Thursday, May 2, 2013

Winchester Bonded PDX1 40 S&W 180 Grain JHP Clear Gel Test

Every so often I get a test result that just doesn't make sense.  This is one of those tests.  I think there is some entertainment value in this test, but I don't think it's representative of the expected performance of this Winchester load.  The specific lot number tested was Lot 7 51FEI2.   This specific box was purchased from a large format food and general merchandise retailer I frequently visit

I'm not aware of what takes place during the bonding process at Winchester, but it appears that this specific bullet didn't get properly bonded and the core and jacket separated in some sections, while another section of the bullet appears to be properly bonded.  Very strange indeed.

Test Pistol:
Test Protocol:
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 with the chronograph less than 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density and periodically validated with the standard BB penetration test used with Ordnance Gel.  I shoot the test block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullet.  Immediately prior to shooting the test block, I conduct 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
As I mentioned earlier, this test left me with more questions than answers.  By all indications, I was supposed to be testing the Bonded PDX1 load.  I added two additional pictures that didn't make it into the video so you can see the bullet base does match the recovered rounds in other YouTube video tests of this load.  I'm specifically referencing a previous test by ScubaOz which you can find HERE.

The recovered round looks much more like what you would expect from the Ranger T-Series, which isn't a bonded bullet.  The last picture shows a side by side comparison of what the expected recovered round should look like and the recovered bullet from this test.  One other odd thing I noticed was that one of the 6 petals did appear to be bonded and the core and jacket did not separate.  If you look at the close up pictures of the recovered round, that petal is positioned at 12 O'clock.  

Looking at the performance numbers, the results were outstanding.  Velocity, expansion and penetration were really remarkable when you consider the very short 3 inch barrel length of the test pistol.  The one concern is weight retention.  It's not bad, but the retained weight percentage is lower than we have seen with other tests of bonded bullets.
Pick or Pan? I think there are too many open questions with this test to make this decision.  Since the video went up last night I've had several folks tell me to contact Winchester for their thoughts on the results of this test.  I may send them a link to this blog post and see what they have to say.  

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. Perhaps Winchester loaded 165gr bullets by error. That would explain the recovered weight as well as the higher than expected velocity.

    1. One of the reasons I keep looking for a good 40 S&W load is because the velocity drop off with short barrels is so much less than with 9mm and 45 acp. I was very pleased with the velocity observed with this test, but it didn't meet or exceed the 1025 fps printed on the box.

      I've recovered a few lead chunks from the block that bring the recovered bullet weight to over 165 grains so I don't think they loaded the wrong bullet. I won't be able to recover all the big chunks until I finish shooting the video on the second test round shot into that block.

  2. Bruce-

    That is very odd. It looks like those bullets are in fact not bonded! Looks like core-jacket separation starting to occur. Weird.

  3. Read on your YouTube posting that you had sent the remaining ammo from this box back to Winchester for testing. Glad to hear you went to the trouble to do that and I look forward to not only hearing the results of their testing, but also how they handle this as a company.
    Thanks for your efforts.

    1. any updates?

    2. Not yet, but it's only been a week and a couple of days since they were picked up.

  4. You have a great site with very useful information. The one thing I am confused about is the tests involving bare gelatin. I'm sure it is mixed properly and the tests are repeatable. However, gelatin is a tissue substitute and the tissue we would have to fire upon would normally be clothed. I would think the tests would all include 1-2 layers of clothing (denim works well)to represent what a bullet would normally encounter.

  5. did you ever get an answer back, also I just got a Springfield xd40 sub as you know it has a 3 inch barrel in your opinion what is the best self defense round to use in summer, winter or all the time?

    1. Yes, they sent me two boxes of PDX1 165 grain to replace the 180 grain. I just tested the PDX1 165 grain last week (March 10, 2014) and it did really well. I'm still looking for a good all weather ammo solution for the 3" 40 so I can't answer your question yet. Still too much to test.