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February 2001
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INS National Firearms Unit Ballistic Gelatin Test Protocol

Effective Date: September 1, 1998

The INS National Firearms Unit establishes this protocol for the test and evaluation of service duty handgun ammunition.

  1. Gelatin Block Size: Gelatin block size for the testing of handgun ammunition shall be 6” x 6” x 16”.

  2. Gelatin Consistency and Mix Procedures: Gelatin shall be mixed to a 10 percent consistency starting with water at a temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit, following the instructions provided by Kind and Knox.

  3. Gelatin Calibration: Calibration shall consist of gelatin penetration of no less than 3.25 inches and no greater than 3.75 inches by a .177 caliber BB projectile traveling at a velocity of 600 feet per second ± 10 feet per second. Distance from the muzzle of the rifle to the front of the gelatin shall be 10 feet.

  4. Protocol Tests: The INS ballistic test protocol shall consist of five separate tests. These five tests are as follows:

  1. Bare gelatin

  2. Heavy clothing (4x denim) over gelatin

  3. Sheetrock

  4. Compound angle windshield

  5. 20 gauge steel

  1. Test Value Weighting: The INS protocol tests shall be weighted as described below:

           TEST VALUE
a) Bare gelatin     20%
b) 4x denim gelatin     40%
c) Sheetrock     10%
d) Compound angle windshield     20%
e) 20 gauge sheet metal     10%
  1. Range of Penetration: Acceptable projectile penetration in 10 percent ballistic gelatin shall be a minimum of nine inches and a maximum of 15 inches for five shots fired in each of the five test phases.

  2. Tissue Crush Measurement: Tissue crush measurement will be limited to the first 12 inches of travel of the projectile through ballistic gelatin. Penetration of the projectile beyond 12 inches and less than 15 inches will be within acceptable limits for penetration but will not be given additional value for tissue crush. For specification purposes, this tissue crush data will be shown as “12 inch Tissue Crush”.

  3. Projectile Penetration: The actual penetration performance of all projectiles tested shall be documented even if they do not meet INS specifications. This data will be shown as "Projectile Penetration" and will include a measurement of total tissue crush.

  4. Penetration Average: The five test shots for each test phase will be averaged to establish depth of penetration for each individual test, however; the failure of three or more rounds to penetrate within the established range in any individual test will render the product sample non-responsive to the specification. The actual depth of penetration of each of the five shots fired will be recorded for each test conducted and a recorded average will be documented for the five shots fired.

  5. Projectile Expansion Measurement: For the purpose of determining tissue crush, projectiles will be given full value for the expanded diameter of recovered projectiles. Hyper-expanding  projectiles will be given an arbitrary projectile diameter of twice the original diameter from the entry point into ballistic gelatin to the deepest penetration of the temporary cavity. The volume of tissue crush for any additional length of projectile travel shall be calculated based on the retained diameter of the recovered projectile. Yawing projectiles will be given an arbitrary value of two times the base diameter of the projectile for the point at which yaw begins to the point at which yaw ends. The volume of tissue crush for any additional length of projectile travel shall be calculated based on the retained diameter of the recovered projectile.

  6. Projectile Classification: Projectiles shall be classified using the INS classification system with notations regarding active or passive fragmentation characteristics. No value will be assigned to either the INS classifications or the active/passive characteristics of fragments. Those projectiles that can be defined as active projectiles will receive full value for both penetration and temporary stretch cavity produced. Information regarding active and passive fragmentation will be documented as a service to vendors and other users of the test data.

  7. Recorded Measurements: The following measurements shall be recorded for projectiles that are fired into ballistic gelatin.

  1. Projectile weight

  2. Projectile caliber

  3. Projectile velocity

  4. Projectile configuration (JHP, FMJ, etc.)

  5. Projectile momentum

  6. Projectile kinetic energy

  7. Tioga Engineering free recoil measurement using the INS Beretta 96D Brigadier unloaded pistol weight of 36 ounces.

  8. Projectile expansion

  9. Retained projectile weight

  10. Depth of penetration in the gelatin of the primary projectile or the heaviest projectile fragment achieving the deepest penetration.

  11. Depth of penetration in the gelatin of active projectiles as defined in the INS projectile classification system.

  12. Length of the temporary stretch cavity* (projectiles[s])

  13. Width of the temporary stretch cavity* (projectile[s])

  14. Mid-point of the temporary stretch cavity* (projectile[s])

  15. Volume of the temporary stretch cavity* (projectile[s])

  16. General depth of penetration of active fragments

  17. General depth at which major passive fragmentation occurred.

*It is the intention of the INS/NFU to measure temporary stretch cavity through the use of high speed photography because the size of the temporary cavity is considered by the INS as a significant factor in determining projectile performance. A baseline performance standard for temporary stretch cavity size will be based on the temporary stretch cavity characteristics of the .357 magnum 125 grain jacketed hollow point after impacting bare gelatin at a velocity of 1450 fps ± 40 fps. Temporary stretch cavities equal to or greater than that of the .357 magnum 125 grain JHP will be considered desirable. Temporary stretch cavities less than that of the .357 magnum 125 grain JHP will be considered less desirable.

Performance value weighting of the temporary stretch cavity shall be no greater than 50 percent of the value given to the projectile's capacity for tissue crush and penetration within the desired range of penetration as described in item one.

Note: Temporary stretch cavity measurements will be taken from high speed photographic data when this equipment becomes available to the NFU and will be analyzed through the use of computerized motion analysis. Until this equipment becomes available, measurements will be taken for length, width, and mid-point using mechanical devices. These measurements will be used for informational purposes only and will not be assigned a performance value. No attempt will be made to determine the performance value of the temporary stretch cavity until the high speed photographic equipment and work station become available.

The following items were discussed at the symposium but will not be included in the test protocol:

  1. Moment of Expansion Requirement: The INS/NFU shall make no recommendations regarding when full expansion, yaw, or active separation or fragmentation of projectiles should occur. The function of design is left to the discretion of the vendor.

  2. Wound Value Estimation: The INS shall not provide predictions of wounding value to ammunition tested.

  3. Fuller Index System: The Fuller Index system will not be included in test data but shall be used by the INS/NFU as a resource tool.

PROJECTILE CLASSIFICATIONS

The following classifications shall be used to document the characteristics of projectile integrity after the projectile has been fired into 10 percent ballistic gelatin.

  1. Full Projectile (FP): A full projectile is any recovered projectile that retains 90 percent or more of its original weight.

  2. Hyper-expanded Projectile (HEP): A hyper-expanded projectile is a recovered projectile that retains more than 50 percent but less than 90 percent of the original projectile weight.

  3. Separated Projectile (SP): A separated projectile is any projectile that, by design, separates into two or more sections after impact with 10 percent ballistic gelatin with each major portion of the projectile retaining an average of more than 20% of the original projectile weight.

  4. Yawing Projectile (YP): A yawing projectile is any projectile that relies on the dynamics of yawing to increase the wounding potential of the projectile. Yawing projectiles are typified by full military ball projectile dynamics.

  5. Diametric Fragment (DF): A diametric fragment is any recovered projectile that retains less than 50 percent but more than 20 percent of its original weight and retains a measurable symmetrical diameter.

  6. Non-Diametric Fragment (NDF): A non-diametric fragment is any recovered projectile that retains less than 50 percent but more than 20 percent of its original weight but does not retain a measurable symmetrical diameter.

  7. Full Fragmenting Projectile (FFP): A fully fragmenting projectile is any projectile that, by design or distress, separates into multiple fragments with major portions of the projectile retaining an average of less than 20 percent of the original projectile weight.

  8. Fragment Shard (FS): A fragment shard is any recovered projectile that retains less than 20 percent of the original projectile weight. Fragment shards may, or may not, retain a measurable symmetrical diameter.

PROJECTILE PENETRATION CLASSIFICATIONS

Active and passive classifications shall be used to identify the penetration dynamics of projectiles that fragment or separate from the main projectile after contact with the ballistic gelatin.

  1. Active Projectile (AP): An active projectile is a projectile, or any portion of a projectile, that creates a primary or secondary wound channel in excess of five inches in length at any distance within the body of 10 percent ballistic gelatin and exceeds a minimum depth of penetration of six inches from the front of the gelatin block. Active projectile penetration will be measured and assigned a value for tissue crush produced.

Note: If less than 50 percent of projectile weight penetrates within the established INS ballistic gelatin 9" to 15" range, an average of the penetration of all active projectiles will be used to determine the depth of penetration of the projectile. The projectile demonstrating the deepest penetration will be used to determine the effective depth of penetration if more than 50 percent by weight of the original projectile resides within the acceptable 9" to 15" penetration range.

  1. Active Fragment (AF): An active fragment is any projectile or portion of a projectile that creates a separate wound channel more than three inches in length but less than five inches in length at any distance within the body of 10 percent ballistic gelatin; or creates a wound channel in excess of five inches that does not reach a minimum depth of six inches from the front of the gelatin block. Active fragments will be noted but will not be given a value for tissue crush produced.

  2. Passive Fragment (PF): A passive fragment is any portion of the main projectile that creates a separate wound channel of less than three inches at any distance within the body of 10 percent ballistic gelatin; or remains inside the area of the temporary stretch cavities or wound channels produced by active projectiles or active fragments. Passive fragments will not be given a value for tissue crush produced.

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