Advantages of water testing are simplicity and fairly uniform results. Disadvantages are the fact that we are shooting water rather than a medium that more resembles flesh and the procedure is somewhat messy.
Another common bullet test is shooting paper. Old telephone books or newspapers are commonly targeted. I recently experimented with both dry and soaked telephone books and learned a few things. Some friends and I shot over one hundred telephone books. After the shooting I recycled them since I did not think the bullet holes would affect the recycling process.
First, penetration was very similar in wet or dry books. Secondly, the bullets retrieved from the wet books were much easier to clean up. Believe it or not the dry books resulted in more mess since we created a lot of confetti during the shooting. Dry books are a bit lighter to handle. During our tests we duct-taped five books together and tried to get two or three shots evenly spaced into the bundles.
The wet books are easy to work with. Simply place a few phone books into a Rubber Maid tub and pour in three or four gallons of water. Let sit for a couple of days, adding water as required to maintain a constant height. Make sure that the books fit into the tub loosely since they will swell-up about one-third in volume. After they no longer soak-up any water, take four or five and duct-tape them into a bundle. I found that spaying one end of a bundle with white paint helped determine impact locations.
When we tested the new bonded hunting bullets we learned one interesting thing – all of the bullets stopped in the Chinese Restaurant section of the fourth book. Nice consistency. That section was about five and one half inches from the front of the first book, simple as that. If you try this test make sure that you have some small zip-lock bags or plastic vials to store the recovered bullets in. Take along a felt pen to write the base data on the container. No use shooting the bullets and then mixing them up.
There are a few other test mediums that I will be exploring but the only real test is in the hunting field. I try to examine how each bullet performed and also to recover any bullet that does not exit.
My recovered bullet collection contains many memories that return when I look at those chunks of lead and copper. There are two big Swift A-Frame mushrooms that bring back the mental image of a huge Alaskan brown bear coming across a sandbar straight at my rifle. Recovered bullets are great souvenirs of the hunt! Join the discussion of this article with the author HERE at the Article Discussion Forum.