Saturday, May 31, 2014

Winchester PDX1 38 Special +P 130 Grain Bonded JHP Terminal Performance Test


Last year I tested the Winchester Ranger 38 Special +P 130 grain Bonded JHP.  After publishing the test, several folks commented on the video and the blog that the Winchester PDX1 Defender was the same load, but packaged for the consumer market.  I made a mental note to pick up some PDX1 for testing as soon as the ammunition supply started to catch up with demand.

Over the last several months, I've been working through many .38 Special ammunition tests.  The results of those tests have made me question if the snub revolver is a good carry choice in the Fall and Winter months when heavy clothing barriers are the norm in our area.  I remembered the Ranger Bonded 38 Special +P load showed some expansion in the heavy clothing test.  I was hoping to see similar performance from the PDX1 Defender load tested here. 

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 2 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, 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.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
I thought it was very interesting to see nearly identical terminal performance from this load and the Ranger Bonded previously tested.  It does give a strong indication that the two loads are very similar, if not identical.  There was a slight difference in velocity between the two tests, but that could be accounted for by the distance from pistol to chronograph, weather conditions on the test days, or lot to lot variations in the two tested loads.

Pick or Pan:
As I mentioned in the video, this is my current 38 Special +P ammunition pick based on the testing I've personally done in my LCR.  It may not expand optimally when fired through heavy clothing, but it does partially expand and stays inside the 18 inch gel block.  I feel equally comfortable with the PDX1 or Ranger Bonded version of this load because their terminal test results were nearly identical.

The Ranger Bonded is packed in 50 round boxes and is a better value.  Unfortunately, it's been difficult to find over the last few years.  I can usually find the PDX1 at my local Walmarts, but at a higher cost per round.  The consistent availability of this load is a significant factor in declaring this load a pick.   

The results of this test conducted May 2014
The results of a Ranger Bonded test conducted May 2013



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 comment:

  1. I use the 148WC in my M642 and my speed strip / HKS is loaded up with ranger B 130gr. Instead of the old school Federal 38spl 147gr +P+ Hydra Shok . I wish ATK would use there HST bullet and up the load to 158gr. since all fixed sighted S&W J & K frame have a POA/POI that =158gr. Of coarse I would settle for 147gr since the 148gr WC is pretty close to the same POI/POA

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