Ammo Performance

Ammo Performance

This is a discussion on Ammo Performance within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I keep hearing the term performance but I don't really know what it means. Penetration, expansion are terms that seem to be related. Whatever ammunition ...

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Thread: Ammo Performance

  1. #1
    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Ammo Performance

    I keep hearing the term performance but I don't really know what it means. Penetration, expansion are terms that seem to be related. Whatever ammunition I use I see holes in target.

    Can anyone help out with an explanation?

    Thanks.


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array randytulsa2's Avatar
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    Man, you've really opened up a Pandora's box! Not only that, you've alrady put your finger right on the two elements that make constitute "performance" in the context of handgun ammunition: penetration and expansion.

    That really is all there is to it: a round that expands (without disintegrating) and that goes deep enough (without going through the bad guy and killing an innocent bystander). That's the perfect self-defense round for a handgun.

    Opinions and data vary widely on which company's rounds perform best in which calibers and which guns, and which configuration of bullet performs best in which calibers in which guns and on and on and on and on.

    Other things "performance" can mean, depending on the context include whether the ammo fires when shot, feeds or ejects when fired from a semiauto or how tightly it groups.
    "...bad decisions that turn out well often make heroes."


    Gary D. Mitchell, A Sniper's Journey: The Truth About the Man and the Rifle, P. 103, NAL Caliber books, 2006, 1st Ed.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    Usually, when I think of performance, I look at bullet weight and configuration and the most important element, velocity. Without velocity, it is really hard to get any bullet to perform well. Yes, some say that you can make a softer projectile, or design it with failure points to help the bullet expand, but there has to be sufficient energy to transfer to cause projectile expansion. For our purposes, we want violent expansion. Lots of energy transfer that causes organ rupture, arterial bleeding, severe tissue damage. the key to all of this is to either jack up the bullet weight or jack up the velocity of the projectile. Ideally, you would like to do both. The .357 magnum is a great cartridge because you have a relatively light projectile (125-180 grains), driven to high velocities (up to 1500fps) that, with JHP ammo can put a world of hurt on whatever you hit. Personally, in my carry guns I use either COR-BON or winchester silvertips. The .45ACP uses 165 grain COR-BON loads at 1200 fps, and the 9x23 uses Winchester 125 grain silvertips at 1490 fps. So, I don't really look at brand, what I look at is the bullet weight/configuration and the velocity of the round more than anything.

    Hope this helps

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Performance is very subjective. If we are talking about it in terms of terminal ballistics, what may be outstanding performance on me, may perform poorly on you. The basic idea is to have a round that is manageable to shoot and delivers the maximum amount of energy to the target. A hunting or defensive round needs to have adequate penetration to reach the vital organs of your target, but not so much that it exits. The perfect round ( IMHO) should be found stretching the skin on the back of the target. This means it has completely expended its energy in the target. The problem is a round that would do that on me (6' 4" /300 ) may well go right through your local ninety pound meth or crack addict. Also the size of the wound cavity is important. Shooting me through the chest with a ten guage needle is probably not going to be as quickly incapacitating as even a .22 long rifle wound might be. This is part of the basis for the big fat slow moving bullet crowd. My super fast whiz bang small diameter bullet might not always expand, but their bullet will never shrink. The small caliber crowd can point out that the higher velocities and modern bullet design make expansion very reliable, and they can carry more rounds in the same size platform. I carry either a 9mm or a .45 routinely with no particular concern about what is my round of the day. What ever I am carrying it is loaded with premium hollow points. And when all is said an done, it's still only a handgun. If I can't put the bullets where they need to go, it doesn't matter what caliber or bullet design it is.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Here's the way I think if it. Performance out of the barrel is as objective as it gets. But on-target performance is about as variable as it gets, given the number of factors that alter the results.

    Penetration: To strike at a target's vital organs or nerve center, you must get under the skin, beyond some muscle and bone, and into the vital areas. On a groundhog, that's fairly easy. On a deer, somewhat more difficult. On a human aggressor, that's a different problem. And on a wildebeast or other tough-skinned African game animal, it's a whole other problem requiring ten times the energy of a high-powered handgun round. Unless you can strike the vitals, you might well just be making the target angry at you.

    Expansion: Bigger = better, in terms of making a would channel and disrupting tissues. You can get that either via a larger bullet as you load it (ie, .45ACP vs 9mm), or you can get it via expansion when the lead goes "splat" against the target. Jacketing on bullets (ie, JHP vs LRN) seek to hold that lead intact as it's dumping energy into the target. Bonded bullets seek to really hold everything together as the bullet strikes the target. Hollow points seek to cause expansion as the target is struck. Trouble is, the "hole" in a hollow-pint bullet can get plugged and effectively reduce a HP to a "ball" ammo's performance. No guarantee that any choice you make will ensure greater expansion.

    No guarantees with anything, but Penetration and Size/Expansion are the basic goals. It's why there are a number of calibration/bullet choices in hunting, given the needs to deliver enough knock-down energy and tissue damage at distance. With a handgun, basically you're interested in what happens < 25yds, in terms of velocity, energy, expansion. You've got variable clothing to contend with, variable-sized BG's, some jacked up on drugs so they won't feel your bullets, and in many cases you'll miss. Beyond that, even the bullets that do strike the target might well go zipping off elsewhere, and not into vitals ... as with any hunt you've been on. So, the actual performance is going to be highly variable.
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  6. #6
    Member Array Whyveear's Avatar
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    Its late so this is going to be short and to the point. In simple terms, performance is the measurable ability of a projectile to cause the most possible damage to vital structures. There are different aspects involved, which have already been mentioned, and each have their own contributing factors.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    Here is a FBI wounding effectiveness study

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf
    Spend few minutes learning about my journey from Zero to Athlete in this
    Then check out my blog! www.BodyByMcDonalds.com

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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    For me, bullet performance boils down to a few things. Penetration, weight retention and expansion - all through a variety of obstacles.

    Austin

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