Sunday, February 26, 2012

More DB9 Terminal Ballistics Tests

For months I've been talking about this great ballistics box I built over the Winter and how excited I was about getting out to the range and finally testing it out.  Today was the day to see if this new box was going to be awesome or just another waste of time and money.  Unfortunately, even with all the "over engineering" I thought I had built into the box, it was a disappointment.  Let's just say that my investment in Sim-Test media saved the day.  Enough of that, you probably want to see the details of my tests.

I started out slow and tested two .380 ACP rounds.  I tested two Remington products.  My first test was the 102 grain Golden Saber.  I shot two rounds over a chronograph, through two layers of dry denim, and into my polymer gel catch media.  Velocities from the two shots were 775 and 790 feet per second.  My second tested round was the Remington/UMC 88 grain JHP loading.  My measured velocities were 786 and 880 feet per second.  This load penetrated two layers of dry denim before entering the catch media.  Bullets were fired from a Kahr P380 with a 2.5" barrel.  Muzzle to catch box distance was 7 feet.

Golden Saber performance was pretty dismal with only partial expansion.  The Remington/UMC 88 grain loading has tested well in all my previous velocity tests but today I happened to draw a very underpowered test round and a normal round.  The slow loading failed to expand and the normal velocity load shed it's jacket.  I'm not impressed by either loading.

The impact energy of the .380 ACP ammo was already causing stress on the bullet trap.  Rather than continue to push things with additional .380 tests, I reconfigured my catch box with 3 slabs of Sim Test media backed with my polymer media.  I really needed to test 3 specific 9mm loads from a Diamondback DB9 that has a 3" barrel.

As some of you know, the Diamondback DB9 is a relatively new micro 9mm pocket pistol.  It started shipping in June of 2011.  I personally have documented my issues and successes with my DB9's at several points in this blog.  My biggest issue with the DB9 is the magazines.  They simply will not allow the DB9 to reliably feed Federal HST and Speer Gold Dot ammunition.  Diamondback Firearms recommends Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX and Remington Golden Saber 124 grain BJHP as reliable feeders.  I've had exceptionally good success with Remington/UMC 115 grain JHP bulk packs.  The goal today was to test these three loadings and assure they would expand reliably from the DB9's 3" barrel.

Each loading was shot 7 feet away from the bullet trap.  Each round passed through a chronograph before passing through 2 layers of denim, 12" of Sim-Test mixed to ballistics gel density, and finally coming to rest in my polymer catch media.  All rounds passed through all 12" of Sim Test, but their final penetration distance was not captured.  The goal today was to verify expansion and not document penetration.

Golden Saber was the first to cross the chronograph with two shots registering 1035 and 1008 feet per second.  Performance was good with full expansion.
The next load tested was Remington/UMC 115 grain JHP.  The two shots achieved velocities of 1098 and 1141 feet per second.  Expansion was also good, though slightly less uniform than the other pairs tested.  This may be attributed to the velocity variance between the two shots.

The last test was done with Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX.  The two tested shots achieved velocities of 1015 and 1004 feet per second.  Expansion was also good.

Performance from all three 9mm defense loadings was a nice confidence booster in the current state of the ammunition industry.  I felt it was important to test 2 rounds from each load in order to better gauge the consistency of the ammunition and make sure that good or bad performance wasn't just a fluke.  In the following pictures the loads are positioned in the order they were tested and reported on above.  Remington Golden Saber, Remington/UMC JHP, and Hornady Critical Defense.

I always strive to present the facts as I see them and skip the endorsement or recommendation of one product over another.  Based on what I tested today, I have confidence that any of these rounds could expand at the velocities achieved from the 3" test barrel.  Ultimately, you will decide if one of these loads appeals to you based on their cost, availability, and function in your specific pistol.  I do think that all three tested loads are worthy of your consideration.


  1. Bruce,

    Do you have any plans to retest the Critical Defense 115gr in calibrated media and/or through denim? I would be really interested to see those results. The 115gr feeds well in my Kimber Solo and has zero recoil. Just don't know about penetration on it.

    1. Plans I have. Time I don't. I've got an ammo can loaded with 9mm and 380 waiting for the time to do an updated 9mm vs. 380 comparison test in the clear gel with denim. I actually did the chrono work on 8 loads earlier this Summer, but have not had the chance to get back to the project.