Black Hills - decent 223 load for home defense?


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Dr_2_B
November 4, 2010, 07:42 PM
Hey. I'm not one who feels he has to have the very best & newest cutting-edge ammo for defensive purposes in my AR-15. I believe any 223 loading will halt a badguy coming down my hall if I hit him well enough and often enough. I do want to minimize collateral damage though - stemming from over penetration and [gasp] misses.

Today I picked up a box of Black Hills 52 grain match hollow point from a local gun dealer. Anybody feel like I've made a huge mistake?

Thanks

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deadduck357
November 4, 2010, 07:48 PM
No, you made a pretty good decision for home defense. You want a light weight non-FMJ bullet, don't want to over penetrate at close range and hit someone in the other room.

Al Thompson
November 4, 2010, 07:55 PM
Shoot some water bottles and see what you think. :) At close range, I'm thinking they will fragment nicely. :eek:

WardenWolf
November 4, 2010, 08:21 PM
I will say this: their 68-grain moly-coated hollowpoints are crap. How do I know? I took them hunting when I hunted javelina. Every single one of them passed clean through. May as well have been FMJ. It didn't matter where it hit. None of them expanded. Oh well. Heart and double lung shot finished the job.

nathan
November 4, 2010, 08:44 PM
Most .223 hp dont expand if at close range. TOo fast to have time to open up. Might as well get one with the Nosler ballistic tip, that will explode instantly when it impacts flesh.

WardenWolf
November 4, 2010, 08:45 PM
It was 100 yards. I hardly call that "close range".

deadduck357
November 4, 2010, 09:02 PM
I will say this: their 68-grain moly-coated hollowpoints are crap. How do I know? I took them hunting when I hunted javelina. Every single one of them passed clean through. May as well have been FMJ. It didn't matter where it hit. None of them expanded. Oh well. Heart and double lung shot finished the job.

Thats odd, mine have guts blown out and dragging a couple feet behind with the 68's while burning them down. Single shots to the head and neck have been very effective. Also works very well with shots to the vitals. I find the 68's to be very effective.

Maverick223
November 4, 2010, 09:23 PM
Those "hollow points" are actually OTM (open tip match) and may or may not open up or fragment (while I highly doubt they'll open up, they probably will fragment to some degree). I would (and did) opt for Hornady TAP in 55gr. (or 60gr. if you practice with 62gr. FMJ) instead as it will typically explosively fragment upon entering a target, thus maximizing tissue damage whilst minimizing penetration (which should be more than sufficient for the task at hand).

OTOH, the load you selected may perform admirably, and either way you are only out 1 box. Use it for testing...it may turn out to be perfectly fine.

:)

W.E.G.
November 4, 2010, 09:26 PM
Any bullet that is denoted "match" is NOT designed for expansion.

Typically, "match" bullets shed their jacket quickly in animate targets, and the core goes on to wherever else.

benEzra
November 4, 2010, 09:54 PM
Today I picked up a box of Black Hills 52 grain match hollow point from a local gun dealer. Anybody feel like I've made a huge mistake?
No, not at all. I personally keep mine loaded with Federal 55gr JHP (T223E).

Most .223 hp dont expand if at close range. TOo fast to have time to open up. Might as well get one with the Nosler ballistic tip, that will explode instantly when it impacts flesh.
Actually, most .223 JHP do open up and fragment very well; the exceptions would be OTM's that aren't true hollowpoints, which aren't a very large part of the market.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=115744&stc=1&d=1266273708

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=115745&stc=1&d=1266273712


Edited to add: I believe the test barrels were NFA length law enforcement guns, hence the relatively low velocities.

Zanad
November 4, 2010, 09:59 PM
hmmm, what do you think happened with load #AE223?

Maverick223
November 4, 2010, 10:30 PM
hmmm, what do you think happened with load #AE223?Combination of core and jacket separation and fragmentation.

Note (in the above ballistic gelatin tests) that the FMJ would penetrate further before fragmentation (indicated by the trauma in the block). Additionally some FMJ will not fragment reliably, some tend to break at the cannelure relatively early while others remain intact and penetrate further (as indicated in the first test of AE223, in bare gel.).

We, as civilians, are not governed nor restricted by the Hague Convention (specifically the convention of 1899, Declaration III), and can therefore use ammunition with better expansion/fragmentation characteristics (thereby affording greater wounding potential). In short, why limit yourself to ball/FMJ when you don't have to?

:)

52grain
November 4, 2010, 10:36 PM
The Black Hills 52 grain match hollow point is my favorite rounds for punching paper at 100 yards. Even if it doesn't turn out to do work well as a defense round, you've got 50 good rounds to have fun with.

WardenWolf
November 4, 2010, 11:32 PM
Thats odd, mine have guts blown out and dragging a couple feet behind with the 68's while burning them down. Single shots to the head and neck have been very effective. Also works very well with shots to the vitals. I find the 68's to be very effective.

My scope got messed up and I finished it with irons from around 50 feet. Drilled it, heart and double lung. When we skinned it, we found it went through tissue and bone with no expansion. The exit hole was the same size as the entrance. That was from a 20" 1:9 barreled Saiga .223. Next time I'll use a lighter bullet.

Jenrick
November 5, 2010, 01:59 AM
If you want maximum expansion/fragmentation, use a soft point. It doesn't work all that well in man sized targets, but there is no way in heck it's gonna over penetrate.

Gold dot is a good round, TAP is decent, and even military ball at close range is going to do a number due to it being well above the fragmentation threshold.

-Jenrick

Maverick223
November 5, 2010, 02:16 AM
If you want maximum expansion/fragmentation, use a soft point. It doesn't work all that well in man sized targets, but there is no way in heck it's gonna over penetrate.SP is far more likely to overpenetrate than a ballistic tip or HP varmint bullet (but still far better than ball). FMJ may be nasty when if fragments, but that doesn't always occur or do so early enough, and when it doesn't damage is greatly reduced and penetration is maximized. Why limit yourself to ball when you don't have to?

:)

coloradokevin
November 5, 2010, 03:11 AM
No, not at all. I personally keep mine loaded with Federal 55gr JHP (T223E).

That's the same ammo that my department had been issuing for the AR-15 for at least the past 5-6 years. I definitely consider it to be decent for an "indoor" defensive shooting choice, as it doesn't seem to overpentrate as much as some rifle ammunition (actually, the bullet really comes apart quick, and sometimes penetration is a bit limited). Don't quote me on this, as my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe that this particular loading is using a Sierra Matchking bullet.

In my opinion there are some notable limitations to this ammo, and I know we are in the process of switching to another loading in the next year or so. Specifically, I recall that this load wasn't nearly as effective when fired through some intermediate barriers (though I honestly can't see a likely scenario where a home defense shooting will end with shots being fired through windshield glass with an AR-15 -- Personally, I'll probably still keep this ammo around for HD use).

If you check out ATK's website, they publish the results of their LE wound ballistics seminars online. ATK owns Speer/Federal, and they often test other popular loads along with their ammo during their workshops. I've attended one of these events through my department in the past, and it certainly reveals a lot about your ammunition! These tests were all conducted per the FBI specifications, with shots fired into 10% calibrated ballistic gelatin through a variety of "barriers". You might need to look through a few departments to find the loads you are looking for, as each department can choose what they want to test, based on their needs:

http://le.atk.com/general/irl/woundballistics.aspx

benEzra
November 5, 2010, 06:38 AM
In my opinion there are some notable limitations to this ammo, and I know we are in the process of switching to another loading in the next year or so. Specifically, I recall that this load wasn't nearly as effective when fired through some intermediate barriers (though I honestly can't see a likely scenario where a home defense shooting will end with shots being fired through windshield glass with an AR-15 -- Personally, I'll probably still keep this ammo around for HD use).
It is definitely a relatively fragile bullet thet doesn't hold up well when shooting through multiple intermediate barriers. For my situation (HD in a suburban neighborhood), that's an asset, but for LE needing to shoot through car windows and such I can see how that could be a liability.

SP is far more likely to overpenetrate than a ballistic tip or HP varmint bullet (but still far better than ball).
A varmint SP will often act like a JHP, whereas a more robust "tactical" SP may not. The difference between the T223A and LE223T1 loads above is significant, even though both are 55gr SP.

Thank for the excellent link, BTW. I'll check that out.

Dr.Rob
November 5, 2010, 06:46 AM
Surprising graphics. Based on that comparison chart (nice find btw) any 55gr FMJ has the minimum 'recommended penetration' (FBI rules) of a handgun round. The real difference is if you miss.

Jenrick
November 5, 2010, 12:22 PM
SP is far more likely to overpenetrate than a ballistic tip or HP varmint bullet (but still far better than ball). FMJ may be nasty when if fragments, but that doesn't always occur or do so early enough, and when it doesn't damage is greatly reduced and penetration is maximized.

Most SP that are available for civilian sale (not ownership, but sale) act like varmint rounds. I've personally not seen a non-LE SP round that doesn't. If you can get a hold the LE rounds they will perform better, but they still way to short of a neck.

FMJ in a home defense context will almost always fragment. Even with an extremely short barrel it'll still be traveling above fragmentation velocity at HD ranges (say less then 20 yds). Now I agree that if it does not fragment for whatever reason it will have a higher amount of penetration then non FMJ ammo.

Explosive fragmentation of expansion almost immediately with no neck is not necessarily a good thing. Having to shoot through an intermediate body part, say a heavy muscled upper arm, due to the invaders position can cause a round to do the majority of it's damage to the arm. Something with more penetration might be able to pass through that limb and still cause incapacitating injury. Something that truly expands/fragments on contact (most of the really light weight varmint bullets for instance) might not even cause incapacitating injury on a front shot depending on shot placement and the assailants muscle mass and body fat.

One alternative if you're not happy with standard 55gr of 62gr FMJ to do the job is to move up the heavier caliber 69-77gr loadings that the military has started to use in limited quantities. Google Mk 262 ammunition for full details. Short version is that the heavier projectiles fragment at longer engagement distances and are more barrier blind. At short HD ranges this almost guarantees good performance.

-Jenrick

Water-Man
November 5, 2010, 12:46 PM
Federal Premium V-Shok 55gr. BTHP is a good round for in-home defense.

CTW
November 5, 2010, 01:09 PM
If you can find them the grey box winchester 55 grain power point soft points are destructive. My friends son shot a small doe with one at close range and the damage was shocking. I keep a couple mags full now for the AR.

MTMilitiaman
November 5, 2010, 07:27 PM
Most .223 hp dont expand if at close range. TOo fast to have time to open up. Might as well get one with the Nosler ballistic tip, that will explode instantly when it impacts flesh.

Would you mind explaining the physics behind this; especially as related to Newton's Third Law of Motion?

Maverick223
November 5, 2010, 07:34 PM
A varmint SP will often act like a JHP, whereas a more robust "tactical" SP may not. The difference between the T223A and LE223T1 loads above is significant, even though both are 55gr SP.True, but most of the SPs that I see are geared toward medium game hunting, which affords greater penetration and lesser expansion (mostly due to greater mass and "better" bullet construction.

Most SP that are available for civilian sale (not ownership, but sale) act like varmint rounds. I've personally not seen a non-LE SP round that doesn't. If you can get a hold the LE rounds they will perform better, but they still way to short of a neck.Not in my experience/area. Most of what I see has both heavier construction and greater mass, and will afford better weight retention as well as greater penetration.

FMJ in a home defense context will almost always fragment. Even with an extremely short barrel it'll still be traveling above fragmentation velocity at HD ranges (say less then 20 yds). Now I agree that if it does not fragment for whatever reason it will have a higher amount of penetration then non FMJ ammo."Almost always" isn't good enough IMO, better to buy a couple of boxes of premium ammo just to be sure. Shoot one for accuracy and ballistics testing, keep the remaining cartridges for HD use. IIRC I read an article a while back that demonstrated about a 25% failure rate with ball rounds. I don't know which rounds were selected, nor where I read it, but that is just too unreliable for me.

Explosive fragmentation of expansion almost immediately with no neck is not necessarily a good thing. Having to shoot through an intermediate body part, say a heavy muscled upper arm, due to the invaders position can cause a round to do the majority of it's damage to the arm. Something with more penetration might be able to pass through that limb and still cause incapacitating injury. Something that truly expands/fragments on contact (most of the really light weight varmint bullets for instance) might not even cause incapacitating injury on a front shot depending on shot placement and the assailants muscle mass and body fat.If it affords acceptable penetration (about 12in.) as well as immediate expansion then it is a very good thing. The chances of having to shoot through barriers are very low in a HD scenario. Most 55gr.+ BT, HP, SP, and OTM will afford both.

:)

buzzg
November 6, 2010, 08:54 AM
While I agree with most of what I've read here on the .223 defensive capability, my preference (particularly in the house) is my Mossberg 500 with a nice mix of OO and Slug.
With this combination stopping the threat is assured, however the peripheral drywall damage may be greater than with a .223.

Bartholomew Roberts
November 6, 2010, 09:25 AM
"Almost always" isn't good enough IMO, better to buy a couple of boxes of premium ammo just to be sure. Shoot one for accuracy and ballistics testing, keep the remaining cartridges for HD use. IIRC I read an article a while back that demonstrated about a 25% failure rate with ball rounds. I don't know which rounds were selected, nor where I read it, but that is just too unreliable for me.

The 25% number is from a study Martin Fackler did many years back. More recent studies have shown that both M193 and M855 tend to penetrate about 4" of ballistics gel before yawing about 70% of the time. 15% of the time, they will yaw under 4" and 15% of the time they will penetrate about 7" or more before yawing, even when travelling at over 2,700fps.

The variation has to do with the angle of the bullet on impact. Basically, in the first 100yds, the nose of the bullet wobbles like a tiny thrown football. This link explans the variation well and is in general, excellent reading for self defense ammo selection (http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ/index.htm).

Maverick223
November 6, 2010, 12:10 PM
Bartholomew, thank you for the link. While I don't believe it was the original source of the failure rate (it could be, but I don't recall reading it), it is very informative and indeed a good read for selecting SD/HD ammunition.

:)

Jeff F
November 6, 2010, 01:12 PM
I will say this: their 68-grain moly-coated hollow points are crap. How do I know? I took them hunting when I hunted javelina. Every single one of them passed clean through. May as well have been FMJ. It didn't matter where it hit. None of them expanded. Oh well. Heart and double lung shot finished the job.
Yep, match hollowpoints are not designed to expand. They perform like a FMJ and some will penetrate better then M855 LAP ammo.

M1key
November 6, 2010, 02:57 PM
QUOTE: Yep, match hollowpoints are not designed to expand. They perform like a FMJ and some will penetrate better then M855 LAP ammo.


Didn't check out Dr. Roberts link above did you?

Summarizing Doctor Robert's choices results in the following list:

If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can stabilize them (1:9 minimum twist rate):

Hornady 75gr OTM loads
Nosler 77gr OTM loads
Sierra 77gr SMK loads

If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can't stabilize the heavy 70+ grain bullets:

Sierra 69gr SMK loads
Hornady 68gr OTM loads
Winchester 64gr JSP (RA223R2)
Federal 64gr TRU (223L)
Hornady 60gr JSP

Maverick223
November 6, 2010, 07:12 PM
To summarize the above account (as well as my own experience with 68-77gr. OTM), heavy match grade OTM tend to work pretty darn good. I'd have no issues with using em'...the only flaw is that I train with standard 55gr. ball (the trajectory is too far off for my liking).

:)

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