Ballistics by the inch

Perceived recoil and bullet weight.

Got a great question recently, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts about it, then invite others to weigh in. Here’s the question:

I hope that you folks can help me with a question I have had for many years now. Why is the recoil so much heavier with lighter bullets in the same caliber and powder loadings than heavier bullets of the same caliber and loadings?

For example. With my S&W model 60, Gold Dot L/E 38 special 135 grain JHP +P loads recoil much harder than the Remington 125 grain JHP +P loads. The same thing happens with my Glock mod 23 .40cal when I shoot 180 grain JHP rounds vs 165 grain JHP rounds. The 165 grain rounds recoil much harder. One would think the heavier round with the same powder load would recoil harder. Can you help?

Perceived recoil is a surprisingly complex problem. It’s not just a matter of total force, but the ‘shape’ of the recoil impulse as well. Then there are the ergonomics of how a particular gun fits a particular person/hand. Add in the mechanical action of how the gun operates (some use part of the recoil energy to cycle the action, some don’t), and various psychological/physiological factors (are you tired? just had an adrenaline dump? afraid of a given gun/caliber/cartridge?), and you can see how many different factors might come into play.

A good place to start is to look at the equation for Muzzle Energy (ME). Let’s use the numbers for the Steyr M40 (very similar to your Glock 23) which was one of the ‘real world’ guns used in the .40 S&W tests we did. Calculations are from Airhog.

The 165gr Federal Hydra-Shok JHP has a velocity of 943fps out of the 4″ barrel. That gives a Muzzle Energy of 325.88ft-lbs.
The 180gr Federal Hydra-Shok JHP has a velocity of 989fps out of the 4″ barrel. That gives a Muzzle Energy of 391.04ft-lbs.

OK, that would seem to indicate that the heavier bullet should cause more recoil. The ME is higher, and you’re shooting them out of the same gun.

But I’m a little wary of that example. Usually, a lighter bullet is faster than a heavier one if they have the similar powder charge, out of barrels of the same length. Here’s another example, looking at 9mm from a Beretta 92.

The Cor-Bon 90gr JHP +P has a velocity of 1522 out of the 4.875″ barrel. That gives a Muzzle Energy of 463.05ft-lbs.
The Cor-Bon 125gr JHP +P has a velocity of 1291 out of the 4.875″ barrel. That gives a Muzzle Energy of 462.72ft-lbs.

And those are very close to the same amount of ME, and should feel about the same in terms of recoil were that the only factor.

So what’s going on? Why do we see one instance where the ammo is just a bit faster in the heavier bullet (resulting in higher ME), but much slower in another instance?

I suspect that it’s probably due to differences in loadings between the different ammo. Even with ammo from the same manufacturer (in the examples above), there’s nothing saying that they are using either the same propellant OR similar amounts of the same propellant for loadings which use different bullet weights. That means that trying to generalize the amount of recoil between different bullet weights just on the basis of brand is difficult if not impossible.

Furthermore, if you’ve done any reloading, or spend some time looking over reloading data, you’ll know that even when you’re using the same propellant in the same cases, different bullet weights usually means different bullets (in terms of manufacturer and/or shape) resulting in different seating depths and overall length. It may seem to be a trivial matter, but this results in different pressure profiles (the amount of pressure within the firing chamber of the gun). Just one example, taken from the Hodgdon Reloading site, for maximum-pressure loads using  GDHPs:

The 90gr bullet with 7.0gr of Longshot powder has an overall length of 1.010″ and gives a velocity of 1,378fps, a pressure of 32,300 PSI, and would have a ME of 379.57ft-lbs.
The 115gr bullet with 6.0gr of Longshot powder has an overall length of
1.125″ and gives a velocity of 1,203fps, a pressure of 32,300 PSI and would have a ME of 369.64ft-lbs.

Note that while the heavier bullet uses a full 1.0gr less of propellant and has a longer overall length, it generates the same amount of pressure. If we drop back to the same amount of the same powder for each loading (6.0gr), then the pressure generated in the lighter bullet loading drops to 29,400 PSI, velocity drops to 1,278fps, and ME drops to 326.48ft-lbs.

But not all pressure is created equal, even if it is nominally ‘the same’. The pressure impulse also matters. That’s the curve of how the pressure rises and falls over time, which is largely related to how ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ the propellant burns. Propellants used for handgun loads tend to be very ‘fast’ (burn rapidly), so the impulse tends to be sharper.  Here’s a good explanation of the matter.

And if you think about it, the heavier the bullet used, the longer/slower it takes to start moving when the cartridge is fired. That should mean that the impulse is spread out over a slightly longer time than it would be with a lighter bullet. So in some sense, the lighter bullet would result with a ‘snappier’ feel. And that may well be what it is that you’re feeling when you experience more perceived recoil (and have controlled for all the other factors) from lighter bullets.

Other thoughts on the subject?

 

Jim Downey

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2014 Posted by | .38 Special, .40 S&W, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Discussion., Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With charts! Graphs! Slo-mo!

John Ervin at Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing has put together another great video presentation, showing in several ways how Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) ammo performs in comparison to Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammo for 9 different handgun cartridges. It’s long (22 minutes), but very nicely documents just exactly how the two different bullet styles behave at handgun velocities. Here’s the video:

 

 

The cartridges covered are .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .380 ACP, 9mm Makarov (9×18), 9mm Police (Ultra), .38 Special, 9mm Luger (9×19), and .45 ACP.  His data and presentation makes a great companion to our own data, and I really recommend that you set aside the time to watch the video at your earliest convenience.

 

Jim Downey

October 22, 2013 Posted by | .22, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .45 ACP, 9mm Luger (9x19), 9mm Mak, 9mm Ultra, Data, Discussion., Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now, about those thunderbolts…

Some weeks back I put up a post about my preliminary experiences with a .460 Rowland conversion for my Glock 21 Gen 4. In it I mentioned how much I like the resultant gun, but also how I was having some problems with magazine wear when shooting full-force .460 loads.

Well, after thinking a lot more about it, as well as discussing it with people online and with the other BBTI members when they were here for the recent tests (one of whom has been a Glock armorer for 15+ years) a couple different strategies emerged for me to test. Briefly, those were:

  • See whether putting in a heavier mag spring would help
  • See whether the problem was due to the case length of the .460 Rowland cartridges (they’re 1/16″ longer than .45 ACP).
  • See whether the problem was due to the *power* of the cartridges rather than the length of the cases.

To test the first, it was a simple matter to get a more powerful mag spring and test it in one of the magazines. I picked up a Wolff magazine spring from Midway and did so.

To test whether it was the simple case length of the .460 Rowland cases, I made up some .460 Rowland rounds using .45 ACP reloading standards.

To test whether it was the *power* of the .460 loads but not the case length was another matter. Here’s where we get to the Don’t Try This At Home part of today’s blog post: I made up a number of .45 ACP rounds which were loaded to .460 Rowland specs.

Let me repeat that again: Don’t Try This At Home. These are wildcat rounds, and potentially dangerous. Shooting them in a gun not rated for .460 Rowland stresses could very well result in catastrophic failure of your gun, of the “KABOOM!” variety. Even shooting them in a gun designed to handle .460 Rowland power was risky, since the .45 ACP cases do not have the same strength as the .460 Rowland cases. I made up just 10 rounds of each of these loadings, and was careful to make sure I shot them all, so that they didn’t accidentally wind up in a .45 not strong enough to take the punishment.

Here are each of the loadings I made up, just for reference, along with their approximate chrono results:

  1. 185gr XTP bullet, .45 ACP case, .460 Rowland power  1480fps
  2. 200gr RNFP bullet, .45 ACP case, .460 Rowland power  1440fps
  3. 230gr RNFP bullet, .45 ACP case, .460 Rowland power  1350fps
  4. 250gr LFN bullet, .45 ACP case, .460 Rowland power  1250fps
  5. 230gr RNFP bullet, .45 ACP case, .45 ACP power  920fps
  6. 230gr RNFP bullet, .460 Rowland case,  .45 ACP power  925fps
  7. 185gr XTP bullet, .460 Rowland case, .460 Rowland power  1490fps
  8. 200gr RNFP bullet, .460 Rowland case, .460 Rowland power  1420fps
  9. 230gr RNFP bullet, .460 Rowland case, .460 Rowland power  1355fps
  10. 250gr LFN bullet, .460 Rowland case, .460 Rowland power  1265fps

No, I’m not going to give the specific powder amounts for any of those. I used Hodgdon Longshot powder, and you can look up the specs if you want to know more.

In addition, I had these factory loads on hand for comparison, along with their approximate chrono results:

11.  185gr DPX .45 ACP +P  1110fps

12.  230gr GDHP .45 ACP 850fps

13.  230gr JHP .45 ACP +P1040fps

14.  230gr JHP .460 Rowland  1380fps

15. 255gr LFN .460 Rowland1260fps

.460 Rowland loads

.460 Rowland loads

OK, a couple of comments before I go further: those are “approximate” chrono readings because I wasn’t being anywhere near as careful as we are when we do formal BBTI testing. To wit: I was just using one chrono; I wasn’t worried about getting the exact same number of readings (so long as I got three or four, I wasn’t too worried about it); and I didn’t do anything to control for consistent lighting or suchlike. But they should all be in the right ballpark.

So, looking over all those, you will see what I see: that there was a remarkable consistency in power levels, whether you’re looking at my reloads or factory loads, and between those rounds which used either .45 ACP cases or .460 Rowland cases. That tells me that following the published data for .460 Rowland reloads, and making some intelligent decisions on how to adapt those to the .45 ACP cases for purposes of this experiment, was by and large successful. Meaning that I can use those loads to fairly evaluate what makes a difference on the basic problem I was investigating: what is causing the magazine damage and how to resolve it.

So, what conclusions did I draw from all this?

First, the more powerful magazine spring seemed to help with consistent loading. I will be swapping out all the Glock 21 mag springs I have. This makes intuitive sense, since the slide is moving faster when shooting the more powerful rounds.

That doing a little customizing on the magazines also seems to help a great deal. Here’s a pic showing an unaltered magazine and one I have taken a Dremel tool to:

Glock 21 magazines

Glock 21 magazines

Note that these are just the magazine ‘boxes’ — the guts (spring, follower, etc) have all been removed for clarity.

With the altered magazine and stronger spring, any problems I had with Failure To Feed was minimized.

And most important, it is the *power* of the round, not the case length, which seems to cause damage to the unaltered magazines. Shooting the .460 Rowland power loads in the .45 ACP cases demonstrated this.  Conversely, shooting the .45 ACP power loads in the .460 Rowland cases didn’t cause any magazine damage at all.

Two additional notes I want to add: the first is that I had pretty consistent problems with the heavy Lead Flat Nose rounds in all configurations. They kept getting jammed up in transitioning from the magazine into the chamber. I’ll probably continue to experiment with this in the future, but I’m not too worried about it, since many guns run into some ammo specific problems.

The second is that once again I was really impressed at just how well this reconfigured Glock 21 did with .45 ACP loads. Seriously, with the .460 Rowland conversion in place, there was very minimal recoil (more than a .22, but not much) and it was VERY easy to control and shoot the gun well. I suspect that going forward the vast majority of the shooting I will do with this will be using standard .45 ACP reloads, saving the much more powerful .460 Rowland rounds for occasional practice. In this sense, I am thinking of the .45/.460 relationship the way I think about .38/.357 — it seems to be a perfectly appropriate analogy.

Now that I have all this sorted, I can go ahead and write up a formal review. But I thought I would share a little of the process of how I got to this point.

 

Jim Downey

October 15, 2013 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .45 ACP, .460 Rowland, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures | 15 Comments

.22 Magnum article.

My .22 Magnum article looking at our data and my conclusions is now up over on Guns.com. Here’s an excerpt:

Bottom line

For me, the take-away lesson from these tests is that the .22 Magnum is a cartridge that is best served out of rifle barrel. At the high end we were seeing velocities that were about 50 percent greater than what you’d get out of a similar weight bullet from a .22 LR. In terms of muzzle energy, there’s an even bigger difference: 100 percent or more power in the .22 Magnum over the .22 LR.

But when you compare the two on the low end, out of very short barrels, there’s very little if any difference: about 10 percent more velocity, perhaps 15 percent more power. What you do notice on the low end is a lot more muzzle flash from the .22 Magnum over .22 LR.

While you do see a real drop-off in velocity for the other magnums from very short barrels, they tend to start at a much higher level. Compare the .357 Magnum to the .38 Special, for example, where the velocity difference is 30 to 40 percent out of a 2-inch barrel for similar weight bullets, with a muzzle energy difference approaching 100 percent. Sure, you get a lot of noise and flash out of a .357 snubbie, but you also gain a lot of power over a .38.

Go check out the whole thing!

Jim Downey

June 5, 2013 Posted by | .22, .22WMR, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Data, Discussion., Links | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Up next …

… in my holster give-away is a very sweet all leather IWB of unknown make. It’s non-molded, and should accommodate almost any semi from medium to full size. Here are some pix of it with my Steyr M357:

 

 

 

But I also checked to see whether the following would fit:

Smaller semi-automatics and derringers do fit, but sit so far down inside the holster that they are difficult to retrieve.

Same rules as previously:

So, here’s the deal: make any kind of contribution to the Kickstarter (as little as $1.00 – I won’t mind), and enter into a drawing for a holster. Please note that this is *IN ADDITION* to the other rewards there on the Kickstarter – all perfectly good and valuable rewards. Then just come here and leave a comment, or post it on the BBTI Facebook page, or send me a Tweet. I’ll enter your name into a completely separate drawing. And each week or so while the Kickstarter is going I’ll select a name and send that person whichever holster is up for grabs. Each winner’s name will go back into the hat for the next drawing, so you have multiple chances to win (meaning that the sooner you enter, the better for you).

If you’ve already contributed to the Kickstarter, just let me know and your name will go in the hat for the first drawing (and subsequent ones).

I will draw a winner next Friday, Oct 12.

And here’s a heads-up: the final drawing will occur on Wednesday, Oct. 17, — the day after the Kickstarter ends. And that item will be a High Noon Skin Tite holster. Remember – you just need to “enter” once, and you will automatically be added to both drawings. So, what are you waiting for? Go register!

 

Jim Downey

 

 

October 6, 2012 Posted by | .357 SIG, .38 Special, .45 ACP, 9mm Luger (9x19), Discussion., Links | 2 Comments

Naming names.

I mentioned the other day that we are offering brass from the recent Cylinder Gap tests as a ‘premium’ thank-you for donations received.

Well, that info, as well as recognizing those who have made a donation to BBTI, are now listed on a new page for donations on the site. Of course, only those who wish to have their name listed do – others who prefer to remain anonymous can (and have) done so.

So far I’ve sent out 1,000 cases of .357 brass. I still have something like 1,100 of that cartridge remaining. And about 500 cases each of .38 Short, .38 Long Colt, and over 2,000 cases of .38 Special. I’d love to find homes for all of it.

Jim Downey

December 14, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special | , , , | Leave a comment

Got brass in pocket?*

Edited 2/3/2012 to add: Thanks for the response! All the once-shot brass has now been spoken for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OK, as everyone knows, we’ve just put up a whole bunch of new data, most of which was generated during the early part of this past summer.

The bulk of that was generated during the Cylinder Gap tests, shooting .38 Shorts, .38 Longs, .38 Specials, and .357 Magnum rounds. And as a result we had two five-gallon buckets filled with spent brass.

Over the weekend I started doing some re-arranging of my reloading stuff, and it was time to tackle all that brass. I sorted it all. Then started cleaning it. So far I’ve run about 3000 .38 Special cases through the tumbler. And there’s a whole bunch (like 1600) .357 Magnum cases up next. Then the .38 Shorts and the Long Colt cases. This is more brass than I’d use in a couple of lifetimes (and I already have a couple thousand cases from previous tests and my general shooting).

So, here’s the deal: make a donation to BBTI, get some cleaned brass. Yup. For each $10.00, you get 100 cases of your choice (so long as supplies last, postage-paid in the US). This is all premium, brand-name brass, fired once. You can reload it. Or trade it. Or just keep it as proof of your support of our project. Frame it, for all I care.

So, help me out – take some of this brass off my hands.

Jim Downey

*with apologies to Chrissie Hynde.

December 12, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special | , , , , | 1 Comment

Excellent initial analysis & discussion.

Check out the post on The Firearm Blog titled: Fascinating Phenomenon in Cylinder Gap Data.

As I noted on our Facebook page, this is exactly the sort of discussion & analysis we hoped to engender by collecting all the data. As I have noted in the past, none of us on the BBTI team are statistics geeks, and all of us have busy lives to demand our attention elsewhere. I am perfectly happy to just do the grunt work, then turn the data loose in the world for others to play with.

Jim Downey

December 10, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Data, Discussion., Links | Leave a comment

It’s Up!

The new Ballistics By The Inch site is now up and running! Bigger, Faster, And with More DATA! Take a look, spread the word, let us know if there are any glitches or problems.

Jim Downey

December 1, 2011 Posted by | .22, .223, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .460 Rowland, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), 9mm Mak, 9mm Ultra, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures, Links | , , , , | Leave a comment

Promises, promises.

It’s been . . . a long month. Well, no, not this one. The last one. And the one before that, to be honest.

So, while I know that a lot of folks have been eagerly awaiting the new data, let me say . . . just a little longer. Really. My Good Lady Wife, who takes care of the website, has had her hands full with a couple of other projects (including a big one of mine).

The good news is that she tells me that the new website tools she’s learned to use will help make BBTI better than ever. We’ve talked about the website redesign, and I think everyone will be pleased with the new look, the new functionality, and the new data (including .22 and .223 as well as the massive .38/.357 Gap Tests). So hang on – we’ll get it all up as soon as possible.

A quick report on site numbers, while we’re at it: August we had 290,998 hits, bringing us to a grand total of 7,155,801 hits.

For the quickest notification when the redesigned site goes ‘live’ with all the new data, subscribe to this blog, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Jim Downey

September 1, 2011 Posted by | .22, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Data, Discussion., Links | 1 Comment

Lookit the purty colors!

Nice graph and discussion about muzzle energy comparisons over barrel length using our data over on The Firing Line:

Full thread here: Light rounds in short barrels.

Jim Downey

July 10, 2011 Posted by | .32 ACP, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .45 ACP, Data, Discussion. | Leave a comment

Happy Father’s Day.

I think they did a good job with the photos they chose to go with my text:

One of my earliest memories is of shooting with my dad. I was about five or six. We were out at a relative’s place in the country. Plinkin’ cans with .22s. Then my dad let me shoot his service revolver for the first time, helping me hold up the Smith & Wesson Model 10 he had been issued by his department. Yeah, he was a cop.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to the my personal blog.)

June 19, 2011 Posted by | .22, .38 Special, Anecdotes | 1 Comment

How I spent my vacation.

So, all last week we were finally conducting the Cylinder Gap tests. For this test alone, it was over 6,000 rounds. I thought as part of documenting the whole process I’d share a buttload of images and a brief description of each.

Given the size of this sequence of tests, we knew we needed to make a number of upgrades to our equipment and set-up. Jim Kasper did most of this work in advance. The Ransom Rest was mounted to a plywood platform which fit perfectly over one of the banquet tables, so we could just snap it into place each day.

To minimize problems with getting good readings from the chronographs, Jim K built a framework to support 250w lights which shined down into the sensor positions. After a couple of hours use, we decided to adapt a fabric panel from the new EZ Up we got to protect the chronos from weather as a diffuser.

Jim K also built a couple of racks to hold boxes of ammo. That way we didn’t have to sort and arrange everything each morning – just make sure the racks were filled before we left for the site each day, and then draw what was needed as we did the testing.

We had to run the generator continuously, so as to power the lights for the chronos. I designed a simple sound box out of 2″ construction insulation which would go together with a little duct tape, and would shield us from the excess noise while allowing the generator to operate.

The test platform was an Uberti Single Action Army clone in .38/.357. For other reference points, we also tested a number of ‘real world’ guns – shown here are a 2″ Chiappa .357, a 16″ Winchester 94 AE lever gun, a 4″ S&W 586, and a 3″ Bond Arms derringer. In addition we used a 1.875″ Ruger LCR in .38, a 1.875″ S&W 642, and a 6″ Python.

The Uberti worked remarkably well. We used a Ransom Rest in order to give consistent aiming and minimize hand trauma (when you’re going to shoot 6,000 rounds in the course of a week you’re going to suffer if you actually do it all by hand.)

Each day we’d take the lights, the chronographs, the guns, and the ammo home so as not to risk theft.

Our backdrop, same as with the previous tests, was a wall of railroad ties that is part of an old cabin. We used fresh-fallen Locust logs as a target, going through one or two 18″ logs a day, and replacing them as they got chewed up from so much shooting.

As we emptied boxes of ammunition, they got tossed under the tables, out of the way. All the cardboard was latter flattened and recycled. The plastic and styrofoam, unfortunately, was not. I must admit, as much as I like Buffalo Bore ammo, I hate their oversize boxes.

After we finished a round of shots, doing all of the ammunition with a set cylinder gap, we’d unscrew the barrel, change the shim (which changed the cylinder gap), and then did another round. With the Ransom Rest mounted in position, and the gun mounted in the Ransom Rest, there was an accumulation of gunpowder and particles from the cylinder gap. You can see this in the marks on the board under the gun, as well as the discoloration of the foam on the ‘blast shield’.

Here’s another shot which shows the gas/particle effect, with Jim Kasper in the background, a clipboard ready to record more of the chrono readings.

After we finished all the cylinder gap testing, we did the classic BBTI ‘chop tests’ on .223 Remington and .460 Rowland.

Even with the Ransom Rest, and using a Weaver Rail with a laser sight, it was easy to allow shots to creep up a little too high. In this case, the fabric used as a diffuser over the chronos served as a warning before we hit any of the lights.

7,000 rounds is a *lot*. Here’s a shot of a bucket about half filled with spent brass cartridges, taken towards the end of the testing. And this was the second of these 5-gallon cat litter pails used (the first was filled completely).

Testing the .223 Remington cartridge was the first real rifle round we’ve tested. The protocols we decided on were a bit different then in our previous chop tests of handgun cartridges. But we did go ahead and get down to a 3″ barrel, since we had a Bond Arms derringer in 3″ in that cartridge to test as a reference – this thing only has about a quarter-inch of rifling in the barrel. And it made a most impressive fireball when shot.

Just for giggles, we chopped the .223 barrel down to 2″, to show what would happen if you tried to go to that length. Here’s the result:

That should give a sense of what it was like this round of tests. I’ll have more to say about the testing, but thought it would be fun to share the images right away. We hope to have the data crunched and ready to post sometime later this month, but watch this blog for some previews.

Jim Downey

May 9, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures | 5 Comments

“We can make it bigger. Faster. With more data. We can make it…

…the Six Million Hit website!”

Yup, yesterday we broke 6,000,000 hits to the BBTI homepage.

I am still thinking about changes to both this blog and the BBTI site, but decided to shelve that project until we got on the other side of the next round of testing, which will start this weekend. I’ve also been more than a bit busy with another project of my own.

So, keep watching. “Like” us on Facebook. Check out my articles at Guns.com. Things are just going to keep getting better.

Jim Downey

April 26, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Data, Discussion., Links | Leave a comment

*click*

My latest article is up on Guns.com. Here’s an excerpt:

I picked up the gun. Replaced my original magazine, the one with premium defensive ammunition. Chambered a round, took aim. Pulled the trigger.

Just a “click.”

I felt a cold chill run up my spine. My face felt a bit clammy. I waited, then cleared the magazine and round from the gun. My vision focused into a tight tunnel on the pistol in my hands, as the full implication of what had just happened settled in: my carry gun didn’t work when I expected it to.

Read the whole thing to find out what happened.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

April 1, 2011 Posted by | .38 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, Anecdotes | Leave a comment

Wiki, oh Wiki, where do you roam?

Just spent a chunk of the afternoon and early evening doing something I had been meaning to do for at least a year: adding info about BBTI to various and sundry Wikipedia pages about ballistics and cartridges. I still need to create an actual ‘page’ about BBTI, but haven’t ever done that, so . . .

Anyway, now for all the cartridges/calibers we tested there are links on Wikipedia, plus any related entries that I could think of. But if you find yourself poking around there, and come across an entry which would appropriately link/mention BBTI, please edit it to do so (or drop me a note and I’ll take care of it.) This isn’t an effort to get more hits to the BBTI site (we’re rapidly approaching 2.5 million), but just to help more people get the information that they need.

Jim Downey

April 30, 2010 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Discussion., Links, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

We’ve been mentioned!

Terribly exciting news: we’ve been mentioned as one of Steve’s regularly-read gun blogs! Woo-hoo!

OK, seriously, there’s a good post over on the GunsAmerica forum about the state of “gun blogging” which is link-heavy and a perfect reference for anyone who wants to find some other quality blogs. And yes, we get a mention – which I think is mostly just a way to mention BBTI in general, since I don’t actually do a lot of blogging here.

One bit of “real” news: the ammo shortage has messed up our plans on doing the cylinder-gap tests this spring. Of the 7,400 rounds we ordered for the test, we’re still waiting on about a third to be delivered. We’ve debated back and forth whether to just proceed or to wait, and have opted for the latter course. Annoying, but there it is.

Now, go read that GunsAmerica post.

Jim Downey

March 27, 2010 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Links | 2 Comments

“It’s already been done.”

I just do not understand the mindset that some people have.

OK, let me explain. Monday I posted an excerpt about our upcoming “Cylinder Gap” tests to several of the gun forums I frequent, because I thought it would be of interest to some people who hang out at such places. And, for the most part, that proved to be correct.

But one place I got a response from one guy who said “it’s already been done”. See, he had done these sorts of tests using one brand of revolver which allows you to adjust the cylinder gap, in both a smaller and a larger caliber than the .38/.357 we’re testing. And the difference wasn’t that big a deal. Oh, he had the data somewhere, but he didn’t have it readily available. There was no real reason for us to conduct the tests.

OK, so here’s a guy who tested something different than we did (different calibers, and I guess only one barrel length in each). And he never published the data, though he says he’ll dig it up. Nor did he document the process he used.

Doesn’t sound to me like “it’s already been done.”

Now, I don’t mean to single this guy out, and if you go looking for the post don’t mangle him for his comment. Well, not too badly, anyway. Because I’ve run into this kind of mindset a lot in regards to the BBTI project, both in posts I’ve seen online in various places and in private emails I’ve received. People who think that just because they have done something a bit similar, and drawn their own conclusions, that therefore there is no value in what we’ve done or are planning to do. It’s like they resent the very idea that someone else might do more than they did, either in scope or in results. And so they try and either claim that they had the idea for the project first, or did some part of it first/better, or just try and belittle the results.

This sort of thing happens all the time, not just regarding the BBTI project. You see it with people grousing about invention and innovation, about movies and books, about blog posts or government or relationships. They seem to think that just the idea is what matters, not any effort or final product to bring that idea into reality.

Thomas Edison famously said that “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” A related quote from him perhaps sums up my attitude even better:

I am much less interested in what is called God’s word than in God’s deeds. All bibles are man-made.

Yeah, that’s it.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my blog and UTI.)

December 2, 2009 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .38 Special, Anecdotes, Data | 4 Comments

Closing in on a million.

Just under a month ago I wrote about launching the major upgrade to BBTI. Since then, we’ve had 217,390 hits to the site, bringing us to just shy of one million hits (986,999) as of midnight. Given how things have been going the last couple of days, I expect we’ll break a million today or tomorrow. [edited to add: we had over 21 thousand hits on 6/27, thereby crossing a million.]

And that’s kinda cool.

So, thanks to all who passed along word of our project. In particularly, our top ten referrers have been:

  1. www.darkroastedblend.com
  2. www.google.com
  3. www.defensivecarry.com
  4. www.thefirearmblog.com
  5. www.ar15.com
  6. www.thehighroad.org
  7. www.thefiringline.com
  8. ballisticsbytheinch.wordpress.com
  9. forums.somethingawful.com
  10. www.saysuncle.com

I find it interesting that the top referrer (by a long shot) isn’t even a firearms-related site. That we’ve risen high in Google searches comes as very little surprise, and I’m pleased that the BBTI blog itself has such a prominent spot, just after five of the best known gun forums/blogs. That’s kinda cool, too.

Anyway, thought I would pass this bit of good news along.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

June 27, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Links | 1 Comment

Six months ago.

Six months ago we launched Ballistics By The Inch. And since then we’ve had over 770,000 hits, one major magazine article, and coverage & discussion of the site in countless gun forums & blogs around the globe. When I have checked the stats for the site, I have never failed to be impressed with just how widely it has become known.

Well, tonight we posted a major upgrade to the whole site. This includes three additional caliber ‘chop tests’, but it also includes data collected from testing over 40 additional “real world” guns – including a baker’s dozen carbine-length guns. This data has been separated out into a new series of graphs for easy comparison. All together, there are now over 150 graphs showing ballistic performance – along with all the charts giving numerical averages for each 1″ increment in barrel length for 16 different calibers. And for the true data junkies, there are downloadable files (in two formats) for the entire sequence of initial tests, and another set for the second round of testing done in April 2009.

Like the initial project, this major upgrade and revision has been a huge job – and one only made possible by a lot of work from several individuals. Yes, there were the three of us testers from the original project. But there was also the addition of a fourth tester this time around who helped us gather & operate all those ‘real world’ guns, and I would like to welcome Keith to our team. But I would especially like to thank my good lady wife for all the html coding & design for our website – both the last time and with this major revision. Quite literally, none of this would have been available without her hard work.

There will probably be minor tweaks and additions to the site in the coming months and years. We still have some ideas of data which might be of interest to the gun community. But for now we hope that you will enjoy and make use of the data provided, and help to spread the word to others who may be interested.

Cheers!

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

May 28, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data | 3 Comments

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