Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dynamic Research Technology DRT 9mm 85 Grain Pentrating Frangible HP


I'd like to thank Nathan at Dynamic Research Technologies for providing the ammunition used in this test.

If you follow the blog, you might remember the DRT 380 test I conducted earlier this year.  I encourage you to take a look at the previous test results since I will be referencing the previous test as I recap the test results with the DRT 9mm.

Dynamic Research Technologies has developed a bullet technology centered around a compressed powder core enclosed in a copper jacket.  The bullet design allows it to fragment into powder when striking a hard object.  This minimizes the chance of bullet ricochet.  The bullet also fragments and penetrates when striking soft objects.  The fragmentation in soft targets minimizes the risk of the bullet passing completely through the target.   

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 test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  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:
For me, the most interesting part of this test was seeing the difference in terminal performance between our initial bare gel 380 test and this simulated heavy clothing 9mm test.  Since it initially appeared that the same 85 grain bullet is loaded in both the 380 and 9mm cartridges, I was very curious to see what differences an extra 200 feet per second muzzle velocity would make with terminal performance.

In reality, the bullets are of similar weight but actually much different.  The photo below shows two bullets that I pulled from unfired rounds.  The 9mm bullet is on the left and the 380 Auto on the right.  You will notice the absence of skives cut into the 9mm jacket and also the longer overall length.  This leads me to believe the 9mm and 380 bullets have been optimized for their target velocities. 


In the previous 380 test, I actually recovered a large fragment of powder core along with the bullet jacket, which is displayed in the picture below.  In this 9mm test, there wasn't any core left with the bullet jacket.  The extra velocity actually allowed the core to fully fragment and disintegrate.

With the absence of a heavy core component, the 9mm test shot actually penetrated a bit less than the previously tested 380, but appears to have performed exactly as designed.

One other observation was the very light recoil generated by this load.  I rarely notice recoil when conducting tests, but this load was notable for the absence of recoil.

DRT also produces a 105 grain load in 40 S&W and a 150 grain load in 45 AUTO.  Since I started with the smallest and am working up through the largest, I'm very curious to see how the heavier bullets behave.  Perhaps one of the heavier bullets may deliver similar terminal performance, and also penetrate past the magic 12" that so many consider the bare minimum penetration depth in ballistics test media.   

Pick or Pan:
As I mentioned in the video, I would really like to see some real world terminal performance feedback on this load.  Most of the available information is still very much focused on the rifle calibers.  The 9mm load definitely performs as designed with 100% fragmentation and none of the fragments penetrating past 10.25".  I'm willing the bend the 12" penetration guideline with 380 as it is a compromise caliber.  With 9mm and above, 12" to 18" of penetration is expected in controlled terminal performance tests.


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.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Return of the Ruger Red Label Shotgun


I really like trade show season because it means that "new stuff" is going to be announced.  Most of the new stuff doesn't register on my radar, but every so often something hits home with me and I decide to share it.  Just in time for NASGW 2013, Ruger announced today that they are bringing back their excellent Red Label shotguns.

Remember the Birthday Gun piece I did earlier this week?  Well back in 1999, I procured a Ruger Red Label all weather stainless model as my Birthday Gun.  It wasn't custom in any way, but it was different.  Sporting a black synthetic stock and forend, the all stainless steel shotgun was different than anything else on the market at the time.  I've come to love that shotgun over the years and I was really happy to see that Ruger has brought back the Red Label.

If you see a O/U shotgun in your future, you should definitely consider a Ruger Red Label. 

DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol Now Available in .410/45 Colt and 40 S&W

As I was writing up my review of the DoubleTap 45, I fielded some questions and noticed comments about additional caliber options beyond 9mm and 45 Auto.  The folks at DoubleTap Defense must have been seeing this too because earlier today they announced that .410/45 Colt and .40 S&W will be added to their product line.  The new caliber options will be available as a complete pistol, or previous DoubleTap purchasers can add a barrel set to use with their current frame.


The Official press release can be found HERE.






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Remington Golden Saber Bonded 9mm +P 124 Grain Denim and Gel Test


The Remington Golden Saber line has been around for many years and can usually be found at mass and local retailers that sell sporting arms and ammunition.  Though less common, the Golden Saber Bonded line was created for Law Enforcement and features a bullet that has the lead core "hot-bonded" to the brass jacket.  This bonding process helps the bullet stay together when it passes through various barrier materials.  The Bonded line also features lacquer sealed primers and is packaged in 50 round boxes.

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 test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  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.  Repeat for third test shot.
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:
I previously tested this load with light denim and SIM-TEST through a longer barrel and really liked the terminal performance results.  Since Golden Saber 124 grain is a recommended ammunition for the Solo, I decided to test this load again to see if it might be suitable for the much shorter Solo barrel.  I was again pleased by the performance of this round through the barrel that was over 1/2" shorter than the original test pistol.

I was very happy to see this load expand through the 4 layers of heavy denim test.  Having previously tested two other 124 +P loads, from other ammunition companies with resulting expansion failures, I was starting to question if I would find a suitable load for this very short barreled pistol.

The bullet fragmentation observed in the gel block was concerning at first, but after weighing the recovered rounds the total bullet weight loss as very small.  I would much rather have some minor fragmentation with consistent expansion, than no fragmentation with unreliable expansion.  

Pick or Pan:
I'll admit to becoming a fan of this load.  I thought it was good when I tested it the first time and after testing it again, in an even shorter barrel, I'm really impressed.  If this load has a flaw it is the limited availability.  It's not a loading you will find in many stores.  Most likely, you will have to order it from an internet ammunition retailer.  I've become quite fond of the little Kimber Solo so I was really glad I found something that would expand that was also on the Kimber approved ammunition list.  I'll keep watching for the non-bonded version of this loading to get back in stock and I'll see if it also demonstrates similar terminal performance from the Solo.




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, October 21, 2013

2013 Wishlist Update - My Birthday Gun


I've mentioned the "Birthday Gun" on the blog a few times over the last two years.  It's a personal tradition that I started back in 1993.  I would pick out a specific make, model, and customization package for a firearm and it would be completed or delivered around my birthday each year.  My first birthday gun was a S&W model 65 that I sent off to Magnaport for porting and finishing work.  At the time, I really wanted a Weigand Combat customized Ruger SP101, but the price was way out of my budget.  The model 65 I sent off to Magnaport came back with many of the same features, but lacked the trigger job.  Overall, I was still very pleased with it.

Most of the funding for the early birthday guns came from an aquarium that I would dump my change into at the end of each day.  It was amazing how fast that would add up to real money.  In recent years, I started using my credit card cash back accumulations to fund my creations.  The nice thing is that while some guns come and go, I've always held on to my birthday guns because they are  special.  Well, at least to me they're special.

In the 90's I was into stainless S&W revolvers and .22 LR competition so my birthday guns reflect that.  As I transitioned into the new millennium, I was competing on the ATA trapshooting circuit pretty heavily and the birthday gun program took a back seat to constant trap gun upgrades.  Then I spent a few years living and working in Europe, which totally shut down the Birthday Gun program.

In 2009, my wife actually got the Birthday Gun tradition restarted when she asked if she could buy me a pistol for my birthday.  I picked out a rare variation of a Ruger Mark III and it actually arrived in time for my birthday.  2010 saw the arrival of a personalized custom serial number Seecamp LWS380.  2011, the first Birthday Gun covered on the blog, was the year of the Robar Kahr P45.  I intended to skip 2012 in order to save up my cash back bonus for something really special for 2013.

Just before my birthday last year I stopped in at a local gun shop and found the Weigand Combat custom SP101, that started the Birthday Gun tradition, for a small fraction of the original 1990's price.  It was missing the box and original grips, but was in like-new condition.  I did a write up on it last year.

I spent a long time considering what I wanted to order as my 2013 birthday gun.  I talked with some local folks and they were all telling me to head East and talk to Wilson or Nighthawk about a custom 1911.  Living so close to both manufacturers, there are many local fans of both companies.  Both produce beautiful pistols, but I hesitated too long and their custom shop lead-times exceeded my target delivery date.

After much soul searching, I ended up at the Lone Wolf Distributors website.  I've watched Lone Wolf with interest over the last several years as they continue to take Glock inspired designs off in different directions.  Last January I ordered a custom compact based on their G23-sized Timberwolf frame with their stainless steel slide.  I also included conversion barrels so the delivered pistol could shoot .357 Sig, 40 S&W, and 9mm with the change of barrel and magazine.  I added custom fluting to the barrel hoods, black oxide finishing on everything, special slide cover plate, night sights, and even had them queued up to inscribe the Pocket Guns and Gear logo on the slide.

Last January, just about everything gun related was out of stock.  Lone Wolf was in a similar situation, but I was assured that the compact Timberwolf frames were due to arrive in the Summer and making the October delivery wouldn't be a problem.  I called them once to see how the order was coming along and they had all the parts to complete the order except the Timberwolf frame, but they were still due to arrive by late Summer.  I called back a week ago, and still no frames.  The customer service representative I spoke with was happy to tell me the good news that they should have the frames in time for SHOT 2014.  I didn't share his enthusiasm over the "good news", so I cancelled my order.

Now I'm thinking that maybe the Birthday Gun thing came full circle last year when I found the Weigand Combat SP101 that initially inspired the tradition.  It was a good run, but all things eventually come to an end.

Instead of reviewing the Lone Wolf Timberwolf custom I had ordered, I'll be doing a write up on this made in the USA G23 I found this weekend.  Some folks are still in denial that Glock started producing pistols in the USA, so while I don't expect the review to be very exciting, it might be educational for some.  At least I will be using Lone Wolf conversion barrels with the pistol.

   

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ammunition has Returned...Terminal Test Thursday is Gone

On February 2nd this year, I posted an update on my terminal testing for 2013.  At that time, the ammunition drought was near its peak with empty shelves being the rule of the day.  Any ammunition that did hit the shelf was gone immediately.  If you weren't there when they put it out for sale, you missed out.  Online supplies were also very tight and prices rose with demand.  I don't think anyone knew how long the drought would last so I made a decision to limit my tests to one per week for the duration of the drought.  I had a decent stockpile of stuff to test and I also received several very generous ammunition donations for testing.  I was confident the blog would be able to ride out the drought.

I'm not sure what ammunition supplies are like in your specific area, but supply continues to improve in my area.  Online suppliers also appear to have things in stock for days instead of hours.  22 rimfire ammunition continues to be a problem here, but I'll skip my soapbox speech about ammo gougers that buy with the singular intention of reselling for profit.  Prices across the board continue to moderate and perhaps we'll even see September 2012 prices again.  We can always hope.

I don't know if you noticed, but I ended up publishing 10 ammunition tests last month.  I liked the scheduled nature of publishing at least one test per week, but now I'm finding it limiting.  I'm going back to publishing tests as soon as I finish the video and write up the blog.  So for the immediate future, every day could be a Terminal Test Thursday except for next week.  Between two back to back rainy weekends and my recovery from DoubleTap thumb, I've worked through all my backlog of competed tests.  Every single scrap of Clear Ballistics Gel has been cleaned and remolded.  I have an ammo can with 11 donated ammunition samples ready to go so I can clear most of backlogged donations waiting to be tested.  I sincerely apologize to everyone that sent stuff in for making you wait so long for test results.  You are my priority and I will get your stuff tested as soon as possible.

You may have noticed some new calibers in the opening picture and wondered what that was about.  Having tested a vast majority of the available 380 Auto ammunition universe, I will be expanding my universe of testing soon after clearing the backlogged donations.  I've enjoyed being the "short barrel guy", but my terminal ballistics testing curiosity runs deeper than that.  I recently discovered that Wikipedia has listed the blog as an external reference for 32 ACP.  When I discovered that, it really made my day because one of the primary goals of the blog has always been to provide information, and serve as a reference, for folks interested in ammunition terminal performance.  The link on the Wiki page takes the reader to the Ammo Tests consolidated test results page so anyone landing on it can see a listing of all completed tests for every caliber.

Blog reader and YouTube subscriber Pete has been very busy keeping up with all the new YouTube videos published by tnoutdoors9, Mrgunsngear, and PocketGunsandGear.  Pete recaps all the tests into a single Excel spreadsheet that's an excellent resource for comparing test results across all three of us.  You can find that spreadsheet, as well as some other manufacturer published terminal performance results, by clicking HERE.  It's another really good resource for folks that want to compare ammunition test results quickly and skip watching dozens of test videos.

I had one other point to cover that may, or may not, be well received.  Having lost my short barrel 45 test pistol to a recall of currently unknown duration.  It made me pause to consider how I could standardize the test barrel lengths across 9mm, .357 Sig, 40 S&W, 10mm, and 45 Auto.  I've decided to set aside a Glock 22, 23, 27, 36, and 21 specifically for testing purposes.  Each pistol, except for the G36, can be used for multiple calibers and will give me testing options ranging from 3.4" up to 4.5".  Lacking a true short barrel 45 Auto, my shortest test barrel length will now be 3.8".  I may do the occasional 3" barrel 9mm or 40 S&W test when it makes sense to do so.  380 Auto and below will still be tested in representative pocket sized pistols.

The blog and YouTube channel continue to amaze me with their reader/viewer growth.  The YouTube channel just passed 3000 subscribers today.  Combined views of the blog and YouTube videos have been running well over 100,000 per month for several months.  That's what inspires me to keep raising the bar and pushing myself to create better and more diverse content.  I really appreciate your viewer support.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

HPR 380 Auto 90 Grain XTP Denim and Clear Gel Test


I don't know much about this ammunition brand other than it started showing up at Cabela's and Midway one day and I thought I should add a box to the 380 Auto test stash.  The ammunition is made in Payson, AZ and is constructed with 100% US made components.  I'd say this might be a boutique brand, but they have their own HPR head-stamped brass cases so perhaps this was a regional brand that now has national distribution through various large retailers.  What hooked me into trying a box was the XTP bullet used for this loading.

I'm a fan of the Hornady XTP and FTX bullets, in 380 Auto specifically, as I have found them to deliver modest expansion and reasonable penetration if loaded to a velocity approaching 900 feet per second as fired from our 2.5" test barrel.  Heavy clothing barrier performance has been unpredictable with expansion in some tests and other tests resulting in expansion with tumbling.  I was really interested in seeing the velocity numbers from this HPR load to see how it would perform versus other loads using this XTP bullet.  

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:
I wasn't surprised by the terminal performance results of this test.  When I saw high 700 feet per second velocity numbers during the initial testing, I almost considered skipping the terminal testing.  Hornady loads their own Custom ammunition line, with the same XTP bullet, to a level that achieves a velocity in the low 800's from the same test pistol.  I really didn't think I would find anyone loading milder than Hornady, but HPR did with this box that I tested.

I'm not a huge fan of using calculated energy values as an indicator of terminal performance simply because I do not understand how energy translates into a predictor of ammunition effectiveness.  On the other hand, it does provide a consistent comparison metric vs. other similar loads.  With such low initial velocity, the calculated energy for this round was very low as compared to other defensive ammunition choices.    

Pick or Pan:
I think this load will appeal to folks that are fans of the Hornady Custom 90 Grain XTP loading.  The significantly cheaper per round price, 50 rounds per box convenience, and similar ballistic performance with Hornady Custom may make it the ideal choice as a practice load or substitute load when Hornady Custom is not available.

If you are a speed freak that values velocity and energy over other terminal performance metrics, you'll want to pass on this loading.   




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.