Losing faith in gel tests


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ugaarguy
April 28, 2006, 02:46 AM
Fellow High Roaders,

Some things I've indirectly observed of late have caused me to seriously question ballistic gellatin testing. In the recent "Falling Bullets" episode of the show Myth Busters they are trying to determine how high both a 9mm bullet and also a 30-06 bullet go in the air when fired strait up. Their first attempt was to use how deep said FMJ Bullets went into 10% ballistic gel (90% water) then compare the density of the gel to the density of air and extrapolate the result. Now the falling bullets thing isn't what I'm concerned about. What I'm concerned about is how that 30-06 FMJ round acted in the gel - it disintegrated within six inches. The Myth Busters reasoned that this happened because the gel is 90% water and they got similar results when shooting a variety of high velocity FMJ rounds into water (including 30-06 FMJ) when looking at the shooting into water myth. Now we know from evidence - wars - that FMJ rounds at high velocity tend to either go thru, or tumble within, when shot into a person. They don't disintegrate like in the water and, more notably, 10% ballistic gel tests. So we now have pretty good evidence that ballistic gel isn't an accurate gauge of how a bullet will perform on a person being shot in self defense/ an animal being shot when hunting. Then today I read this post; http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=2411677&postcount=20, by cookekdjr. Now we have another piece of evidence, presented by David, that bullet performance in a human is not the same as in ballistic gel. So, other than conducting a new version of the rumored Strausburg Goat Tests, what do we do? Do we shoot bullets into sluaghtered animal carcasses and compare the resultant wound channels? What does bullet performance in ballistic gel really tell us?

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RyanM
April 28, 2006, 12:19 PM
Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/M193.jpg
http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/M855.jpg

Fragmentation ("disintigration") of M-16 FMJ ammo is extremely well known.

http://www.fen-net.de/norbert.arnoldi/army/wound.html

East German 7.62x51mm (.308 Win) ammo has been observed doing exactly the same thing, in people and in gelatin.

Previous generation hollowpoints like Silvertips and Hydra-Shoks will not expand in clothed gelatin either. Clothing plugs them up and prevents expansion. Modern hollowpoints don't have this problem, and perform almost identically in human tissue and in gelatin.

http://www.btammolabs.com/fackler/winchester_9mm.pdf
These bullets all expanded in humans, and penetrated very close to what they do in gelatin.

Correia
April 28, 2006, 12:23 PM
The actual use of ballistic gel is a little more complicated than what the Mythbusters do also. If I recall correctly, it also needs to be refridgerated to a certain temperature, which makes it harder.

Brother in Arms
April 28, 2006, 12:23 PM
I dont believe in the ballistic gelatin either as its not a human being. Simply put it wont react the same.

Also the older m16 round had a thin jacket and a lead core which helped cause the fragmentation of the jacket separating from the lead. The newer ammunition doesn't do this.

Brother in Arms

dgrolem
April 28, 2006, 12:24 PM
I think this is a serious and important question.

For example, I have talked to several LEOs who have had long careers in high-crime areas. One visited every autopsy of every department shooting over a 20+ year career. His comment was that almost none of the many dozens of hollow points he saw extracted ever expanded unless they hit bone. Most, he claimed, "...looked brand new" with the exception of rifling marks. Yet, ballistics tests in gel show HP expansion nearly every time -- or at least it is implied that they expand every time.

This, and other conversations, leads me to think that gel is not a good surrogate. It is certainly convenient and leads to a large amount of data, but echoing UGAARGUY, is it any good?:confused:

ugaarguy
April 28, 2006, 12:43 PM
Ryan M,

The Third link you cite shows the 7.62 nato round with 58 cm, or 22" of penetration. The shot into the ballistic gel on myth busters achieved almost total fragmentation within 6 inches. The information linked also cites partial fragmentation and more of a tumble. I think I clearly noted that tumbling is normal in my post.


Further, we now another indirect observer, dgrolem, who has heard of similar handgun round results in humans as seen at autopsy by a LEO. Flat out we're getting reports that self defense JHPs are not performing in gelatin like they are in humans. With these reports of lack of expansion we're getting reason to argue toward the 357 Mag, 40 S&W, 45 ACP arguement. 357 Mag to get enough velocity to fragment the smaller bullets; 40 S&W since it has enough velocity to get good penetration and a larger starting bullet diameter; 45 ACP since its amongst the largest diameter rounds that can be practically carried even though it has lower velocity than the first two.

RyanM
April 28, 2006, 12:44 PM
For example, I have talked to several LEOs who have had long careers in high-crime areas. One visited every autopsy of every department shooting over a 20+ year career. His comment was that almost none of the many dozens of hollow points he saw extracted ever expanded unless they hit bone. Most, he claimed, "...looked brand new" with the exception of rifling marks. Yet, ballistics tests in gel show HP expansion nearly every time -- or at least it is implied that they expand every time.

I already said, clothing. Test a Hydra-Shok against gelatin with clothing on it, and maybe some thin leather to simulate skin, and it won't expand. Only the very recent hollowpoints made within the last decade or so will expand reliably through clothing.

ugaarguy
April 28, 2006, 12:54 PM
Ryan M,

I understand on the clothing point clogging the hollow points.

All,
I'm just trying to bring up that there are many variable and ballisti gel, clothed or not, may not be the best performance indicator. However, its the easiest to use medium we have for comparison right now. I also need to make this very clear; although the observations at autopsy showed that the bullets didn't perform in people as they did in gel, these were still observations at autopsy - the people weren't any less dead.

MICHAEL T
April 28, 2006, 01:49 PM
Gelatin not working how about. Bullet catcher wanted. Another job Americans won't do. Sounds like more work for.:D

RyanM
April 28, 2006, 01:55 PM
Check the 4th link. It's a big file, but it does show that modern hollowpoints perform about the same in gelatin as they do in people. That's all autopsy data, from people who were shot and killed by the San Diego PD. Of all 28 shots in the study, none failed to expand. Because they're a modern hollowpoint designed to function through clothing. That study also found that the average penetration was about the same, though with a wider spread in human tissue.

The reason why 99% of hollowpoints don't expand is because 99% of the hollowpoints people are hit with are either low quality or poorly designed. Most shootings are perpetrated by criminals, and criminals get whatever's cheapest. Even private citizens rarely know better. Do a quick poll of what ammo people here carry, and most likely almost half will say Hydra-Shoks. Those people won't have expanding ammo if they ever have to shoot someone, because Hydra-Shoks are not designed to expand through clothing. They were designed more for hard barriers like wood and metal. Soft barriers plug them up.

The reason for the "differences" between gelatin data and real shootings are clothing. That's the only reason. http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs.htm Look at the test data there, and you'll see that all of the previous generation hollowpoints tested, except one, failed to expand through the heavy clothing test (18+" penetration bullet not recovered indicates that the bullet didn't expand and just penetrated like an FMJ). 4 layers of denim is not meant to simulate any one particular garment, it's merely a test of the bullet's engineering. Studies have shown that bullets which expand in gelatin through 4 layers of denim will expand in the street. Like the Winchester 147 gr subsonic JHP.

Actually, given that torso shots and 4 layer denim shots both usually result in less expanded diameter than water or bare gelatin shots, 4-layer denim gelatin is probably a much more accurate indicator of a bullet's real performance, than bare gelatin is.

Shawn Dodson
April 28, 2006, 02:44 PM
Suggest you see: "US Military Joint Service Wound Ballistics Integrated Project Team" at http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/main.htm

Also: http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/02/0604-02a.htm

Although the topic of the article is mostly unrelated, it does present information that addresses your concerns about the validity of ordnance gelatin as a realistic soft tissue simulant (scroll to almost the bottom of the page to the "extracts" sections): http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/03/0604-03a.htm

ugaarguy
April 28, 2006, 03:56 PM
Guys, Thanks for the links to the research. Excellent info on the comparison of new generation hollow points to older ones and the SDPD shooting autopsy comparison info. Admittedly I could have searched the web and tried to find it myself, but then we wouldn't have this cool thread :evil: .

isa268
April 28, 2006, 04:11 PM
funny you say this now.

Double Tap Ammo http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/index.php just did a test on his ammo using 10% gel and 4 layers of denim

it can be found here.

http://glocktalk.com/showthread.php?threadid=336612

dgrolem
April 28, 2006, 05:02 PM
As I understand it, the autopsy reports I mentioned were all on the BGs. A few years back, the department switched from JHP to FMJ as a result, though it is left to the individual officer to decide. The two supervisors that I spoke to think that JHP are a waste of $$. The more senior LEO has personally put 10+ folks down (some dead, others not).

While a couple of LEOs does not make a credible study, it does point out a possible problem between gel results and live fire.

CWL
April 28, 2006, 07:13 PM
Ahem y'all,

Ballistic gelatin is used because it is consistant. Unlike variables of different body shapes + muschle + bones + bodypart(s) hit, gelatin replicates the average of bullet path & performance in the human body.

Really useful stuff for averaging bullet penetration & destruction of tissues, but not meant as guarantee of individual bullet performance inside real human. Too many variables between individuals & bodyshapes & location of entry & angle.

Gelatin = way to test consistency of performance of bullet.
Gelatin = averaged human tissue (combining muscle, organs, fat, bones).

RecoilRob
April 28, 2006, 07:28 PM
The most interesting thing to me (re:unexpanded bullets recovered during autopsy) is that they were RECOVERED. Meaning, they didn't expand yet they didn't Overpenetrate as so many worry about.

Seems the 'need' to use HP's to avoid the dreaded Overpenetration is mostly a Red Herring.

Beachmaster
April 28, 2006, 08:09 PM
Don't worry about the gel. I have never seen a person attacked by balistic gel (OK once, but that was on Jerry Springer, so I don't believe it!) Worry about hitting the target, and you will be happy with the results of most modern ammo!

Shawn Dodson
April 28, 2006, 08:40 PM
I have never seen a person attacked by balistic gel... What's your point?

The Real Hawkeye
April 28, 2006, 08:47 PM
The should shoot goats and pigs to see what these rounds will do in a person. Make sure to clothe them like people too.

Shawn Dodson
April 28, 2006, 09:55 PM
Cookekdjr wrote <I spent years looking at autopsies as a part of my job. The most common calibers (in no particular order) were 9mm, .40, .45, and .357, although I have also seen 12 gauge, 30-30, .25acp , 22lr, .380 etc.
I was reading the famous/infamous FBI report from 1989 that led to the 10mm/.40 S&W development, when I realized I was never seeing expanded hp's in handgun fatalities. I asked one of our ME's (the dr's who perform the autopsies) and she said she rarely sees expanded hp handgun bullets. Keep in mind she sees gunshot wounds almost every day. I asked some of the other ME's, and they all gave the report: they rarely or never saw expanded handgun hp's. Sometimes you see jacket separation, but rarely expansion. Classic mushrooms? Never.
Anyway, I've posted about this before, sometimes to much derision. Whatever. This is what I saw over hundreds of cases, and I asked the ME's about their experiences from thousands of others, and it matched mine. YMMV.
-David> Blah, blah, blah.... Anecdotal report not substantiated by forensic evidence.

psychophipps
April 28, 2006, 11:50 PM
And we also know that your typical BG and LE personnel blow the big bucks on the latest high-speed, low-drag bullets regardless of the cost. What do you mean they don't? :uhoh:

Mark(psycho)Phipps( HAHAHA! )

pauli
April 29, 2006, 12:20 AM
Anecdotal report not substantiated by forensic evidence.you say that as though this thread didn't begin with someone watching mythbusters. ;)

antsi
April 29, 2006, 01:23 AM
----------quote----------
While a couple of LEOs does not make a credible study, it does point out a possible problem between gel results and live fire.
-------------------------

CWL had it right.

There is definitely a use and a place for laboratory testing. This allows comparisons between different bullet designs "under controlled conditions." If you are doing product testing and development, you have to be able to reproduce the same conditions to make valid comparisons, otherwise you can't test and develop.

In real shootings, there are many more variables involved and nobody can predict exactly what is going to happen. Lab testers have tried to incorporate some of these variables, like shooting at gel through car doors, drywall, etc. Using gel with denim over it to simulate clothing is another example. However, until someone figures out how to simulate gel on crack, gel on meth, gel pumped up on adrenaline from having domestic dispute with its gelfriend, gel running at you with a baseball bat, etc, there are still going to be things that happen in real life that don't happen in the lab.

That doesn't mean there's no use for lab testing. It just means you have to be cautious about making predictions of real world events based on what happens in a lab.

One other thing - I would be leery of looking at autopsy results "over a 20 year career" because bullet designs have changed a great deal in the past few years. The older type JHP's often did fail to expand in real life - and lab testing with clothed gel has reproduced this kind of failure. The newer designs - developed and tested using clothed gel - are meant to expand more reliably under more different kinds of conditions. Of course that doesn't mean they are always going to, but I'd sure have more confidence versus the 70's and 80's JHP's.

Shawn Dodson
April 29, 2006, 09:38 PM
Using gel with denim over it to simulate clothing is another example. Incorrect. See: http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/02/0604-02a.htm However, until someone figures out how to simulate gel on crack, gel on meth, gel pumped up on adrenaline from having domestic dispute with its gelfriend, gel running at you with a baseball bat, etc, there are still going to be things that happen in real life that don't happen in the lab. Gelatin testing provides data on bullet terminal mechanical performance in typical soft tissues ONLY (penetration, expansion, fragmentation and yaw). It CANNOT be used to predict "stopping power." It just means you have to be cautious about making predictions of real world events based on what happens in a lab. Gelatin tests provide a reasonable indication of how a bullet can be expected to perform in an actual shooting, which is why it's the industry standard realistic soft tissue simulant. A bullet recovered from a human body is more likely to resemble one fired into gelatin than not. When performance differs there's a good reason for it. When the exact conditions of an actual shooting are matched in tests (what the bullet encountered from the time it exited the muzzle until it came to rest), performance in ordnance gelatin has been found to match.

Suggest you study: http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/03/0604-03a.htm

gezzer
April 29, 2006, 11:04 PM
Mythbusters lost all credibility when they stated tracers are made from phosphorant paint on the tip that burns from air friction. Their FBI expert confirmed this.

I'll bet the FBI guy had a big laugh getting this on the air. Mythbusters lost all credibility when they stated tracers are made from phosphorant paint on the tip that burns from air friction. Their FBI expert confirmed this.

I'll bet the FBI guy had a big laugh getting this on the air. :neener:

NineseveN
April 29, 2006, 11:14 PM
Mythbusters lost all credibility when they stated tracers are made from phosphorant paint on the tip that burns from air friction. Their FBI expert confirmed this.

I'll bet the FBI guy had a big laugh getting this on the air. Mythbusters lost all credibility when they stated tracers are made from phosphorant paint on the tip that burns from air friction. Their FBI expert confirmed this.

I'll bet the FBI guy had a big laugh getting this on the air.

You can say that again!

Oh wait, you did...carry on then. :neener:

ugaarguy
April 29, 2006, 11:40 PM
Yes I know Mythbusters isn't scientific, but thats not whats at issue. The show, plus the post by cookekdjr stimulated thoughts and questions that are worthy of discussion. Others here have linked, cited, and stated information relevant to the topic at hand. Let's not forget that we're here to exchange information since we aren't all experts...Umm I mean we're all firearms experts analyzing each other's data ;).

Nightcrawler
April 29, 2006, 11:51 PM
Almost all info on gel tests to be found on the internet points to the same pictures of gel tests on Firearms Tactical. Almost all of that website's references cite works by Martin Fackler.

I'm not trying to discredit any of the above mentioned, but some independent tests to either reinforce or disprove what Fackler/F.A. demonstrates would be nice.

One thing to consider. All because something overpenetrates in gelatin doesn't mean it will exit a human attacker. Bones and denser muscle tissue are considerations, and ones that gelatin can't readily be used to simulate.

sm
April 30, 2006, 12:13 AM
I'm a boy, boys play in the dirt. I shoot dirt.

I do the "Scientific Shoot Dirt/Mud Test".

My Mentors and Elders did this, I recall comparing the same bullets recovered from critters and dirt. Pretty darn close.

I get bigger and work in a OR, cannot tell what bullet makes what wound until we get inside. Humm, darn things often times resembled the ones shot in dirt, and other critters the Surgeon and I commented. Then we commented how dirt resembled ones taken from critter...okay so the critter on the table only had two legs...

I appreciate studies and baselines. Still I use what is handy to me to get a baseline to compare by for my needs.

Tire gauges vary, I use mine to keep all 4 tires and spare on my truck to a certain PSI reading.
I use Mom's tire guage on her vehicle.

Our guages read different the same tire being checked. We have respective baselines and use respective gauges to keep respective tires at psi reading.

Someone else's tire is going to read different as well.

Use what you have, get a baseline, then when you use that ctg/bullet in a game critter, compare.

I and others can share taking a bullet of a human body does not always match what folks think...variable exist, variables change results.

Folks shoot building materials to see how a round does to get an idea ...interesting thing is , a difference exists b/t shooting say for instance drywall up against a berm, and drywall actually in place in a bldg.

Same goes for shooting a pane of glass, and the same glass installed in a pane...

Lots of ammo components differ too...

No holy grail in anything...just not.

Me...I am going for tennis shoe shuffle and do my best to NOT get hit...
If I am in immediate danger and no other way, Shot placment and Lady Luck please.

Beachmaster
April 30, 2006, 01:43 AM
I have never seen a person attacked by balistic gel...

What's your point?

My point is that you should not base you ammo choice strictly on how it performs in ballistic gel! Gel testing does not take into consideration clothing, hard bones, drugs or adrenaline in the system of the person being shot, etc. Its just another tool for testing, not the only one.

Most regular ammo designed for defense will perform well if you hit the target.

GruntII
April 30, 2006, 01:51 AM
I am neither a morgue monster or lab animal. Both sets of information have a place in the tool box as does anecdotal evidence and information on the subject shot. Sometimes the darn things expand and sometimes they don't making the same thing important in shooting as in real estate. LOCATION! LOCATION!! LOCATION !!! Pick a round that works in your gun, that you can control, and practice, practice, practice. Shoot he bad guy till he falls from your sights. Personally I like Evan Marshall's work (Don't go spastic and don't try to save me from supposed bad data it won't work.We each must find our own way). Use what makes you comfortable and what you are can shoot well.The weapon and ammo is only maybe 5 % of the mix. I know several old hands who I would go thru a door with if they wanted to carry a ruger MKII and several new coppers I would feel uncomfortable with if they had phasers with wide angle nozzles.

Shawn Dodson
May 15, 2006, 01:40 AM
My point is that you should not base you ammo choice strictly on how it performs in ballistic gel! Gel testing does not take into consideration clothing, hard bones, drugs or adrenaline in the system of the person being shot, etc. Suggest you read my post #25 in this thread, which addresses the issues you question above. Its just another tool for testing, not the only one. Why don't you explain to us, then, the other tools for testing that you allude to, which have been verified and validated?

LAK
May 15, 2006, 03:43 AM
Gel tests are like "one stop" stats etc; just a guide.

----------------------------------------

http://ussliberty.org
http://ssunitedstates.org

Jim March
May 15, 2006, 05:28 AM
I think we need to look at who the shooters are!

The vast majority are criminals. Criminals aren't very smart. Very few seek out the best in modern JHP ammo.

Compare with knives used offensively. Most are either kitchen/steak knives of one sort or another, or cheap Pakistani/low-grade Taiwanese/Chinese throwaways, or they're literally homemade (similar to a prison shiv).

The number of people who have been stabbed with anything of decent quality like a Benchmade, Cold Steel, Spyderco, Camillus or whatever is vanishingly small. Most cops will tell you they've neither seen nor heard of a good quality knife turning up as a murder weapon.

Why would we expect anything different of ammo? Will a criminal more likely use Winchester White Box or whatever, or top-grade Speer/Hornady/Cor-Bon/etc?

Answer: they'll buy whatever is cheapest. Might not even be hollowpoint but if it is, there won't be any research behind the selection to get the best ammo for that gun!

Once this "mentality effect" is factored in, I don't think we can use general shooting stats to condemn gel testing or other modern performance evaluations.

Sergeant Sabre
May 15, 2006, 11:52 AM
Further, we now another indirect observer, dgrolem, who has heard of similar handgun round results in humans as seen at autopsy by a LEO. Flat out we're getting reports that self defense JHPs are not performing in gelatin like they are in humans

A third-hand anecdote recovered from the internet does not equal "reports", I'm afraid.

The link (http://www.btammolabs.com/fackler/winchester_9mm.pdf) is a report, and it contains actual data. It supports the idea that JHP bullets perform as advertised. Note also that the bullets in the report are of the 147gr variety, which are sometimes reputed to be "going too slow to expand" :rolleyes:

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