Thursday, February 21, 2013

Liberty Ammunition Halo Point 9mm Clear Gel Test

Earlier this week I introduced you to Liberty Ammunition and the Halo Point Civil Defense product line.  Rather than rehash that information, I'll just point you to the 40 S&W test recap if you want to read up a bit on Liberty Ammunition and the concept behind the Halo Point products.  In this article we will be looking at the 9mm Halo Point load.  I do want to make note of one key difference between the previously tested 40 S&W and the 9mm featured in this article.  The 9mm packaging states that it is:  "Designed for use with firearms rated for +p ammunitions."

A note of thanks to the folks at Ammunition Depot for supplying the samples for this test.

Test Pistol Specs:
Kahr PM9 with 3" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block that measures approximately 6" x 6" x 16" and weighs approximately 16 lbs.  I take the test shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured less than 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullet.  Immediately prior to shooting the block, I take a 5 shot velocity test over a ProChrono Digital chronograph.

Test Results:
The test results are summarized in the data sheet below along with a close up shot of the recovered bullet.

Video documentation of the entire test from range through bullet recovery is available below.  The high definition video is best viewed on YouTube, but you can also view it here.

My Thoughts on This Load:
I had to dig back in the archives, but I finally located a previous 9mm test with a conventional hollow point that generated virtually identical energy as our Halo Point 9mm test shot.  As we saw in the previous Halo Point 40 S&W test, the energy transfer from the bullet to the block is quite different than with a conventional hollow point bullet.  We again saw a massive round stretch and fragmentation cavity followed by the tail of the bullet base as it progressed down through the block.
Liberty Halo Point 9mm - 328 ft/lbs of Energy
Speer Gold Dot 9mm +p 124 Grain - 327 ft/lbs of Energy
I have no comment on the advantages or dis-advatages of either bullet design or expansion signature captured in the block.  My goal is simply to provide you with a visual representation of what the terminal effect looks like as each bullet passes down through the Clear Ballistics gel block.

Velocity and Energy:
As we have seen in other 9mm tests, the short barrel used for this test had a big impact on velocity.  The 5 shot velocity average registered almost 200 ft/second slower than the published 2000 ft/second for this load.  As sometimes happens, our terminal test shot ended up being the slowest shot of the test and came in almost 300 ft/second slower than the advertised velocity.

With the lower velocity, we also saw reduced energy.  In order for this 50 grain bullet to make the 500 ft/lbs of energy published on the box, velocity would need to be 2125 ft/second.  That may be possible in a service length barrel and is worthy of a retest in a longer barrel.  I did notice the website lists 450 ft/lbs of energy for this load.  I feel that the 450 ft/lbs is more realistic with this bullet weight.

I hate to keep referencing back to the 40 S&W test, but we did not see such a dramatic difference in velocity or energy with the short barrel 40 S&W test.  All other 40 S&W I have tested in the past seems to suffer less velocity loss in shorter barrels.  It appears that the same holds true for this load.

Fragmentation and Weight Retention:
I recovered 8 fragments and the bullet base from the gel block.  I believe I recovered all the pieces, but I may have missed one since the combined total recovered weight came in at 48.6 grains or 97.2%.

Penetration depth of the bullet base was 9.875 inches.  The website information on this round claims 12 inches of penetration when tested in the industry standard test barrel length.  Again, I think the shorter barrel length was a significant contributing factor to the reduced penetration depth observed in this test.

Wrap Up:
As I wrote up the articles on the 9mm and 40 S&W tests, I had the chance to really look into the details I had captured on video.  The picture below shows the gel block at rest after absorbing the 40 S&W test shot.  It's a unique view that I didn't pick up on immediately because I had to enlarge a section of the video frame to really see the detail.  What surprised me in the picture was the uniform distribution of the fragments as they branched out from the central wound channel.  For reference, remember that the block is 6 inches wide. 

One other point I wanted to mention that wasn't obvious to me at first.  The Kahr PM40 holds 6 rounds.  The 6 rounds of Hornady Critical Duty 175 grain 40 S&W ammunition I was carrying weigh 3.4 ounces.  If I replaced those rounds with Halo Point 40 S&W, total ammunition weight is reduced to 1.9 ounces.  That's a 44% reduction in weight and would be even more noticeable in a higher capacity pistol like a Glock 27.  Weight savings in the 7 round PM9 loadout was 39% when compared to conventional 9mm 124 grain loads.

I really enjoyed testing the Halo Point ammunition because it is so different than anything I have previously tested.  I'm looking forward to reading the test results of others and also circling back with a long barrel test at some point in the future.  There is a 45 ACP version of this load available, but was not available at the time the testing was conducted.  

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. I believe the actual pressure testing revealed lower chamber pressures because of the lighter bullet weight. My question is whether there might be trouble cycling the slide with a particular weapon.

  2. The 9mm package does specify that the ammo should only be used in 9mm +P rated firearms so it's running pressures to those levels. Always required to test in your specific firearm before trusting any ammunition. What works in my test pistol may or may not work in yours.

  3. Would be great to this tested in a Glock 17, and even a Glock 34 if available

    1. Here ya go.