The "Old-School/New School" Debate of Bullet Performance.

This is a discussion on The "Old-School/New School" Debate of Bullet Performance. within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; If we all "make nice" we can still hold to our own opinions, have a fun debate here and all learn something as well. This ...

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Thread: The "Old-School/New School" Debate of Bullet Performance.

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    The "Old-School/New School" Debate of Bullet Performance.

    If we all "make nice" we can still hold to our own opinions, have a fun debate here and all learn something as well. This thread is designed to take up where the "Winchester Silver Tip Hollow Points For Self Defense" thread got off-topic.

    Winchester Silver Tip Hollow Point for self defense

    I'm not overly enamored with the wonders of bullet expansion in handguns. I also am old-fashioned enough to see little real need for bullet jackets in moderately powered self-defense revolver rounds like the .38 Special, .44 Special, .45 ACP (as used in revolvers), or .45 Colt. Expansion is nice gravy if it occurs but it really isn't worth agonizing over the finer points of expansion characteristics of the various self-defense bullets offered. Far too much splitting of hairs is devoted to relative bullet terminal ballistics performance.

    Jackets have application in semi-automatic pistol cartridges but in my view the jacket has more to do with reliable feeding/function than it does with enhancing terminal ballistics unless it is used to actually control expansion. A soft lead bullet expands quite well when not contained in a copper jacket.

    Only speaking for myself but I won't be compelled to agree that any of the various charts, tests, jello-shooting clips, FBI requirements, or "expert" quotes that are endlessly offered, are proof that a certain projectile choice is superior or that other projectiles are inferior. Some who write up tests may claim "scientific background" for their work but empirical studies based on shooting "properly prepared ballistic gelatin" still tip toe around the fringes of reality which is shooting assailants while desiring the best stops possible.

    Take everything purported to answer all questions, from FBI requirements, to cavities in "blue jean covered jello," to pontificating forum members, with a huge dose of salt. Just because someone or some test says its so doesn't make it so. If one feels the need to take comfort in all such information that's out there then fine but don't attempt to bind it on others as gospel truth. Man is a free moral agent and, just as he may with religion, he may pick his poison with regards to self-defense ammunition.

    I'll confess to being no expert either and freely agree that I know less about current expanding jacketed bullets than most. I can't relate all these tests back to my own experiences so they have little meaning. My observations are connected more with hunting or control of feral animals or varmints. Good hits work best no matter what style bullet is used and enhanced bullet performance characteristics are poor substitutes for bad hits. Surely we can all agree on that.
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array Thunder71's Avatar
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    I use what I use because it's praised consistently and feeds very well in my guns.

    I have no magic criteria other than that.

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    For me, the swc design has beaten every single bullet I have tried to date. This includes the newer HST. The problem is not if these bullets work as designed, it's if they do it under all circumstances commonly encountered. And the answer is no.

    They have made great progress in the jacket design of the HP bullet. But they are still designed to work under certain variables that must be met. Within these perimeters are velocity and tissue. In these two things, the entire bullets ability to work as design are hinged, which is expansion.

    Not enough velocity? No or little expansion. Medium impacted varied from test medium( gelatin), can impact velocity, or, destroy bullet design enough to impede expansion.

    Any and all of these effect penetration of the HP design.

    Hit a bone, the HP can stop, deform, or veer off course. If it deforms it hinders penetration.

    The lad semi wadcutter design depends only on weight to drive it deep. It penetrates thru bone, and is not dependent on expansion to work. The sharp driving band cuts a full caliber hole, and is more consistent in it's performance.

    No matter the angle, or medium, you can count on performance.

    Also, the heavier, larger calibers, even in their LRN offerings beat the mid calibers in their best HP loadings hands down. Capable of smashing bone, and driving thru the vitals regardless of shot angle, the large calibers like the 44 and 45, do it with size, and weight, without relying on complicated engineering and expensive bullets.

    It seems like the fight stopping rate and killing ratio of hits vs number of shots fired were much higher back to the black powder era. Less shot seemed to be needed, and more folks on the receiving end of the lead were DRT years back.
    What is different? It is so different in fact, that people are actually being taught to fire " bursts " instead of just getting a good quick first hit.

    Either that speaks bad of our modern shooting ability, or it should be a sign that something isn't working as well as it used too.
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    Senior Member Array sensei2's Avatar
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    i don't know about, "old school vs. new school", but my preferences are for lighter, faster, expanding, and/or fragmenting bullets, in whatever caliber i'm using (38Spl, 357Magnum, 45ACP, 357SIG, 9x19, 40S&W).

    despite some vociferous disagreement on this site, i continue to follow Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow and what they have written in their books and magazine articles.

    i have seen that many folks prefer heavier bullets with greater penetration. i'm fine with that. i believe a person should carry what he/she has confidence in.

    as i have noted in several previous posts: any law-abiding person who legally carries a firearm for self protection is OK with me. i don't especially care what gun they carry, nor what ammunition they load in it.

    despite my comments urging him to do otherwise, my best gunny friend carries his Smith 642 or Ruger LCP without a reload. i really disagree, but in the end, i figure it's his choice to make.




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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I really can't make much of an intelligent argument against the 357 magnum. This is an example of an extreme on the other side that is devastating. Especially with the old semi jacketed 125 weight HP's with exposed lead tips at an honest 1450 fps from a 4 inch barrel. I'd take it anyday of the week and feel extremely well armed.
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    Mean nasty looking bullets sell better. Even more so if they are given a intimidating name. No different that black rifles. Anyone else remember the late sixties when the only jacketed bullets easily obtainable for handguns were the half jacket SWC bullets? They were not much more than a long version of a gas check. They were intended to control leading not much else. Then in the early seventies we could buy full jacketed hollow points that looked very similar to what we shoot now with one exception. I remember fireing them into hard clay backstops then digging them out only to find that they expanded less than a standard lead bullet. The jackets were so think that the bullet might separate but seldom expanded.

    Then came Super-Vel. The bullet company that for me changed everything. Finally we had a bullet that would reliably expand when fired from a handgun. I also seem to recall that the only early jacketed bullet that would reliably expand in a 9mm was the Winchester Silver-tip as its aluminum jacket allowed expansion at lower velocity than what the other brands copper based jackets would.

    Strange how both 44 mag with a 240 gr lead bullet and the 357 mag with a 158 gr set the standards for magnum handguns using velocities only seen nowadays with much lighter jacketed bullets.

    Michael
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    Distinguished Member Array 21bubba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    I really can't make much of an intelligent argument against the 357 magnum. This is an example of an extreme on the other side that is devastating. Especially with the old semi jacketed 125 weight HP's with exposed lead tips at an honest 1450 fps from a 4 inch barrel. I'd take it anyday of the week and feel extremely well armed.
    Nice preemptive post.

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    I do some bullet casting, have shot numerous animals with lead bullets and all of them were quick kills. I'm with Glockman10MM on this, when saying that the Keith designed flat nosed semi wad-cutter is as lethal as a bullet gets. Its a great bullet for both game and target, cutting clean holes in paper and when driven with enough force, a design that continues to shoot right through both shoulders of a deer, killing it on the spot.

    Problem is, the don't feed in a semi worth a dang...thus the necessity for the round nose design that feeds well, but generally lacks in killing power due to that round nose which tends to seal off the hole, and not penetrate as well because of its tendency to bounce off of bones or even dense muscle.

    So, something had to be done. After awhile, the use of jackets, brass,aluminum,copper, all soft metals became common to improve feeding issues. Realizing that round nose bullets weren't getting the job done, hollow-points became the norm because they allowed the soft lead underneath to perform like lead used to do, but quit doing with the jackets. As things progressed, the speeds got bumped up because of the short comings of the jacketed bullets.

    The .357 did well because it was bumped up to a velocity that forced that bullet to come apart or at least expand to over twice it size, so in effect, it acted like a larger caliber.

    As smaller calibers became the norm due to guns that were easier to carry, the higher speeds and the fancy bullets were needed to pick up the slack for the smaller diameters.

    As Glockman also noted, back in the day when lead bullets were used in the .44's and .45's, they seemed to be pretty efficient killers that got the job done and average speeds were mostly in the 700-850 FPS range.

    Bullet technology has come a long way, even in the last 20 years. Things are better now than they ever have been and the performance gap between the 9mm, .40 and .45 continues to get smaller.

    I still wouldn't feel under gunned with a .45 Long Colt or a .45 ACP or even a .44 with those big,soft, lead bullets though. Seeing what the inside of a deer looks like after being shot with one drives home the fact that they work as well as they ever did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Some who write up tests may claim "scientific background" for their work but empirical studies based on shooting "properly prepared ballistic gelatin" still tip toe around the fringes of reality which is shooting assailants while desiring the best stops possible.
    It's about as close an estimate as can be made, short of an actual street shooting, and in those cases it's not always possible to know the factors involved. At least when the factors are controlled and details evaluated, a fair description of that performance can be obtained.

    Just because someone or some test says its so doesn't make it so.
    I think it's clear that results of penetration depth, wound cavity size and correlation with loss of jacket, spread, etc, are what they are. An opinions about what such things imply about other situations are something else entirely. IMO, it's the opinions on the results that should be taken with a grain of salt, far more so than the measured depths/cavities/etc.

    And we should never lose sight of the problem that many of such "tests/studies" are essentially marketing tools.

    If one feels the need to take comfort in all such information that's out there then fine but don't attempt to bind it on others as gospel truth.
    Penetration of X inches under XYZ conditions is exactly that: the gospel truth, for those conditions, particularly if tested to a fare-thee-well. Trouble is, it has only partial application to whether it'll be enough in a different situation.

    Good hits work best ...
    And they likely always will.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    HotGuns, I am getting ready to experiment with Keith Bullets, or even plain ol LSWC's in my Colt Goverment model as soon as I finish the J frame load testing.

    I can only hope they work, but heck, if they don't, even with ball it's still a 45:)
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    I'm just spit balling here, but what about a lead EFMJ? I've played around with Federals 9mm EFMJ, and the thing works very consistently, the problem is that they fill the middle with some sort of light weight polymer, making the overall bullet weight 105gr. So...instead of using a metal jacket and polymer inside, what about just having a round nosed lead bullet designed with stress points so that it has an effective mechanical (as opposed to hydraulic) mushrooming, just like a EFMJ's. I realize it may need some work, but it seems like some sort of design like that may allow an auto loader the same benefits of the LSWC....
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    No one can argue bullet performance conducted in a lab. The results are the results and have been conducted in a very specific manner. So, bullet performance is bullet performance the difference is how did it hit the target, through what, and what did it do while in the body?

    The only way to ensure a bullet can effectively perform through ALL variables is by maximizing all four variables; speed, weight, diameter, and bullet construction. If you plan to use an inferior/marginal/ adequate bullet and make up for it in quantity of bullets on target or quality of shot placement, then so be it. But don’t pretend a 9mm can penetrate through a barrier and still have enough performance left in it to cause life threatening injuries. I think that is the real issue, the “everything is equal” club looks at the one gel test and say “see, they all penetrate the same, and kinda expand the same.” If we stand toe to toe and shoot it out in the same exact manner, we pretty much get the same result. In the real world of bullets not expanding, shooting at angles and through stuff that is not optimal, and only 30% of all shots hitting their intended target you need to make every shot count. Use the biggest caliber, in the heaviest weight, and fastest bullet in a reliable gun you can accurately shoot. Biggest caliber to cut a big hole, heavy to drive through barriers/targets, fastest to impart the most impact. If you follow those rules it won’t matter if you are old school/new school or energy junky/big bore those bullets will always be in the top 5 of any comparison. Excellent examples: 357, 180-200 grn WFN/10mm, 200-230 grn WFN

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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    The more I learn, the older I get the more I like LSWC's and big bore revolvers.

    What got to me was how the IWBA came in and decided that X amount of penetration was ideal, no more and no less. I have been a hunter for 40 years and an LEO for 32.

    I know that an animal with a through and through bleeds out faster and is easier to track until they do. I like a heavy for caliber moving at a brisk pace. My favorites are 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum. There is no need to download these cartridges for anything but small game or plinking. My 44 cowboy load (240 grain LSWC) at 1000 fps is capable of taking most medium game quite handily, however, for defense against critters with teeth and claws or big game that same bullet at 1500 fps works nicely. Penetration is necessary for stopping whatever you are shooting, my experience is that a LSCW, punches a caliber sized hole straight through whatever I shoot.

    For thin skinned critters a 44 caliber, 180 JHP at 1500FPS is hard to beat. It is hard to find a bad hollowpoint in the 357 magnum. The 357 Magnums reputation as a fight stopper was made way before the 125 grain jhp came out, that was just icing on the cake.

    Maybe thats why I have 4 357's and 2 44's......
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    Member Array Blades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Good hits work best no matter what style bullet is used and enhanced bullet performance characteristics are poor substitutes for bad hits. Surely we can all agree on that.
    Yes, we can agree on that.
    And hopefully we can all agree that "Pistols suck"(RIP Paul Gomez).

    I believe that the "new school" bullets expand to increase the size of the wound channel and "dump energy" into a target, hopefully increasing the chance of stopping a threat quickly.

    The "old-school" SWC bullets cut a hole, break bones, etc., but you need a larger caliber to be useful? Correct me if I am wrong -- A 9mm SWC isn't going to be as effective as a .45acp SWC, yes?

    I like the .45acp as it seems to be the compromise between "new and old school", in my opinion. I can load a "new school" bullet design and if it doesn't expand, then like "glockman10mm" said: "...even with ball it's still a 45:)". 10 rounds of .45acp in my Glock 30sf is concealable, controllable and comforting since I don't trust the "new school" bullets 100%.
    --Jason--

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    Member Array Fisher10's Avatar
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    So Glockman, you prefer the semi-wad cutter design, because it does not expand? Leaving a hole, penetrating (excessively) deep and nothing else. Sure the Semi-wad cutter performs consistently round to round (because it doesn't do anything) but what makes that better than a quality expanding round, which has been engineered to expand fairly reliably through all kinds of media with a liquid content and retains it's weight through barriers?

    If you are referring to a SWC HP, some loads do expand well but not having a jacket can impair the effectiveness through barriers unless it is made of a hard alloy, which hinders expansion.

    Here's a test you might appreciate: Buffalo Bore .38 Special 158 gr Semiwadcutter Ammo test - YouTube
    And here's a load I might carry: Speer Gold Dot .38 Special +P 135 gr Ammo test - YouTube

    Keep in mind, the human body has lungs. Large pockets of air that a bullet would pass right through without resistance.

    I know shot placement is far more important than bullet design. SWC style bullets are useful when hunting when you want a simple hole for an animal to bleed through, both sides. I just don't see the SWC as a good option against two legged critters.

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