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LuckyGunner.com just tested a ton of defensive pistol loads

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by rugerdude, Oct 22, 2015.

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  1. rugerdude

    rugerdude Member

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    Here's a link to the page with their results and testing criteria: http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/


    They tested 117 different types of defensive ammunition between 4 calibers, .380ACP, 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP. The table near the bottom of the page graphs penetration depths, average expansion, velocity, and provides high-speed video of each load as well as final pictures of the gel-blocks used and the bullets themselves after being fired. This is a great resource for anyone looking to do some research into ammo for their carry weapon or HD firearm. You can even sort by penetration depth, or max expanded diameter depending on what you value.
     
  2. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    Great pictures and informative graphs. It is nice having so much all in one place.
     
  3. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Member

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    The Hornady 380 critical defense did well!
     
  4. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    Ever notice that the gel test guys always use some goofy tactical knife to cut the gel to retrieve the bullets, for what seems to be 10 times longer than it actually should take? Just get a big knife from the kitchen already, sheesh.

    Results are tough to interpret as usual. Note the the most reliable expanding rounds have some of the worst penetration. Look at the Federal HST for example. Great results until you get to .45, where it expands so well it stops quickly, but still hits the FBI recommendation penetration. Looks like I'll be sticking with Federal HST for .45 and .40, but Corbon for .38 and .380.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  5. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    yeah about identical to the 115gr CD 9mm
     
  6. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Member

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    I'm going to go out and buy some federal 45hst's for my cw45!
     
  7. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

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    (sigh)

    That whole test set me back a couple years...back to when I sold my last LCP, because I viewed the .380 cartridge as borderline/sub-acceptable.

    I've been trying to get over that, and recently bought a Kahr CW380. Put a fair number of rounds through it, and even considered buying another LCP. Didn't start carrying a .380, although I wanted to....

    However, this test puts me right back where I was...9mm is my minimum, with .45 preferred, and .380 is still a curio.

    .380, if it has adequate penetration, has nearly no expansion.

    If you want both...move up to 9mm.

    If you value a seriously expanded diameter with good penetration, .45 is your choice. HST looks like a good choice in either 9mm or .45.

    And again, the HST in .40 is a reasonable compromise, if you are of a mind to compromise. Other than that, .40 is...meh. That's why I sold my last .40s ten years ago.
     
  8. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    .40's just a bigger, badder, 9mm. I love it, and it's cheap.

    This chart does kinda point out something that is just a hunch of mine. I've always felt that a heavy fast projectile, that penetrates less CAN be more effective. Quicker stop, quicker energy dump, maybe bigger temp cavity.
    So if a 230gn round stops quicker in the gell than another that's just as fast, that's not always a bad thing. But it's an impossible thing to accurately quantify, unless your a front line troop with tons of experience.

    For example: I'll bet that the 185 Goldensaber is more effective than the 230. It stopped quicker, but it opened up more reliably as well. Look at the balloons in the gel from the 185 GS!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  9. Bama Drifter

    Bama Drifter Member

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    Wow, I could spend all day...

    looking at that cool stuff brings out my inner 'gun nerd'. I wasn't aware that ATK Federal had dropped "Hydra-shock" from the label and was only calling this product HST. Does it still have the center post inside the hollow point? Got 8 rounds of Hydra-shock .357mag left in my 'defensive use' ammo can that were purchased with my first hand gun, a Ruger GP-100. Since then I've upgraded to Colt's and have a sentimental spot for my first box of genuine 'man stopper' ammo. ;)
     
  10. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    No, my HST does not have the post. It actually appears simpler and cheaper than Hydrashock. Sometimes simple is better.

    hst-147.jpg

    40HST004.jpg
     
  11. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    Not surprised to see PPU fail at every test. I don't even understand why they make hollow point ammunition, it never expands and it's not like I would trust PPU to be an accurate ammunition. Would be better if they just focus on manufacturing FMJ only.
     
  12. Bama Drifter

    Bama Drifter Member

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    Thanks Zerodefect, a picture's worth a thousand words! Anyway after studying the charts a little more closely I see that HST & Hydrashock are two different offerings. I'm most impressed w/ the standard 200gr Gold Dot as well. And also glad to see my 124 +P Win PDX1 do fair enough... if money were no object I'd try out 500rds each of the Speer GD, Fed HST, and Win PDX to see what my guns prefer. As it is, My G19 likes Winchester and my Kimber chews through just about anything. YMMV
     
  13. strambo

    strambo Member

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    Energy dump and temporary cavity have no effect at handgun velocities. All that matters in terms of the mechanism of injury for handguns is the permanent cavity volume (depth and diameter).

    At rifle velocities around and north of 2000 fps, the tissue is disrupted so fast that the temporary cavity can exceed the elastic limit of the tissue so it is torn and damaged. This is why a puny 55-75 grain 5.56 round can be way more effective than a 230 grain .45 ACP even if they both penetrate to the same 13".

    A 45-70 impacting down range at 1600 FPS would act similar to a .45 ACP handgun round. A 5.56 impacting say 600 yds downrange at 1450 FPS will only cause a wound channel like a .22 magnum from a pistol.

    Caliber doesn't matter, just the the physical characteristics of the projectile (diameter, expansion or fragmentation or not) and the impact velocity.
     
  14. basicblur

    basicblur Member

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    It's a shame they didn't have some of the new Ruger ARX ammo to test.

    I stay away from "gimmicks", but I heard Tom Gresham on one of his Podcasts say he was amazed at the performance of the Ruger ammo (and he's also one that avoids gimmick ammo).

    I'm going to have to start searching the 'Net to see if anyone has tested it yet.

    'Course, I'll continue to stick with my Golden Saber, HST, Hydra Shok, etc. for quite a while.
     
  15. JDR

    JDR Member

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    This is my big takeaway from this testing, an interesting assortment of ammo penetration and velocity data from an assortment of short sight-radius carry pistols that I have no interest in. I care about reliability and accuracy in my own particular carry guns. Although this particular round was not included in the evaluation, I like and carry the Hornady American Gunner 9mm 124 grain +P XTP rounds with my HK P30, this ammo feeds reliably and shoots accurately. The ballistics data is good to know but strictly secondary to the fact that the gun is reliable & accurate using the ammo. The Hornady 9mm 147gr XTP Custom ammo that was tested shoots fantastically from my Glock 17.

    I have an issue with the statement that "most armed citizens carry smaller guns with shorter barrels", what is their basis for making this assertion? I know a lot of people who successfully carry compact and full size service pistols. I learned on my own that you carry the gun that you can hit your target the best with, I don't shoot short sight-radius guns very well and I don't carry guns with barrels shorter than 4.00". The challenge is always to find the holster that lets you carry a full-size service pistol comfortably. And we all know that the ammo fired from a short barreled gun will fly at a lower velocity than what is advertised by the ammo manufacturer. Penetration is a function of the ammo velocity and bullet type, why not optimize the velocity by testing larger barreled guns? Just my $0.02 worth on the subject.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  16. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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    These are very nice tests, but I have a little bit of a pet peeve to share.

    Most modern defensive ammo is carefully designed to penetrate to a certain depth. By opening faster or slower, wider or narrower, the engineers can tailor the load to deliver the performance they want.

    Penetration depth alone is not a measure of power, it's just a measure of how well the designers did their jobs.

    There is no easy way to actually measure terminal effectiveness - for example, comparing the momentum of different rounds gives very different results than comparing kinetic energy does. Looking at final expansion size ignores the speed of the expansion. And then trying to extrapolate the clinical significance of all this, in terms of how the wounds would differ in a live target, is itself little more than a guess - a guess compounded yet again by our next estimate of how much the additional wounding would actually matter in a practical encounter.

    These tests do tell us some things - consistency is nice, as is proof of the designer's ability to hit the penetration target depth they intended. But it tells us little more than that.

    Am I better off with a 9mm which I can shoot fast, or a .40 that I shoot a little slower - and what's the speed cutoff where it matters? Nobody knows, because we can't quantify this stuff. The actual, practical difference between the same hit from a 9 or a .40 might be meaningful, or it might be trivial. We just don't know. We simply assume there is some difference, and we guess as well as we can about the rest.

    What really matters, and matters more than anything else, is that you can find and afford a few boxes of the stuff to make sure it runs reliably in your particular pistol.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  17. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Unfortunately Lucky Gunner used the less effective FBI "heavy clothing" protocol instead of the superior IWBA four layer denim test.
     
  18. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

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    Who besides ballistic gelatin wears 4 layers of denim?

    I live in Phoenix, you don't see the bulky clothes here. Most of the south most of the time that is true there as well. Up north its true half the time. I prefer this test, I would not say one was superior to the other, they replicate different conditions.
     
  19. malakili

    malakili Member

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    Wow, Remington HTP and Ultimate Defense did really bad in most cases. They didn't test .38 HTP but I still think I'll be unloading it from my LCR.
     
  20. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    Probably has to do with the popularity of pocket, subcompact and compact guns as determined by sales.

    It also provides an effective marketing tool, we humans(Men in particular) tend to be visually oriented and cool pics sell, don't forget Luckygunner sells ammo.
     
  21. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    For me, I cannot imagine any reason why I should switch from HST to anything else. I use it exclusively as my defense load for my carry 9mm (CM9, TP9V2) and .40S&W (M&P40c, XDm 4.5).

    I think last I paid $ 24/50 for P9HST1, which is completely reasonable for defensive JHP.
     
  22. JDR

    JDR Member

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    And I apologize for splitting hairs here. I will agree that a lot of subcompact guns are sold, but I still don't agree that most people carry subcompacts. I know a few retired LEOs and I know an NRA certified instructor who have each spent time and more than a little hard earned to sort out different holster design types and modes of carry, so that they can comfortably (conceal) carry a large compact or full-size service pistol. And I am envious of people who have a body type to comfortably carry a large pistol AIWB style?
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  23. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    ^ I'm just assuming that an ammo seller who wants to sell ammo would market towards what the industry numbers indicate is hot right now, you may well be correct that there's more full size guns carried overall.

    But then if a cartridge performs well in a short barrel wouldn't one expect at least the same performance out of a longer barrel if not better?
     
  24. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    Aaaaahhhhhhh !

    FirearmsTactical.com is gone...



    Well, I'll just have to do this from memory... IIRC the IWBA protocol was developed by Duncan MacPherson because bullets that were tested using the FBI heavy clothing test seemed to have an inordinately high rate of failure in actual shootings by the California Highway Patrol. Duncan MacPherson was the first person to look at the components of the FBI Heavy Clothing Test and identify the mechanism by which JHPs fail. He then developed a consistent soft barrier (4 layers of heavy denim) that would recreate the conditions for expansion failure via that mechanism. This gave engineers a consistent medium to test against and allowed engineers to develop bullet designs that would succeed under those conditions, resulting in bullets that also succeeded in actual shootings.

    Technically, the four-layer heavy denim test was NOT intended to simulate any type of clothing; it was merely an engineering evaluation tool to assess the ability of JHP handgun bullets to resist plugging and expand robustly. But it is a "better" test than the FBI Heavy Clothing Test as was born out by the California Highway Patrol's experience
     
  25. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    I didn't see 147gr Winchester Ranger "T" Series RA9T - which really rocks in all the tests I've seen.

    But thats OK, I've seen enough tests of RA9T - especially out of a 3" barrel (which is my EDC), and I know its going to do what it I want it to do.
     
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