9mm, 40, & 45 Testing Results (5-15-10)

This is a discussion on 9mm, 40, & 45 Testing Results (5-15-10) within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I recently did a ballistic gel test, but not quite to the FBI's protocal. The FBI uses light clothing (t-shirt material), heavy clothing (4 layers ...

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Thread: 9mm, 40, & 45 testing Results (5-15-10)

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    New Member Array CSI's Avatar
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    Exclamation 9mm, 40, & 45 testing Results (5-15-10)

    I recently did a ballistic gel test, but not quite to the FBI's protocal. The FBI uses light clothing (t-shirt material), heavy clothing (4 layers of denim), and auto glass at a 45* angle.

    The problem I have with the denim portion of their protocal is that unless you have a 4 layer blue jean jacket on, no one wears denim on their torso. Thick leather jackets, heavily padded coats, sweaters, thermals, etc are usually what are worn during cold weather. Would not logic tell you to perform tests with these materials covering the ballistic gel instead of 4 layers of denim? That's exactly what I did!

    The target (gel block) was 10 feet from my bench, with a chronograph setup to record velocity. I ran 2 different tests:
    1. 8x8 patches of leather from a "motorcycle" jacket, wool from a sweater, and cotton from a t-shirt, all stacked behind each other. No auto glass was used on shot #1 testing.

    2. The same patches of material were used for shot #2, but auto glass was set directly in front of the gel blocks, and set to a 45* angle (from my line of sight at the bench).

    The handguns used were M&P fullsize 9, 40, and 45. The ammo used was Federal's HST, in 9mm 124g +P, 165g 40 S&W, and 230g 45 ACP.

    The results are as follows:

    9mm:
    Shot 1 had 1254 velocity, 12.5" penetration, .60 expansion, and retained 99.7 % weight.
    Shot 2 had 1259 velocity, 11.25" penetration, .58 expansion, and retained 97.10% weight.

    40 S&W:
    Shot 1 had 1143 velocity, 13" penetration, .74 expansion, and retained 100.70% weight.
    Shot 2 had 1150 velocity, 10" penetration, .51 expansion, and retained 65.18% weight. This round separated.

    45 ACP:
    Shot 1 had 895 velocity, 14" penetration, .81 expansion, and retained 101.15% weight.
    Shot 2 had 898 velocity, 12" penetration, .62 expansion, and retained 93.25% weight. This round separated.

    For comparison, .125 = 1/8 of an inch, and .250 = 1/4 of an inch.

    For all #1 test shots, all 3 rounds were less than 1/4 of an inch in diameter from each other.
    For all #2 test shots, all 3 rounds were less than 1/8 of an inch in diameter from each other.

    Now for some facts and myth busting...
    1. Pistol rounds do NOT knock people down. They punch small holes, and unless the brain or spine are destroyed, the person will live until they bleed out. They may keep fighting, run away, or fall down.
    2. There is no such thing as a magic bullet that does all, ends all.
    3. Bigger holes mean sacrificing capacity. Bigger in the above tests can be measured with less than 1/4 of an inch for all shots fired.
    4. Train for the worst, hope for the best. Mr. Badguy isn't going to stand still and let you take a perfect isosceles or weaver stance, aim, and pop a perfectly placed round center mass. There is a reason less than 30% of all rounds fired by cops actually hit the target. Civilians have far worse percentages.
    5. Train with 1 handed shooting as well. If you can't control your handcannon under stress and hit the target, having a big boom means nothing. Use your weak hand for an eye opening realization.
    6. 9mm has the greatest degree of control for the average shooter as well as faster, accurate follow-up shots.
    7. The 45 produced the biggest numbers in each category, but only marginally over the other 2 rounds. See 3, 4 and 5 above.
    8. The 40 is a decent compromise between the 9mm and the 45, but as with all bullets, once they leave the gun you have no idea what they are actually going to do. This is the X factor...X meaning anything can happen (and usually will).
    9. Yes you can expect better numbers in warmer weather as there are fewer clothing barriers for the rounds to go through.
    10. Do not compare military ballistic stats to law enforcement or civilians. The military has to use ball ammo, which everyone knows is inferior to hollow point ammo. 1986 Miami was also ~25 years ago.

    Conclusion: pick one, train with it constantly, and be comfortable shooting what you pick. Shot placement is greater than anything else.


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    Member Array 12 gauge's Avatar
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    What part of Alabama are you from?
    "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms..."
    --Richard Henry Lee, 1788

    "The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

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    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    How did you measure expansion of the bullets? There is a right way and a wrong way that many don't realize.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

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    I like your report. Fed HST's are what I carry in 9mm, .40 and .45...same weights as you tested.

    Can you post photo's of the expanded bullets?
    Proud NRA member

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    My thoughts: hit them in the right spot and often--with most anything.
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    VIP Member Array peckman28's Avatar
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    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

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    Thanks for sharing. While the sample size is small, you have done a darned good job of trying to account for as many variables as you can - something not many "amateur" ballisticians even consider.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    Member Array Lumpy McSoo's Avatar
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    Great post. I currently carry Federal HSTs in 40 S&W at 180 gr, .45 ACP at 230 gr and was going to get a Gen 4 G17 for 9mm. I was curious about what load to try and trust my life to

    I have just heard that Winchester Ranger may be doing away with their SXT (Talon) line. Anyone else heard this?

    Later, Lumpy.

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    Where are you guys getting .45 ACP 230gr. Federal HST from? I have a box of 50 rounds on backorder from Streichers and have heard that the backlog is around a year or so, but I'd like to get a couple of boxes to try out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleipnir View Post
    Where are you guys getting .45 ACP 230gr. Federal HST from? I have a box of 50 rounds on backorder from Streichers and have heard that the backlog is around a year or so, but I'd like to get a couple of boxes to try out.
    I've found it to be hit and miss. When it pops up, grab it.
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    Distinguished Member Array orangevol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleipnir View Post
    Where are you guys getting .45 ACP 230gr. Federal HST from? I have a box of 50 rounds on backorder from Streichers and have heard that the backlog is around a year or so, but I'd like to get a couple of boxes to try out.
    Bought mine from GT Distributors, (HST 9mm 124gr + P, .40 165gr, and .45 230gr + P).

    G T Distributors Product Detail
    Proud NRA member

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    Distinguished Member Array tangoseal's Avatar
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    How do you get 101%? Just curious. Nice testing.
    "I believe that the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive." - Ronald Reagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangoseal View Post
    How do you get 101%? Just curious. Nice testing.
    - I would guess some fabric or gelatin was not cleaned thoroughly from the retreived bullet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangoseal View Post
    How do you get 101%? Just curious. Nice testing.
    Same question....how did the bullet increase in weight?? I'm assuming gel and material debris had been removed...
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

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    First of all, I agree with your conclusions (except #8 -- the 40 is a compromise of the 10, not of a 9 and 45). Second, thank you for conducting and reporting the testing. Last and least, the reported data directly support only 1 of the 10, agree with 3 more, and disagree with 2 conclusions.

    "1. Pistol rounds do NOT knock people down." IMPLIED. Since the sagital abdominal diameter of a healthy BG is probably less than 10 inches, these data support an exit wound presumption. We should also know from experience that since firing a 9/40/45 handgun doesn't knock us down, getting hit with one won't either. Note to self: If I need knock-down power, carry a BFR 45-70.
    "2. There is no such thing as a magic bullet that does all, ends all." UNSUPPORTED. The test data used only one type of LE bullet in only three calibers for three shots each; there are no data in this test to support application of these results to all bullets. (I don't believe in magic bullets, but these data do not support such disbelief.)
    "3. Bigger holes mean sacrificing capacity." IMPLIED. Not reported, but the mag capacity differed among calibers tested. (hmmm ... -- see overkill percentage below)
    "4. Train for the worst, hope for the best." True, but UNSUPPORTED. Those percentages are not from this test.
    "5. Train with 1 handed shooting as well." UNSUPPORTED. The difference between test #1 and test #2 was glass, not grip.
    "6. 9mm has the greatest degree of control for the average shooter as well as faster, accurate follow-up shots." CONTROVERTED. All of the 3-round group diameters were reported to be similar.
    "7. The 45 produced the biggest numbers in each category, but only marginally over the other 2 rounds." SUPPORTED.
    "8. The 40 is a decent compromise between the 9mm and the 45, but as with all bullets, once they leave the gun you have no idea what they are actually going to do." CONTROVERTED. We know well what the bullet will do before it hits something, the purpose of this test was to compare what happens on/after impact, and the test data imply the results were all similar.
    "9. Yes you can expect better numbers in warmer weather as there are fewer clothing barriers for the rounds to go through." IMPLIED. On the other hand, a number which indicates greater distance after exiting the body is not 'better.'
    "10. Do not compare military ballistic stats to law enforcement or civilians." UNSUPPORTED. The test used only LE ammo.

    Sorry, the engineer in me just couldn't let the stats fall where they may, especially percentage comparisons of very different bullet weights. Here is another percentage consideration: 9mm applied just less than 400 ft-lbs of energy; 40 S&W and 45 ACP applied just over 460 ft-lbs. But the 9 holds 15 rounds while the 45 holds 12. So, in terms of total overkill the 9 wins because 25% more ammunition is greater than 15% less energy?

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