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Terminal Ballistics Testing

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Unread 08-13-2008, 12:43 PM
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Location: tennessee
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Terminal Ballistics Testing

The thread on the HAT bullets shot into phone books, and several others has once again brought to light most people's misunderstanding of wound ballistics and terminal ballistics testing.

First a short thought on testing with "Phone books".

To quote Dr. Roberts (one of the, if not the, foremost Ballistitian in the world) on different mediums for testing bullets, specifically paper-

"Calibrated 10% ordnance gel at 4 deg C; the other proposed simulants have NOT demonstrated adequate results compared to living tissue"

Unfortunately you can't use paper as a comparison between bullets either. Length, weight, jacket thickness, bullet composition, bullet type (IE.. plastic tip, hollow point, aluminum tipped, jacketed soft point, etc,), impact velocity, RPM's, yaw, etc., all combine to create variances in bullet performance; one bullet may expand/fragment violently in paper, yet perform poorly in tissue, and vice-versa.

If one just wants to test bullet upset, with no real idea of penetration depth or crush cavity, water is a much better medium.

Another quote from Dr. Roberts- "Water is a good test medium to assess bullet upset; many crime labs use water recovery tanks for that purpose. Be aware that water generally reveals the maximum upset which can occur to a projectile in soft tissue—your actual result in living tissue may be somewhat less"

Below are links to papers on wound ballistics that will be very beneficial to anyone trying to understand wounding effects in tissue by projectiles and/or those trying to test bullets themselves.








Hope it helps,
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Unread 08-13-2008, 02:47 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Potomac River
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Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing

human skulls, both empty and filled with water
There's a joke in that quote, but you can fill it in yourself

deformation is the most critical determinant of its effects on the body
Wait a minute, have the fundamental laws of physics remained true and constant for over a hundred years. Who was that fool that said "energy of deformation is important"

So over a hundred years ago a guy shot spinning and non spinning bullets into some stuff and decided he didn't give a ratsass about spin but we still have to argue about it.
The Smokin Fur Rifle Club
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Unread 08-13-2008, 03:45 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: on the rifle range in Utah
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Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing

Doggonitt. You'd think that because Utah is the number one consumer of gelatin products in the world, we would have a couple of cheap buys on gelatin to use for all of our bullet testing. But alas, it's still quite expensive, time consuming, and messy. However, the empty skull thing is an alternative. There seems to be a multitude of them around here.......

Well, rather than go to prison, I think I'll stick to what is cheap and works. But it would be more fun splattering gelatin all over the countryside than digging around in newspaper bins but oh well.
Find it
Range it
Click it
Pull it
Dump it

If it's not far, it's boring.
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Unread 08-13-2008, 06:12 PM
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Location: tennessee
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Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing


GG, I can appreciate what your trying to do, so maybe something, somewhere in the above, can help you, or at least help you with the limitations of different test mediums. It is unfortunate that properly calibrated Ballistic Gelatin is so hard to make/test as individuals, and that the people that do the testing, do it more for bullets suited to two-legged targets, then four-legged.... Though there is some overlap.......

About the best testing material the average person can get is the animals themselves, but most can not shoot enough to get a statistical sample thats meaningful....
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Unread 08-13-2008, 06:47 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
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Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing

I think there are some unanswered questions. What effect does bullet spin have on terminal stability? What effect does stability have on terminal ballistic perfomance? Do different media have different effects with different bullets?

I really don't have a dog in this fight other than I would like to know the facts and see a good LR bullet developed.

I think the ultimate testing will come with actual hunting loads used on game and it may take a while to get good overall data. In the mean time, water jugs at actual ranges and velocities are probably the best mom and pop tests.
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Unread 08-13-2008, 09:21 PM
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Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing

Maybe a 50 gal garbage can full of water at distance? It would last a long time if you line it w/ a trash bag. Not so tough to hit at long range, and you don't have to worry about having the milk jugs in perfect line to catch it in the 4th, 5th, or 6th jug.

I think I heard this somewhere a while back. I think I'll have to try it.

Just another thought,... everyone has one.

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To hunt... or not to hunt...? What a stupid question.
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Unread 08-13-2008, 10:30 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,876
Re: Terminal Ballistics Testing

Hey GG,

I'm working on a way to get some more pigs. Sows this time. I've learned that the large sows when butchered only the loins are taken along with the hams which are made into sausage.

Which leaves the whole front shoulder portion in one hunk. However there are no innards.

By the looks of the NAB on the big boar, effective range was something like 700 yds via a reduced load and spin didn't mean squat as far as bullet perfromance and straightness of wound channel went.

In fact the lilttle 115 gr 25 cal Berger after hitting major bones had a straight wound channel.

If I can get more than a couple sow's fronts I'll pack 'em in ice and give you a holler.;)
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