Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Federal 38 Special +P 158 Grain Lead Semi Wad Cutter HP Denim and Gel Test


This is the last of a series of three tests featuring the 158 grain lead semi wad cutter hollow point loads from Winchester, Remington, and Federal.  I saved this test for last because this is the load you won't be able to find in retail stores.  Federal doesn't list this load on their consumer website, but you can find it listed in the Law Enforcement section of ATK's website under Federal Premium.  The best place to find this ammunition is from a LE supply company or one of the online sites that have both consumer and LE packaging available.  

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 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.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
If you have followed this test series, the results of this test appear to be right in line with the two previous tests of similar loads from Winchester and Remington.  After clearing the 4 layers of denim, the hollow point cavity was plugged with denim and the bullet did not expand.  Instead, the nose of the bullet was compressed and flattened by the impact with the denim and gel.  This appears to be the standard performance profile for this bullet type at the velocity levels generated in short snub nose revolvers. 

You may not have noticed this, but the Federal load appears to be the only LSWCHP that has lacquer sealed primers.  This makes sense when you consider the Remington and Winchester products are aimed at the consumer market.  LE ammunition is often enhanced with sealed primers because it may be subjected to wet or excessively humid conditions.

Pick or Pan:
Obviously, we would have liked to see some level of expansion from this load, but we've discovered that's an unreasonable expectation for these heavy bullets traveling at sub-800 feet per second velocities.  At least in this test, the test shot left a clearly defined temporary stretch cavity, visible permanent wound channel and stopped within the 18" test block.             






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.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Remington 38 Special +P 158 Grain Lead Semi Wad Cutter HP Denim and Gel Test

This is the second in a series of three terminal tests with the 158 grain lead semi wad cutter hollow point loads from Federal, Remington, and Winchester.  This is the load that I've carried in my snub most frequently because it was generally available in my area, and it had a great reputation with local shooters.  I've terminal tested this load previously, but never with 4 layers of 14 oz denim in front of the gel block.  I was really looking forward to seeing how this load would stack up against similar loads from Federal and Winchester.

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 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.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
My first thought is that I have to find a new hobby.  I have the absolute worst luck when it comes down to terminal test shots.  There really isn't any good reason why the terminal test shot would be 35 feet per second slower than the five shot velocity average other than just random bad luck.  In truth, I never complain when the test shot goes out faster than the average, and that happens with about equal frequency as shots going out slower than the average.

Would the extra 35 feet per second velocity have been enough to cause bullet upset and allow the bullet to expand?  In this case, probably not.  The recovered bullet was totally plugged with denim, but the nose had compressed and expanded a small amount.  The bullet basically turned into a full wad cutter profile after hitting the denim.  

Pick or Pan:
If there is a trend with these tests of the heavy 158 grain bullets fired from our sub two inch long snub revolver, it seems to be that slow velocity and heavy weight isn't an ideal combination for defeating heavy clothing barriers.  So far we've seen 2 of our 3 test bullets completely plug with denim and fail to expand.  The good news with this test is the bullet left a small temporary stretch cavity, clearly visible permanent wound channel, but didn't penetrate too deeply. 





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.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lucky Shot "Real Bullet" Novelty Products Review


I'm a big fan of re-purposing things.  Sometimes you just can't find what you want in a store so you have to get creative and make what you want out of other items you have laying around.  You have all seen the pointer I use for my ammo test gel block debriefings.  Its made from a spent 30-06 brass case, plastic pick up stick, and a dollop of silicone sealant.  It is perfect for my needs and several folks have commented about it so at least a few of you think it's pretty cool.  

Lucky Shot products has a fairly extensive line of jewelry and novelty items made from re-purposed ammunition components.  The Lucky Shot brand is owned and operated by 2 Monkey Trading, LLC, which is a family run business.  All of their products are designed and produced in central New York State.   Typically, I'll politely decline opportunities to review things that aren't directly related to the blog, but I really liked the Lucky Shot products and they had some items that I would actually use on a daily basis.



Lucky Shot offers two bottle openers in their lineup.  Both openers are made with reprocessed Lake City brass and reloaded with new bullets.

The keychain .308 model bottle opener comes pre-drilled with a large split ring attached.  In my fairly extensive testing, I didn't find a bottle cap that it couldn't open.  =)

The table model opener is based on a 50 Caliber cartridge.  It's an impressive opener that's sure to disappear if you leave it out unattended at your next party. 

Both openers would be great gifts for the shooting enthusiast. 




















The 50 Caliber BMG Pen is also made from a reprocessed brass case, but the bullet has been drilled through so any standard BIC style ink pen insert can be used.  I found the pen quite easy to write with.  The pen comes with a sturdy fabric pouch for those that plan to take their pen on the road.  My pen now lives on my terminal testing work table so I will always have a pen handy when I need to jot down recovered weights, expanded diameters, or penetration depths.





All items featured in this review have been treated with a protective coating to keep them from tarnishing.  With heavy use, any tarnish on the brass, or bullet, can be quickly buffed away with common brass polish.  Lucky Shot warns on the 50 Caliber Pen packaging "the dummy novelty bullets strongly resemble live ammunition and should not be taken were live ammunition would not be permitted".  That sounds like good common sense guidance to me. 

Lucky Shot products can be ordered directly from the Lucky Shot website, and a limited selection can be found on Amazon.  If you do the Facebook thing, I'm sure they would appreciate a LIKE from you on their Facebook Page.   

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winchester 38 Special +P 158 Grain Lead Semi Wad Cutter HP Denim and Gel Test


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.

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 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.

Test Results:

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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winchester 9mm Silvertip 115 Grain STHP Denim and Clear Gel Test


Winchester Silvertips have been around for a long time.  When I earned my concealed carry license in the early 1990's, Sivertips were a top choice for carry ammo along with the Hydra-shok and Hi-Shok lines from Federal.  Things were simpler back in the 90's.  I kept my J-Frame stoked with .38 +P 125 grain Silvertips.  My Colt Mustang Pocketlite carried 85 grain 380 Auto Silvertips.  My S&W 3913 was always charged with 115 grain 9mm Silvertips.  I kept the new-fangled Gen 2 Glock 17 loaded with the new-fangled Winchester 147 Grain 9mm Black Talon.

Twenty-something years later, the Winchester Silvertip is still an active part of the Winchester ammunition line-up.  It may not have the pizazz and marketing support of the PDX1, but Winchester still cranks out a few runs of Silvertips each year and they always seem to be out of stock.  Silvertips command a premium price when you do find them so be prepared to shell out some bucks for these boxes of 50.

The 9mm 115 grain Silvertip is a preferred load for the Rohrbaugh R9 so I've always carried them in my R9s.  I have avoided terminal testing the load simply because I really didn't want to know if it wasn't going to perform from the short 2.9" barrel of the Rohrbaugh.  Curiosity got the better of me and a generous blog supporter, so I decided I would finally test them out.    

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 bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 2 layers of heavy cotton tee-shirt material.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run third test shot through 2 layers of heavy cotton tee-shirt material.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 6)  Run fourth  test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 7)  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:
The Winchester Silvertip takes its name from the silver colored bullet jacket.  Overall, I find the jacket is very thin and very easy to bend.  Internet rumor claims the Silvertip jacket is an aluminum based alloy that's much softer than similar copper alloy jackets.  I think the rumor may be true in this case.  The nose of the Silvertip bullet is heavily skived which may also aid expansion.  Our test pistol, with a short 2.9 inch barrel, generated velocities 125 to 150 feet per second less than the 1225 fps published by Winchester.  I was really surprised to see expansion with any of the clothing barrier test shots.

The Rohrbaugh R9s is a warm weather pocket carry pistol for me, so seeing expansion after passing through 2 layers of heavy cotton tee-shirt is a fantastic result since people in our area don't wear heavy clothing in warm weather.  I would have liked to see expansion after clearing the four layers of heavy denim, but that's a pretty lofty expectation for a lower velocity round.  Overall, I was really pleased with the test results.

You may be wondering why I decided to re-test the 2 layers of heavy cotton tee-shirt.  I always try to keep my shots at least 1.5" away from any side of a gel block.  My first heavy cotton tee-shirt shot entered the block less than 1" from the top of the block and I decided it should be re-tested.    

Pick or Pan:
If you are limited to standard pressure ammunition by the pistol manufacturer, or even due to recoil aversion, the Winchester Silvertip 115 grain might be a good choice for you.  As a preferred ammunition choice for the Rohrbaugh R9, I see no compelling reason to change my carry ammo in this pistol.  It may not be an optimal terminal performer, but it is reliable when it comes to feeding and extraction.  I will always choose 100% reliability and reasonable terminal performance over exceptional terminal performance with less than 100% reliability.

 



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.