Ballistic gelatin test results : Buffalo Bore 150gr hard cast wadcutter


Brass Fetcher
May 7, 2007, 07:54 PM
Special thanks to Buffalo Bore Ammunition for sponsoring this test.

Cartridge : .38 Special, Buffalo Bore Ammunition 150gr standard pressure Hard Cast Wad Cutter (Part # 20D)

Firearm : Smith and Wesson 642 with 1 7/8" barrel length

Block calibration : All depths corrected (From 9.9cm @ 593 ft/sec)

Shot 1 - Impacted at 907 ft/sec, penetrated to 23.1" and was recovered at 0.356" average diameter.

Shot 2 - Impacted at 899 ft/sec, penetrated to 23.1" and was recovered at 0.356" average diameter.

Shot 3 - Impacted at 882 ft/sec, penetrated to 23.0" and was recovered at 0.357" average diameter.

Shot 4 - Impacted at 908 ft/sec, exited the side of the block at 20.2" and was not recovered.

Shot 5 - Impacted at 905 ft/sec, penetrated to 16.0" depth in the initial block, exited out of a side corner of this block and traveled at an approximate 15 degree angle into a stopper block placed to the side and rear of the initial block, in anticipation of such an event. The bullet penetrated to 6.5" in this block, for a total penetration of 20.7" (corrected).

It's rare that I capture a bullet (in gelatin) on an exit from the side of the primary gelatin block. In so doing, it is usually possible to take a look at the stability of a particular bullet after a somewhat sideways impact, such as would occur if the bullet struck the edge of a bone or traveled through two different tissue types (densities) at once - IE, one side of the bullet in lung tissue, the other in muscle tissue.

The different densities of the fluid that a bullet is in contact with creates an imbalance of static pressures acting on the bullet sides, as was the case today. This occurred at the moment of bullet exit from the side of the gelatin block (IE the air at the firing range, acting on the side of the gelatin block, was much less dense than the gelatin, which is mostly water). This created a high pressure area on the gelatin side of the wadcutter, much greater than the ambient air pressure pushing the bullet toward the gelatin block. As such, a less stable bullet would have tumbled, where the tested wadcutters did not. The reduced penetration experienced with shot 5 (and the increased damage and angled travel through the stopper block) indicates that some bullet yawing took place, but no tumbling.

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May 7, 2007, 08:50 PM
You should post this in the BB 150gr WC thread at Tactical Forums (;f=78;t=001356).

Brass Fetcher
May 7, 2007, 08:55 PM
Looks like someone has already posted the link to Tactical Forums...

May 7, 2007, 09:02 PM
JE223 - Many thanks for all the effort that went into these tests.
I am especially intrigued with how little deformation occurred to the front of the bullets. Buffalo Bore has a reputation for being able to produce tough, hard bullets and they certainly put some in your test cartridges.
I wonder if they will offer these in +P?
Black_Talon - Thanks for the link.

May 7, 2007, 09:18 PM
So two out of five shots exited sideways? Bad angle on the shot or bullet yaw? If yawing, why (too much zip)?:confused:

I just fired six rounds of these at the range yesterday and was impressed--they shot POA=POI with moderate recoil out of my Colt Cobra.

Brass Fetcher
May 7, 2007, 09:24 PM
Actually, I fired too close to the edge for this particular cartridge. It's one of those things - you don't know how close is too close until you see where the bullet went. I imagine that the block may have experienced some rotation, as it was cocked to one side after shots 4 and 5.

May 7, 2007, 09:32 PM
Wow thanks JE223, I will check this ammo out, it maybe a great carry load. I wish I could by Buffalo bore locally :(

May 7, 2007, 09:33 PM
If the block skewed, maybe that flat nose hardcast just HAMMERED it!!:evil:
I also note three shots over 900ft/sec--not bad for a standard pressure load, eh?

May 7, 2007, 10:25 PM
Damn that is impressive consistentcy and performance. Although frankly, for a self-defense load, i think I'd rather take one of their other loads with a little less penetration. Not that is is a bad load by any means. Just saying that it seems like a bit of high risk for over-penetration against a person. Now that load in a .357 mag I would carry in a heartbeat in the woods!!!!!

May 7, 2007, 10:30 PM

Thanks for doing this.

You'll notice that there is only 20 fps of extreme spread between the five shots, although it uses the same powder as the much softer 158gr. load that had about 60 fps (if I remember corrrectly) extreme spread. As I have stated many times, very soft bullets experience a number of gyrations when fired from revolvers and these gyrations, dont do extreme spread or accuracy and favors, but they remain accurate enough to get the job done for sure. The wad cutters are obviously very hard--rougly 21 BHN. The 158gr. hollow cavity bullets are only runnning about 5 BHN.

Ive also noticed that your revolver (or your chrono) is a bit faster than all of my two inch revolvers.

May 7, 2007, 10:38 PM
To all, (over penetration)

We have a large police dept. buying our item 45230fmj, which is our 45 acp 230gr. FMJ-flat nose. It is their carry ammo for all of thier duty officers. It penetrates as deeply as this 38 SPL wad cutter load does.

I asked thier armorer why he wanted such a deep penetrating load for duty carry. He stated that the load would go through walls and car doors and for the safety of his officers, thats what the dept. wants. When I asked about over penetration, this is what he said in paraphrase. "9 out of 10 shots fired in our depts. shootings, miss the target and those bullets that miss, go where ever they are going. So, the one out of 10 that hits the target is not as much a concern as all the gun writers make it out to be. The dept. would prefer to have a load that will work even when the perp is barricaded, than worry about over penetration. Over penetration is a problem created by gun writers, more than it is a reality".

Brass Fetcher
May 7, 2007, 10:49 PM
@Sundles - Would you be in the market for a particularly fast-shooting S&W 642 ? :D

I had a Glock 19 that was ~ 75 ft/sec slower with most loads than the factory velocities - the S&W must be making up for that...:)

May 7, 2007, 11:03 PM
Sundles & JE223. Maybe not a faster gun or chrony, but the heat of Fl. Heat = more velocity.

Jim March
May 7, 2007, 11:28 PM
Oh yeah, that's true. Hot air is less dense.

That said, barrels vary in speed a LOT, sometimes within a single model.

Old Fuff
May 8, 2007, 12:52 AM
The Dept. would prefer to have a load that will work even when the perp is barricaded, than worry about over penetration. Over penetration is a problem created by gun writers, more than it is a reality".

The Old Fuff would agree, and even drop the velocity 100 FPS to 800 FPS out of a 2" barrel, for additional recoil control. It is also apparently shooting to a snubby's point of aim, which is important. I would urge people to try this load, particularly in airweight revolvers. They might actually hit what they were shooting at, and do it rapidly with follow-up shots. :eek:

May 18, 2007, 08:59 PM
This happens to be my carry load and I'm VERY pleased with it (nice manageable recoil in the light-weight snubbies, minimal flash/blast, ZERO bullet pull, very reliable penetration). I have confidence that I can shoot this with accuracy, without flinch, achieve penetration on my target, and never ever have to worry about bullets walking out of their case making this an extremely reliable and worry-free round for me!

Thanks Buffalo Bore for bringing this to market and thanks JE223 for doing the tests and sharing your results.

May 19, 2007, 01:31 AM

Glad you like it. Im carrying it too, in one revolver.

My wife has it in her SP101 bedroom gun, as well as her 642.

April 11, 2008, 04:07 PM
I wonder what that load would do on deer. Plenty of penetration :).

Just my .02,

April 11, 2008, 07:05 PM
Was the gelatin mixed to the proper ratio and stored at the proper tempature?

April 11, 2008, 08:09 PM
Would these be safe to shoot from a .38spl 1940s M&P?

Brass Fetcher
April 17, 2008, 04:33 PM
timothy75 - Brass ballistic gelatin blocks are nominal 10% weight/weight blocks, using 250A bloom ballistic gelatin powder. Other concentration densities are available on request; in those cases, the density of the block will be noted (IE 10% nominal or 20% nominal, etc).

The 10% blocks are stored at 39degF.

Old Pete
April 18, 2008, 09:18 PM
JE223- Did you weigh the recovered bullets? The reason I ask: The BB bullet seems to be a typical double-ended LWC, and these usually weigh about 147 grains when cast of hard lead alloy (BHN about 20).

Thanks in advance.


Brass Fetcher
April 20, 2008, 10:24 AM
Old Pete - The average (2 of the recovered bullets) recovered weight for these bullets was 138.5gr. That is quite a weight variation from 150gr. Thank you for the advice regarding hard cast lead bullets!

April 20, 2008, 11:26 PM
Thanks to both Tim and JE223 for the testing and discussion on this round. While the penetration is certainly impressive, the lack of any significant expansion from such a hardcast round leads me to wonder about it's application as a general purpose CCW round. I can see it's usefulness against a barricaded threat or other hard targets and in a running gunfight I'm sure it would prove valuable, and perhaps in a SD situation against a BG with very heaving clothing. I am currently using the BB 158+P LSWCHC (20A) in the 442/642 and I am confident in my placement ability and it's ability to preform well in most any SD situation I may encounter, and wonder about using the (20D) wadcutter as a #4/5 round just in case. There must be something to this if Tim and his wife are using it for carry. Any thoughts about this?

April 21, 2008, 03:32 AM
Interesting test. Don't know how BB gets that out of non +P.....pretty amazing

Its funny how you can never know what a load will do though.

Check this test out.

Then compare it to the BB +p load on this test. (shot # 6)

How the heck did that happen? :scrutiny: I guess the +P mushrooming like it did might have some thing to do with it, but I would still think a +P would move deeper into that gel block.

I really like that soft non +P load for a x42 seems just about perfect. The hard cast seems good for out on the river and such.

Having BB around is nice. :)

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