Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Glock 42 Ammunition Testing



















Back in May, I published a very positive review of the Glock 42 380 Auto pistol.  I really like the little guy and he's now part of my carry rotation.  One of the unique things about the G42 is the longer 3.25 inch barrel.  Most of the other small 380 pistols have barrel lengths in the 2.5 to 2.8 inch range.  I wanted to do a small series of tests to see if the longer barrel in the Glock would deliver increased velocity and improve the consistency of terminal performance through various clothing barriers.  

If you follow the blog, you know I've tested a bunch of 380 ammunition over the years.  Back in the Spring of 2012 I did a similar test series with the Kahr P380.  I picked four premium defense loads and ran them in a head to head test.  I picked my favorite of the four tested loads and have been confident in my choice ever since.

The four varieties of ammunition used for this test series was dictated by the ammunition I had on hand in quantities sufficient for terminal testing and follow-up function validation in my specific Glock 42.  My goal was to come out of the test with my choice of carry ammunition.  If I didn't test one of your favorite loads, it's simply because I just didn't have enough on hand for testing and validation.    

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  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 3)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

Federal Hydra-Shok

Speer Gold Dot

Winchester Super X Silvertip

Winchester Ranger T-Series


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





My Thoughts on This Test:
I thought it was really interesting to see that even though we had bullets ranging in weight from 85 grains to 95 grains, they were all in the 950 to 970 feet per second average velocity range.  As expected the lightest bullet averaged the highest velocity.  What wasn't expected was the heaviest bullet would register an average velocity nearly the same as the lighter bullets.  The Winchester Ranger T-Series was the winner in the velocity department.

Expansion is an important consideration with 380 Auto ammunition.  If you pay the premium for hollow point ammunition you should expect the bullets will expand.  The good news is that all loads expanded in the bare gel and light clothing tests.  This showed me that there was nothing "wrong" with the bullet design that would keep them from expanding.  For those that typically encounter light clothing situations, there was no clear winner among the four tested loads.  Hydra-Shok, Gold Dot, and T-Series all turned in similar penetration depths between 11 and 12 inches.  Clearly the Silvertip expanded to the largest diameter, but did so at the cost of penetration.  It lagged the group by 2 full inches of penetration.

Results got more interesting when we introduced the 4 layers of 14 oz. denim in front of the block.  Four layers of 14 ounce heavy denim is used as substitute for heavy clothing.  The IWBA established 4 layers of 16 ounce denim as a standardized testing protocol.  Over time, it has proven to be a satisfactory analog for heavy clothing.

Winchester Silvertip and Winchester Ranger T-Series both failed to expand during the denim test.  Federal Hydra-Shok partially expanded, while the Speer Gold Dot expanded fully.  Second test shots were taken with the Hydra-Shok and Gold Dot to validate that both would expand when fired through the 4 layers of denim.

Rather than fail the Winchester Silvertip and Winchester Ranger T-Series outright, the denim layers were reduced to see if these bullets would expand through a lighter denim barrier.  The Silvertip expanded through 2 and 3 layers of denim.  The T-Series failed to expand through 2 layers of denim so no additional testing was done with that load.    

Picking the Winner:
Stepping back and taking in all the data captured during these four tests, I have to rank them as follows:

1)  Speer Gold Dot 90 Grain GDHP
Why:  Symmetrical expansion with all test shots.  Penetration depths between 12 and 18 inches in the light and heavy clothing tests.

2)  Federal Hydra-Shok 90 Grain JHP
Why:  Partial expansion during the heavy clothing tests.  Penetration depths between 12 and 18 inches in the light and heavy clothing tests.

Both the Winchester 85 Grain Silvertip and Winchester 95 Grain T-Series failed to expand during the 4 layer of denim test and penetrated to a depth greater than 18 inches.  Additionally, the Silvertip demonstrated large expansion and limited penetration in the light clothing test.  These performance flaws exclude them from being ranked and considered for carry ammunition.










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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Taurus Model 85 View Review - A Clearly Different Revolver



At first glance, it may be easy to dismiss the Taurus 85 View as a gimmick or novelty handgun because it is so much different than anything else currently available in the stores.  Keeping an open mind, I recently spent several weeks with the sexy Brazilian import to see if the revolver was worthy of the $599 retail price Taurus has established for the View.  By the time I was done with the review, I had a new appreciation of how clearly different this Taurus was from any other model 85 revolver I have ever handled.

The -est Factor
The 85 View is available with silver (85VTA) or pink (85VTAP) frame.

What is the -est factor?  Currently, I'm a concealed carry minimalist.   That means I put a high value on tools that are fit for purpose, but are as small as practically possible.  When gear gets too big, I have a habit of leaving it behind instead of weighing myself down.  I'm always on the lookout for the smallest, lightest, thinnest gear because I know I will tend to carry it more than larger items.

The Taurus View is appealing because it has some -est factors going for it.  Weighing in at 9.5 ounces, it is certainly the lightest .38 Special revolver I've ever come in contact with.  Taurus also reduced the length and height of the revolver by nearly an inch in comparison to their previous pee-wee M380 mini revolver.  The View may still be part of the venerable model 85 revolver series, but it is clearly smaller than any previous model 85.

The weight of the revolver has been reduced to a minimum through the use of aluminum, titanium, steel, and polycarbonate (Lexan) as the primary construction materials.  The barrel and ejector rod have been shortened for weight savings and concealability.  The bobbed hammer, trigger, and cylinder release are similar to those found on other model 85 revolvers, but have been buffed to a high polish.  The total package comes in 6 ounces lighter than the Taurus M380 Mini Revolver and 4 ounces lighter than the Ruger LCR.  If 4 ounces doesn't sound like much of a weight savings, it's actually the same weight as 10 additional rounds of 110 grain 38 Special ammunition. 
 
When placed side by side with the Taurus M380 380 Auto (center) and Ruger LCR 38 Special +P (right) revolvers, the
diminutive View is visually smaller in nearly every dimension.  The LCR is still the thinnest of them all.


The polycarbonate side plate allows full visibility of the revolver
 internals.  After 100 rounds, it still looks new. 
Out of the Box


Right out of the box, I noticed two unique things about the View.  As you might expect, the translucent polycarbonate side plate was the first thing I checked out.  It was neat to see into the internal mechanisms of the revolver that are traditionally hidden from view by an opaque side plate.  While the polycarbonate side plate is pretty cool, I'm really curious to find out if it weighs significantly less than an equivalent side plate made of aluminum.  The good news with the side plate was no appreciable wear was noted throughout the review.  I had no reason to tighten the side plate screws so I can't comment if over tightening of the screws will crack the side plate.






The body contoured grip was a pleasant surprise.
The other thing I immediately noticed was the very small grip that literally had a unique twist.  I didn't realize ahead of time that the View grip frame was contoured for enhanced concealment.  Small frame revolvers are a natural for front pocket carry, but the butt of the grip frame will tend to print when carried in jeans with small front pockets.  Taurus shapes the grip and grip scales to minimize this problem when carried in the right front pocket.  The downside here is the grip frame prints more if you carry the revolver in your left front pocket.  After adjusting to the feel of the grip, I really liked the contour.  Taurus recently received a patent for a Body Contoured Handgun, so the View may have been the first small step in the development of that project.

As I continued to work with the revolver, other subtle points about the revolver started to surface.  In the picture above that has the View and M380 placed side by side, you may have noticed that the frame on the View has been given a carry melt.  All the sharp edges have been removed.  This is particularly noticeable at the top of the back strap and the front and back ends of the top strap.  A carry melt is typically a custom feature that Taurus has included as standard with the View.

The trigger on this View was very smooth and consistently
measured between 10.5 and 11 lbs.
 
Taurus calls out a 10 lb. trigger pull weight in their marketing literature for the View.   Having pulled a few Model 85 triggers in the past, I was skeptical.  The trigger on the View was unlike any Model 85 I've tried.  The trigger was quite smooth through the trigger stroke and broke between 10.5 and 11 lbs.  After another 100 rounds through the revolver, it could settle in at 10 lbs.  Again, Taurus doesn't call out the View trigger as special or different, but in my opinion it is smoother and lighter than other Model 85 variants.  As you will see in the range video, the trigger was a big contributing factor to accurate shooting.

Speaking of range video, it's probably a good time to transition to the video portion of the review.  All the neat and nifty features don't mean very much if you can't shoot the handgun with reasonable and practical accuracy.  With a bit of trepidation, it was off to the range to shoot this ultra small and ultra light revolver.


Range Video

Final Wrap Up

I think the greatest advantages of the View, over other snub revolvers, are the size and weight of the revolver.  On the other hand, the size and weight limit the revolver to standard pressure .38 Special ammunition only.  I didn't try to push the envelop and sneak in a cylinder or two of +P ammunition because I'm sure it would have been an unpleasant recoil experience.  With standard pressure loads the ultra-light View was controllable, accurate, and not entirely unpleasant to shoot.  Standard pressure .38 Special ammunition is quite common so finding ammunition for the View shouldn't be difficult.

The most surprising things I discovered was the View was easier to shoot with one hand than trying to work a two hand hold on the pistol.  The grip is really tiny so it's better to get a firm grip on the revolver with one hand than a less than firm grip with two hands.  The trigger worked better for me when it was placed in the distal joint.  Trying to use the trigger finger tip pad gave the illusion of better trigger control, but resulted in more trigger finger slap.  Once I figured all this out, my accuracy, speed, and shooting enjoyment improved dramatically.    
 
The range video and commentary was fairly extensive so I'll keep the wrap up short.  As I previously mentioned, I'm a fan of small, lightweight, and deeply concealable firearms.  They may not be the most pleasant to shoot, but they are the easiest to carry on a daily basis.  In a custom fitted pocket holster, the View will disappear into my front pocket and be forgotten unless it's needed.  It's definitely a handgun I can carry with me all day, every day.

The Taurus locking system is simple and effective.
Turning out the safety button prevents the hammer
 from cocking.
If you must shoot for groups, off-hand 7 yard groups of
less than 2 inches are a reasonable expectation.













The View ships in a velvet-like pouch with two security
keys and documentation.
I tried a few speedloaders with the View.  With so little
clearance available for the loaders, QuickStrips worked
the best.















The View has a barrel about a half inch shorter than the Ruger LCR.  Expect to
 lose about 30 to 50 feet per second vs. snubs with traditional 1.875" barrels.







Sunday, August 3, 2014

Buffalo Bore 380 Auto +P 90 Grain JHP Clothing and Clear Gel Terminal Tests

Several weeks ago I posted an update on the status of the blog and mentioned that I've stopped taking ammunition donations because I've got so much stuff here to test and so little time to spend on producing the tests.  Every so often someone hits me with a request at the right time and I agree to do a request test.  Brian D. inquired about testing this specific load from Buffalo Bore while I was in the process of putting together an ammunition order so thanks to Brian for providing the ammunition for this test.

Buffalo Bore has designated this load as 380 +P.  380 +P is not a SAAMI industry standard ammunition pressure classification and is forbidden for use in many 380 Auto pistols (check your owner's manual).  It does generate higher pressures, and velocities, so please make certain it is safe for use in your pistol before trying some.

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:
This load was faster than most of the standard pressure loads I've tested in the P380.  I was really surprised when it didn't expand when fired through the 4 layers of denim, but pleased to see that it did expand when fired through 2 layers of denim.

Weight retention was very good and expansion was very large for the three bullets that expanded.  For those that require the minimum of 12 inches of penetration, this load comes very close when fired through light clothing barriers like 2 layers of cotton tee-shirt or 2 layers of heavy denim.  The large expansion keeps this load from achieving the desired penetration.  For those willing to compromise penetration for expansion, you may like this load.   

Buffalo Bore has designated this load as 380 +P.  380 +P is not a SAAMI industry standard ammunition pressure classification and is forbidden for use in many 380 Auto pistols (check your owner's manual).  It does generate higher pressures, and velocities, so please make certain it is safe for use in your pistol before trying some.




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.