1. Thank you Mossberg Owners for making us the greatest Gun forum on the planet.

Testing ammo

Discussion in 'Reloading Ammunition' started by John A., Dec 30, 2017.

  1. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    I'm going to give props to @nitesite before I go any further because he was the person who talked about doing this.

    He has affectionately called it a TATER TUNNEL for a while now. And while I haven't used it yet, I'm looking forward to it after it warms up some.

    In short, I have wanted to do some bullet testing to see what kind of penetration and possibly expansion that I should expect from some of my handloads. Especially if I can compare to factory loads to get a baseline of what I should expect.

    I know the FBI preferred method is using ballistics gel. And I'm not going to say that's necessarily bad, but I'm not the fbi and I can't just go out and blow a bunch of money on ballistics gel.

    I'm not interested in finding out the temporary wound channel and other such stuff, which gel would work better for since you can see the wound channel in gel, but I am interested in penetration and expansion or deformation of the bullet at this point, and why I built a tater tunnel to test some of the 165 gr 9mm bullets to see whether or not I could/should trust them for defense, or to just use them for range fodder.

    My youngest son and I made this from some wood that I had laying around in the shop. While I expect the potatoes to stop the bullets faster than ballistics gel due to them being harder and more firm, if I can compare to "factory" loads, should still allow me to get a good idea of whether these will perform as well or better.

    The depth of the tunnel is currently 23 inches, and I can move it farther back if I need to make more room. But as I mentioned, I don't expect the penetration will be as deep as most 16" NIJ standards anyway.

    To make it easier to use at our range, we marked the top of the tunnel with a tape measure so we can know at a glance what kind of penetration we're getting and so I don't have to pack a ruler with us.

    I also stapled some denim over the mouth of the target just for good measure. And so I can draw an aiming dot on it.

    tater tunnel 003.JPG

    tater tunnel 004.JPG
    CaddmannQ, Rossignol, MikeD and 2 others like this.
  2. Elbert Garrett

    Elbert Garrett .223

    Messages:
    395
    I hope you will be filming this experiment! :) exploding taters has gotta be fun and educational!
  3. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    I could.

    I'm thinking about getting an eight or ten foot 2x4" to use as the base so I can make the tunnel and the gun rest together so I can ensure everything stays inline, and also to ensure repeatability from firing different shots so I know they're all fired from the same distance.

    I have absolutely no flat ground that I could set this up on, so I think that using a long 2x4 as a base would probably make my life a lot more simple.
  4. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    revision 2.

    I can move the tater tunnel closer to the barrel rest when shooting handguns.

    Or farther out when shooting rifles.

    Either way, the gun will be aligned with the target better.

    @nitesite, what distance do you usually shoot into the tunnel? 100 yards?

    tater tunnel 005.JPG
    Elbert Garrett likes this.
  5. nitesite

    nitesite Ammo Nerd Forum Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Messages:
    4,980
    John~

    I was maybe ten feet away when I did the .45Auto Winchester Talon test. I took extra potatoes (the smallest ones) and cubed them to fill all the gaps between the big taters.

    John, You know that I was just using potatoes because they are mostly water as is gelatin , are inexpensive and will be fairly illustrative, vs. oranges which would be great but cost too much; and water jugs are just overdone and are not illustrative of hollow point performance because of waters hydraulic pressure.
    John A. likes this.
  6. nitesite

    nitesite Ammo Nerd Forum Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Messages:
    4,980
  7. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    Thanks for the reply nitesite.

    Your reasons are much the same as why I want to do it.

    Without having done this before, I don't know what kind of penetration to expect from my loads.

    It's a big heavy bullet, but is traveling slow.
  8. MikeD

    MikeD I'm Your Huckleberry Staff Member Global Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Messages:
    11,118
    Throw in some pickles and celery and you can make tater salad when you are done!!!

    Seriously though, this is an interesting a cool way to test this.
  9. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Sponsor Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    12,620
    Following for sure!
  10. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    5,623
    I didn't realize the gelatin was so expensive. Can you just buy bulk generic gelatin then mix it up thick?

    Whoa...fergettaboutit! I just looked into the costs & problems with all that stuff.

    Taters probably beats anything else commonly available.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  11. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    Gel is about $12-$15 per shot.

    In the long run, I plan to test more than a couple of shots. The goal is to not go bankrupt in the process.

    I have some 9mm I want to test, and I would also like to test the 194 Lehigh max expansion in 300 Blackout if all goes well too.
  12. Don Fischer

    Don Fischer .410

    Messages:
    46
    Why not use watermelon?
    Elbert Garrett likes this.
  13. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    Lots of watermelons explode during summer around here.

    But I want to recover the bullet, as well as to see how much penetration I am getting with certain loads.

    Those are my main reasons for wanting to use the potatoes instead.
  14. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    OK, the temps finally warmed up out of the single digits and the ground has dried out (enough) to do a little testing. Since I have seen bullets do some really strange things and with me shooting in such close proximity, I broke out all my armor for this test.

    I had also stapled a piece of denim across the opening.

    I fired a Tula 115 gr 9mm bullet into the tater tunnel for reference.

    I noticed a dent at the 2x4 backstop where it hit sideways, and then went back toward me and stopped at 17". I highlighted the dent in red, although is still a little hard to see. It is there nonetheless.

    [​IMG]

    Here is where it came to rest.
    [​IMG]

    I then fired the 165 gr xtreme bullet handload using 2.8 gr of titegroup powder.

    I accidentally nicked the front of the top 2x4 for about 2 inches, then it continued to travel the remaining 24" of the tunnel, and exited the bottom left corner of the base and came to rest between the tunnel and the table top

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That is as good as I need for home defense where the 9mm is concerned.

    For honest comparison, I fired one round of the Lehigh 194 gr Max Expansion 300 WHISPER handload using 8.6 gr of #9 powder. I have chrony'd it last year while I was working the load up at 1080 fps.

    I now estimate the fps of this round to be between 1030-1050 fps now that I built the integral suppressor and ported the barrel.

    The Lehigh bullets are rather expensive and I'm not wasting a bunch of bullets just to get a definate velocity number. Whatever it is, I know should be about right where I want it. I sometimes use Enforcer powder in my plinking loads, but that lowers the velocity almost 100 fps and the #9 was always made more velocity between the two.

    For my defensive loads, I want it to remain subsonic (1100 fps or less) so it will remain quiet as possible, but I tend to prefer pushing them as hard as I can at the same time for obvious reasons, even though Lehigh Defense says they copper bullets will reliably expand down to 850 fps.

    Anyway, the bullet was not retained. The top 2x4 came off and the left side of the tunnel separated several inches from the base.

    To say that it was a little more than the tunnel could handle, would be correct.

    Anyway, @Elbert Garrett I'm working on the video, but it'll be a little later before I can get it uploaded. It's about supper time, and I have a pretty good record of not being late to the table ;) I'll update after while.
    Elbert Garrett and nitesite like this.
  15. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    @nitesite you may be interested in seeing the video of the blackout using some of my hand loads with 194 gr Lehigh Defense maximum expansion bullets.

    Hands down in a SD situation in the house, it's a boss.

  16. Elbert Garrett

    Elbert Garrett .223

    Messages:
    395
  17. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    All in the name of science.

    I have not seen any penetration or ballistics testing for the 165 gr bullets.

    This needed to be done.

    I don't like to blindly trust anything that is un-tested on "hope" alone.

    Now I know they would do alright in the unfortunate situation that I had to use them.

    This also inadvertently showed how much more energy that a subsonic blackout has than a 9mm too.

    From the instant the bullet split the denim cover to the time that I had to pick up the 2x4 cover up off of the ground. I really wish that I had been able to recover that bullet.

    Gel testing shows they work very well.

    [​IMG]
    Elbert Garrett likes this.
  18. meanstreak

    meanstreak 20g Supporter

    Messages:
    871
    Man this is some interesting stuff. Nicely done and thanks for posting.
  19. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Messages:
    11,766
    Thanks meanstreak.

    I was mainly worried that the 165's may would not perform as well in penetration testing. Considering that the velocity (out of that particular gun) is around 880 feet per second, that's pretty slow in the grand scheme of things, so I was worried that it would not be suitable for anything other than paper punching.

    I hadn't seen any kind of ballistics testing for it, and I didn't want to blindly trust that it "might be" alright to use for HD. I don't like maybe's.

    Turns out, it penetrated very well. Despite the denim, and even hitting the wood lid. There was a little deformation on the bullet that I believe was a result of that (or maybe going through the base). But it did reach the back of the tunnel. All 24 inches of it.

Share This Page