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February/March 2000
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Personal Defense Ammunition Terminal Performance Test Data

The ammunition listed in the tables below was tested in accordance with the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification.1 The specification consists of two test events:

  1. Shooting bullets into bare ordnance gelatin. This test provides the most common performance measurement. It tests overall bullet design and reveals bullet flaws such as over-expansion and fragmentation. Bullet designs that do not fragment in bare gelatin are unlikely to break apart in soft tissue.

  2. Shooting bullets into ordnance gelatin that's covered by four layers of heavy (14.5 - 16 ounce) cotton denim cloth. This test allows an examination of bullet expansion and penetration performance when a soft barrier, such as clothing, is encountered. This test event is not intended to represent a duplication or simulation of any specific apparel.

Although the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification recommends evaluating ten rounds of ammunition in each test event, we tested five. The reason why we tested five rounds in each event instead of ten is due to the time, effort and expense required to conduct these tests, and our desire to produce data for as many different weapon/cartridge combinations as possible. Nonetheless we feel our test program gives you a reasonable indication of the terminal performance you can expect when the bullets are propelled out of your weapon at, or very near (approximately ± 50 fps), average measured velocity.

Gelatin blocks measuring 10"W x 6"H x 18"L in dimension were used as a soft tissue simulant. Each gelatin block was positioned approximately 10 feet from the muzzle of the test weapon. Projectile velocity was measured using an Oehler 35P proof chronograph, whose skyscreen sensors were placed directly in front of the gelatin block.

Immediately prior to testing each gelatin block was calibrated by firing a steel BB into it at a velocity of approximately 590 fps. The BB's velocity was measured by the chronograph and recorded. The BB's penetration depth into the gelatin block was measured to the nearest millimeter.

In most cases, the use of a pneumatic pump-up pellet rifle for gelatin block calibration produced BB velocities that did not meet the 590 fps velocity standard. When this occurred, the calibration BB's penetration depth was adjusted to compensate for the velocity error in accordance with Reference 2.

After calibration, five bullets were fired into the 10" wide end of the gelatin block, taking care to ensure none of the bullets encountered the permanent and temporary cavities of any preceding bullet. Velocity of each shot was measured and recorded. Penetration depth of all bullets captured in the gelatin block was measured to the nearest millimeter.

Some bullets passed all the way through the 18" long gelatin block and were not captured. Although a second gelatin block could have been positioned behind the test block to capture any exiting bullets (and we initially did this for one test), we felt the practice was not worth the additional time and effort. We rationalized our decision based on the penetration depths suggested by the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification. Most users are probably not going to choose a cartridge whose bullet penetrates more than an average of 16", therefore a bullet that demonstrates 18+ inches of penetration is going to be of little practical interest.

It's unusual for a gelatin block to calibrate at exactly 8.5cm of BB penetration depth. A gelatin block that does not meet the calibration standard (8.5cm BB penetration depth at 590 fps penetration velocity) will produce erroneous data. For example, bullets will penetrate deeper into a block of gelatin in which the calibration BB penetrated deeper than 8.5cm, and vice versa. Therefore we used a simple calibration standard that allowed for an error tolerance of ± 10 percent (8.5cm ± 0.85cm). If the calibration BB penetrated between 7.7 - 9.4cm (after penetration correction due to velocity error, if necessary), bullet penetration data obtained from the gelatin block was acceptable as measured. If the calibration BB penetrated less than 7.7cm or greater than 9.4cm, bullet penetration data obtained from the gelatin block was corrected in accordance with Reference 3.

Detailed test data was published in the December 1999/January 2000 issue of FirearmsTactical. This data will be published in the FirearmsTactical 2000 annual, which will be available at the end of the year.

Recommendations Regarding Personal Defense Ammunition

The following rating system is used to report ammunition test results:

  • Unsatisfactory - average bullet penetration is less than 9-inches.
  • Marginal - average bullet penetration is between 9- and 12- inches.
  • Optimal - average bullet penetration is between 12- and 16-inches.
  • Satisfactory - average bullet penetration is greater than 16-inches.

This rating system is not intended to predict the wounding effectiveness or "stopping power" of the ammunition tested. Ordnance gelatin test results cannot be utilized in this manner. Readers who are confused by this statement or who are unfamiliar with the purpose of ordnance gelatin testing are directed to the Reference 4 paragraph "Myth Number 1: Ordnance Gelatin Testing is Used to Predict Bullet Effectiveness".

Ammunition is rated based on its "general-purpose combat capability." An optimal capability ensures that the user's bullets will almost always be able to reach and pass through vital blood distribution organs in the abdominal and thoracic cavities despite body angle or the presence of an arm in the path of a well placed bullet. Combat capability is not a prediction of a criminal attacker's reaction to being shot.

Our rating system differs somewhat from the recommendations of the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification. For purposes of simplicity, in Tactical Briefs we've chosen to use a single penetration depth criteria of 12 - 16" for both bare gelatin and denim covered gelatin. While the IWBA suggests slightly different penetration criteria for each test event, the range of penetration that we report as optimal falls within the minimum and maximum specified by the IWBA's recommendations.

We've also chosen not to report expanded bullet diameter. The reason is because bullet velocity, penetration depth and expansion diameter are all interrelated.  As long as the bullet falls within the optimal range of penetration depth performance, the user can do nothing more than accept the bullet's expanded diameter as being ideal too. Users who desire bullet expansion data will have to wait until publication of the FirearmsTactical 2000 annual.

References

  1. MacPherson, Duncan: "The IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification Package/Gelatin Testing Information for Law Enforcement." Wound Ballistics Review 2(2); 1998: pp. 22-28.

  2. MacPherson, Duncan: "Figure 5-2, Velocity Variation Correction to Measured BB Penetration Depth." Bullet Penetration, Ballistic Publications, El Segundo, CA, 1994, p. 84.

  3. MacPherson, Duncan: "A Simplified Penetration Depth Correction for Data Taken in Non-Standard Gelatin." Wound Ballistics Review 2(2); 1995: pp. 41-45.

  4. Firearms Tactical Institute: "A Discussion of Classic Wound Ballistics Myths." Tactical Briefs 2(3); March 1999

 

.45 ACP ProLoad 200gr +P Bonded JHP Tactical Grade

Test Weapon: Glock 30, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 957 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Optimal Satisfactory

 

.45 ACP Georgia Arms 185gr +P Gold Dot JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 30, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1052 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Marginal Optimal

 

.45 ACP Remington 185gr +P Golden Saber Brass JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 30, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1034 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Optimal Satisfactory

 

.45 ACP Winchester 185gr Silvertip JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 30, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 901 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Marginal Satisfactory

 

.45 ACP Federal 165gr Personal Defense HydraShok JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 30, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 924 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Marginal Satisfactory

 

.40 S&W Remington 165gr Golden Saber Brass JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 27, 3.5" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1040 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Optimal Optimal

 

.40 S&W ProLoad 165gr Tactical Grade JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 27, 3.5" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1029 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Optimal Satisfactory

 

.40 S&W Winchester 155gr Silvertip JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 27, 3.5" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1080 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Optimal Satisfactory

 

9mm Winchester 147gr Supreme SXT JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 26, 3.5" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 919 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Satisfactory Satisfactory

 

9mm Georgia Arms 124gr +P Gold Dot JHP

Test Weapon: Glock 26, 3.5" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1192 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Marginal Satisfactory

 

.38 Special Federal 125gr Nyclad HP

Test Weapon: S&W 60, 2" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 743 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Satisfactory

 

.380 ACP Winchester 95gr Supreme SXT JHP

Test Weapon: Beretta 85, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 840 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Marginal

 

.380 ACP Hornady 90gr XTP JHP

Test Weapon: Beretta 85, 3.8" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1013 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Marginal Optimal

 

.32 ACP Winchester 60gr Silvertip JHP

Test Weapon: Beretta 3032, 2.4" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 799 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Optimal

 

.25 ACP Winchester 45gr Expanding Point

Test Weapon: Beretta 20, 2.4" bbl Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 749 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Marginal

 

.22 LR CCI 32gr Stinger LHP

Test Weapon: Ruger 22/45, 5.5" bbl* Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1301 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory

 

.22 LR Aguila 30gr Super Maximum High Velocity LHP

Test Weapon: Ruger 22/45, 5.5" bbl* Bare
Gelatin
Denim Covered
Gelatin
10 rd Avg. Velocity: 1263 fps
General-Purpose Combat Capability Unsatisfactory Unsatisfactory

* Terminal performance obtained with the 5.5-inch Ruger 22/45 should be similar to results for a 4-inch .22 LR revolver.


How to Aim a Home Defense Shotgun Fitted with a Bead Front Sight

While ghost-ring sights currently seem all the rage for home defense shotguns, a ghost-ring sighting system really isn't necessary. For most private citizens, a bead front sight is sufficient for home defense purposes.

Ghost-ring sights offer improved sighting capabilities under the following conditions:

Unless one or more of the situations above apply to you, you can save yourself about $100.00 by learning to become proficient with using a bead front sight.

Shotgun_Bead_Sight_Alignment.jpg (53441 bytes)Aiming a shotgun equipped with a bead front sight is easy. Mount the shotgun and obtain a good cheek weld on the butt stock. Look through the shallow channel that's machined in the top of the receiver and focus on the front sight bead. To obtain proper sight alignment, visually center the bead in the middle of the channel. You should see only the spherical bead. To engage a target, "put" the bead on the center of the target and press the trigger. The pellets will pattern on the target around your bead.

The entire bead should be the only part of the shotgun barrel that's visible beyond the receiver. The shot will hit low if you can only see part of the bead. Conversely, the shot will go high if you can see any portion of the front sight pedestal or barrel. The photograph and illustration above show proper sight alignment.

If your shotgun is equipped with a ventilated rib and a front sight bead, the directions above also apply. Only the bead should be visible atop the raised rib.

When shooting slugs from a bead sighted shotgun, use the same sight alignment, but you'll have to experiment to determine where the slug hits the target in relation to your sight picture. For example, a Remington 870 shotgun usually shoots high with slugs. You may find that you'll have to aim at a bad guy's belt line to put slugs in the center of his chest at 35 yards.

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Go Figure!

In the April 2000 issue of Handguns, Corporal Ed Sanow, Handguns "Law Enforcement Expert," has published an article, Top 10 Self-Defense Loads, the substance of which is Sanow's opinions of what cartridges he considers are the "calibers and loads [that] work the best in personal defense and law enforcement."

Three .40 S&W cartridges are among Sanow's top 10 choices: 1) Federal 155gr HydraShok JHP -- first place, 2) Triton & Cor-Bon 135gr JHP -- sixth place, and 3) Federal 180gr HydraShok JHP -- ninth place.

Whereas Sanow has no problem recommending these loads to others as the best for personal defense and law enforcement, incredulously he admits in his article that NONE of these .40 S&W loads are good enough for him (implying that his agency allows him to choose his own duty ammo):

"My duty load, fired from a personally owned Glock 22, is the Remington 165-grain Golden Saber. For sheriff's patrol, I like the brass hard jacket."

Yet, he shares these glowing observations about 155gr loads, in general, from Federal, Speer, Remington and Winchester:

"These medium-weight loads are the absolute top choices for self defense and law enforcement use. They do everything right from cycle reliability to stopping power. They have adequate but not excessive tissue penetration, and they produce gobs of tactical penetration."

"Absolute top choices", eh? Doh!

Sanow, Ed, Cpl.: "Top 10 Self-Defense Loads." Handguns, 14(4); April 2000: 46-51.


Analysis: Media Still Haven't Told the Truth About Diallo Case
By Martin L. Fackler, M.D.
February 28, 2000

Click here to read Dr. Fackler's article.


Closing the Book on Marshall & Sanow's One-shot Stopping Power Fraud

Over the past couple of years we've published several articles presenting evidence that discredits the Marshall & Sanow one-shot stopping power system of rating "bullet effectiveness". Our purpose in beating this dead horse was to present our criticisms from many different angles so that our message could be understood by the widest audience possible. The final chapter is now being written. We're closing the book on Marshall and Sanow by making several reference articles freely available on the Internet, where they'll be available to anyone and everyone who's interested in the details. As we put the Marshall - Sanow fraud to rest, we offer the following final commentary. Immediately following our remarks are links to reference articles that have never before been made available to you on the Internet.

The professional wound ballistics community believes that both Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow have intentionally misrepresented Marshall's "one-shot stop data" as a valid statistical sampling of "actual street results". Valid statistical samplings always report a plus or minus percentage of sampling error, which is based on consideration and evaluation of all factors that affect statistical certainty. This vital statistical process allows researchers to determine how meaningful or meaningless the findings are. Fackler's article, Too Good to be True, discusses, among other things, the significance of determining statistical certainty.

Marshall & Sanow have never performed a statistical certainty analysis of Marshall's one-shot stop data. They present raw "data," which is totally meaningless in context even if it was honestly collected and examined as claimed. Marshall's sampling methodology and the manner in which his data is presented are no more accurate or credible than any other nonscientific (for entertainment only) survey, and this generously assumes that Marshall is being completely honest.

Anyone who still believes the Marshall "findings" to be true should submit one of Marshall's "one-shot stop" books or articles to a professional statistics organization that has absolutely no interest in ballistics or the outcome, like http://www.westat.com. An unbiased organization such this is fully qualified to analyze and critique the validity of Marshall's methodology and "findings".

Marshall, Sanow, Massad Ayoob and other "one-shot stop" advocates either ignorantly or intentionally mischaracterize and attempt to discredit the professional wound ballistics community as lab coat wearing nerds who never step foot outside the confines of a controlled laboratory setting. These uninformed or dishonest gunwriters attempt to portray wound ballistics professionals as incompetent dunces who are unwilling to consider "real world shooting results," lest the "real world laboratory of the street" contradict cherished "laboratory gelatin results" and "laboratory theories." One need only peruse a few issues of the IWBA journal, Wound Ballistics Review, to learn otherwise. Many of the articles are written by law enforcement officers or other professionals who work closely with law enforcement agencies.

Marshall & Sanow are preparing to publish a third book, Street Stoppers II. Until recently, we had planned to obtain a copy and publish a book review. But unless Street Stoppers II contains startling new information, we're moving on.

But before we close the book on Marshall & Sanow -- hopefully for good -- we'd like to express our appreciation to IWBA and the authors below, who've kindly granted us permission to re-print the following articles.

Maarten van Maanen's article, Discrepancies in the Marshall & Sanow "Data Base": An Evaluation Over Time, was the subject of Calibre Press' Street Survival Newsline (No. 419, dated 11/16/99), a law enforcement newsletter that's distributed to thousands of law enforcement officers worldwide. Calibre Press is a major law enforcement training organization. They produce and present the highly acclaimed Street Survival Seminar as well as publish the award winning books Street Survival, The Tactical Edge and Tactics for Criminal Patrol. The staff of Calibre Press reviewed van Maanen's article and found van Maanen's evidence of fraud and deceit so convincing as to warrant alerting the law enforcement community to his findings. If there's any one organization that has its finger on the pulse of what's going on in the "real world laboratory of the streets," it's the folks at Calibre Press.

(In 1993, Calibre Press permanently removed Marshall & Sanow's first book, Handgun Stopping Power, from their catalog after law enforcement members with the International Wound Ballistics Association presented them with compelling evidence that the book was teeming with falsehoods. Since then, Calibre Press has refused to carry Marshall & Sanow's books.)

Note: The founders of Calibre Press, Charles Remsberg and Dennis Anderson, recently retired and sold the business to another company. Mr. Remsberg personally made the decision to reject the Marshall/Sanow books because he did not want to offer flawed information to law enforcement officers. We applaud Mr. Remsberg's integrity and high regard for officer safety. It is unknown if the new owners of Calibre Press are aware of the problems with Marshall/Sanow, but current editions of the Calibre Press catalog contain the latest Marshall/Sanow book.

Reference Articles

Fackler, Martin L., MD.: "Book Review: Street Stoppers: The Latest Handgun Stopping Power Street Results."  Wound Ballistics Review, 3(1); 26-31: 1997.

MacPherson, Duncan: "Sanow Strikes (Out) Again."  Wound Ballistics Review, 3(1): 32-35; 1997.

van Maanen, Maarten: "Discrepancies in the Marshall & Sanow 'Data Base': An Evaluation Over Time." Wound Ballistics Review, 4(2); 9-13: Fall, 1999.

Fackler, Martin L., MD.: "Undeniable Evidence." Wound Ballistics Review, 4(2); 14-15: Fall, 1999.

MacPherson, Duncan: "The Marshall & Sanow 'Data' - Statistical Analysis Tells the Ugly Story." Wound Ballistics Review, 4(2); 16-21: Fall, 1999.

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FBI-Miami Shootout: Official FBI Files Available Under Freedom of Information Act

Last December, the federal government published, on the Internet, 600+ pages of redacted (censored) FBI documents reporting on the April 11, 1986 FBI - Miami shootout. These documents are available at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room.

The public release of these documents will undoubtedly be of great interest to individuals and organizations who seek to learn all they can about what happened that deadly day.

Click here to go to the FBI's shooting incident reports.

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