Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Winchester Ranger 40 S&W 165 Grain Bonded JHP Gel Test

I would like to start out with a word of thanks to Fred for donating the ammunition for this test.  Fred is a long time follower of the blog and a fan of the Winchester Ranger Bonded line of ammunition. Fred previously provided samples of 9mm +P 124 Grain Ranger Bonded which we tested HERE.

The Winchester Ranger Bonded line competes with the Federal Tactical Bonded, Speer Gold Dot, and Remington Golden Saber Bonded lines of ammunition.  Bonded bullets are manufactured with a process that bonds the copper or brass jacket to the lead core of the bullet.  This manufacturing process creates a "tougher" bullet that is less likely to fragment when passing through barriers like wallboard, automobile glass, and mild steel.  Bonded bullets are frequently used by many law enforcement agencies that may encounter these barriers in their work. 

Test Pistol Specs:
Kahr PM40  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:

publishes a velocity of 1140 fps for this load when fired from a 4" barrel.  As we expected, our velocity was lower due to the 3" barrel used in the test.  We still hit just over 1000 fps across the sample of shots recorded during this test.

All Ranger Bonded loads I've seen so far can be described as having a very shallow hollow point cavity.  I was actually surprised by the complete and symmetrical expansion of the recovered bullet from this test.  At the reduced velocity, I wasn't expecting the petals to peel all the way back to the bullet shank.  The test shot average expansion was 38% larger than its original .40" starting diameter before expansion.

Weight Retention:
Bonded bullets are less prone to fragmentation during the stress of terminal contact and expansion.  The clear gel used for this test provides an optimal test bed to view best case terminal performance and weight retention.  Our recovered round weighed 165.6 grains, which indicates 100+% weight retention.  I didn't see any media stuck under the folded back jacket petals so I have to believe this specific bullet weighed more than 165 grains before it entered the gel block.  

With a velocity of over 1000 fps, fairly heavy weight of 165 grains, and modest expansion it wasn't surprising to see bullet penetration of greater than 16 inches in this test.  On my first attempt to test this load, I didn't have anything backing up the gel block and that bullet was lost.  For the second attempt, I had a phone book behind the block and we caught the bullet just as it pierced the end of the block.   
The calculated energy of the test shot was 371 ft/lbs.  This is about 100 ft/lbs less than the published muzzle energy, but this is easily explained by the lower velocity of our test shot.

Wrap Up:
Overall, I was impressed by the performance of this load.  As with all short barrel tests, we never really know what performance we'll see from ammunition designed to perform in service length barrels.  The modest expansion, deep penetration, and exemplary weight retention may make this load a good choice in cold weather months when clothing barriers are at their thickest.  I've got enough sample ammunition left to test this one again with a Heavy Clothing Stress Test.  If it performs similarly in the stress test, I would consider this load for cold weather carry.

Pick or Pan:
For now this is a conditional pick until stress tested.

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. .40 Smith & WINCHESTER (it was,after all,a collaboration between S&W and Winchester,and not just a S&W thing,lets give credit where its due) is very good in short barrels.
    Unlike .45acp,it has higher operating pressure,and unlike 9 para,it can have very good cross sectional density- both of which increase the physics potential for penetration- something we need to be aware of when we choose to carry smaller guns with shorter barrels.

    The only down side?

    Increased recoil.

    same chamber pressures as 9mm,but more mass like a .45......

    I have a Bersa made minifirestorm chambered in .40,it can be quite snappy depending on the load,but its not "uncontrollable".It is my favorite carry weapon.

    Hows that kahr handle for you?

    1. The Kahr carries like a dream. When shooting it's important to remember that you will be fighting muzzle rise and twist to the left. I'm still working on mastering the twist. I've also found my PM40 to be very picky with the ammo it will feed reliably.

    2. The Bersa-made minifirestorm .40 is a little bigger then the khar,but is still just a little bigger then the CZ82 I used to carry.It'll eat anything and carries a 10 + 1 payload,but is still bigger and heavier then the keltec P11 that I prefer to carry because of size/weight issues.

      To be honest,I've never considered carrying a pistol the size of the P11 chambered in anything but 9x19 because of recoil issues.

  2. Bruce - I was wondering if you knew of anyone who has done the ballistic tests on this round in a full size pistol?

    Love your site. Great information.

    1. Not to my knowledge, but check tnoutdoors9 on YouTube. I still have ammo left so I may get back to this one again later down the road.

  3. Did you get around to testing this round from the pm40, in the heavy clothing test?

    1. Not yet. I think I'm out of Ranger 165 grain Bonded. I'll have to check and see.