View Full Version : Idea for SWAT magazine: Start regular ballistic tests of defensive ammo

November 12, 2001, 02:26 PM
There has been a growing movement of interest in ballistics by avid shooters. If you look on these gun forums on the internet you will see that every one of them has an active ballistics forum. Many of the participants have become very educated on the study and have read everything available on the topic. There is a shortage of one thing though, and that is ballistic gelatin testing of popular defensive loads, in a scientific archive that can be easily researched. The last such archive I know of was done by the FBI and most of those loads are now outdated due to new designs.

I think that a good idea for your magazine would be a monthly article studying one type of ammo. Include gelatin tests (and/or other tests) with pictures comparing the performance of the ammo as well as a discussion of the ammo's success in police shootings etc.

For instance, each month you could test one caliber and type of ammo out of one gun barrel length, giving the resulting performance. One month it could be the 125gr .357 Magnum comparing all the popular brands (out of a snub nose and then out of a service revolver, the two barrel lengths greatly affecting expansion and penetration). The next month 230gr .45 comparing all brands and the next month 185+p, etc.
Test the loads into gelatin through cloth and barriers or possibly into a side of beef.

Many people these days never know what type of performance to really expect from their gun barrel length, and load. For instance, some loads perform perfectly from a 4 inch barrel, but from a 5 inch barrel they will over expand and underpenetrate. This little tidbit of information can be the difference between life or death, if you are carrying a load that you expect to have good performance when in reality it only penetrates 6 inches after fragmentation due to too much velocity from your barrel length.

If you look around the forums you will see a great demand for real gelatin tests of current defensive loads so that we can make an educated decision about what carry load to stake our lives upon. Sometimes the results are very shocking, and the ammo that we thought reigned supreme performs very poorly in expansion, acting more like ball ammo (in which case, I would rather carry reliable and inexpensive ball ammo).

If you did one type of ammo each month, your readers could build a library of your magazines and use them as a reference for years to come.

If you are short on writers willing to perform this task, I will volunteer my services, but really I just want the results. I don't care who does the tests as long as they are scientific. I just want to know which ammo really lives up to its claims, and so do a lot of other serious shooters and we don't have the budget to do these kinds of widespread tests, whereas to your magazine the budget woud be trivial compared to the increased readership it would bring. If you peruse the ballistics forums you will see many qualified people for fulfilling these scientific criterion, if you are looking for testers/writers.

SWAT magazine is building a reputation for "taking it up a notch". I think that for too long we have been buying ammo on the pretense that it performs perfectly, while the ammo companies have had nothing to answer to because no one is testing their ammo on a widespread basis to see if it really expands and penetrates properly. Your magazine could bring the ballistics of modern defensive loads up a notch by creating a regular study of popular loads side by side to allow consumers to make educated decisions about exactly what load gives the them performance they are looking for from their barrel length.

George Hill
November 12, 2001, 02:41 PM
I like this idea.

Denny Hansen
November 12, 2001, 03:27 PM
It is a good idea, but at the moment we simply don't have room for another full-time column.

What we can do, however, is incorporate ballistics info into some of the articles. Coming in the February issue, (in the final stages of lay-up right now), we feature a how-to article on building a "Fackler Box." This piece of equipment can be built by anyone with basic welding skills or fabricated locally, and is very inexpensive. For the test medium it uses water rather than hard to store/handle gelatin. It's just the ticket for the serious shooter who wants to know how his ammo performs from his firearm(s).


November 29, 2001, 05:06 PM
I bought the Dec issue after not buying SWAT for many years. I think it's very much improved and I'll be buying it from now on. I think JD has a great idea. I would suggest you delete Enemy at the Gate to make room for it. American Rifleman and it's sister publication, America's First Freedom, cover the gun rights issue pretty thoroughly. There are also numerous web sites devoted to it. On the other hand, no other magazine has a ammo column. Just my two cents worth. Good magazine, regardless. :)