Monday, February 8, 2016

Remington Golden Saber Bonded 357 SIG Ammo Test and Review

Remington Golden Saber ammunition has been around for a great many years.  The Golden Saber Bonded line, tested here, is a less common variant that Remington markets to LE agencies.  Packed in 50 round boxes, the bonded line is available in all the popular service calibers and several bullet weights.

Remington describes the Golden Saber Bonded, and the core to jacket bonding process as follows:  "Through an exclusive Remington process, the lead core is hot-bonded to the brass jacket. The result is exceptional weight retention - up to 97% when fire [sic] through automobile glass - while maintaining phenomenal terminal performance when shot through heavy clothing or into bare gelatin. And the bonding process does not cause a reduction in accuracy performance - jacket and core concentricity and resulting gyroscopic balance has been maintained to deliver match-grade accuracy."

I've had good experiences in my previous testing of Golden Saber Bonded in 9mm, so I was very anxious to see if the 357 SIG ammunition would deliver the same performance.

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 has a similar density to 10% ordnance gelatin.  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:

Direct Link to Video on YouTube

My Thoughts on This Load:
Remington doesn't specify the test barrel length used for the velocity specification on their website. In this test, the overall average velocity (1343.3) for 10 shots came in just under the specified 1350 feet per second with some shots exceeding and others falling short of the specification.  I'm certain that a 4.5 inch barrel would easily exceed the specification.

Terminal performance across all test cases was very good.  The first four test shots expanded and came to rest within our 12 to 18 inch optimal penetration window.  The fifth test shot expanded fully, but penetrated to a depth greater than 18 inches.

The Golden Saber Bonded has a very shallow hollow point cavity as compared to the non-bonded Golden Saber.  Remington claims this cavity aids in starting the bullet expansion, but also limits the expansion diameter to assure satisfactory penetration.  Based on the results of this test, the bullets appear to be working exactly as designed.

I was quite surprised when I weighed each recovered bullet and found all maintained 98.9%, or more, of their specified starting weight of 125 grains.  1350 feet per second is quite fast for a handgun round in any caliber and I expected there would be some bullet fragmentation, but that was not the case.  This bullet is tough and showed no signs of fragmentation or core-jacket separation.

As I was numbering the bullets, I had them all lined up in the order of their test sequence.  It was interesting to observe that as the clothing barriers increased, the bullet expansion decreased.  This is visible by the height of each recovered bullet.  As expected, as expansion decreased the penetration depth increased.

Pick or Pan:
The Golden Saber Bonded 357 SIG delivered the most consistent terminal performance I've seen so far in my limited testing of the caliber.  I would certainly consider this load a pick for my ammunition needs.  The only reservation I have is the limited availability of the ammunition.  I like to practice with my carry ammunition.  For practice, I could possibly substitute the less costly Remington UMC 125 Grain FMJ and JHP loads that are both listed at 1350 feet per second.  This would mitigate my ammunition availability concerns while also extending my ammunition budget.

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.