Monday, August 29, 2011

Terminal Ballistics Test - Diamondback DB9 - Know Your Load!

I've been experimenting pretty heavily with a hyper absorbent polymer substitute for traditional ballistics gel.  I'd love to use the standard ballistics gel, but I was hoping to find something that was temperature tolerant, reusable, and relatively cheap.  The polymer adds very little volume to the mix (2 tablespoons per gallon of water) and creates a slurry that's dense enough to suspend a captured bullet.  It's been quite a challenge to fine tune the mix ratio and find a testing container that's also reusable.  Over the last 3 weekends, I've tried a variety of set ups and tested my best set up yet last weekend.  It's still not perfect, but I did manage to catch a few bullets.

I've been pretty consumed with a serious pocket 9mm bug.  As the 9mm pocket pistols continue to shrink in size, it starts to make less and less sense to tote a .32 or .380 when you can step up to 9mm in a "slightly" larger pistol.  Slightly in quotes because size and weight tolerance are really personal choices.  I don't mind the extra ounces in the pocket for the trade off of a more potent defense cartridge.

If you follow my blog, you know I've been pretty taken with the Diamondback DB9 since getting it back in June.  It's been in my pocket or waistband just about every day since it passed the initial 200 round break-in testing,  One thing that's always bothered me is wondering if any of the short barreled 9mm pistols on the market would launch a round fast enough that it would actually expand a hollow point bullet.  So my first terminal ballistics tests with my testing media have focused on some different 9mm rounds out of my DB9.

I tested 5 different 9mm loads.  I ran two of the loads across my chronograph several weeks ago.

The other three were not previously chronographed, but all did feed well and provide good accuracy out of my DB9.  I was comfortable carrying my DB9 with any of these as I was sure they would feed and fire.  The loads tested are shown in the picture below and they were:
Winchester Personal Protection 147 grain JHP
Speer Gold Dot 124 grain GDHP
Federal HST 124 grain HP
Fiocchi 124 grain JHP 
Sellier and Bellot Police No Tox 115 grain JHP

The results were surprising in a couple of cases.  Testing protocol dictated that every round was fired through 2 dry layers of medium weight denim before entering the catch media.  I'm still working on the design of a bullet trap that will allow me to accurately measure penetration depth.  Until that time my penetration depth "measurements" are only rough estimates.  The goal of testing is really to answer the question, did the bullet expand.  If yes, then how big did it get.  All rounds were fired 8 feet from the bullet trap.

Can you guess from the pictures below which round is which?

 I'll help you out with one more picture.

The details for all loads follow, along with a solo picture of each bullet.  Click on any image to view the large version.

Earlier I mentioned that some of the results were surprising.  The biggest surprise was the less than half the sampled rounds delivered reasonable expansion when fired from the short barreled DB9.  While I can't be sure, it appears the Sellier and Bellot maintained a FMJ profile and plowed through all 36 inches of media and kept right on going through the back of the test box.  It wasn't even polite enough to close the door behind it when it left, so emergency patching was the order of the day.  As this was the first shot of the day, it could have been a disaster that ended testing, but since this was my third attempt at this I came prepared for such an event.  The Fiocchi and Winchester rounds both shed their jackets and tried to expand, but also failed.  Expected performance was noted in the Speer and Federal loads.

It's not my place or my intention to suggest that one round is better than another as there are 100's of variables that impact ammo performance.  My initial question that prompted my testing was simply "Will bullets expand when fired from my DB9?"  I answered my question so if I am going to make the commitment to carry a concealed firearm, I do want to make sure it's loaded with a round that will expand and reduce the risk of over penetration and the unintentional damage that may cause.  So for me, it will be one of these two until I have the chance to test out other options.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Remora Holsters and the Diamondback DB9

One of the typical issues with a brand new gun model is availability of holsters.  I knew this going into my decision to buy an early model DB9.  I was sure that a generic Blackhawk! #3 or #4 would probably work, but I'm not overly fond of the basic pouch holsters as they often inhibit getting a proper grip when drawing from the pocket.  I was pleased to see that DeSantis stepped up and actually had their Nemesis holster for the DB9 available before the pistol was actually released to the public.

If you've never had a Nemesis holster, there's a picture of the DB9 holster below.  They work ok, but I've found them to be ill fitting from time to time.  The Nemesis built specifically for the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 was not stitched properly and it allowed the rear sights to snag on the binding around the holster mouth.  The DB9 holster was a better fit, but was cut too short allowing the end of barrel to drop below the bottom of the holster.  1/8 to 1/4" of extra length would have made the holster better in my opinion.  The second picture below illustrates what I am writing about.  On the plus side the Nemesis holsters are relatively cheap, light weight, and broadly available.

Not sure if you've heard about Remora holsters yet.  I know they were new to me up until about 8 months ago when I read post from someone singing the praises of a clip-less in the waistband holster.  Being typically skeptical, I dismissed the concept as absurd and went about my business.  The buzz around these holsters continued to grow so I took the next step and visited their website for a better look at the goods.  The holsters appeared to be well made, made domestically, offered several options, covered many pistol brands and models, and were reasonably priced.  If I was going to try them out, I was going to try to break the system.  I ordered a holster for a CZ75.  I wanted to see if this clip-less holster could really support a 41 oz. fully loaded steel framed pistol all day and not end up dropping down my pants leg.  Imagine my surprise when the holster was able to support the CZ in a pair of microfiber shorts for half a day.  I gave up before the holster did.  I just can't sit, walk, and drive around with a CZ stuck in my shorts all day so after about 5 hours my testing was done and the Remora holster passed with flying colors.

I put in additional orders over the following months and even had the chance to speak with Alan Bogdan, the owner of the company, on one occasion.  If you ever email Remora, the emails go to Alan and he will communicate with you directly via email or phone if necessary.  Not sure how long he can keep that up if his business continues to grow as it has been, but for now you can be sure you're communicating at the top of the company.

As I said before, Remora holsters are made in the USA.  I'm not sure how many holster making elves Alan has on staff, but if you've gotten accustomed to the multi-week or multi-month wait for holsters you don't need to worry about that with Remora.  I'll run you through an example from last week so you can see what I'm talking about.

If you've been following the blog, you know I'm pretty fond of my DB9.  It's pretty much replaced everything else as my primary every day carry pistol.  I was using the Nemesis pictured above, but I wasn't really happy with it as the barrel was always picking up lint from my pocket.  I had a Remora Size 2 pocket holster in hand so I thought I would give it a try with the DB9.  Just so you know, the Size 2 Remora is actually for the DB380.  It fit OK, but the rear sights were exposed and it was a bit tight and made pocket draw a little difficult.  The picture below shows the DB9 in the Size 2 Remora holster.

I wasn't happy with this so I shot an email off to Alan and asked if he had a holster that would work with the DB9.  This was August 13th.  I also sent along the picture, like the one above, so he could get an idea about any changes required.  He answered me back that same day and said he was working on a holster that would fit the DB9 and he would get one out to me as soon as he could.  Imagine my surprise when I went to the mailbox on Thursday August 18th and found my Size 3 Remora (pictured below) in the mailbox.  A perfect fit.

The Remora holster for the DB9 tips the scales at a tenth of an ounce heavier than the DeSantis Nemesis, but in return for that extra weight I get a closed muzzle holster and one that can work equally well in the pocket as well as in the waistband.  That's great flexibility.  I have been using the holster both ways depending on what I happen to be wearing that day.

I'm sure Remora holsters will be appearing in my blog again in the future as I add other reviews and commentary.  If you are intrigued about Remora holsters after reading this, please feel free to check them out on the web.

Remora also has a Facebook page. Remora Holsters Facebook Page   I was reading through what was on the page and it sounds like there are some new products in the pipeline.  One I found pretty exciting was a tuckable Remora holster.  Can't wait to see what those look like.