Thursday, April 10, 2014

Winchester Ranger 40 S&W 180 Grain Bonded JHP Multi Shot Terminal Test

Thanks again to blog reader Justin D. for the assist in securing the ammunition for this test.
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:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
180 grain weight 40 S&W loads are on the heavy side of available 40 S&W ammunition.  Add another five grains and you are bumping up against the lower weight 185 grain 45 Auto bullet weights.  It takes a significant velocity for a bullet to upset and expand when fired through 4 layers of heavy denim.  Faster loads tend to do better in the denim test than slower loads.  We have seen this when testing standard pressure against +P loads in 9mm and 45 Auto.

Since 40 S&W doesn't have a SAAMI specification for +P, I was really curious to see if the Ranger Bonded 180 grain load would do better in the denim test than the Ranger Bonded 165 grain load reviewed last week.  You can find that test HERE.  Unfortunately, it also failed the denim test.

The bare gel and light clothing test results were very good.  The test shots expanded to greater than 1.5 times their starting diameter, retained most of their starting weight, and easily penetrated past the 12" minimum.

All 9 shots, that were part of this test, fell short of the 1025 published velocity even though we tested in a similar 4" test barrel.  The shortfall wasn't large, but it is worth mentioning.

Pick or Pan:
I really liked the performance of this load in the bare gel and light clothing test shots.  On the other hand, the failures to expand in the denim test are concerning.  It may be worth testing the Winchester PDX1 180 grain version of this load before panning this one.     

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. So penetration and expansion are greater when velocity is less and the jacket peels off?!

  2. Quite simply I think the Winchester Ranger tests are showing this particular bullet regardless of weight aren't as good as the competing rounds like the Speer, Golden Sabers, etc.