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Disturbing bullet test results

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Commander Keen, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Commander Keen

    Commander Keen

    Aug 6, 2009
    Edmond, OK
    I recently jumped in to the 9mm side of shooting (having always been a .45 guy), and decided to conduct some informal ballistics tests using 124 gr Gold dots and 127 gr +p+ Ranger T's.

    I first lined up 8 one-gallon milk jugs which were filled with water, then placed a once-folded denim pants leg in front of the lead jug for use as a barrier material. I then paced off 7 yards, and fired my first Ranger T from my new gen4 G17. The round completely penetrated 6 jugs, exiting the bottom-left corner of jug 6, making recovery impossible.

    After this, I repeated the same procedure (8 jugs, 4 layers of demin in front, 7 yards) 5 times with nearly the same results (occasionally the bullet would be lost after penetrating the 5th jug), before switching to the Gold Dots. The Gold Dots had exactly the same results.

    Somewhat perplexed by my findings (or lack thereof) I decided to remove the denim from the front of the jugs. I fired another 3 Ranger T's and 3 Gold dots, which each settled neatly into the bottom of the 3rd jug while looking much like the pictures we've all seen online and in advertisements.

    The only conclusion I can come up with for the over-penetration of the first rounds I tested is that they simply didn't expand properly through the denim, which is something of a concern. I know this test was very informal, but I was expecting performance better than this considering all the good reports I have heard from shooters about these rounds.

    Can anyone tell me where I might have gone wrong with my (admittedly) crude tests, or perhaps should I continue my search for a good 9mm home defence round?

    (And yes, I know that's alot of milk jugs. My wife and I along with my parents and inlaws have been saving them for some time.)
  2. Merkavaboy

    Merkavaboy Code-7A KUZ769

    To put it simply: Jugs of water ain't human beings.

    I use only ammo that has a proven record of working well on the streets on real human beings.

    9mmP: Federal (or Winchester) 115+P+ JHP. (I would use Speer Gold Dot 124+P or Winchester Ranger T-Series SXT 127+P+ if I had to).

    38Spl: 158+P SWCHP by Fed, Win or Rem. (Speer Gold Dot 125+P or 135+P if I had to).

    357Mag: 125SJHP by Fed, Rem or Win.

    45ACP: (if I were ever to carry my Colt Combat Commander again) Federal 230 Hydra-Shok or Win Ranger T-Series 230SXT.

  3. Blast

    Blast 'nuff said

    Aug 2, 2002
    NKY/Cincinnati area
    It could be the denim clogged the bullet cavity. That can have an effect on expansion.
  4. Perhaps the denim was very dirty, filled the hollow points with material and dirt and prevented expansion! Just a thought.
  5. mitchshrader

    mitchshrader Deceased

    Jun 14, 2005
    Handguns are lousy at instant stops just because individual bullet performance varies and the size and shape of the attacker varies. If you want the best odds you can get, follow the above advice and use the known stoppers.

    Don't try to reinvent the wheel, practice with your carry ammo if at all possible, or at least the closest ballistically that you can afford. And PRACTICE.

    The guy who shoots twice a week has a real edge over the guy who shoots twice a month, and the guy who can shoot a box or two any day of the week doesn't GET rusty.

    Do you REALLY want to bet your attacker practices less than you do?

    How *much* do you want to bet?

    Because no ammo comes with a guarantee of winning a gunfight, and dedicated trigger time is way bigger than fancy bullets.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  6. 167


    Oct 27, 2008
    Denim will increase penetration because it slows expansion. Since none of the rounds fired through denim were recovered it is hard to say if they expanded or not, but I would guess they did, at least a little. Both of those rounds are known performers, could potentially be a bad lot, but I doubt it. Don't lose confidence.

    This is sound advice we should all heed. Bullets WILL fail, even the best ones. We must anticipate and overcome that failure. Fights are won before they ever start by getting good training, not after they start.
  7. voyager4520

    voyager4520 -----

    Apr 25, 2009
    SE Colorado
    Hollow point + clogged cavity = FMJ.

    It's something bullet designers have been working on, Glaser PowerBall and Hornady Critical Defense try to remedy it with their polymer-filled HP cavities but it doesn't always work.

    Over-penetration would be my only worry. The only thing an HP serves to do better than an FMJ besides over-penetration is a bigger wound cavity, which would cause more bleeding but not in enough time to immediately stop an attacker. If you want to immediately stop an attacker, shoot into a vital area.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  8. Nothing man-made is 100% reliable,bullets or otherwise.We choose the best proven manstoppers,practice practice practice,and pray that the day never comes when we have to shoot.
  9. glocknbruce


    Mar 7, 2010

    i would not worry about the results you got shooting milk jugs....

    the gold dot and ranger bullets have flattened more felons than innocent milk jugs....

    and for the record i carry the Ranger +p+ in my G19, and am not worried one bit about its performance in milk jugs
  10. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    And neither are gel blocks. WHile I would not be put off by the informal testing, it doesn't give one confidence. Do enough such tests & things like that will happen. Kind of like real world shootings. Sometimes the best bullets fail to perform like gel block test bullets.:dunno: One reason I still like the 45, it's always at least that big. Yeah, shot placement is king, but bigger bullets, bigger holes can only help things along.:supergrin:
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  11. Commander Keen

    Commander Keen

    Aug 6, 2009
    Edmond, OK
    I know there isn't a perfect jhp, and that my little test doesn't really mean much but it really doesn't inspire much confidence. If my fancy hollow points choose not to expand, I may as well stick with some that are already .45 caliber..
  12. Dogguy


    Aug 2, 2008
    Soggy South.
    I agree with Merkavaboy in that results in jugs of water are no indication of the performance of the ammunition in human flesh, bone and viscera. I think it was Remington that once issued the blanket statement that testing ammunition by shooting it into water proved nothing and only wasted ammunition. Ammunition companies perform tests with gelatin and barriers and then they interpret the results in respect to performance in flesh. In other words, even results from tubs of gelatin ain't the same as shooting human beings. That's one of the reasons self defense trainers emphasize bullet placement over bullet type and bullet size.
  13. ColCol


    Apr 15, 2010
    Years ago I wanted to check on bullet performance in a 357 vs 45 scenario. I had bought about 30 pounds or so of modeling clay and proceeded to make a block out of it about eight inches square and roughly from recollection, about sixteen inches long. That was my ballistic gelatin back then.

    The entrance hole was humongous in both calibers...maybe about 4-5 inches in diameter. Wanting to see the results inside, I decided to pour plaster of Paris inside, let it harden and then tear away the clay for reforming later. It looked like what you see in ballistic gel-tornado shaped with the entrance hole much larger than the spent end. It proved very little except to let me know both bullets would expand in clay and leave an awful wound channel. What it would do in other media is left to the imagination, but; it was fun, anyway.
  14. JW1178


    Jul 17, 2009
    Well, next set of bullet test I do I am going to put a t-shirt and maybe a jacket over the jugs to be more realistic, because hardly nobody wears denim over their upper torso area. This multi-layer denim I understand is to make a worse case scenereo, but it takes from the realisim.
  15. AJSully421

    AJSully421 Armed Citizen

    Apr 19, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I have often wondered about this... who wears 4 jean jackets?

    The new test should be layers consisting of a football or basketball jersey, a red or blue bandanna, and a starter jacket.:whistling:
  16. Blast

    Blast 'nuff said

    Aug 2, 2002
    NKY/Cincinnati area
    Well I guess to get more realistic results, find a fresh large animal roadkill or buy a side of beef or whole hog.:dunno:
  17. ColCol


    Apr 15, 2010
    Or visit the local stock yard. Maybe they'll let you do in a few cattle before slaughter.
  18. frank_drebin

    frank_drebin 1-man flash mob

    Jan 15, 2009
    But what if he has 4 polo shirts with flipped collars?

  19. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Even wetpack works better than water IMO. I use water logged phone books, throw a denim pant leg over them. Results are very repeatable & exp compares well to gel blocks, w/ about 3/4 less penetration.:dunno: Bottom line, if it won't expand in water or wetpack, it certainly won't in flesh. Now if you had access to a room temp pig carcass, throw a denim jacket on that bad boy & go to work.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  20. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002
    it's really simple OP. Some hollow points clog and then act some what like FMJ and you end up with tremendous penetration, sometimes tremendous penetration LOSS depending on bullet design, (which is good news to me, the penetration "gain") as I need a round that penetrates like crazy. When you did not use your denem material you saw the true nature of the penetration of your rounds. Rangers and gold dots are good ammo to be sure, but in all my test I have seen poor performance with the 127gr +P+.

    The 147 gr GD and the 147gr Ranger bonded, and 147gr XTP, will give you great penetration, and some expansion as well. This is through a looooot of testing and through all kinds of medias, not just water, or jello blocks. ;)

    Even for those who like watching this guy on You Tube who always shoots through jugs of water and news paper, he only gets 11-12 " max out of the 127gr ranger +P+. It is not worth the extra recoil and muzzle flip (which is no biggie to me, but is real big to some) to only get 11" penetration in jugs.

    You have got to factor in hiting an arm, and or bone, and perhaps an oblique (sp) angle shot, and "still get to the organs that are vital to put down the BG and end the threat."

    14-16" penetration is really the place of grace 'desirable' for a particular bullet/caliber/load, to at least give one the confidence that should their bullet have to travel through an arm and perhaps even contact bone there, it will, 'and then' still go 12 -14 " till it hits the body, and that could be at an angle, and it still needs to travel on through muscle grissle and bone and hollow and solid organs to get to the right spot to end the threat.

    I reccomend you try 147gr bullets from Winchester in their new PDX1 offering. Or 147gr Gold Dots, 147gr Ranger bonded, or 147gr Hornady XTP's . I truly believe you will find a tremendous difference, and find just what you are looking for. This is my "suggestion" to you. It has worked for me and others, and I do believe if you will give these a try and test them, you will find one or more of these I've suggested to be just the ticket for you. ;)

    Good luck
    Good shooting

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010