Winchester PDX 230gn .45acp Water Test


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Joshua M. Smith
January 23, 2010, 07:09 PM
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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/1911wPDX1.jpg
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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/PDX1.jpg
… 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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/standardsetup.jpg
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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/th_MOV00001.jpg (http://s19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/?action=view&current=MOV00001.flv)
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


http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/PDX5thjugFAIL.jpg
… 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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/PDXbare3rdjugWIN.jpg
WIN!

The fully expanded bullet stopped in the third jug.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/PDXbare3rdjugWIN.jpg
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.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/PDX1/WINFAILcomparison.jpg
Upon comparison, you can see the unexpanded bullet did begin to open just a bit, but ran out of steam to do so.

Conclusions:

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.

Josh

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

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jmortimer
January 23, 2010, 07:50 PM
Not sure how you do your calculations but I am figuring about 12" on the expanded test as water will open up the bullet more than ballistic gelatin. What factor are you using per jug - 2.5 ?

REAPER4206969
January 23, 2010, 07:53 PM
PDX1 is Ranger Bonded.

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t8/REAPER1911-A1/Pistolcartridge.jpg

jmortimer
January 23, 2010, 08:12 PM
This makes sense based on the test results.

James T Thomas
January 23, 2010, 10:06 PM
Joshua:

Your last paragraph mentioned the "perfect" bullet, and expanded to one inch diameter. But you desired five jug penetration.

You will have to go to at least 50 caliber to approach "perfect."

Even the hefty 45 at 230 grains will use up so much of it's lead that at an expanded one inch diameter, it will be a coin shaped slug of slightly thicker than 3/32nds of an inch thickness. And by that time it has already penetrated deeply, and it's velocity will be all used up.
I'm leary of such light weight rounds such as the 110 grain, 357 magnum; even with it's higher velocity, for this reason.
Therefore, no additional jug penetration.
As is stated here on THR often; "expecting too much from a bullet."

The abstract "sectional density" of that expanded 45 has decreased by over one third of it's original S.D. because of it's expansion, and so penetration has lost it's oomph.
Those "controlled expansion" rifle bullets are made just because of this phenomenon. Humble pistol bullets, I afraid, just can't cut it with great expansion and deep penetration -both.

Joshua M. Smith
January 24, 2010, 02:52 AM
Not sure how you do your calculations but I am figuring about 12" on the expanded test as water will open up the bullet more than ballistic gelatin. What factor are you using per jug - 2.5 ?

Hello,

I was using a factor of 2. I should have clarified: For the expanded bullet, 6" (thickness of one water jug) x 3 = 18. 18/2 = 9.

If we're looking at the full 5 jugs and the non-expanded bullet, then 6x6 = 36, 32/2 = 18", pretty close to what it was designed to do - 14" of gel.

Joshua:

Your last paragraph mentioned the "perfect" bullet, and expanded to one inch diameter. But you desired five jug penetration.

You will have to go to at least 50 caliber to approach "perfect."

Even the hefty 45 at 230 grains will use up so much of it's lead that at an expanded one inch diameter, it will be a coin shaped slug of slightly thicker than 3/32nds of an inch thickness. And by that time it has already penetrated deeply, and it's velocity will be all used up.
I'm leary of such light weight rounds such as the 110 grain, 357 magnum; even with it's higher velocity, for this reason.
Therefore, no additional jug penetration.
As is stated here on THR often; "expecting too much from a bullet."

The abstract "sectional density" of that expanded 45 has decreased by over one third of it's original S.D. because of it's expansion, and so penetration has lost it's oomph.
Those "controlled expansion" rifle bullets are made just because of this phenomenon. Humble pistol bullets, I afraid, just can't cut it with great expansion and deep penetration -both.

Hello,

I was only speculating on what would make the perfect bullet for me. The perfect bullet is always one that cannot exist in real life - they mostly exist in Hollywood, from what I can tell. I thought that came through; apparently it did not.

If you really want to get technical, though, a bullet like this could exist - it would just have to be loaded with a small explosive charge, and as far as I know this is illegal. :)

Josh

jmortimer
January 24, 2010, 03:24 AM
Makes sense. I'm going to order half gallon "cardboard" milk containers and build a "test box" similar to yours per the Firearms Tactical Institute "method" - Will see how their method compares to the real world. Thank you for posting your test results. Testing of any sort always interests me.

Joshua M. Smith
January 24, 2010, 04:14 AM
I'm going to order half gallon "cardboard" milk containers

These are still available? Where from??? I would much prefer these over the plastic jugs!

Thanks!

Josh

jmortimer
January 24, 2010, 11:39 AM
Some "smart" folks are sellng them on ebay as "shipping containers" for inflated prices. Here is the best link I have found so far for the cartons http://www.evergreenpackaging.com/Cartons-and-Packaging.aspx
and here is the link for the testing "method." http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs3.htm
Look at the last two pages of the "Brief" for "A Simple Method for Testing Bullets with Your Guns." I have not attempted to order. Took a while to find the link for the 1/2 gallon milk cartons - Let me know what you find out as I think the Firearms Tactical Institute's test method makes sense.

buck460XVR
January 24, 2010, 12:23 PM
Interesting, and a lot of hard work, but how was accuracy? I didn't find anything pertaining to this anywhere yet in this thread. To me, in a real life situation, this would be as important as penetration.

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:

For the last coupla years, despite their outlandish marketing claims, I have come to the conclusion that bullet manufacturers have come to the limit of what can be done with the jacketed hollow point bullet, consisting of a lead core surrounded by copper/gilding metal. As long as we continue to use such simple technology and inexpensive components we will always have to compromise between penetration and expansion, and will always have to deal with failures of both in some instances. With simple projectiles propelled out of a barrel by expanding gases, we will still always have to hit the BG where it matters and be careful of what's behind him. That said, I think we are very fortunate to have the quality and consistency of the bullets that are on the market, @ a price we can afford.

Joshua M. Smith
January 24, 2010, 12:51 PM
Interesting, and a lot of hard work, but how was accuracy?

Accuracy was good, on par with other hollowpoint rounds (inherently accurate due to the way they're made, with the exception of the Hydra-Shok due to its post getting bent a bit). It shot to POA and I have no compunctions about taking an eyeball shot at 7yds over the shoulder of a hostage with this ammunition.

Josh

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