The following images were taken during tests where we compared our hunting bullet to three other popular brands each of which uses a particular design style but each was in the same caliber and comparable weight.
For those who are interested in such things the muzzle velocity for each bullet was consistent with 308 Winchester MV with the impact velocity to be consistent with a 100 yard shot. The test media is 10% ballistic gelatin consistent with FBI testing protocol
The first image is of the Barnes 30 cal 168 gr TSX. In this comparison, this bullet was selected to represent solids. As you can see below the bullet expands on impact. It makes a relatively smooth shaped secondary wound channel and exits the 8 inches of gelatin with the tip folded open and most of the bullet (if not all of its mass) retained.
The second image is the Nosler 30 cal 165 gr Partition. In this comparison this bullet is meant to represents those that retain much but not all of their weight. This particular bullet was selected because it represent what I believe is one of the best designed and most popular hunting bullets on the market.
You will notice that the bullet expands upon impact. The secondary wound channel is rougher than the Barnes which we believe demonstrates how effectively a bullet transmits hydrostatic shock (rougher the better).
If you look closely you will notice a second bulge in the secondary wound channel that we believe is beneficial for terminal performance and is likely caused by the material of the front of the bullet reaching full expansion and impacting the material that will remain with the base of the bullet.
You will also notice that there are fragments traveling outside the second bulge of the secondary wound channel. (NOTE: For those who don't know the primary wound channel is the hole that is made by the bullet passing directly through the tissue. The secondary wound channel is created by the energy transmitted as hydrostatic shock into the tissue surrounding the primary wound channel.) We regard these fragments as beneficial in the way that they assist in tissue damage within the secondary wound channel.
The third image is the Sierra 30 cal 168 gr GameKing. This bullet was selected to represent what is commonly referred to as the cup and core construction that has been used for several decades. I do not believe that the Sierra is bonded as they do not represent them to be bonded so this bullet also represents other bullets that will lose much of their weight (but will retain more than the Berger).
You will notice that again the bullet expands upon impact (this is common for all hunting bullets other than the Bergers). The secondary wound channel is rough but fairly uniform in overall shape. If you look closely you will notice fragmentation exiting the gelatin but there is no fragmentation exiting the secondary wound channel.
This indicates that the fragmentation is small particle tearing away from the nose but that they are not large enough or traveling in a direction that can effectively assist the tissue damage occurring in the secondary wound channel. This is not to say that they don't help as they are likely the reason for the roughened secondary wound channel but as fragments they are not creating their own primary wound channel like those shed by the Nosler or the Berger.
The final image is the Berger 30 cal 168 gr Hunting VLD. We selected the 30 cal 168 gr class of bullets for this comparison test as they are the most popular caliber and the most popular weigh in this caliber. I will agree that tests in other calibers and weight classes may turn out differently but as a comparison we believe what we found is valid, accurate and repeatable.
You will notice that the bullet penetrates nearly two inches before it starts to expand. Once the expansion starts it is violent and immediate. The secondary wound channel is rough. In every direction you will see fragments that are traveling beyond the original
secondary wound channel.
If you look at the bottom and the top of the block you will see large fragments that are creating additional primary wound channels and lesser sized secondary wound channels. These fragments are creating primary wound channels into the surrounding tissue, assisting in the effectiveness of both the hydrostatic shocks ability to destroy tissue and the fact that they are damaging tissue directly themselves.
In live tissue things are a bit different. Gelatin is a constant density and there is nothing representing bone. So take these images for what they are; a comparison between what these similar bullets do at similar velocities in 10% ballistic gelatin.
I am not suggesting that this test is invalid but rather am accepting the fact that in the end the best and most telling test media is animals. The challenge with using animals for comparison testing is the fact that you can't see through them conveniently
like you can ballistic gelatin. Also, even among the same species of animals you have differences between each of the animals.
This makes it very difficult for hunting bullets to be the best for all applications. And in some cases even the best bullet does not perform as expected even if the bullet does everything it is meant to do. That is one of the many challenges in hunting. It is reasonable that a huge trophy animal may have made it to his stage in life where he is the most massive because he's survived a bullet "failure" or two.
Enough rambling. We are getting ready to shut the shop down for the Christmas Holiday. I look forward to reviewing any thoughts that are shared when I return. Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year.