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A gel expert explains

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by labnoti, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. kidneyboy

    kidneyboy Member

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    Marketing was not the reason. It is, however, the end result.
     
  2. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Not the end result. One of he end results was the development of much more effective handgun ammunition.
     
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  3. Smokepole14

    Smokepole14 Member

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    That’s my problem with ballistic gel though. How can you tell if one projectile is more effective than another if they both expand and land in between the 12-18 inches? What makes a projectile effective is hitting in a vital location. That’s been my experience with hunting. To me ballistic gel shows what happens under perfect circumstances. If a hollow point won’t expand in gel you can’t expect it to in other targets because it is the perfect medium for expansion. In that case it’s fine to say hey this ammo is not suitable for self defense if it fails to expand or penetrate. However if you compare Hornady critical defense to say Federal HST and they both penetrate past 12 inches and expand but the hst goes 1 inch further how does that make it more effective? Therefore making shot placement and follow up shots that much more important because one shot stops are not guaranteed in real world scenarios.
     
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  4. Smokepole14

    Smokepole14 Member

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    I agree as well. I’ve shot several animals while hunting. I remember while skinning rabbits trying to get all the pellets out so I don’t bite into one while eating and it’s amazing how tough muscle really is. That rabbit can’t be more that 3-4 inches thick and it’s all you can do to pry those shot out. Then in ballistic gel they calibrate it with a bb at 4 inches. I can shove my finger 4 inches deep and I never recall doing that to any animal I’ve shot.
     
  5. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The FBI testing isn't supposed to say which bullet is the best or rank then in any way. It's a pass or fail event. Bullets that pass are recommended, bullets that fail are not.
     
  6. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The gel is not a 1:1 analog of a animal/human. 4 inches of penetration is not meant to equal 4 inches of penetration in a animal/human.
     
  7. Smokepole14

    Smokepole14 Member

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    I most definitely agree. 12 inches of penetration in gel does not equal 12 inches in animal/humans
     
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  8. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    Are you saying that designing a projectile to perform in gel is not the same as designing a projectile to perform in living tissue?
     
  9. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    No. Bullets designed to perform well in FBI testing have shown to have good performance on real world shootings. Im saying that a bullet penetrating 12 inches into gel doesn't mean that's its going to penetrate 12 inches into a person.
     
  10. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    A while back there was a TV series (it may still be out there but I can't get it any more) that used fairly good simulations of bodies and body parts to test the weapons and techniques used by warriors down through the ages. (Was it the Deadliest Warriors series?).

    This program used body proxies that included replicas of various organs, simulated bones (rig cage, spine, etc.) in manikan-like bodies; the simulated body attempted to offer resistance to weapons much like a real body. The ones used in the TV series looked human-like (but with see-through covering in place of skin. When struck by edged weapon or bullets, the blood and ballistic gel ould let you see the effect of the weapons on the body.

    These proxies did a good job of simulating the human body when clad in clothing and/or armor. (The TV series also used weapons experts to use the weapons, and used measurement devices to actually see show the force of the weapons or bullets affected the simulated bodies. Other experts were medical doctors and physiologists, as well as weapons experts and military historians.

    The body simulations were clearly very expensive to fabricate and it must have been a real pain for the "property manager" on the show, if something got screwed up in filming. The whole undertaking was obviously VERY COSTLY and those types of tests could not be done with every new type of load or bullet to be tested.​

    What their tests and evaluations (i.e. their shows) did show us was that when done right, the effects of various weapons could be very devastating -- but nearly all of the rounds fired or swords or axes swung were done by experts, so we only saw the BEST CASES, not the results that many of us might see in a real-world effort.

    The book STIFF, by Mary Roach, is a serious but very interesting and surprisingly funny book about how the bodies of people are dealt with after they die. One of the chapters in the book addresses how the U.S. military has used cadavers (donated by their former "holders" for scientific research) to evaluate the effectiveness of weapons and ammunition. I suspect that some ammunition makers have gained access to this data.​

    Ballistic gel is meant to simulate pork tissue, not pork fat as mentioned earlier.. But even then the gel doesn't have connective tissue or an internal structure that can help hold things together. As an earlier poster noted, animal tissue doesn't expand almost explosively which can happen with ballistic gel when the gel is hit by some rounds. Animal tissue apparently doesn't becomes as PULPY as ballistic gel when it is badly abused, and gel isn't as resilient as animal tissue (and gel doesn't attempt to return to its original position after a round passes through it).

    When recently butchered bones (like pork ribs or other animal limbs) are embedded in the gel, it can become a bit more like human tissue, but it's still not the same. Then it can be covered with various types of cloth or put it behind barriers.

    While ballistic gel really isn't a good testing substitute for human tissue, but it IS about the only cost-effective option available that can offer some indication of round effectiveness (or, at least, penetration.).
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
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  11. WheelGunMan

    WheelGunMan Member

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    I've always considered ballistic gel as a way to keep a level playing field to measure the penetration and reaction of projectiles fired into it. I think it's especially helpful in determining ammo reaction when fired from short barreled guns.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
  12. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    It may not supposed to simulate pork fat, but in my experience, that is the only tissue that it comes truly close to simulating.
     
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  13. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    If both meet the criteria for minimum and maximum penetration whilw expanding properly, both are deemed acceptable. The purpose of the test is not to determine comparative effectiveness.

    Yes...and that vital location is internal.

    Absolutely!

    That's not stated very well. The gel is intended to simulate porcine muscle tissue. Swine muscle tissue is very similar to human muscle tissue. They cannot test human muscle tissue by shooting into it, so they selected swine for calibration.. Swine tissue varies, so to have a consistent medium for repeatable testing

    That's because the gel simulates only the muscle tissue, and not the structure and the other body parts of a human. The human body consists of muscle, bones of various sizes, air-filled cavities. blood-filled cavities, skin (in the making of an exit wound of an arm outstretched in front of the torso, the skin performs as a very tough material).... But for selecting a target for repeatable testing, the simulation of the body would be neither practicable nor necessary.

    There is something of a visual resemblance. Do you shoot iinto pork fat a lot?
     
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  14. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    I have shot right at 150 (recovered) hogs this year and have necropsied a lot of them to look at bullet performance, usually for 6.5 Grendel with various bullets. A few get butchered for consumption. This has been a slow year, however as last year, I shot 330 hogs (recovered) and a bunch were necropsied and/or butchered then as well. Some hogs have a LOT of fat on them. Most commonly, the hogs with the greatest amount of fat tend to be the sows, and older ones at that.

    So yeah, you could say I shoot into pork fat a lot. I also shoot into pork muscle, pork organs, and pork bone a lot as well.
     
  15. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, have you performed sufficient measurement to be able to share with us your observations on the comparison of expanding handgun bullet peentration in pork fat vs pork muscle?
     
  16. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    I believe I have already shared several. Gel is structurally very different that actual tissue.
     
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  17. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    If so, I mised tham.

    I should think muscle and fat behave very differently.

    Ballistic gel is calibrated to simulate porcine muscle.

    A block of gel is structurally nothing like a human body.
     
  18. Apuesto

    Apuesto member

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    Amen.

    I don't think anyone who has hunted regularly buys into the hype of gel tests.
     
  19. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Okay, but it only simulates it in density and viscosity. In no other way does it simulate muscle. Structurally, it is very different. As I noted above, you can't reach in and extract a bullet from pig muscle, but darned if you can't do it in gel. Ballistics gel tears very differently than muscle. So when people talk about assessing wounding traits based on ballistics gel, I shake my head and figure they need to get out of the lab an into the field more. After all, who shoots through that much muscle, LOL. You may learn plenty about what happens to the bullet in a very idealized medium, but that is hardly going to tell you what all will happen to the animal.

    Interestingly, unlike ballistics gel, muscle density is not uniform across the body either. Muscle density varies based on the type of muscle, use, age and health of the animal/person, etc.

    Don't get me wrong. It has its uses as a standardized medium for looking at relative penetration and how bullets perform, but that uniformity that makes it so good as a testing medium is also why it is so dissimilar to human or animal tissue.
     
  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Why would you believe that simulating the viscosity and density would be useful?

    The gel is designed to emulate the penetrability of pig muscle when struck by expanding handgun bullets. Penetration involves cutting, tearing, and crushing. Elasticity, shear strength, compressive strength, and tensile strength enter into the picture. The testing medium is not designed to emulate each of those material properties--only the results.

    Excellent point.

    The purpose is to provide a method of testing which loads meet specified requirements and which do not.

    Let me agree by turning that around.

    Actual human tissue varies among people, and it varies markedly within the body of the same person. The penetration of a handgun bullet striking a person will depend upon the precise location of the entry wound, and it will vary greatly with even minor variations in the angle of entry--that because the path of the bullet and what it has to go through (skin, muscle, bone, blood-filled organs, and air-filled organs) will so vary.

    Not only that, different people can be expected to react differently to wounds that are essentially identical.

    If one were to go to all of the trouble of constructing an arrangement of different test media to simulate reality, that test would apply only to one entry location and to one precise angle of entry. It would be useless.

    I choose premium ammunition that meets the test requirements, and I would not carry one that did not. Beyond that, I have no interest in gel testing.

    For me, what are important are reliability and my ability to fire several well controlled rounds very quickly, to maximize the likelihood of hitting critical elements of the body.
     
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  21. fastbolt

    fastbolt Member

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    If only more people invested as much time in training, learning and understanding the laws and proper shooting practice (and even enjoyable sporting competition) as they did in speculating about the unpredictable effects of GSW's on theoretical, feared human attackers ...

    Those folks who carry handguns due to the requirements of their professions often have little or no options regarding their safety equipment. They may, however, have the ability to better themselves when it comes to things like their skillset, training and recurrent practice. Or, they may only care to be able to meet whatever minimum standards of adequacy and competency may be required of them.

    It seems it's more often the private gun owner, and even someone who may not even carry a concealed weapon for protection, who obsesses about the perceived nuances of things like "caliber", "ballistic performance", "stopping power", etc. Perhaps the engaged hobbyist, or shooting fan, reloader, etc.

    If you don't have a choice in your gear, work with what you have to optimize your skill and knowledge. Worry about things over which you do have some control. ;)

    If you do have a choice, why seek to argue with anyone else about it? Choose however you will, and hopefully seek to optimize your skill and knowledge to your own benefit.

    Now, for those folks who may seek to offset a lack of interest for improving their skillset and knowledge, and would rather hope that some arguable intrinsic attribute of their choice of caliber and ammunition will somehow make up for their disinterest in seeking to improve (or even maintain) their skills? Their choice.

    Choice comes with potential consequence. Accept it, deny it or ignore it. Not really going to matter to anyone else. (Well, maybe your loved ones.)

    Meanwhile, I haven't carried my .44's as off-duty (or retirement) weapons for some years, although I didn't stop bringing them to the range. I'll still choose to carry something chambered in .380ACP, .38SPL, 9mm, .40S&W or .45ACP, and occasionally one of my .357MAG's. Although I'm not teacing anymore (at present), I still make sure I hit the range (at my former agency's range facility) often enough to assess the state of my skills and continue to vary the calibers and handguns.

    The .45Colt and .44MAG's will see some occasional range time, just to make sure my many years of being an enthusiastic shooter, handloader and then an eager firearms instructor/cop, haven't rusted away.

    Aside from realizing (and keeping in mind) the difference between a "minimal marginal" .380ACP and my favored .38SPL snubs (mostly when considering the pocket size of some pants and sportcoats/jackets), choosing from among my 9, .40 & .45 retirement weapons isn't something that causes me much angst or concern. Nowadays the anticipated circumstances of my activities - including my choice of clothing - typically guides me in my choice when reaching for a retirement CCW option.

    All of those calibers are still somewhere on the spectrum of "low powered handgun" choices ... and it's not like I'm juggling multiple cases or being sent to insert myself into suspected or known dangerous circumstances all day/night anymore.

    Life is easier when you can choose to relax. ;)
     
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  22. sequins

    sequins Member

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    I just want to chime in and say that appeals to authority are unconvincing. The FBI, like the whole federal government, is a complicated beast with lots of good and bad baked into it.

    Their choice of ammunition is not based on ammunition performance factors, not exactly. It's based on cost, getting the most agents to qualify, getting diversity hires to qualify (not complaining about diversity hires, just noting that brawn is no longer a requirement for LEO employment), balanced against terminal performance.

    To suggest that the FBI chose the best terminal performing round is foolish. They chose the least terminal performing round that met their specs. That is to say, 9mm is the worst acceptable choice and that's exactly why the FBI chose it.

    If there is no difference in stopping power of handgun rounds how come I can hunt deer with 44 but not 9mm?
     
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  23. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Right, which do not necessarily reflect what happens in real animals or people.

    You can choose ammo that meets X, Y, and Z gel standards and that is fine. In fact, having standards for selection is excellent. However, ballistics gel results are not necessarily replicated in real life animals/humans. Why? Because ballistics gel is a simulant of a reality that doesn't exist. Humans/animals are not comprised of skinless amorphous gel of uniform consistency.
     
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  24. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Unfortunately your opinion is incorrect. Properly prepared and calibrated 10% Type 250A ordnance gelation has been verified and validated to accurately represent typical human soft tissues. One study, by the late Gene Wolberg, criminologist with San Diego Police Department, compared bullet penetration in ordnance gelatin against bullet penetration in officer involved shootings. Wolberg found that while the range of penetration in actual shootings was greater than gelatin the average penetration depths were the same
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
  25. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Properly prepared and calibrated type 250A ordnance gelatin accurately simulates typical human soft tissues. Vital tissues - the tissues we want our bullets to destroy - are all soft tissues. Gelatin by itself represents a "simple wound". While bone can be added to represent a "complex wound" the only thing we care about is whether the bullet can blast through bone to reach and destroy the vital soft tissues we're targeting. If you want a good analog to bone then look at the FBI windshield glass gelatin test.

    Most bullets recovered from actual shootings physically resemble bullets recovered in gelatin after passing through 4 layers of heavy denim cloth.
     
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