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Old June 27, 2005, 09:14 PM   #1
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Ballistic gelatin test results - .38 Special

Hi. I just finished testing 5 different cartridges in calibrated ballistic gelatin and have posted the results, if you would care to read them.

Firearm was Smith and Wesson 642 with 1 7/8" barrel.

First shot was Speer Golddot , 125gr. +P . It penetrated to 9.518" and expanded to 0.511" .

Second shot was Winchester SXT , 130gr. +P . It penetrated to 10.586" and expanded to 0.560" .

Third shot was Federal Personal Defense , 110gr . It penetrated to 10" (estimated) and fragmented at 12" penetration.

Fourth shot was Federal Hydrashok , 129gr. +P . It penetrated to 7.42" and expanded to 0.541" .

Fifth shot was Winchester Ranger , 110gr. +P+ . It penetrated to 5.579" and expanded to 0.612" .

The penetration depths pictured below are deeper than they would be in an ideal gelatin block. This block fell out of calibration tolerances and a correction formula was utilized for the above-mentioned depths.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg 38block.JPG (24.0 KB, 292 views)
File Type: jpg 38calibr.JPG (16.3 KB, 211 views)
File Type: jpg .38Sheet.JPG (33.7 KB, 195 views)
Tom Nash
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Old June 27, 2005, 09:22 PM   #2
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Wow, the Speer and SXT performed very well. Makes me feel a little better since my snubbies are all loaded with the 125 and 135 Gold Dot.

Thanks for doing the test and sharing the information. I, for one, appreciate it very much.
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Old June 27, 2005, 10:04 PM   #3
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any chance there may be a ballistics gelatin test using a .454 Casull in the future?
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Old June 27, 2005, 10:11 PM   #4
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Very nice report. Thanks for making the effort and for sharing.
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Old June 27, 2005, 10:32 PM   #5
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+1 on the nice report
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Old June 27, 2005, 10:45 PM   #6
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Good to know, I own the exact same gun. How far away were you from the gel when you shot it?
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Old June 27, 2005, 11:00 PM   #7
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Good job, Tom, much obliged.

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Old June 27, 2005, 11:07 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing your hard work
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Old June 27, 2005, 11:34 PM   #9
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Hello and thanks for the most interesting post.

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Old June 27, 2005, 11:35 PM   #10
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As always, great job!

Just an FYI, but the gelatin can be remelted and rechilled. It doesnt have to be discarded all the time, in fact Shawn Dodson told me that he reuses some of his gelatin. It doesnt always have the same BB pen. depth, but it usually close. It also saves a lot of money.
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Old June 28, 2005, 03:46 AM   #11
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Simply reaffirms my ongoing preference for heavy, sometimes non-expanding bullets, for the .38. Penetration depths running 5", 6", 7" and even 10" are grossly insufficient as far as I am concerned.
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Old June 28, 2005, 02:31 PM   #12
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Thank you all for the kind words and nice responses regarding the gelatin tests. That is what keeps me doing them (it's certainly not because I like the hassle ).

Glock19Fan - thanks for the advice! I actually asked Mr. Dodson such a question a few weeks ago, and he kindly forwarded me his procedure ... The .38 Special block is getting ready for a 'hot water bath', here shortly...

The gelatin blocks are shot from about 4 feet distance. This is for two reasons: most self-defense shootings happen at this range and secondly, it's just hard to hit the block five times with a handgun from a further distance and not have any of the rounds veer out of the side of the block or collide into adjacent wound paths.

Big Yac - I don't have access to a .454 Casull, but as always, donations are accepted ($50) and requests are welcome for whatever caliber/brand of bullet /range at impact, etc. I posted results to this forum (art of the rifle section) on a recent test that I ran with an 18" Marlin rifle in 45-70 government. While I believe the round was moving faster than a typical .454 , the test should be somewhat representative of what a .454 might look like. Just look up the previous posts for tomnash, it should come up ...

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Old June 28, 2005, 02:52 PM   #13
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lighter for snubbys

I had a S&W model 36.I always felt safe with federal 110 hydr-shok.The snubbys fire lighter bullets alot more affective.110 hydr-shoks go 1000F.P.S.It would definatly knock the fight out of anybody.Just going by what I read.Happy ammo hunting!
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Old June 28, 2005, 03:05 PM   #14
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Thanks for your great test! That's exactly the info I was looking for.
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Old June 28, 2005, 03:35 PM   #15
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Another approach; rather "old school" but the 158 grain LSWCHP "FBI Load" is definitely a proven performer. The results shown are for 4" barrels, but it works well from snubs too.

32 centimeter = 12.5984252 inch

Oh, and your new-tech light-bullet load results are entirely consistent with conventional ammunition in the lighter weights:

21.5 centimeter = 8.4645669 inch
Nice work- I always enjoy reading results on the new stuff, and comparing it existing data. Thank you.
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Old June 28, 2005, 04:02 PM   #16
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What about the Remington Golden Saber?

Fired at the range the other day with my 642. The Hydrashok kicked like a mule but the Golden Saber was very manageble.
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Old June 28, 2005, 07:39 PM   #17
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Thanks for taking the time and sharing the helpful information
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Old June 29, 2005, 05:14 AM   #18
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Great stuff! I always love looking at balistics testing results. I personally carry a S&W 642 with the 130 gr +P Winchesters so this test is exactly what I would like to see.
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Old June 29, 2005, 11:02 AM   #19
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I tested handloaded 125gr. Golden Saber in the 642. The loads were loaded to maximum tabulated pressure, using Bullseye, for .38 +P . Bullets penetrated to ! ~10" and performed similarly to the 129gr +P Hydrashok. The block used was out-of-calibration, so the true penetration depth of those Golden Saber bullets should be about 8".

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