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Ballistic gelatin test results - Buffalo Bore 158gr (non +P) SWC-HC

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Brass Fetcher, Apr 30, 2007.

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  1. Brass Fetcher

    Brass Fetcher Member

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    Many thanks to Buffalo Bore Ammunition for sponsoring this test.

    =========

    Cartridge : Buffalo Bore 158gr Soft Lead SWC-HC (Part # 20C)

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

    Block calibration : All depths corrected (From 10.6cm @ 611 ft/sec)

    Shot 1 - Impacted at 883 ft/sec, penetrated to 14.5" and was recovered at 0.399" average diameter. Bullet experienced moderate fragmentation, with the individual fragments penetrating deeply enough to be potentially effective.

    Shot 2 - Impacted at 899 ft/sec, penetrated to 14.5" and was recovered at 0.429" average diameter. Bullet experienced moderate fragmentation, with the individual fragments penetrating deeply enough to be potentially effective.

    Shot 3 - Impacted at 925 ft/sec, penetrated to 14.5" and was recovered at 0.389" average diameter. Bullet experienced moderate fragmentation, with the individual fragments penetrating deeply enough to be potentially effective.

    Shot 4 - Impacted at 946 ft/sec, penetrated to 14.5" and was recovered at 0.400" average diameter. Bullet experienced moderate fragmentation, with the individual fragments penetrating deeply enough to be potentially effective.

    Shot 5 - Impacted at 878 ft/sec, penetrated to 14.5" and was recovered at 0.437" average diameter. Bullet experienced moderate fragmentation, with the individual fragments penetrating deeply enough to be potentially effective.

    Please note that the actual bullet cores (and a few large jacket segments) penetrated out of the back of the block and no more than 1" into polyester fabric placed behind the block. The pictures depict a bullet/fragments that penetrated 16.1" (the entire length of the block). Because the block did not calibrate as a 'perfect' block, a correction formula was applied to the bullet core only. The shape of the core was cylindrical, so that drag coefficient was used (from the book Bullet Penetration). Penetration in an ideal block should be slightly deeper than 14.5" for all bullets tested.
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  2. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It appears to be an effective load, but at over 900 FPS with a 158 grain bullet, coming out of a 2" barrel, I'd say the load was a bit hotter then what used to be called the "standard load." (158 grain lead bullet/ 870 FPS / 6" barrel). But if the shooter can control the recoil and make fast, accurate repeat shots - that's what matters.
     
  3. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    I wonder what the expanded diameter would have been if the bullets had stayed together better. As it is, the expansion is less than expected (about .6 vs .4 in). Maybe BB just needs to tweak their alloy.

    What's with the 70 fps spread? Is that just a short barrel thing, or a chrono thing?
     
  4. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    I like the large initial wound channel and then the deep penetration. That is the best of both worlds. It is hard to tell from the pictures but is the fragmentation the gas check or is it part of the lead bullet itself. Gas check have always shown up as UFO's in gelatin. The are sort of a bonus bisket cutter. Bill
     
  5. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Sorry for my being so rude, thanks agains JE223 for the hard work and thanks for BB for providing the funds. Bill
     
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Fascinating. I'm amazed BBore managed to get so much fps out of a non +P. That's a serious hit for a special.
     
  7. Brass Fetcher

    Brass Fetcher Member

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    @wcwhitey - I didn't see anything rude in your post... you'd have to do much better than that! :) The fragments were actually the lead of the nose area... the gas checks all appear firmly attached to the base of the bullet.

    @PotatoJudge - I would assume that it was not related to the chronograph ... I use an Oehler 35, which has been a fine chrono, in my experience. But it has been shot a number of times ... :what:
     
  8. jt1

    jt1 Member

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    The penetration is impressive and consistent. I'm not sure if the fragmentation is desirable or not and I was expecting a little more expansion. Based upon your experence and prior test results will you name a few of the most effective carry rounds for the snub revolver? Anyone else care to share? Thanks.
     
  9. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Interesting. Not what I would have expected. On the plus side: it's expanding quickly, and throwing the large fragments DEEP. Real deep. Suggesting that they're staying with the main core for a long time, and then being spat off late.

    So...while the final core diameter is only moderate, the bullet is probably travelling as a wide, expanded, "classic mushroom" hollowpoint for...hmmmm...7 inches or so?

    John: are the copper base plates ("gas checks") staying with the core, or coming off?

    The more I look at these pics, the more I think "damn, I wouldn't want to get hit with that". It's weird, but lethal stuff...

    I'm now REAL curious as to how the +P version will behave. The words "explosive frangible" come to mind...which...given the size of the frangible "pellets" and the large core isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    Yo Tim, waddya think? Is this OK, or do you want to harden up your alloy mix juuuust a tad?

    ON EDIT: just realized, a +P version of this slug was already tested:

    http://www.brassfetcher.com/38special2inchbarrel.html

    It held together and mushroomed to .577.

    Soooo...either Tim went and softened the alloy for this lower-speed variant and maybe went a bit too far, or something was seriously off with one of the blocks of gelatin? (Sorry John, don't mean that as a "dis", but...these are weird results, ain't they? I want to see if Tim changed his alloy formula,)
     
  10. ARTiger

    ARTiger Member

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    That amount of fragmentation is surprising. I sure like the fact that 158 grains got pushed from a 1.875" bbl length that fast AND at standard pressures. BUT, appears some work needs to be done on the bullet composition.

    Too bad Speer doesn't have a 158 grain gold dot SB like their 135 available commercially. Were that the case, no doubt Buff Bore could make perhaps the ultimate .38 special load for snubbies.
     
  11. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    First of all let me thank you for the work and the posting of the results!

    Second of all the results are exactly why I carry a 158 grain cast load in my snubby. 800 to 900 fps is not that hot and it is easily controllable.

    14+ inches of penetration pretty much means a hole gets punched right through all the vitals. This would be more the case with a slightly harder semi wad cutter which would not expand as much. A very effective self defense round for a .38 special.

    Since you don't see rifle class wound channels with a pistol the penetration becomes the key to effectiveness. This combo does that very well.
     
  12. jt1

    jt1 Member

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    If you build it , We will buy it.
     
  13. sm

    sm member

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    JE223,
    Thank you for doing this test.

    Buffalo Bore Ammunition ,
    We appreciate you folks for sponsoring.

    Old Fuff, Jim March or anyone.

    What was the fps of the old 158 grain loads?

    The reason I ask is to find out for clarification if some modern loads are now "backed down" and +P replicates loadings of yesteryear.


    Steve
     
  14. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Me need. Anyone carry this stuff in Tucson, or is this order only?
     
  15. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    sm:

    See my post #2... :neener: :D

    Anyway, the pre-war so-called "standard" police .38 Special load of yesteryear consisted of a 158-grain lead round nose bullet, going 870 FPS out of a 6 inch revolver barrel.

    In 1977 Winchester listed it at 855 FPS using the same bullet and barrel length. Remington and Federal were identical.

    In 2002 Winchester said 755 FPS out of a 4" vented test fixture (vented to duplicate the cylinder/barrel gap). Remington was the same.

    That year Remington .38 Special +P with a semi-wadcutter lead bullet weighing 158 grains was listed at 890 FPS out of the same 4" vented test barrel.
     
  16. Sundles

    Sundles Member

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    Folks,

    We did soften up the bullet for the standard pressure load, versus the +P load. We knew they were fragmenting, but after they had already penetrated quite deeply. They are expanding to rouhgly .60 cal. before the pedals peel off. These loads are about as nasty as a standard pressure 38SPL can be. I do think they recoil like a typical +P load though.

    The large extreme spreads are due to the dynamics of very soft squishy bullets being fired out of revolvers. It is impossible to get bullets going this fast, with low extreme spreads when they are this squishy. If the chamber throats in the revolver are all exactly the same diameter, it helps some, but the forcing cone has a tremendous efect on these soft bullets too. Its a trade off we were willing to accept in order to get a load like this out of revolvers.

    It should be noted that my 2 inch revolvers are flinging this bullet at just over 850 fps. None of mine are getting any where near 900 fps.

    When/if the 150gr. HARD CAST full wadcutters get tested and posted here, you'll notice much smaller extreme spreads.

    Many thanks to JE223 for the testing.
     
  17. sm

    sm member

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    Old Fuff,
    When you get my age you will make mistakes - just you wait and see... ;)

    Thank you sir...:)

    Steve
     
  18. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Huh.

    Well, Tim's explanation matches the gelatin pics pretty well.

    First thing, if this load is a softer lead compound, then John's testing isn't way off. That's good.

    Second...well, one good thing about a bullet this soft is that if a given gun is loose, sloppy and otherwise shooting bullets at abnormally low speed, this round will STILL work well. Take a worst-case: a gun is only spitting them around 775-800fps. Betcha it'll still expand, and punch to 12" or so. That will git'r'done.

    Some of us may have guns that due to the barrel, cylinder gap or whatever are spitting rounds slow. With this slug, we're still covered. So it's a round we can rely on. In contrast, the Remington is barely able to expand out of snubs. It does so, but...if anything goes wrong, be it a light barrier layer, heavy clothing, I would bet on this Buffbore standard pressure over it's cousin the Remington 158+P with a similar projectile shape.

    Is it perfect? No. But in terms of standard-pressure 38, it's revolutionary.
     
  19. vanfunk

    vanfunk Member

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    I agree completely. I must get some for my S&W 337 snub!:)

    vanfunk
     
  20. Brass Fetcher

    Brass Fetcher Member

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    @Jim March - No 'dis' received. :) In fact, I think that it is good to be skeptical of all experimental results, including the results from my gelatin tests.

    I wouldn't say that the results were unexpected (deviating from the performance of a fragmenting bullet), but they were better than most fragmenting bullets that I have seen, which tend to scatter small pieces of lead during a mostly-shallow penetration.
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Jim March:

    I have a feeling that if those folks that insist on tight barrel/cylinder gaps (.003" - .004") start shooting soft lead bullets, they may have trouble getting the cylinder to revolve after a few reloads. Older revolvers had wider gaps (.006" - .010") for a reason. :uhoh:
     
  22. Bob79

    Bob79 Member

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    Its amazing how they can get the 158 grain bullet to travel over 900 FPS from a 2" 642 with only standard pressure. It makes me wonder how much validity there is to labeling something +P. I currently use the Remington +P 158 gr LSWCHP, and from reading what Mr Camp has posted in his tests, this usually gets 800-850 FPS from the same gun. I find this load fairly stout in the recoil dept, not uncontrollable, but stout.

    I was concerned about shooting the Remington "+P" load in my non magnum J-frame, but if the Buffal Bore is getting 50-75 FPS more speed with a standard pressure bullet, I guess I won't worry any more. I think I'll just stick with the Remington because I imagine recoil is more powerful with the BB load, and its more expensive. But for those who don't mind the price or recoil, it looks like this is a very good .38 special snub round. Thanks to JE223 for continuing to post these tests, it's appreciated.
     
  23. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    Sundles, thanks for answering my questions. I'm a big fan of better performance at lower pressures (I'll take 45 Colt over 44 Mag that is), and these rounds fit the bill well. Your work in stuff like this makes me more excited about the future of ammo than new cartridges or fancy hollow points.

    JE223, thanks for all the work you put into doing these tests well.
     
  24. Sundles

    Sundles Member

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    Potato,

    Any time.

    Normal revolvers have way too wide a range of manufacturing tolerances.

    I have a S&W Mt. Gun on a 7 shot L frame. I love this gun, BUT it has one chamber throat that is .003 bigger than the others and this particular chamber generates about 110 fps less speed than the other six chambers--bummer. IF I was uninformed, I would assume that the ammo was inconsistant. But in reality, it is this revoler that is inconsistant.

    The only consistant revolvers I've ever found are Freedom Arms revolvers--of course they are $2,000.00+ too. I've ownded nearly a dozen of them over the years and currently have two of them in 454 and two of them in 475. Their chamber throats are very consistant within the same gun and their forcing cones are precisely done too.

    Freedom Arms warns against shooting soft bullets out of their revolvers for the very reasons I've outlined here. Super soft bullets out of the 454 will "slug up" (obturate) when they hit the forcing cone at 60,000 PSI and then when the barrel tries to resize the bullets back down at this pressure, it actually splits the barrel. Of course the 38 SPL is only operating at 18,000 PSI, so no problem with barrel splitting in 38 SPL.
     
  25. MartinS

    MartinS Member

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    Good ammo, good outfit. Corporate communictions at its finest.
     
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