Monday, July 22, 2013

On The Range #89: Defensive Ammunition Test (9mm)

Recently, I was told, in a nutshell, that my choice of 9mm as a defensive caliber was wrong and that if I knew anything I would switch to .45 ACP.  I replied that the differences among the various common self defense calibers using modern hollow point ammunition were negligible.  I also pointed out that every self defense expert out there will tell you that when it comes to self defense with a handgun that shot placement is everything and that one shot stops are a pipe dream.

Needless to say this was not convincing.

In all honesty, I don't care what handgun caliber you want to defend yourself with. They ALL suck.  However, I did see an opportunity to do a little practical testing of my chosen carry calibers:  9mm, .45ACP, and .38 Special.

I started with my primary defensive ammunition, Winchester Ranger 127gr. 9mm JHP +P+.  I was very impressed with the results.

Bearing in mind that no test short of firing a particular round into a particular attacker under particular circumstances will determine if it is truly adequate I decided on the best test I could easily put together. I decided a approximately 5.5# bone in pork shoulder that I would wrap in an old sweater to simulate an attacker's clothing would be an adequate test medium and I fired one round from my Glock 17 through it from about three yards.

Going hot!

Entry wound.

Exit wound.

The round completely penetrated the meat, making a neat entry hole and a nasty exit wound before lodging in the the sweater material after exiting.  I fired it into the pork shoulder along its longest diagonal, around 8" (also roughly the depth of my chest).  The round struck the large bone inside and kept going.  Using the entry wound as a starting point I cut up and along the length of the bullet path to get a look inside.

Wound channel seen from entry to exit.

Wound channel from above.  Notice the white bone fragments from the shattered bone.  Also, the dark red masses towards the  center are also bone and bone fragments.

As you can see from the pictures the bullet destroyed both meat and bone along its path.  It hit the large bone almost in the center of the meat, shattered it, and kept on going until it exited the meat.  The damage is, to me anyway, impressive.  So, let's take a look at the bullet itself to see if it functioned as designed.  

Look, I made a flower.

Side view.

Rear view.

As you can see the 127 grain JHP petaled open just as designed and held its shape even after passing through bone and tissue.  I have no doubts that this would have a devastating effect on an attacker if proper shot placement were achieved and that effect would only be multiplied with more shots if they were necessary.  Most self defense training emphasizes multiple shots because the 'one shot stop,' though it happens, is rare and can not be counted on where your life is on the line so everything you see here could be expected to multiplied in the body of an attacker without the danger of over-penetration. 

Top left is the bullet right after shooting before being cleaned up.

After seeing how this round performed I have no doubts about it's ability to save my life as long as I do my job and place my shots correctly.  I really had no doubts before. All of the rounds I will be testing have been putting people in the dirt for around a century in their various iterations.  Taking the time to actually fire into flesh and bone and see the results really brings it home though and gives you a real world example you can touch and feel.

I hope you've found this informative, or at least interesting.  I certainly have and I look forward to repeating this exercise with my other defensive ammunition.  

Next up, .38 Special.  


Old NFO said...

Yep, as advertised! And you know you're going to 'fuel' the caliber wars again don't ya??? :-)

Robert McDonald said...

Sigh. Probably. I'm honestly hoping the results of .45 and .38 are close enough to this to drive one more nail in the coffin, but the .40 cal Nazi's will probably start chest thumping at that point.

Divemedic said...

I tell you what, we can put a stop to that. Let me see if I can dig out some .40 ammo in the next couple of weeks and replicate your test.

I believe that the performance of most popular defensive calibers are within the margins of error caused by other variables like shot placement and the other variables.

Robert McDonald said...

I would be happy to see your results.

christina jeni said...

Thanks for sharing this nice blog.Its really very informative and useful for me.

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