Saturday, Jan 22nd, 2010
3pm to 5pm, 43°F +/-
Tested: Winchester 230gn PDX1, factory load
Bullet Type: Hollowpoint, bonded
Factory Claimed Velocity: 920fps
Test Weapon: Personalized/modified 1911
Yesterday I picked up some Winchester 230gn PDX1 in .45acp.
Well, the packaging is impressive…
I test ammunition before I carry it, both for function in the weapon and terminal performance.
The hollowpoint is impressive.
… wide and fairly shallow hollow point…
This bullet is reminiscent of the Black Talon, and from what I’m given to understand, is a direct descendant of that line.
But how does it perform? The FBI has selected it in .40 S&W as their primary duty round, and it was manufactured to their specifications – namely, it is bonded to better penetrate barriers, and I’m assuming a few other tweaks were made.
I dug my test box from the snow and filled it up with water jugs.
Most are familiar with my standard setup by now.
The standard setup is five, one gallon jugs filled with water with the front covered with four layers of denim.
Now, I’ve been described by some as “an excitable boy.” I will concede this point today. I forgot the fifth jug, grabbing my hearing protection and camera on the way out. I decided to shoot without the fifth jug as every .45acp hollowpoint I’ve tested to date has stopped somewhere in the fourth jug.
Big mistake. It blew through the fourth jug and departed for parts unknown – thought eh furthest it could have gotten was to the berm at the 100 yard mark. It most likely ended up in a tree, however.
So, aching from a fall down into the creek earlier when the undercut bank gave way (physical therapy said don’t just sit around, so I had to set up some 100 yard targets!), I set everything up again.
The first jug launched off the platform, the second was hurting, the third was shredded like wheat, the fourth had a couple holes in it, and the fifth
… EPIC FAIL…
… contained the under expanded bullet, base forward.
That was disconcerting; I wonder if the FBI knows about this?
This called for another test, one without the four layers of denim in place.
The effect upon the jugs was much the same.
The fully expanded bullet stopped in the third jug.
Better, but I was expecting the fourth jug to contain the bullet.
This was equivilant to about 9” of gelatin penetration, give or take a couple inches.
Upon comparison, you can see the unexpanded bullet did begin to open just a bit, but ran out of steam to do so.
First, it hurts to fall down a bank into icy water. Don’t do it, especially if you’re recovering from an already-injured back. If you do do this, don’t conduct bullet tests afterward.
Second, the PDX1 is not any more impressive than other ammunition, and less impressive than some. It is reminiscent, to me at least, of the performance exhibited by the original Hydra-Shok 230gn loading: Expansion is good until that four layers of denim is introduced.*
However, I do like the Hydra-Shok for this reason: In a Northern Indiana winter, we normally wear thick clothing. In my part of the state, thick hunting or Carhart coats are common. I have therefore actively sought out the old style Hydra-Shok in anticipation of it clogging with clothing and providing needed penetration.
The PDX1 seems to act the same way, but it also seems to tumble. I have never seen ball or a clogged bullet blow water-filled jugs off the test bench like this did, so something was happening, anyway.
Weapon function proved one malfunction – a failure to fully extract. When I built this pistol, I left the stock extractor in there and it works well with all ammo but Winchester. I adjusted the extractor a bit tighter and my function test magazines worked flawlessly. I will, however, be ordering a new extractor!
Recoil was brusque, and muzzle flash was not evident. My practice rounds are 230gn LRN over 5.2gn BE powder (this is a bit over max listed; use with caution), and they feel very much alike. I am guessing a powder similar to Win231 was used.
I do like this round, though my “perfect” handgun round would penetrate into the fifth jug and expand to over one inch. I don’t think the PDX is worth the hype, and I wouldn’t mind if they toned down that box a bit, but it seems to work and shoot well.
*I encountered this same phenomena with Hornady TAP 230gn +P. Must be a .45acp thing.