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More Thoughts on the 9X19mm Parabellum and some Observations Regarding Accurate #5 and #7

sidebyside72By Kevin Newberry

First let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Waddell’s most recent article, The Resurgent 9mm, that can be found here: http://blog.westernpowders.com/2015/11/the-resurgent-9mm/ Jim’s 40 years in law enforcement lends an invaluable perspective. After reading the article I felt inspired to write another one myself. Since I had already committed to writing on my observations regarding Accurate No. 5 & No. 7, I decided to wait and combine everything into one article.

So let’s start off by talking powders. I’ve wanted to know for some time now if the newer American made spherical powders from Accurate are the same as the older foreign made powders. I’ve had past experience with Accurate Arms No. 5, No. 7 and No. 9 (4100 as well but with the Ramshot branded Enforcer). Arms has since been dropped from the brand name we now know simply as Accurate.

41mag72Since I will be focusing on No. 5 and No. 7, I’ll make a few observations on the other two powders. I’ve been loading with Enforcer for over seven years now and I like it a great deal for full power hunting loads in .357 and .41 Magnum. Being somewhat faster burning than powders like W296/H110, that are generally regarded as the ultimate full power .44 Magnum powders, my theory is that slightly faster powders can be better paired with smaller cases like the .41 Magnum in terms of maximizing velocity and accuracy. With the .357 Magnum being smaller yet, Accurate No.9 is ideal for its case volume, IMO. Depending on whose data you’re looking at, few powders will outperform No. 9 in terms of velocity with accuracy. I began using No.9 years ago to replace Alliant Blue Dot when lot consistency issues became widespread. In fact, Blue Dot was the first powder that I used when I started handloading with the .41 Magnum. And yeah, I’m one of those die-hard .41 Magnum guys so I’ll just get that out of the way. But then again, I’ll shoot any Magnum handgun you put in front of me. Not that I will necessarily own them because my personal philosophy is that if you can’t kill it with “Contender and Ruger Only Loads” in .45 Colt, it’s time for a rifle.CartridgeComparison72And that’s to include smaller Magnum handgun rounds like the .44 and .41 Magnum. If .357 Magnum is your thing, I certainly have no problem with those that hunt whitetail deer with it at proper distance load with jacketed bullets 158 grains and heavier. When I started out cast lead bullets were recommended most often for hunting game with magnum revolvers. To me, it’s more about bullet construction and any bullet that offers at least some expansion is better than a bullet that gives no expansion and I’ll give some examples. In .41 Magnum I started using the now discontinued 220 grain FPJ Tournament Master that was designed for Silhouette shooting. It had lead exposed at the nose and gave some expansion when pushed to velocities the round is capable of. I’ve used 180 gr. XTPs in .357 Magnum, but because of the excellent construction of those bullets along with the fact that Soft Point bullets are available in the case of the FP-XTP of 158 grains, I believe they’re a solid choice. I also believe that handgun hunters should take a page from rifle reloading in terms of consideration of sectional density. The 158 grain FP-XTP has a sectional density of .177 while the .41 210 grain XTP has a sectional density of .178 and nearly identical while you’d need a .429” bullet above 225 grains to exceed it, and 250 grains for the .45 Colt. Like matching the correct bullet to caliber, I believe in doing the same with powder.

Canik TP9sa

Canik TP9sa

I am now testing with a new 9 x19mm pistol with a 4.47” barrel. The Canik TP9sa. Let me just say that all of the excellent reviews you will read on this pistol are true. Canik is one of Turkey’s newer gunmakers, but their parent company is Turkey’s largest defense contractor which includes missile systems. It may have been one of their missiles that were used a few weeks back to down the Russian SU24 that Turkey claims had violated their airspace. I do know this, with the plant being fairly new, the CNC machines the pistols are built on are likewise new. The Canik plant is ISO 9001 certified, and probably the deciding factor for me being that their barrels are cold-hammer-forged with conventional land and groove rifling. I’ve never bought into the claim that polygonal bores produce higher velocity and I’ve been seeing that claim since the mid 1980s from HK and all of those who have followed. One thing for sure, the cost to produce barrels with polygonal bores is less because they can be manufactured faster.

Walther P88

Walther P88

So to me it’s always been more about the quality and hardness of the steel and uniformity of the bore. I first noticed this with pistols like the Walther P-88 whose 4” barrels produced higher than typical velocity. Then with the HS-2000 that was introduced to this country. Then, of course, Springfield Armory acquired the rights to import it as the XD along with the change to a heavier trigger they called USA for ultra safety assurance. The more I studied the TP9sa I began seeing the similarities.

HS 2000

HS 2000

These pistols are available now for under $350 and probably the best bargain I’ve seen since we were able to buy the FEG Hi-Power clones. If you were to pick up a TP9sa without having read what I just said, and with no price tag on the pistol . . . well, I personally couldn’t imagine the very low price. And, it gets even better! It has without a doubt the best trigger I’ve ever pulled on a polymer-frame, striker fired pistol. I know that reputation is largely reserved for the Walther PPQ M2, but remember, Walther spec’s their triggers at 5.5 pounds, the Canik TP9sa that I have may not even gauge above 4.5 pounds.

tp9 kit72The first series of Canik polymer framed pistols were simply known as the TP9 and the Turkish police bought 50,000 pistols. It borrows the trigger action of the Walther P-99 in that when you decock with the lever mounted on the top and rear of the slide, the pistol goes into double-action mode. Now they have an upgraded version called the TP9v2, for version 2 with improvements to the trigger and ergonomics. It has a barrel length of slightly over 4”. Canik decided to make a single-action-only, or SAO version, with a 113.5mm/4.47” barrel while retaining the decocking lever. This has befuddled a few folks that advertise themselves as combat pistol reviewers on the web. First, Canik kept the decocker so you wouldn’t have to pull the trigger before removing the slide. The chance of accidentally actuating the decocker is not even worth consideration because of the amount of effort required to do so. The rest is up to you as far as this being a good thing or a bad thing. Personally, I like it and decock the pistol at the range when I holster it with a round in the chamber. Another point of interest is that Canik on several occasions has pulled pistols from the production line and fired 50,000 rounds of 9 x 19mm through them without any parts changes.TP9 (1)72 Getting back to the theme of the article, my primary interest was a pistol to test handloads with that had a 4.5” barrel or longer, and the cold-hammer-forging didn’t hurt. It is producing higher than typical velocity for its barrel length as well. And while the price is unbeatable, Canik throws in a Serpa style retention holster that works as well as any. In short, I’d have no problem carrying this pistol and in the holster supplied with it. You will also find some excellent and thorough reviews done by Hickok45 and a fella who goes by Sootch. If the decocker is a deal breaker for you, a new model without the decocker will be available in 2016.

Let me talk about my Chronographing procedure. First, I analyze data to find a charge level that I feel is high enough to give good efficiency. This means enough pressure to help the powder burn completely at a desired velocity level. I make 5 or so test rounds at each charge, or ladder rounds that increase in slight increments from a start charge up to the charge in the loads that will get chronographed which is 10 rounds. I make observations of the case as the loads increase in powder charge and pressure. I also use OverAll Cartridge Lengths that are longer than typical in 9 x 19mm data. I started this practice around the time that Vihta Vuori powders first became available in the US and 29mm/1.142” is a common OACL for them where pressure was rated at or below 36,300 PSI/CIP. Today, I do not own any 9 x 19mm pistols whose barrel chambers restrict OACL below what will function in the pistols magazine, or where functioning is best. The last “short chambered” pistol I owned was a CZ P-01 which I loved otherwise. The maximum length where the bullet touched the lands with a Remington 124 grain JHP (not Golden Saber) was 1.127” for the P-01. To allow .005” of freebore where my REDDING Boss single-stage press and Titanium Carbide dies would hold an OACL tolerance of +/- .001”, I loaded at 28.5mm/1.122”. That’s the shortest that I’ve ever loaded any JHP for my own pistols in 9 x 19mm.

Hornady 124 grain XTP.

Hornady 124 grain XTP.

Most of us have heard about what happens when you make your 9 x 19mm handloads too short. Pressure increases and sometimes to dangerous levels. Never load shorter than the OACL recommended by the data provider and loading longer is advisable in my opinion. How long you can load will be determined by the throat or leade at the front of the chamber and where the rifling begins. In my articles elsewhere on this emag you will find instructions for how to determine proper OACL for a specific jacketed bullet. But, the reverse is also true. As OACL increases, pressure decreases. Let me cite a recent example I was telling the editor about last week. I made a load with No .7 that chronographed 1230 FPS. Out of curiosity for functioning’s sake, I dropped the charge by .2 grains and reduced OACL by .5mm/.020”from 1.142” to 1.122”. The second load being only .020” shorter while the charge-weight was reduced by .2 grains, chronographed higher at 1238 FPS. So those who would say such small incremental changes have no affect, their knowledge of he 9 x 19mm may not equal to that of other autoloading handgun cartridges like say the much lower pressure .45 ACP. Everything’s relative here! Pressure rating of the cartridge, case volume, type of bullet used, burn rate of the powder and OACL. Something else comes to mind in relation to changes in a powders burn rate and OACL. When you load as long as you can, velocity will increase in most cases as the powders burn rate gets slower. Something to keep in mind for defense loads along with the powders flash signature. Velocity will not be enhanced as much when using faster burning powders while pressure will continue to rise with charge-weight increases.

Sierra 125 gr. hollow point.

Sierra 125 gr. hollow point.

The charge of No. 5 I decided on for testing was 6.1 grains. Which Lyman lists as the Max. Charge, so remember that you make ladder loads for a reason, and that’s to ensure that there are no signs of over-pressure as the powder charge-weights increase. That data is for the SIERRA 125 grain JHP which works fine for me because I use data for that bullet as a worse-case-scenario. It has the longest shank/bearing surface of any JHP that I’m aware at 124/125 grains. And also because both SIERRA and Lyman load it very short at 1.075”. SIERRA, on the other hand loads a little warmer. They also tested velocity with a 4” Hi-Point pistol so I felt more comfortable in comparing to Lyman’s 4” test barrel that I’ve found honest enough. With 6.1 grains of No. 5 with a CCI-500 small pistol primer, velocity from their 4” test barrel was 1078 FPS with pressure listed at 31,400 CUP. Remember that the CUP measurement system is different than PSI testing with the limits for standard pressure for 9 x 19mm being 33,000 CUP/35,000 PSI. We can see that this is a safe pressure level with a 1600 CUP safety cushion before exceeding the standard pressure limit and where the +P rating begins. No.5 is not a powder I would use for that but I wanted to show where that limit is. And again, this is with the short OACL of 1.075”. Since I’ve also been experimenting a bit for functional OACL, I made my loads with an OACL of 28.75mm/1.132”. Now, from what I stated earlier, we should expect a velocity loss with the longer OACL combined with the fact that the Remington 124 grain JHP has a smaller bearing surface to engage the rifling and my barrel length is 4.47” which should help offset that somewhat. So, to me, the 1083 FPS I chronographed with 10 rounds is totally reasonable and in accordance with the data. This load was also fairly uniform with an extreme spread of 28 FPS and a standard Deviation of 9 FPS. Something else to consider is that the Lyman Pistol & Revolver III manual was copyrighted in 2004. I can’t remember exactly when American production of No. 5 & No. 7 began but I think it’s likely that they were using the older foreign made powder. The data in the Lyman 49th edition load manual is identical, by the way. I also tested a load in .45 ACP with the ZERO 230 grain JHP that I also found predictable; firing it from my 4.5” SR45. I believe the results conclude that the older and newer No. 5 are indeed, very similar powders.

With Accurate No. 7? Not so much. In fact, I’ve mentioned this to Rob Behr (our fearless editor and not Darth Vader) on several occasions previously as a suspicion! Now let’s look at empirical data. Rest assured though that my suspicion has come from several different loads with 3 different bullets in 9 x 19mm all charged with No. 7 and fired from both the 4.14” SR9 and the 4.47” TP9sa. We’re gonna play by all of the same rules down to the bullet and OACL. I’ll just say that I’ve been experimenting some with No. 7 for +P type loads with the same Remington 124 gr. JHP, the 124 grain Golden Saber and the 147 grain Hornady XTP. In this case using the Remington standard 124 grain JHP, I wanted lower velocity than I had gotten from the higher velocity defense loads from the TP9sa. Again, the Lyman data looked low enough for an easy shooting target load. Lyman shows 7.8 grains of No. 7 producing 1119 FPS @ 31,600 CUP with the SIERRA 125 gr. JHP at an OACL of 1.075” from their 4” test barrel. So with the velocity loss from loading longer at slightly lower pressure while offsetting with a same weight bullet with a shorter bearing surface and a longer barrel length, I didn’t expect the velocity gain to be more than 2 or 3% where the No.5 load was only higher in my pistol by 0.46% but No. 7 is a slower burning powder. 10 rounds over my Pro Chrono averaged 1206 FPS, an increase of 7.77% with an extreme spread of 49 FPS and a standard deviation of 17 FPS. It’s definitely not a target load. I have checked the consistency of Lyman’s rated velocity using the different powders I have for 9 x 19mm with the 4.14” SR9 and in .45 ACP with the 4.5” SR45. I’m completely comfortable with it.

pro chrono72Typically, I predict 9 x 19mm and .45 ACP velocity pretty accurately. Usually within 10 FPS and sometimes even less on a good day. This comes from doing a lot of mathematical comparisons of pressure and velocity for different powders. That’s why I say every handloader should own at least one Lyman manual so that you can look at the characteristics of a particular powder and the bullet being used. It helps if you use the identical bullet but I’ve been loading the Remington 124 grain JHP almost as long as I’ve been handloading and I gave Rob a recent example of predicting velocity recently also. I also feel that these are good numbers because my Pro Chrono is brand new and I’ve been checking it’s accuracy against previous data from my chrono log. It is a replacement for a previous Pro Chrono that failed and became erratic.rangechrono72 Let me just say this in regard to that. This chrono is rated about as good as you’re gonna find, and at a retailer like Midway you’ll also see that it has the highest number of reviewers to reinforce that rating. Competition Electronics is one of those great companies who do not compromise on customer service. In fact, they told me to return it for replacement a good while back. I told them that I wanted to do additional testing in as many varying conditions as possible and their CS representative agreed. Since I live in God’s country, AKA Heart of Texas, finding a bad day to test such things is harder than you might think.ttanline72 Even on cloudy days it’s hard not to get intermittent breakthrough by the sun. The first unit I had did very well until after a year when I noticed that things didn’t jibe. Let me recommend this if you ever wonder about your chrono’s accuracy. Shoot from the same box of factory ammo or handloads on separate occasions because if you set your chrono up at the same distance each time at the same range the velocity numbers should agree. If you only shoot once from a box of ammo or handloads and accept it as good, that may or may not be the case.

The New Western Powders 6.0 Guide will be out in January.

The New Western Powders 6.0 Guide will be out in January.

I have made enough comparisons now to feel comfortable with the accuracy of the new unit. What the data is telling me is that velocity using the newer American made No. 7 can be as much as 100 FPS faster than what the data shows for the older Czech made No.7. I had already begun to advise other handloaders to not exceed Lyman’s data for No. 7 which I’ve since amended that. I don’t agree with some of the 9 x 19mm data in the Western #5 load guide and viewed the +P data that was produced simply as an exercise to get near 38,500 PSI, and not of much use. In this case I’ll say stick with the Western data for No. 7 and 9 x 19mm. Lyman’s data is higher and SIERRA’s higher still. I do not have SPEER’s most recent manual but it has typically been as warm as anyone’s in the past. Hornady data is newer and NOSLER has just released their #8 load manual. If you have them, compare the 9 x19mm data for No. 7 to Western’s data from the #5 load guide or the new Western load guide which should be out any day now.

Now for more 9 x 19mm thoughts and I encourage you to read Jim Waddell’s article as well as the two I’ve written previously on handloading defense loads in 9 x 19mm and techniques common to most autoloading cartridges.

boxed silvertips72I had just begun handloading when the infamous “Miami Shootout” occurred in 1986 and I want to talk about that and some other ballistic issues. Back in 1981 or 1982, the annual review magazine, Handgun Tests printed FBI wound ballistic data they had somehow got their hands on. If that data was as factual as the editors claimed, the FBI made some really poor decisions afterward in regard to ammunition selection. I remember the hype from advertising and magazine articles about the Winchester 115 grain SilverTip load. I had been studying all things ballistic as well as handload data for about five years then, although I was certainly not an authority. Nonetheless, if someone had given me a box of 115 grain SilverTips, I might have shot some one gallon water jugs and targets at the range. I had no interest in that load otherwise.

Silver Tip recovered from ballistic media.

Silver Tip recovered from ballistic media.

It was common knowledge that the jacket’s gilding metal was aluminum with zinc added. It gave very rapid expansion and was rated 1200 FPS at the muzzle. What many did not know was that the most effective loads of that day had been shown in the earlier FBI wound statistics. Two very good loads existed that were ignored by the FBI. One was referred to as the “Illinois State Police load” that used Winchester’s conventional 115 grain cup-and-core copper JHP with the other known as the “Secret Service” load with the Remington 115 grain cup-and-core copper JHP and the slightly better of the two in penetration, although both were very effective loads. They were both rated +P+ at 1350 FPS where Chronographing showed them to be closer to 1300 FPS from 4” barrels. Now, if you read my last article you may remember me discussing this. Penetration is necessary and expansion is very desirable, but you need enough of both. One or the other alone just won’t cut it. If it was only about penetration we could all just carry FMJ loads. Since we all know that they can pass through the human torso without any expansion . . . ‘nuff said. Conversely the same is true and the only thing really proven at the 1986 “Miami Shootout.”

Diagram of the 9mm Silver Tip's path through Platt's body.

Diagram of the 9mm Silver Tip’s path through Platt’s body.

The fatal bullet that allowed the criminal shooter to go on shooting, wounding additional FBI agents in the process and resulting in fatality, the bullet had first struck the perp in the left shoulder and began expanding because of the poorly constructed jacket resulting with in the bullet stopping within 1” of the perp’s heart.

This began some of the most hotly contested controversy in firearms history. You see, if the FBI had followed the lead of the Illinois State Police, or the Secret Service, things would have gone differently! Last article I threw some numbers at you and we’ll talk about different wounding mechanisms. But ask yourself this if your one of those who subscribe to the bleed-out theory. How long do you want to wait for an evildoer to bleed-out in a gunfight? That SiverTip expanded so rapidly that within just a few inches of penetration it had expanded to its full diameter and thus the permanent wound cavity was as substantial as many of the loads with so called “magic bullets” of today. Of course there were people like Peter Pi of Cor-Bon who knew such things, as did the Illinois State Police and the Secret Service.

Another look from the top at the failed bullet's path.

Another look from the top at the failed bullet’s path.

A bullet, regardless of caliber, has to be constructed well enough to get the complete job done and that means penetration and expansion. I believe in both! I believe in kinetic energy or Einstein was wrong! And I believe in momentum. When you include them all including sectional density, the debate about which caliber is best is over. I’m not going to rehash the formulae because it’s already given in my last articles. Let’s jump right in and see if we swim. At 1200 FPS the 115 grain SilverTip had a muzzle energy of 368 Ft/lbs with momentum at .613 Lb-seconds. At 1300 FPS and a properly constructed jacket, the ISP and SS loads had a muzzle energy of 432 Ft/lbs and a momentum of .664 Lb-seconds, so which would you choose?

Dr. Martin Fackler

Dr. Martin Fackler

Then things really turned south when the FBI asked Dr. Martin Fackler to consult on terminal ballistics. His recommendation was a 147 grain JHP load with subsonic velocity. The speed of sound at sea level is 1080 FPS and the new heavyweight 9mm load was 100 FPS slower than that. Unfortunately, Dr, Fackler was somewhat obsessed with penetration after the failure of the SilverTip. But, at 980 FPS with a 147 grain JHP in 9mm having a very high sectional density, that very much contributes to penetration, it is higher in fact than a 230 grain JHP in .45 ACP by just a tad and it’s easy enough to see how much heavier the .451” 230 grain JHP is. The new 147 grain JHP loads adopted by the FBI, where it seems to be in their DNA to always lead and never follow, were also adopted by a large number of law enforcement agencies across the country as well. Right up until the incidents were reported of them passing through perps with little or no expansion and in some cases striking bystanders. It was time to go back to the drawing board.

Street Stoppers72Then, along come Marshall and Sanow and their “Street Stoppers” data and more controversy. Whether you believe it was factual or not is up to you. Myself, I try to keep an open mind until something presented as factual is proven to be false. From the earlier FBI wound ballistics report that was leaked and furnished in Handgun Tests, the best performing loads correlated to the most effective loads as reported by Marshall and Sanow. The Winchester and Federal 125 grain JHP loads in .357 Magnum, while the data collected for the one-shot-stop percentage for the ISP and SS 115 grain +P+ JHP loads were rated 91%.

We also know that the FBI continued to struggle in looking for the load that did it all for them. Next was the subsonic 180 grain 10mm “Lite” that ran near the same velocity as the 147 grain subsonic loads in 9mm and was essentially duplicated with the introduction of the .40 S&W which law enforcements is now walking away from. Again, though, Peter Pi marketed a load that might have solved all of their problems long ago. The same 147 grain grain JHPs in 9mm, except loaded supersonic at 1125 FPS from a 4” test barrel. To be fair, the failure of the 10mm Lite was a combination of both ammunition mediocrity and pistol problems of the S&W 1076. That can be found by Googling.

"High Performance" at lower velocity is more marketing than ballistics.

“High Performance” at lower velocity is more marketing than ballistics.

During the interim period following the 10mm Lite, different caliber, loads and pistols were used until the next solution stepped up: “Medium Velocity” (read subsonic again) .40 S&W loads with a 165 grain JHP at around the same velocity as before and we know how that worked out as well. Now it’s time to go back to the 9 x 19mm because of the vastly improved JHP technology! I’ve always wondered what was wrong with the old ones if you knew how they should be loaded. Peter Pi certainly knew.

And along the way we had the Strasbourg Goat incident that was decried as foul because the scientists involved wouldn’t step forward and be identified. I’m sure PETA wish they had. By the same token, members of the camp that cried foul wouldn’t step forward and be identified themselves. One of the fallacies with those who say that kinetic energy is insignificant in defensive handgun loads, is the consistent testing of loads that don’t have enough of it. Anyway you slice it, all JHP performance is predicated on kinetic energy. Some may want to only view a specific velocity window to make the new and improved JHPs work, but that’s really always been the case since velocity and bullet weight are primary factors in the calculation of energy.

Long before Strasbourg, scientists had been implanting piezoelectric transducers into human sized animals and shooting them to see if kinetic energy could be measured and to studied it’s affect as a wounding mechanism, while there’s plenty of controversy surrounding those tests even while the empirical data is ignored. The Strasbourg goats had been implanted with piezoelectric transducers as well to both record the time between bullet impact and the animals collapse. One thing common to the Marshall and Sanow data and the FBI wound ballistics reports I saw in the early 1980s was pretty well summarized later by Ed Sanow, in my opinion. That being the necessity of 500 Ft/lbs of kinetic energy, and I’d say give or take 50 Ft/lbs, required to facilitate rapid incapacitation.

Today, I believe someone has stepped to the forefront and applied some common sense rather than just try to baffle us with bullshit. That would be Charles Schwartz. His research has been in the comparison of firing JHPs into water and comparing the results for the same JHP bullet fired into calibrated 10% ordnance gel with 94% accuracy for over 700 data points using his formula to calculate penetration depth in the gelatin by Chronographing the bullets speed just before it impacts water and then measuring its recovered diameter. No water does not exactly replicate human tissue and neither does ballistic gel. But it now appears that performance in ballistic gel can be replicated in water. And, anyone who can follow the Schwartz method and calculation has an easy way for conducting their own test.. (Here is a link to one of Mr. Schwartz’ posts:)  http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-continuing-evolution-of-terminal.html

I don’t believe that anyone holds the patent when it comes to wound ballistics. Nor do I believe that someone’s theory should be chastised until it’s proven wrong. I believe there is plenty to learn by evaluating the entire facts and theories amassed test as much as possible and draw your own conclusions. This is not a completely predictable science, as is often the case. Neither is skewing your tests to reinforce your own conclusions as is often done by those who ignore the temporary stretch cavity as a wounding mechanism. If you fire heavier subsonic JHP loads into gelatin, you’re just not going to get a temporary stretch cavity as large as the same diameter JHP of lighter weight, with higher velocity and energy, so what does that prove? In my opinion, things like sectional density and momentum are all too often ignored in the debate. And like kinetic energy, momentum can be manipulated for a desired result. In the case of Peter Pi and Cor-Bon, I believe he had it right all along. So, let’s look at his load compared to the two that failed the FBI during and immediately after the “Miami Shootout.”

Sig 226 in .357 Sig.

Sig 226 in .357 Sig.

Quoting the stats I mentioned earlier: at 1200 FPS the 115 grain SilverTip had a muzzle energy of 368 Ft/lbs with momentum at .613 Lb-seconds. At 1300 FPS and a properly constructed jacket, the ISP and SS loads had a muzzle energy of 432 Ft/lbs and a momentum of .664 Lb-seconds. The 147 gr. +P Cor-Bon load with a rated velocity of 1125 FPS from their 4” test barrel gives 413 Ft/lbs of muzzle energy with a momentum of .734 Lb-seconds while its sectional density is higher than either a 180 gr. JHP in .40 S&W, or a 230 gr. JHP in .45 ACP. Now from what I understand is that the FBI is following the lead of other law enforcement agencies in evaluating the SPEER 124 grain +P Gold Dot. Without question it has performed well, so how does it shake out? I can tell you that its velocity rating of 1220 FPS from a 4” test barrel is optimistic from my chronograph results, and in case you’re wondering, with the chrono problems that occurred before I was actually getting higher velocity than I should have and why I came to suspect the chrono was in error. When I put 10 rounds of the SPEER 124 grain +P Gold Dot over the chrono, velocity was 1174 FPS, with an extreme spread of 61 FPS with a standard deviation of 17 FPS. That’s 380 Ft/lbs of muzzle energy with a momentum of .646 Lb-seconds. Without a doubt its performance in ballistic gel is excellent in terms of expansion and penetration, and there are other great performers as well like the Federal HST and Winchester Ranger T. No one has to tell me that JHP technology is better today, but the fact remains that when JHPs of yesterday failed it was typically do to low velocity. Excessive penetration, clogged cavities what have you. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand when you push a bullet faster, increasing kinetic energy, you’re also increasing momentum. When the lead core’s mass has higher momentum, the more likely it is to force the jacket open.

FBI Agents Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan who were killed in the Miami Shootout.

FBI Agents Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan who were killed in the Miami Shootout.

These days the majority of shooters want to know which load is approved by the FBI or someone perceived as an expert while they may have relatively little experience or education in the science of physics. I’m pleased to tell you that a law enforcement agency with considerable more gun fighting experience well preceded the FBI testing protocol: the Texas Department of Public Safety which includes the Texas Rangers when they tested various pistols and cartridges before selecting the SIG/Sauer P-226 & 229 in .357 SIG because it came closest to performing like the tried and true 125 grain JHPs fired from their 4” service revolvers. They did not have the benefit of using today’s high tech JHPs but they did use all of the same barrier tests. No .40 S&W or .45 ACP load at that time made it through the testing process. Only the .357 SIG and one other did. What was that other you ask? A 147 grain JHP load rated +P or higher which they declined because of the extra power label and possible negative press connotations. I know, I know, there are 147 grain +P loads today that use the newer high tech JHPs but those from the major manufacturers rarely chronograph supersonic or above 1080 FPS at sea level. Some of the smaller ammunition manufacturers like Underwood’s and Double-Tap are making loads almost 100 FPS faster where I believe 1150 FPS from a service pistol is fast enough. The question is up to you as well as law enforcement. Do you trust a load that has been proven in ballistic gel testing, or one proven by physics? Couldn’t the major ammo makers give us those high tech JHPs at true Supersonic speed? And, if recoil is too high for those that didn’t learn as I did with the .357 and .41 Magnum, there are always the 124 grain +P JHP loads.

It’s not that I’m a velocity junkie, it’s just that too many rounds only loaded to subsonic velocity have failed. What might look good in gel is doesn’t always turn out to work as well on the street. I simply have no interest in subsonic loads until the cases are stamped .45 ACP with a JHP 200 grains or heavier seated into it.