with a solid copper hollow point bullet originating from Barnes Bullets.  The bullet weight is 80 grains.  Blog readers win because you get two tests in one.  =)

Also different for this test, was the introduction of a plain heavy cotton t-shirt clothing barrier.  The shirt was purchased new for the test and had been run through the laundry one time, just like a normal t-shirt.  In the video set-up, I predicted the t-shirt barrier wouldn't have a significant impact on terminal performance.  The test results will show you how wrong that prediction was when dealing with 380 Auto ammunition.

Test Pistol:
Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 3 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 8 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 8 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 2 layers of heavy cotton T-shirt material.  Shot distance is 8 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.
Note - Velocity Average  for this test was reduced to 3 shots due to quantity of ammunition available.

Test Results:

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



My Thoughts on this Test:
I'll be the first to call myself out on how wrong I was that 2 layers of cotton t-shirt material wouldn't significantly impact penetration or expansion.  I really expected very similar results from both the bare gel and light clothing barrier shots.  It's always good to learn something from these tests and this test taught me quite a bit about how significant even a light clothing barrier can be to a light-weight 380 bullet.

I also learned that I can have muzzle blast issues with my chronograph, even with testing 380 ammunition.  I couldn't figure out why I was getting so many false readings with this test when I typically have very few.  As I was editing the high-speed footage, I got my first glimpse of the gel block getting showed with unburned powder from both loads.  I apologize for the chronograph issues with this test, but at least now I know what was causing them.

I think the test results speak for themselves.  I really tried to keep as many things constant between the two tests as I possibly could.  I have no bias for or against either ammunition brand or these specific loads.  If your 380 pistol can stand the +P pressure of the Buffalo Barnes, it appears to be the more reliably expanding load.  I have to assume that both loads use the same Barnes solid copper hollow point bullet so the difference comes down to the 100 feet per second velocity difference between the two loads.

Neither load will deliver the 12" of penetration that many people believe to be the minimum requirement for a self defense load.  This is typical penetration performance for 380 Auto expanding hollow point ammunition.  From testing we have learned that only non-expanding loads can reliably penetrate 12" or more in ballistics test media.

Pick or Pan:
If you are looking for best in caliber expansion, at the cost of deep penetration, the Buffalo Barnes may be the load you are looking for.  Buffalo Bore has designated this load as 380 +P.  380 +P is not an industry standard ammunition pressure classification and is forbidden for use in many small 380 Auto pistols (check your owner's manual).  It does generate higher pressures, and velocities, so please make certain it is safe for use in your pistol before trying some.

The standard pressure Corbon loading didn't demonstrate exceptional expansion or penetration and does not appear to justify the premium price it commands if used in a short barrel pistol such as the Kahr that was used in this test.  I found it interesting that the clothing barrier test shot demonstrated greater expansion than the bare gel shot, but I have no reasonable explanation as to why that happened. 

   








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, June 10, 2013

High-speed Ballistics Imaging: A Guest Blog from Nathan Boor of Aimed Research

Nathan Boor, from Aimed Research, has been doing some really ground-breaking high speed video work.  During the time he was helping me with my recent high-speed video work, I asked him if he would consider submitting a guest blog article that I could share with all of you.  Luckily for me, he agreed.  Please enjoy the following article from Nathan and check out his videos on his YouTube channel.




Sometimes we sit around and wonder what it would look like to shoot… (fill in the blank) in slow motion.  Well if you decided to place a bullet through a really nice telescope and the light was just right, you might see this:




Before you give up on star gazing and turn your telescope into a backyard bazooka just know that last statement was a little exaggerated.  That is a schlieren video of a bullet in free flight. 


Schlieren imaging was essentially discovered by a French physicist and telescope optics expert, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault in 1859.  He developed the “knife-edge” test as a way to test the quality of optics. The “knife-edge” test was quickly refined and brought to the fore by August Toepler sometime between 1859 and 1864 envisioning its broader application. Toepler is credited with the German term schlieren meaning an internal glass streak and most credited for discovering various schlieren imaging techniques.

In brief, schlieren imaging uses telescope components to create parallel rays of light directing them to pass through air (or any transparent media). Any heat or pressure differences in the air throw the light off course.  It’s almost the same as a highway mirage except for the addition of a knife-edge cut-off that acts as a gate to block stray rays of light.  The knife-edge cut-off is one feature that separates schlieren imaging from its cousin shadowgraphy, the latter being less sensitive.


Ernest Mach enters the picture, about the same time as Toepler, eager to study acoustic waves with schlieren imaging techniques.  He studied shock waves by creating fast duration sparks as the flash method to take pictures on photographic plates. Eventually he partnered with Peter Salcher of the Austrian Naval Academy to capture the first schlieren picture of a bullet in free flight. 
 



This picture revolutionized the way we’ve approached ballistics ever since.  Their spark technique has continued to be used at advanced ballistic “spark ranges” where data is collected at stations and used to form complex ballistic modeling programs.  Now designs can be tested in the office before ever turning a part.

Photographs are great but they lack the dynamic aspect of video.  Only recently has digital camera technology surpassed film camera speeds.  Schlieren images of supersonic flows can now be captured as they develop.  This can be helpful in understanding the little known field called transitional or intermediate ballistics. Transitional ballistics is the study related to the interaction of pressurized gases in the barrel with atmospheric conditions outside the barrel; how they relate to the projectile and how they relate to the gun.

The video below of a .410 shotshell cartridge makes it obvious that most projectiles have to traverse very turbulent air currents that escape around the projectile.  In this case those currents are initially supersonic, the key give away are the Mach diamonds.


The first wave propagating as a bubble is supersonic and is the perceived gunshot sound.  A donut-like turbulence then emerges called a poloidal vortex. The diamond patterns that form are the Mach diamonds in an underexpanded flow. (The end of the barrel is acting like an underexpanded rocket nozzle.)  The projectile is expelled and the pressure in the barrel billows out in a similar sequence as before, the Mach diamonds becoming more pronounced then disappearing into subsonic currents, the flow slowing until a negative pressure is reached pulling some air back into the barrel and then puffing it back out.

Now that we’ve seen a typical transitional ballistic sequence we can more fully appreciate the design that goes into muzzle designs.  Below is the video of an AR-15 with top and side ports.  Rifles cartridges are manufactured with better tolerances so less gases escape around the projectile.  Still one or two Mach diamonds form in front of the projectile.  When the projectile exits higher pressure gases escape through the ports in a forward-diagonal direction.  Those bright diagonal lines at the front of the top port are oblique shock waves.


Returning to projectiles, schlieren imaging has allowed aerodynamic studies to perfect “ideal” shapes.  These can be seen in wing design as well as automobiles.  Below is a video of a .223 projectile.  Notice that the bow shock wave touches the nose and only faint oblique shock waves can be seen along the body compared to the projectile in the opening video of this article.


Generally we have design rules for spin-stabilized projectiles travelling at subsonic (up to Mach 0.90), transonic (between Mach 0.90 to 1.35), and supersonic (Mach 1.35 to 3.0) velocities.  Usable range also plays a role because a bullet can decelerate through one or more of these divisions along its trajectory. Ogive length and radius, meplat diameter, boattail angle and length, and cannelure are some of the biggest factors in design.  Handgun cartridges can violate these rules due to the expected short range and the priority of terminal effects.  For subsonic projectiles the aft design can make the most drag reduction contribution but it makes less contribution the faster it flies.

I’d like to thank Bruce for the opportunity to share some insights on schlieren imaging.  If you’d like more information feel free to email engineering@aimed-research.com.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lehigh Defense 38 Special Maximum Expansion Denim and Gel Tests


First off, I'd like to recognize blog reader Sam S. for contributing the ammunition used for this test.  Thanks Sam.

If the Lehigh Defense name is familiar to you, it might be due to my previous tests of their 45 Auto and 9mm Maximum Expansion loads last Spring.  You can read more about Lehigh Defense in this background piece I did on them last year.  The load tested here is their 100 Grain 38 Special Maximum Expansion load.  Favoring massive expansion over deep penetration, I was anxious to see if the 38 Special performance would match the results of previous tests.

It's important to note that the package does not list this load as +P, but the cases are clearly head stamped as 38 SPL +P.  Let's error on the side of caution and assume this load is indeed a +P loading and should be fired only in handguns rated by the manufacturer as +P compatible.   

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 8 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 8 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 8 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:
As I mentioned on the video, the Maximum Expansion moniker is well deserved.  As we observed in previous tests with Lehigh Maximum Expansion, you can expect best in class expansion with expansion ratios exceeding twice starting diameter.  The performance through the 4 layers of heavy weight denim was really extraordinary as this barrier will typically adversely impact expansion.

We had no problem meeting the 1050 feet per second muzzle velocity in the 1.875" Ruger, with several test shots exceeding that muzzle velocity by a significant margin.

As with other solid copper bullets, we should expect 100% weight retention unless some portion of the bullet separates.  The recovered bullets were complete, so weight retention was excellent at 99.8%.  Knowing the precision of Lehigh Defense, I was curious about the 2/10ths of a grain difference between published and recovered weights.  I broke out the check weights and analog scale to confirm the weight measured by the digital scale.  I had been meaning to verify the digital scale against the analog and check weights for some time.  I was happy to learn that the digital scale is as accurate as the analog scale.


The only nagging concern from the bullet recovery is why the bare gel shot didn't fully expand when the 4 layers of denim test shot performed so well. 

Pick or Pan:
For those looking for best in class expansion, it's going to be hard to beat the Lehigh Defense Maximum Expansion loads.  For those looking for a minimum penetration depth of at least 12", you will be disappointed.  As a penetration person, I'd personally opt for something that expanded less but penetrated more from my short barrel snubbie.  If you are an expansion with limited penetration type of person, this load may be just what you have been looking for. 

    


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.