Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hornady Critical Defense 38 Special 110 Grain - Clothing and Clear Gel Tests

As a follow up to our test of the +P version of this load last week, this week we look at Hornady Critical Defense 38 Special 110 grain FTX in standard pressure format.  Readers with an eye for detail will immediately notice the box, in the picture above, lists a 1175 fps muzzle velocity for this load.  I suspected this was a packaging error because the +P version lists 1090 fps muzzle velocity.  Checking the website, the published velocity is now listed as 1010 fps.  That number makes much more sense.

This load has all the same features as the +P version with low flash propellent, nickle plated brass cases, and famous FTX flex tip bullet.  As a standard pressure load, it should have less recoil (it does) and should be suitable for all 38 Special revolvers.  

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 shots through various clothing barriers and 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 to verify density is within specification.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
The ballistics testing gremlins were working overtime during this test.  Both terminal tested shots were slower than the 5 shot average taken just minutes before conducting the terminal tests.  Unfortunately, that's just the way it goes.

Since I had shot the standard pressure and +P versions of this load during the same testing session, I did notice significantly less recoil from this load vs. the +P load.

When comparing the results of the light clothing and heavy clothing test shots, I was impressed with the light clothing performance.  The test shot expanded, and almost made the desired minimum 12 inches of penetration in our gel media.  I wasn't surprised by the heavy clothing test results.  828 feet per second just isn't enough velocity to cause the hollow point cavity to fill with gel and expand.      

Pick or Pan:
If you are looking for a mild and low recoil load, then this one might be for you.  I personally prefer the light clothing test results of the standard pressure load over the +P version.  Again, this is a standard pressure 38 load so it should be suitable for use in all 38 Special revolvers kept in good repair.

We continue to search for a 38 Special load that performs well in the heavy clothing test.

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.

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