First, a big Pocket Guns and Gear Thank You to Richard Johnson at gunsholsterandgear.com for providing the ammunition used in this test. You don't see this load very often and Richard provided a welcome short cut to tracking down a box with his generous donation.
I'll avoid getting all nostalgic here, but there was a time when the 38 Special +P 158 grain lead semi wad cutter was considered a top choice for carry ammo. Winchester, Federal, and Remington all have their own versions of this load and it's still popular with snub revolver lovers. I've always been partial to the Remington variety because it is available in my area, and legend has it that Remington uses a softer lead alloy in their bullets. The softer lead allows the bullet to expand to larger diameters than the Winchester and Federal loads. I've always wondered if there was a significant difference between the three brands.
This is the first of three tests where I try one test shot from each manufacturer in the same gel block, on the same day, with the same revolver.
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 into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density. 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.
Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:
My Thoughts on This Load:
The results of this test provide a textbook case why heavy non-expanding bullets aren't going to be the best choices for personal defense unless they are moving at a low velocity. Our test shot screamed though the gel block and buried itself pretty deeply into the dry phone book backing the gel block. I think the Schwartz estimation of penetration is probably quite accurate as an estimation of how far the bullet would have penetrated in a longer gel block.
Pick or Pan:
I think everyone expects hollow point ammunition to expand. In this specific test, this load did not expand. Instead it became plugged with denim and penetrated much deeper than the desired 12" to 18" in gel test media. For this reason alone, this load would not be a pick for cold weather carry when heavy clothing barriers are expected. I may circle back on this load with another test through a lighter clothing barrier to see if it might be suitable for warm weather carry.
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.