Good article on FBI ammo tests and how they apply to non-LE SD

Good article on FBI ammo tests and how they apply to non-LE SD

This is a discussion on Good article on FBI ammo tests and how they apply to non-LE SD within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Just thought I would share this. I am not endorsing the conclusions, but it is thought provoking. What I took away from it is: The ...

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Thread: Good article on FBI ammo tests and how they apply to non-LE SD

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array jmf552's Avatar
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    Good article on FBI ammo tests and how they apply to non-LE SD

    Just thought I would share this. I am not endorsing the conclusions, but it is thought provoking. What I took away from it is:
    • The FBI tests are not, and were not intended to be, the "be all and end all" predictor of handgun ammo effectiveness. The purpose was to scientifically measure a few attributes of ballistic performance to inform the discussion. It does not follow that if a certain round did better or worse than another in the FBI tests, it will be a more of less effective round in real life.
    • Independent gelatin tests can possibly be compared to each other, but they cannot be compared to the FBI tests. The FBI used a very particular gelatin formula and carefully controlled the temperature.
    • Some of the FBI protocols may, or may not apply to civilian SD. The plain gelatin and fabric covered gelatin tests do, but the barrier penetration tests may not.

    All we know for sure is:
    1. there is a minimum level of cartridge power to see reliable performance from a handgun
    2. expanding bullets tend to perform better than non-expanding bullets
    3. long guns perform much better than handguns
    4. no previous study of actual shootings provides reliable data to make specific predictions on the performance of any specific cartridge
    5. the FBI studies do not provide reliable data on the real world performance of any specific cartridge.

    Those last two can give us hints, just not conclusions. The article does not say it, but I think it is obvious, shot placement is likely more important than caliber/ammo. Given a basic level of cartridge performance, the gun/ammo combination that you hit the best with should be the most effective.

    FBI Ammunition Test Protocol & Relevancy to Self Defense
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    *Tagged for later reading*



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    VIP Member Array sammeow's Avatar
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    Sure wish they’d list all brands, calibers, wts, etc.
    nothing specific was mentioned.
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    Item 3 is money in the bank.

    Items 4 and 5 are unshakeable truth, but that won't keep others from trying to draw conclusions nonetheless.

    On the lighter side, eons ago in my LFI-1 class a student told Ayoob "I shot my XYZ ammo into a pond and it expanded," no doubt seeking affirmation.
    Ayoob replied "Great! If the ocean 'messes' [insert rude term here] with you, you're all set."
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    VIP Member Array jmf552's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammeow View Post
    Sure wish they’d list all brands, calibers, wts, etc.
    nothing specific was mentioned.
    That info is available online with a bit of searching. But given it is not definitive anyway, what's the point?
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    Those who disparage "jello" ammo tests probably aren't aware of that in addition to AM there is FM radio and have VCRs that still blink 12:00.

    Can gelatin tests prove what is the best? No. But it does at least give a baseline for comparison.

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    The gelatin that the FBI uses is basically the standard, but people do occasionally use different recipes. For example, when G2 marketed the RIP ammo, they used a different recipe to make it appear to be a much more powerful round. When an independent tester tested it using the FBI recipe, and fired other ammo into the same block with it, the results were much different. It would be nice if there were a good way to test ammo to get a better indication of how it performs with bone, muscle and fat.
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    The FBI tests are from ten-feet which I consider bad-breath fighting distances with a lightly dressed average size bad guy. A 9mm or .38 special are minimum acceptable to me for bad-breath fighting distances. I have never believed in the 21' self-defense rule. It just defines bad-breath fighting distances to me. The FBI protocol is just a politically correct justification to get more people to pass the qualification test today.

    If someone shoots at me from 100 yards, I expect to return fire. If a bear or mountain lion charges me, I don't want to wait until it is within ten-feet for my handgun to maybe be effective if I hit the prefect spot. I prefer ammo that will do maximum damage to stop the threat as soon as possible as far away as possible.

    I prefer an S&W .40 or a .45 ACP for metropolitan areas. I prefer a 10mm for urban/semi-rural areas like where I live. I prefer a big-bore revolver for woods carry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by entertainment72 View Post
    Those who disparage "jello" ammo tests probably aren't aware of that in addition to AM there is FM radio and have VCRs that still blink 12:00.

    Can gelatin tests prove what is the best? No. But it does at least give a baseline for comparison.
    Posting before "iVe NeVeR bEeN aTtAcKeD bY a bLoCk Of jElLo!!!!!!1"

    Those people dont understand the scientific method, and how to eliminate variables to compare performance across of ammunition across the board. Shooting a random pig carcass or deer carcass, or a side of ribs, or a bag of oranges, or a gallon of water isnt going to tell you much of anything. All your results there are strictly anecdotal since you cannot reliably recreate those tests precisely, when shooting a natural material like an animal carcass or some sort of meat you bought at the grocery store.

    And on a separate note, Id be willing to add a #6: Dont ever use the gimmick ammo, like RIP or the extreme light for caliber stuff. For instance if youre running a 9mm, you should be carrying a bonded JHP from a major manufacturer that is between 115gr and 147gr. Now if you prefer light and fast, like a 115gr JHP or a heavier, slower 147gr JHP, I would be willing to listen to your arguments, but if you tell me youre carrying that G2 RIP ammo, Liberty 50gr, or CCI Shotshells in your 9mm handgun for protection against humans, Im sorry but you just dont understand ballistics and need to educate yourself before spewing your ignorance out online and in person, and hope your bad advice doesnt get this gimmick ammo in soemones gun who will end up needing it at the worst moment of their life.

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    What I gather from the article.

    "Don't feel bad about using ammo that is out performed by other ammo."

    That being said, even FBI approved pistol ammo sucks against cars.

    Even with HSTs and SXTs you'll still need to "port" a windshield to shoot into or out of the car from that side.

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    It is an excellent and well written article with which I find nothing wrong in my opinion. I see ballistic gel as nothing more than comparative medium by which penetration and expansion of different rounds can be compared using consistent standards for the gel, barrel size, ammo selection, etc.

    There is a very good video on YouTube that demonstrates the proper application of ballistic gel testing to determine the expansion and penetration of 9mm JHP out of a 3 inch barrel. The test done bt ShootinthBull410 under the name Ammoquest is a part of extensive testing of 9mm ammo. In the video Federal HST and Winchester Defend in 147 gr standard pressure are tested and compared in organic porcine gel. Both ammos perform very well. HST expanded better and Defend penetrated farther. HST is considered a premium SD ammo. Defend is relatively new and has not the same reputation of HST. But the comparison shows how they differ in performance. I actually switched from HST to Defend in my PPS M2. Defend has a comparable training ammo called Train.

    The video does demonstrate the value of organic gel testing when it comes to evaluating comparative performance. Link below.

    However, I subscribe foremost to the principle that accuracy is the most important factor in SD shooting. See the quote in my signature.

    It is an excellent and well written article with which I find nothing wrong in my opinion.I ahem always seen ballistic gel as nothing more than comparative medium by which penetration and expansion of different rounds can be compared using constant standards for the gel, barrel size, ammo selection etc.

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    Senior Member Array M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havok View Post
    The gelatin that the FBI uses is basically the standard, but people do occasionally use different recipes. For example, when G2 marketed the RIP ammo, they used a different recipe to make it appear to be a much more powerful round. When an independent tester tested it using the FBI recipe, and fired other ammo into the same block with it, the results were much different. It would be nice if there were a good way to test ammo to get a better indication of how it performs with bone, muscle and fat. [emphasis added]
    Have you looked at the Thompson–LaGarde tests? Or the Fackler tests?
    They're all about exactly that.
    You might find both of them helpful.
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    VIP Member Array Havok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1911A1 View Post
    Have you looked at the Thompson–LaGarde tests? Or the Fackler tests?
    They're all about exactly that.
    You might find both of them helpful.
    I haven't. Ill look into that. Thank you!
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    Nice article, but I have a fundamental objection to one of the premises of the author - therefore his conclusions are not acceptable to me.

    "As a starting point, the FBI testing protocol is a reasonable place to begin a search for quality self defense ammo. However, the standard was developed for users that are in different circumstances than most armed citizens who carry a gun for self defense."

    Really? Shooting another human being in order to stop their behavior, how is a LEO's circumstances different than an armed citizen? Nope. Point weapon, pull trigger, hit target, see effects, repeat as necessary - applies equally to both the LEO and non-LEO alike.
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    I recall a study where they shot goats. Sounded more applicable than inanimate objects.

    We know from hunting that rifles and shotguns are effective. But even those aren’t a one stop shot. The animal still travels a distance from where they were hit. Applied to humans, it’s hard to say what a stop can mean. In the latency period to incapacitating the individual they can still cut, stab or shoot you.

    Is one bullet enough? It depends upon what you hit and if the recipient would like another dose by advancing on his or her perceived prey. But the show of potential force I’m sure can be a deterrent in a more reasonable intact sane individual.


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