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Winchester PDX1 230gn .45acp Water Test

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Joshua M. Smith, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Joshua M. Smith

    Joshua M. Smith Shootist

    Mar 17, 2005
    Wabash IN
    Saturday, Jan 22nd, 2010
    3pm to 5pm, 43°F +/-

    Tested: Winchester 230gn PDX1, factory load
    Bullet Type: Hollowpoint, bonded
    Factory Claimed Velocity: 920fps
    Test Weapon: Personalized/modified 1911

    Yesterday I picked up some Winchester 230gn PDX1 in .45acp.
    Well, the packaging is impressive…

    I test ammunition before I carry it, both for function in the weapon and terminal performance.

    The hollowpoint is impressive.
    … wide and fairly shallow hollow point…

    This bullet is reminiscent of the Black Talon, and from what I’m given to understand, is a direct descendent of that line.

    But how does it perform? The FBI has selected it in .40 S&W as their primary duty round, and it was manufactured to their specifications – namely, it is bonded to better penetrate barriers, and I’m assuming a few other tweaks were made.

    I dug my test box from the snow and filled it up with water jugs.
    Most are familiar with my standard setup by now.

    The standard setup is five, one gallon jugs filled with water with the front covered with four layers of denim.

    Now, I’ve been described by some as “an excitable boy.” I will concede this point today. I forgot the fifth jug, grabbing my hearing protection and camera on the way out. I decided to shoot without the fifth jug as every .45acp hollowpoint I’ve tested to date has stopped somewhere in the fourth jug.

    Big mistake. It blew through the fourth jug and departed for parts unknown – thought eh furthest it could have gotten was to the berm at the 100 yard mark. It most likely ended up in a tree, however.

    So, aching from a fall down into the creek earlier when the undercut bank gave way (physical therapy said don’t just sit around, so I had to set up some 100 yard targets!), I set everything up again.
    The shot…

    The first jug launched off the platform, the second was hurting, the third was shredded like wheat, the fourth had a couple holes in it, and the fifth

    … EPIC FAIL…

    … contained the under expanded bullet, base forward.

    That was disconcerting; I wonder if the FBI knows about this?

    This called for another test, one without the four layers of denim in place.

    The effect upon the jugs was much the same.


    The fully expanded bullet stopped in the third jug.

    Better, but I was expecting the fourth jug to contain the bullet.

    This was equivilant to about 9” of gelatin penetration, give or take a couple inches.

    Upon comparison, you can see the unexpanded bullet did begin to open just a bit, but ran out of steam to do so.


    First, it hurts to fall down a bank into icy water. Don’t do it, especially if you’re recovering from an already-injured back. If you do do this, don’t conduct bullet tests afterward.

    Second, the PDX1 is not any more impressive than other ammunition, and less impressive than some. It is reminiscent, to me at least, of the performance exhibited by the original Hydra-Shok 230gn loading: Expansion is good until that four layers of denim is introduced.*

    However, I do like the Hydra-Shok for this reason: In a Northern Indiana winter, we normally wear thick clothing. In my part of the state, thick hunting or Carhart coats are common. I have therefore actively sought out the old style Hydra-Shok in anticipation of it clogging with clothing and providing needed penetration.

    The PDX1 seems to act the same way, but it also seems to tumble. I have never seen ball or a clogged bullet blow water-filled jugs off the test bench like this did, so something was happening, anyway.

    Weapon function proved one malfunction – a failure to fully extract. When I built this pistol, I left the stock extractor in there and it works well with all ammo but Winchester. I adjusted the extractor a bit tighter and my function test magazines worked flawlessly. I will, however, be ordering a new extractor!

    Recoil was brusque, and muzzle flash was not evident. My practice rounds are 230gn LRN over 5.2gn BE powder (this is a bit over max listed; use with caution), and they feel very much alike. I am guessing a powder similar to Win231 was used.

    I do like this round, though my “perfect” handgun round would penetrate into the fifth jug and expand to over one inch. I don’t think the PDX is worth the hype, and I wouldn’t mind if they toned down that box a bit, but it seems to work and shoot well.


    *I encountered this same phenomena with Hornady TAP 230gn +P. Must be a .45acp thing.
  2. DRT


    May 6, 2001
    Try some 230gr +P HST. I think you'll like the results through clothing much better.

    By the way, when DOCGKR tested the 180gr .40 bonded Ranger (same basic thing as PDX1). 50% expanded through clothing and the other 50% didn't (or only expanded very marginally). See attached link.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010

  3. ajstrider

    ajstrider Silent Warrior

    Apr 17, 2005
    Western Kentucky
    I appreciate your bullet testing, but maybe you need to try more than just one or two shots through the clothing? I don't think any bullet will perform as wanted 100% of the time, and you need to try more experiments to figure out a percentage of expansion vs failure.
  4. 82ndVet


    Dec 15, 2008
    Canton, GA
    Thanks for sharing your experiment. I conducted a test on a few rounds Friday, PDX1 being one of them. Setup was similar to yours, but only a sweatshirt in front of first jug. My impression was similar to what I quoted above.
  5. hotpig

    hotpig IAFF Local 4766 CLM

    A few years ago I asked a retired friend of mine to help me set up some back yard ammo testing. I figured his years of working in Winchesters R&D shooting things would be a big help.

    He put it in perspective for me. The big guys spend millions on developing and testing ammo. Shooting thousands of rounds and doing what they had to do took the fun out of it. Everything had to be precise and always calibrated. Once a round was released for sale the shooting data from the real world also had to be analyzed to see if improvements are needed.

    I thought he had a fun job. Shooting 40 hours per week and making very good money doing it. He said that it was not fun 99% of the time.

    He said that my back yard tests were kind of silly but it would be easier to recover bullets this way instead of digging them out of a dirt back stop. Recovered bullets may or may not resemble the bullets that we see in real shootings or mfg ads. After all no manufacturer makes ammo designed to kill water jugs or wet newspaper.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  6. DRT


    May 6, 2001
    Yet another reason to not go bonded at pistol velocities.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  7. Brucev


    Jul 19, 2009
    Just an observation, but from what I've been able to learn, I've concluded that bonded bullets generally offer greater penetration but less expansion while non-bonded designs offer greater expansion with sometimes slightly less penetration. If one anticipates the need to shoot through car bodies and doors, a bonded bullet would be a good choice. But if one in primarily selecting a bullet for SD/HD where the main concern is stopping a criminal assailant, then a non-bonded bullet that will offer more rapid expansion would be a good choice. JMHO. Sincerely. Brucev.
  8. DRT


    May 6, 2001
    Heavy for the caliber .40 & .45 HSTs don't have an issue maintaining bullet integrity when shooting through FBI barriers including sheet steel and auto glass. They are far superior at maintaining their integrity than non-bonded bullets from even just a few years ago.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  9. glocksterr

    glocksterr DirtyGlockHippy

    Aug 10, 2008
  10. novaDAK


    Apr 17, 2006
    The newer stuff that's boxed as PDX1 (and the equiv. Ranger) is supposed to be reworked to be more reliable through clothing after the initial reports of spotty expansion. Ranger Bonded 180gr is still on DOCGKR's list of recommended carry loads. S&W
  11. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002

    I meant to get with ya the other day and had no time. Please allow me in a freindly way with no malice or attacking in any way to explain a thing or two to ya that may help... #1 I am not selling WW ammo, I am not using it as a 'Pet load" and have NO agenda... Dang I use 230gr FMJ in my 45acp. ;)

    With this out of the way, just some real facts here ok...

    First of all I do truly understand that not every one can shoot into media out side of wet packs and water jugs. They are fun to shoot as I well know and been there and done that. But it is not going to tell you a real world truth concerning said bullet what soever. It just is not.

    Getting to cases here. Glad ya had fun, sorry you were hurt and fell into the creek. Been there two Ouch !

    The 45PDX1 230gr, that you shot into the jugs. First off again, not a even remotely a good test. #2 The bullet that you had end up in the far back jug, 'facing butt forward," as YOU said, means nothing at all Nothing.

    The thing that happens soooo many times in these test are like throwing a penny in a 55 gallon barrel of water. It mave have went in a lightening speed even, but as it slows waay down it flips and spins and turns then lands, even though it went in heads, it landed on tails..

    When you fire into numerous jugs of water as you did, some times, by the time the bulet gets to the last jug you could have had your hand down in there and stopped it, in the cases where it did not try to punch through especially. Even if it made a dent in the far rear water jug it would not have been any worse than a painball strike on the hand..

    Point being. At times, when a slug gets to the last water jug in the case as where you had a good deal of water jugs there, that bullet easily as it drifts to the bottom of the jug ready for retrieval, it can easily flip or turn, and then you see it and say WOW it was butt first. This happens to people at times and they start getting a sour feeling toward a other wise good round.

    Next. I was on the phone today with afriend of mine from the ammo department at WW who called me. I had a question for my friend about a bullet for a fellow GT'er friend of mine on here, and the question went back a good many years and we needed some answers. I was discribing to him about your situation (above), and also that you "felt" and or heard, some of the loads not sound the same or feel the same when fired and have an over all not really great experience them the PDX 1.

    He agreed with me 100% on the water jug wet pack test as not being realistic, and we talked about many things. He knows and understands that although they (WW) is stuck with using 10% jello, (which like me he is not crazy about either), they have to run their course there in such a way as do most every manufacturers.

    He suggested you call him at WW 1800-356-2666. His name is ART. He is a friend of mine and we do not noramally give out names, and as a favor to him and me in the situation. fellas please do not swamp him with calls. But Joshua M. Smith Art really does want you to call, because of your experiences, ALL of them on your post. Just do not happen with this round... He wants to get some info from you and have you send him the rest of the ammo in question, and talk with ya a bit as well. He was truly floored to hear this. He IS NOT one of those rep flake guys like so many unfortunately are. He is solid, and a great friend and very good at what he does.

    If you will just call him, and tell him a friend told you to call concerning your experiences with the 45acp 230gr PDX1, water jugs, not shooting right ets, and that your friend (me) spoke to him (Art) on Monday about this situation, 'and' about some 147gr WWB JHP's as well... That will refresh his memory to the max (if you do it soon), and then go from there... This part is important for you to say to get "in.' ;)

    Just trying to help ya Hoss, not make ya buy into something. I got nothing for ya to buy into. Oh yeah I also mentioned that you (my friend) or some one here said that they (PDX1) shot with real lousy accuracy as well... mention that to him as well. As I said this knocked him out when I told him this, because of the fact they have had 0% problems with this round going out to the FBI and are behind schedule on production.

    Again, I started to chime in the other day, but had no time. I know you did what you could on your test. My hat is off to you for wanting to try and learn, and getting out of the creek (if that was you). ;)

    But these test (sorry) although fun. Tell nothing about real world shootings. And remember what I shared with ya about the water bottles, a bullet through that many of them and NOT punching throught the last one due to MAJOR VEL LOSS, can drift and swagger, and flip a tad and land in a weird position. Another reason these test are not the best way to test ammo.

    Again. DO not take this in offence. It is NOT meant that way at all.

    Give him a call. There is much more to share but I really gotta go. Had ya on my mind amigo so wanted to help ya some. Let me/us know, what Art has for ya. I already know, but you need to let him tell ya..

    Good shooting

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010