All along, we’ve said that if someone wanted to take the time, trouble, and expense to do some additional research along the lines of our protocols, that we’d be happy to include their data on our site. This is particularly true if it helped expand the selection of “real world guns” associated with the data for a given caliber/cartridge. Well, for the first time someone has expressed an interest in doing just that, prompting us to come up with an outline of what standards we feel are required for making sure it relates to our previous tests.
The biggest problem is that ammo manufacturers may, and do, change the performance of their products from time to time. This is why we have on occasion revisited certain cartridges, doing full formal chop tests in order to check how specific lines of ammo have changed. That gives us a benchmark to compare other ammo after a period of several years have passed, and shows how new tests relate to the old data.
But without going to such an extent, how can we be reasonably sure that new data collected by others using their own firearms is useful in comparison to our published data?
After some discussion, we feel that so long as any new testing includes three or more of the specific types of ammo (same manufacturer, same bullet weight & design) we had tested previously, then that will give enough of a benchmark for fair comparison. (Obviously, in instances where we didn’t test that many different types of ammo in a given cartridge, adjustments would need to be made). With that in mind, here are the protocols we would require in order to include new data on our site (with full credit to the persons conducting the tests, of course):
- Full description and images of the test platform (firearm) used in the tests. This must specify the make, model number, barrel length, and condition of the firearm. Ideally, it will also include the age of the firearm.
- That a good commercial chronograph be used. Brand isn’t critical — there seems to be sufficient consistency between different models that this isn’t a concern. However, the brand and model should be noted.
- Chronographs must be positioned approximately 15 feet in front of the muzzle of the firearm used to test the ammo. This is what we started with in our tests, and have maintained as our standard through all the tests.
- That five or six data points be collected for each type of ammo tested. This can be done the way we did it, shooting three shots through two different chronographs, or by shooting six shots through one chronograph.
- All data must be documented with images of the raw data sheets. Feel free to use the same template we used in our tests, or come up with your own.
- Images of each actual box of ammo used in the test must be provided, which show the brand, caliber/cartridge, and bullet weight. Also including manufacturer’s lot number would be preferred, but isn’t always possible.
- A note about weather conditions at the time of the test and approximate elevation of the test site above sea level should be included.
We hope that this will allow others to help contribute to our published data, while still maintaining confidence in the *value* of that data. Please, if you are interested in conducting your own tests, contact us in advance just so we can go over any questions.
Today we’re going to see what the results are for a couple of different high-end 1911 platform guns. The first is an Ed Brown Kobra Carry (reviewed here), a Commander-sized (4.25″ barrel) single stack designed as a concealed-carry gun. We made no modifications of it for the more powerful loads. Here it is during our testing:
As I said with the other two posts about these tests, it’ll be a while before we have all the data crunched and the website updated, but I thought I would share some preliminary thoughts and information through a series of informal posts.
Quick note about the data below: All the ammo used, with the exception of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), representing a total of 6 data points. I’m just giving the overall averages here; the full data will be available on the website later. The four * ammunition types only include two shots/four data points through the Ed Brown Kobra Carry, since it is a typical length for a self-defense gun. That’s because we only had one box of each of this ammo, and were wanting to get data which would be of the greatest use to the largest number of people.
Ammo Ed Brown Kobra Carry Wilson Combat Hunter
.45 ACP Low Recoil Std P 185gr FMJ-FN 798 fps / 261 ft-lbs 791 fps / 256 ft-lbs
.45 ACP Std P 230gr FMJ-RN 811 fps / 335 ft-lbs 819 fps / 342 ft-lbs
.45 ACP +P 185gr JHP 1130 fps / 524 ft-lbs 1139 fps / 532 ft-lbs
.45 ACP +P 230gr JHP 952 fps / 462 ft-lbs 970 fps / 480 ft-lbs
.45 Super 185gr JHP 1257 fps / 648 ft-lbs 1312 fps / 706 ft-lbs
.45 Super 200gr JHP 1175 fps / 613 ft-lbs 1216 fps / 656 ft-lbs
.45 Super 230gr FMJ 1067 fps / 581 ft-lbs 1105 fps / 623 ft-lbs
.45 Super 230gr JHP 1084 fps / 600 ft-lbs 1109 fps / 627 ft-lbs
.45 Super 255gr Hard Cast 1061 fps / 637 ft-lbs 1074 fps / 653 ft-lbs
.45 ACP +P 160gr Barnes TAC-XP 1121 fps / 446 ft-lbs 1162 fps / 479 ft-lbs
.450 SMC 185gr JHP 1310 fps / 704 ft-lbs 1350 fps / 748 ft-lbs
.450 SMC 185gr Bonded Defense JHP 1254 fps / 645 ft-lbs 1294 fps / 687 ft-lbs
.450 SMC 230gr Bonded Defense JHP 1103 fps / 621 ft-lbs 1108 fps / 626 ft-lbs
Critical Defense .45 ACP Std P 185gr FTX 969 fps / 385 ft-lbs 976 fps / 391 ft-lbs
Critical Duty .45 ACP +P 220gr Flexlock 932 fps / 424 ft-lbs 936 fps / 427 ft-lbs
.45 Super 170gr CF 1249 fps / 588 ft-lbs 1259 fps / 598 ft-lbs
.45 Super 185gr XTP JHP 1285 fps / 678 ft-lbs 1339 fps / 736 ft-lbs
.45 Super 230gr GD JHP 1071 fps / 585 ft-lbs 1099 fps / 616 ft-lbs
*Federal HST .45 ACP Std P 230gr JHP 815 fps / 339 ft-lbs
*G2 Research RIP .45 ACP Std P 162gr JHP 961 fps / 332 ft-lbs
*LeHigh Defense .45 Super 170gr JHP 1165 fps / 512 ft-lbs
*Liberty Civil Defense .45 ACP +P 78gr JHP 1843 fps / 588 ft-lbs
As with the other guns I’ve posted about, the general trends are pretty clear with the power rising as you go from standard pressure to +P to Super/.450 SMC, and topping out at about 750 foot-pounds of energy in a couple of loads. And it is interesting to note that the 185gr loads seem to be the “sweet spot” in terms of power across the board.
Of course, pure power is just one component for what makes a good ammunition choice. Bullet design & penetration is extremely important when considering a self-defense load. Shootability in your gun is also critical — because if you can’t recover quickly from shot to shot, then you may limit your ability in a stressful situation. Likewise, if the ammo doesn’t function reliably, or damages your gun, that is also a huge factor.
Most of the ammo we tested functioned very well in both 1911 platforms. Interestingly, while we had experienced FTFs (failure-to-fire) with a number of the different Double-Tap rounds in both the Bobergs and the Glocks, we didn’t experience any such problems with either 1911.
The larger platform of the Wilson Combat Hunter handled the recoil very well, even from the hottest loads. Recoil was a little more noticeable with the Ed Brown, but only by a slight amount. As I noted with the Glock 21 converted for the .460 Rowland, I was impressed that The Wilson Combat Hunter didn’t have any problems cycling even the lightest loads reliably.
Another note: we were unable to detect any damage or unusual wear to either gun, though it is possible a steady diet of loads of that power could cause some over the long term.
Lastly, I ran some .460 Rowland Buffalo Bore 230gr JHP cartridges through the Wilson Combat Hunter, since we had only had one type of ammo for that gun when we did the .460 Rowland tests. That had been Cor-Bon Hunter 230gr JHP. The Cor-Bon tested at 1213 fps / 751 ft-lbs, and the Buffalo Bore tested at 1349 fps / 929 ft-lbs of energy.
Look for more results, images, and thoughts in the days to come.
Last weekend I had the chance to revisit a couple of old friends, and try out something new: pump rifles. These guys:
If you check those links, you’ll see that I have written formal reviews for both the Uberti and the USFA previously. So I won’t spend much time talking about them.
But the little Taurus deserves a quick review. Because I found it to be a *very* nice little pump gun. The action was slick and didn’t have any problems, even though it was basically brand new. The Buckhorn sights are classic for a reason: they’re intuitive and work very well at modest distances. And even though the gun is relatively lightweight (compare the neck of the stock to the other two pump rifles above), there’s more than enough mass there to tame the recoil from the .22magnum cartridge. That means that you can get very quick and tight groups out of it even just standing and shooting it unsupported. Shooting it is just a blast, though one which doesn’t come with a lot of muzzle flash.
And the wood & finish on this gun is surprisingly good:
I also want to share a couple of detail pics of the engraving on the USFA:
And the other side:
I *do* like pump guns.
Got a note from “Neal” this morning:
I’m questioning the information on the website for the two Cimarron Colt clones in the two barrel lengths in the Corbon 200 gr. JHP +P column. It looks to me that you have two of the entries swapped. The 1094 and the 1227.
And here’s what I told him:
Well, I checked the data sheets, and it shows very clearly that the data points are for the correct guns. Those tests were conducted early in the day (10:30 in the morning), so I can’t imagine that we were tired or messed up getting things written down correctly, and the info is consistent with regards to the other ammos (or, rather, I should say the other ammos are consistent with one another).
So, it’s hard to say. It could have just been a fluke with those three rounds. This is the downside of only shooting three rounds – ideally, you’d do ten or more, to make sure you got enough data points to cover any glitches, but our funding and time wouldn’t allow doing that for all the ammo tested.
We will be doing some other testing in the future, and one of our guys owns that Peacemaker, so we should be able to run some 200gr. Corbon through it to see if we come up with some other data.
But thanks again for bringing it to my attention – it makes for an instructive point for our blog, as well.
It is a good point – there are real limits in what our data shows. Overall, I think you can get a pretty good sense of what is happening, but for any given data point there is some statistical doubt. More testing would give a greater level of confidence, but requires a greater level of effort and expenditure.
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.
(Cross posted to my personal blog.)
OK, this is going to be a bit of a catch-all entry, where I (and I hope Jim K and Steve) will post some little comments and observations about doing the project. A lot of this stuff you would probably find if you poke around deep enough in either the Emails or the flickr images, but it’s nice to get an individual story as well.
* * *
See the title on the site? The tag line: “Three guys, two chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . ” really oughtta be “Three guys, FOUR chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . ”
Yeah, we killed two chronographs. Put a bullet (a .45 colt, if memory serves) right through the forehead of the first one, which went through the one behind it. Happened during the first day of testing in the second flight of tests. I blogged about it that night; here’s an excerpt:
What happened was this: one of us (who shall for now remain nameless, until I can spend more time to write up the saga appropriately) was in the middle of shooting the second most powerful of the calibers we’re testing, and didn’t manage to control the gun completely when he fired the round. And it went right through both chronographs. Perfectly.
We use two chronographs, lined up one in front of the other, to be sure we’re getting good data. He hit the first one right dead center, a little high from the middle. Like a perfect shot in a movie, hitting the bad guy right between the eyes. The large bullet punched through the display, destroyed the electronics, and shattered the back of the chrono – then entered the front sensor of the second chrono, exiting out the bottom rear sensor as well.
It was spectacular. A perfect shot. I have pix I’ll be posting later.
Ah, good times, good times. We put an armour plate (a railway tie plate) in front of the next set of chronographs from then on. Good thing, too, that saved us probably another five or six sets of chronographs. Live and learn.
- .25 ACP
- .30 carbine
- .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
- .45 Super
- .450 SMC
- .460 Rowland
- 6.5 Swedish
- 9mm Luger (9×19)
- 9mm Mak
- 9mm Ultra
- black powder
- Boberg Arms
- General Procedures
- Shotgun ballistics