Kel-Tec P-3AT vs. Phonebook OR The Sopranos Didn't Lie


April 3, 2004, 07:06 PM
So I have this big basement, a lot of phone books, and waaaay too much time on my hands (the wife was out shopping), so......I decided to do my amateur (very amateur) Stephen A.Camp impression.

So I marched down there loaded with a bucket of water, phone books, P-3AT, 90 grain Hydrashoks, ear protection, shooting glasses, Santa Barbra open nose FMJ's, contrary to popular belief they are NOT expanding rounds, my Grandmother could see that. So as to be very efficient I had all this piled up in one big armfull so as to not have to make a return trip.

It was at this point that the dog decided he wanted to "hang" with me, and helpfully waited - silently - at the top of the basement stairs. So it was that I finally bettered my personal best time for descending the basement steps, and arrived relatively uninjured. I was at least happy that my treacherous mutt was on the receiving end of a good proportion of my test water. Shooting is indeed a dangerous hobby, and the dog and I are no longer on speaking terms.

Anyway I dusted myself off and set up to shoot. I put the phone books and some assorted newspapers into a large recycling container and poured in the water, I also had a one gallon water container for a single expansion test.

I obvioulsy didn't use half enough water because after I had let rip with rounds #1 and #2, I discovered that the water had not penetrated beyond an inch (note to self, next time shoot the soaked dog), more worrying was the fact that the unexpanded Hydrashocks had not made it past 4 inches, the Santa Barbaras faired somewhat better managing between 5 and 6 inches, but neither was very impressive.

I tried one last round into the one gallon jug which I shot from above with the jug lying on its side, i.e. the short way through. That was with another Hydrashock, which expanded reasonably well, but just made it out the far side of the jug and was found just lying on top of the first phone book underneath the jug.

My final test (Soprano style) was with a single phone book (Baltimore issue) and one Hydra point blank - amazingly, for those of you who saw that particular episode, the bullet did indeed stop at the Rs.

So all this left me thinking that maybe lighter hollowpoints are not the way to go with .380ACP, and that a 100 grain truncated cone solid would probably make more sense for self defence.

And anyway, what is the comparison ratio for dry phonebooks vs. tissue penetration, anyone know.


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April 3, 2004, 08:53 PM
Most tests show that the 380 is a little shy with penetration and expansion with anything is a poor gamble. Rely on what Wild Bill did with his .36 caliber 1851 Colt Navies (about the same performance) bullet placement which at CCW range should not be much of a trick. FMJ or LRN, oldies but a goodies for the 9mm kurtz.

April 3, 2004, 09:36 PM
A little phone book test of mine proved it will also stop a 9mm 115gr. HP and I'm pretty sure it stopped FMJ also IIRC.

BTW: I shot these out of an 18" carbine at about 3 yards so it had a slight velocity advantage over a handgun.

Dave R
April 3, 2004, 11:58 PM
Hmmm, I did a .380 vs. 9mm test in wet phone books a couple years ago.

Like you, I set the phone books in a recylcling bin, after tying them together loosely. But I left them overnight. And I had to add water 2-3 times to get the paper all soaked through. And it was all soaked through. Then I set the tied wet books (which now weighed a WHOLE lot more) out on the lawn to drain for an hour or so. When done, I had damp, but not dripping, media.

I shot 9mm Win Silvertips, and in .380 I shot the 102gr. Rem Golden Sabres. I tried adding layers of denim in front of the media to see how many layers it would take before expansion stopped.

IF I recall correctly...(I couldn't find the original report on The Firing Line)..

The 9mm penetrated about 11-12", and showed good expansion and "wound channels". It stopped expanding at 7 layers of denim. The .380, 102gr. Golden Sabre's penetrated 9-10", and also showed good "wound channels" and good expansion. They stopped expanding at 5 layers of denim.

So maybe completely wet newsprint allows more penetration? Anyway, I was left with the impression that the .380 gives about 70% of the wound channel of a 9mm. Or at least the Golden Sabre does. And that's not too bad.

I look forward to trying this again, with the Kel-Tec and some Speer Gold Dots I have laying around.

April 4, 2004, 04:27 AM
you really need to let the books soak, thoroughly, all the way through, and leave them overnight...allow the paper to get kinda pulpy.

that gives the best expansion and penetration results.

April 4, 2004, 08:06 PM
I have never had much expansion with any round when using wet phone books. Maby I need to let them soak more.

April 5, 2004, 12:23 AM
<----------Thinks to self "I've also got a large basement". Hmm........

April 5, 2004, 07:57 PM
These bullets were shot into phonebooks that I pre soaked in water for 48 hours. Some expanded and some did not!

Dave R
April 5, 2004, 10:20 PM
Wow, excellent collection, kokapelli.

Do you have a "legend" for which image is which bullet? And did you happen to record how much each penetrated? I'm a data junkie...

April 5, 2004, 10:26 PM
Which bullets expanded?
Which did not?

April 6, 2004, 10:44 AM
"Which bullets expanded?
Which did not?"
Unfotunatly the notes I made during the tests got lost when we moved seven years ago.
Anyway most of todays popular bullets where not around ten or eleven years ago when I was doing these tests.

I do remember that the bullets that expanded most reliably (#2 and #3 upper left) were standard pressure, 9mm, Elderado Starfire and that they only penetrated about 6 or 7 inches.

April 6, 2004, 05:03 PM
I am going to have to find some old phonebooks that looks like fun.

Dave R
April 6, 2004, 06:08 PM
Oh, yes. Why recycle dry, intact phone books? They convert back to paper pulp much more easily if they are moistened and shredded first.

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