Unintentional Ammo Test: Interesting Results

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by lagerbrewer, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. lagerbrewer

    lagerbrewer New Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    I have a small bullet trap that I built in the basement. It's 1/4" steel with sandbags. I use it for testing out the P3AT now and then so I don't have to go all the way to the range to pop off a few rounds.

    I shot some DPX many weeks ago before switching to Remington Golden Sabres after a very in depth bullet test one of the members did on here. (GS came out on top) Anyhoo, I found an old complete box of Federal Hydrashok's in 9MM in my safe and decided to shoot them with a Smith & Wesson model 39 pistol I have. I've also shot some crap .22's into the trap over the weeks that I had these sandbags in there.

    The sandbags were getting pretty torn up so I decided to replace them. I started finding rounds and decided to keep looking through the sand. What I found was strange. So you have the following rounds all shot into the same sandbags:

    Remington Golden Sabre .380
    Cor-Bon DPX .380
    Generic .22 HP's
    Federal Hydrashok 9MM

    The .22's had no problem expanding...

    The Hydrashok's made these beautiful mushrooms:

    The Cor-Bon DPX:

    The Golden Sabres:

    So I know we're comparing apples and oranges here since while the 9MM's are the same caliber as the .380's, they have a hell of a lot more powder behind them. Also barrel lengths are different and therefore velocity (also varied from the different powder charge of course) but shouldn't these .380's be expanding??? I'm no ballistics expert by any stretch of the imagination, but since they are lighter, wouldn't that account for the lower velocity and result in an expansion? Heck the crap-o .22's did a magnificient job. Any input here is welcome.

  2. doubloon

    doubloon New Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    Houston-ish, TX
    No expert either but here's my impressions.

    Lighter bullets usually == higher velocity not lower. Usually higher velocity == more dramatic expansion, sometimes to the point of disintegration.

    Expansion is, in general, a function of fluid dynamics, it's powered by hydraulics. While sand is not exactly solid it's not exactly a fluid either. I don't know that expansion results from rounds fired into sand is exactly a reliable metric.

  3. wheelguy

    wheelguy New Member

    May 4, 2007
    I think you have yet another example of HydroShok's claim to fame. Their HP design has a little post sitting in the middle of the hollow area whose job it is to prevent stuff from clogging up the hollow point tip.

    It's been known for some time that HP might become clogged with clothing, bone, wood, etc and that this clogging prevents them from expanding. It's not known exactly what type of stuff causes clogging, but I'd guess that sand would be near the top of the list.

    This is exactly the reason why I tested Buffalo Bore with its gold dot bullet by shooting through denim and pork ribs before deciding to carry this type of bullet in this high power load.

  4. doubloon

    doubloon New Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    Houston-ish, TX
    Did you test any PowrBall which essentially comes preloaded with it's own "fluid" ... the polymer tip?
  5. BamaShooter

    BamaShooter New Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    In the past to test expansion, I would shoot into a shoebox filled with dirt. I have always got consistent results. I have found the number one reason for the failure to expand. The last three .380 rounds I tested were Cor Bon Pow'R Ball, Cor Bon DPX, and Hornady XTP. The Pow'R Ball expanded well, but the DPX and XTP did not. No shocker in the XTP, but I was shocked the DPX did not. With a closer inspection, I pulled a small circular piece of cardboard from inside the HPs cavity. When the round punctures the box, it gets plugged by this tiny piece of cardboard, preventing it from expanding. The same can happen with clothing I assume. I am currently carrying Federal Hydra Shok. Until I can find some more Pow'R Ball that is.
  6. pocketgun

    pocketgun New Member

    May 4, 2005
    All rounds have copper jackets except two:  the DPX which is solid copper, and the .22LR which has a very thin copper "wash" plating.  So my guess would be the copper is to blame as it is harder than lead.
  7. Ape

    Ape New Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    Very interesting and eye opening test mousegun! Even if it was unintentional? ;) I make absolutely no claims to having knowledge of ballistics so I tend to be the type of guy who buys his ammo based on what I read (very little) or by what I think the largest nastiest load I can get my gun to use reliably. And after seeing what you just showed here I'm even more confused!....lol.... And now I'm thinking my range ammo (ball type) or the power ball is the safest bet for all around defense loads? Although the hydrashok's seemed to do well???? Anyways, thanks for furthering my confusion and lack of knowledge of ballistics! lol ;)
  8. lagerbrewer

    lagerbrewer New Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Thanks for everyone's thoughts on this.

    You guys must be right about the HP's getting clogged because they are! Every unexpanded round is packed with sand and burlap fibers. I didn't know that the post on the hydroshok's is for keeping it from being clogged.

    So if I'm hearing you guys right, the HP's expand from hydraulic force exherted inside the hp cavity by substances that are fluid or could act like fluid. Therefore, if the cavity is plugged then they will act like FMJ's because the "fluid" can't enter that space and be pressurized. This unintentional test sure makes me like the hydrashok's design because they expanded perfectly, not just a little, and that in a substance which caused other rounds to fail to expand.

    I guess sand just provided the correct plugging material for the 380's - and a particle size large enough for the post in the hydrashok's to fend off. Makes me wonder why this doesn't always happen with clothing, etc. I know these other bullet manufacturers take that into account in their design.

  9. Old_Bill

    Old_Bill New Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    After reading all the above messages, and having read the many different tests done, ie, wet pack, etc., I'm leaning more and more to caring nothing but FMJ rounds!

    At present I have a Winchester Ranger HP round in the chamber, and then a Remington FMJ round in the clip, then a Ranger HP, and so on, alternating HP's with FMJ rounds. If I can double tap...double tap...double tap..then I might get both expansion and penentration!

    When I think about leather or padded jackets wore in the winter time, I can't help but think that maybe a HP round isn't the best round to be caring for self defence.   

    I remember that in the early days of "bullet proof" vest, we were told that a .22 solid-point round fired through a rifle, at close range. would go through a vest. I guess the bullet was so small that it penetrated by the fabric weave...like the knife blade that killed one of the designer's of a major vest manufacture during a demonstration! No doubt the vests manufactured  today offer much better protection!

    What I'd like to see is some tests done on winter dressed cadavers with .32 and .380 rounds shot at 15 feet! :eek:

    Old Bill
  10. Ape

    Ape New Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    I'm starting to lean in that direction as well Bill. I think your idea of alternating round might not be such a bad idea? And I'd also like to see some testing done as well, but with a large variety of calibers and guns. Then we can see how much mass and velocity play a part, mixed in with the clogging issue?
  11. lagerbrewer

    lagerbrewer New Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Of guys that shoot .380 hydrashok's: where do you buy them? Good place online you can suggest?

  12. wheelguy

    wheelguy New Member

    May 4, 2007
    No, I didn't bother with it since others showed very poor gel test penetration depth. Here's how I'd summarize some of the most favored 380 rounds...

    Federal HS - most reliable
    Remington GS - heaviest hitter
    Buffalo Bore - highest energy
    Corbon DPX - best combined expansion and depth

    Of course, none of this matters if you can't hit the target - so pick what you can shoot best :)
  13. Bobo

    Bobo Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 13, 2005
    That's why the FBI (and others) use ballistic gelatin. Second best (and pretty close to gelatin) is wet pack. Third is real meat and bone (it can vary a lot). Fourth is water jugs (too much water - almost everything expands quite well). Dry stuff is pretty poor to test expansion.

  14. Ape

    Ape New Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    That's why the FBI (and others) use ballistic gelatin. Second best (and pretty close to gelatin) is wet pack. Third is real meat and bone (it can vary a lot). Fourth is water jugs (too much water - almost everything expands quite well). Dry stuff is pretty poor to test expansion.


    That makes sense..... But do they test that expansion with clothing and what not to see if the expansion is changed by having the hollow point clogged????
  15. Sangueffusor

    Sangueffusor New Member

    May 13, 2007
    They put a piece of clothing in front of the testing material.
  16. doubloon

    doubloon New Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    Houston-ish, TX
    Hard ball ammunition is generally considered to have inferior stopping power due to pass-thru and over penetration.

    Pass-thru may be considered by some to be more of a concern than loss of stopping power due to the danger it represents to bystanders, neighbors or loved ones in the next room or even the next house.

    FBI handgun effectiveness.

    FBI publications, October 2004
    One shot drop myth

    FBI terminal ballistic test results

    What is supposed to be the FBI ballistic test protocol (multi-material - multi-barrier)

    The .17-357 RG
    Wouldn't that be fun in a PF-9 platform?
  17. Packer

    Packer Banned

    May 14, 2005
    Did you actually READ this?

    The major conclusions are:

    1. Just making a large but short wound will not stop the assailant.

    2.  Incapacitation can ONLY be accomplished by penetration.

    3. Penetration must be, at the LEAST 12 inches of soft tissue. (Or 12 inches of ballistic gelatin.)

    There are NO expanding .380 loads that will penetrate this far, so FMJ is the ONLY sure load for defense with small calibers.

    Over penetration of small calibers like .380 and .32 is a myth. You are far more likely to hit a bystander with a MISS than a hit.

    This data, plus my own tests, have convinced me to carry DPX interleaved with AE FMJ.

    Monster Wet Newspaper Test:


    Winter/Summer Wetpack Test:


  18. virtual-rj

    virtual-rj New Member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Houston, TX
    enough of the fmj/jhp argument. we all know that no one is going to change any ones mind. carry what you want and feel comfortable with
  19. JFB

    JFB New Member

    Jul 25, 2005
    Impact defromation verese penatration of an object is a function of

    Material strenght of the object, the strenght at the bullet tip is reduced by the geometry, Thin wall section.

    Impact energy, ie how fast it is traveling when it hits and how much weight is behind it.

    stopping resistance
    one extreme, sand
    middle , ballastic gelaten
    other extreme , snow

    Shoot a bullet into snow and it will penatrat the maximun distance, but shape will be the least unaltered
    shoot a bullet into sand and it will flatten out the maximun, but very little penatration
    shoot a bullet into gelatin and you get some penetration and some expansion
  20. doubloon

    doubloon New Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    Houston-ish, TX
    Did you actually READ this?...


    Yes, I read it and I'm not trying to kick up a whole fmj/jhp argument. The statement about over penetration was a general statement since the links provided talk about more than just .380 ammo. Besides, a single statement against "over" penetration should not be taken as a de facto argument *for* "under" penetration.

    Yes, a bystander is more likely to be injured by a miss than a pass thru, I don't understand the need to point out something so obvious and that doesn't mean pass thru injury doesn't happen.

    In other words, I am not advocating "under" penetration, I'm advocating awareness.