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Ammo to Go: Ballistic gel tests

I’m a few days late posting this, so apologies to Brandon from AtG, but Ammo to Go has published a massive (their word) test of self-defense ammo.

The team tests nearly 100 different handgun loads through a 4-layer barrier into ballistic gelatin. Enjoy the treasure trove of data and see how each round compared under identical testing conditions to other ammunition options.

Read. Learn. Argue (of course; you’re gunfolk). Enjoy.


  1. Bill T
    Bill T March 24, 2018 9:12 am

    The people at Lucky Gunner also have a huge labs page.
    Plus they are great people I get a lot of ammo from them.

  2. Pat
    Pat March 24, 2018 10:31 am

    Fascinating. I’ve read a lot about what’s supposed to be good and bad, and who likes what for whatever reasons. This is clear and concise about details of weight, velocity, barriers, penetration, etc., and most easy to understand.

    Questions. (If YouTube won’t accommodate, I guess we can get info here or at the cabal. Thanks.)

    1) At what point (or number) does velocity become crucial? Is it due to barriers alone that velocity should be considered, or some other factor as well?

    2) The testing was for pistols. What differences in these factors – if any – would be affected by using a double-action revolver instead of pistols?

  3. Comarde X
    Comarde X March 24, 2018 10:38 am

    Good stuff, will spend some time reviewing for sure.

    I’m a 9mm Federal LE Tactical Hydra-Shok 124gr. HP Ammo fan, I reckon I got on to it because my Solo liked it even though my main carry is a G43 (which likes everything I’ve ever put thru it). From this information I still find it to be a good choice.

    I’ve also like magtech as a practice round in their 9mm FMJ, 115gr. I wasn’t aware of their self protection rounds which did pretty good too.

    Also for those of you going the 380 direction it does appear there is some pretty good ammo out there today that makes that not a bad choice, the thing with 380 is how easy it is to conceal and the lack of recoil which has a lot to do with accuracy for many of us.

    As was mentioned different guns like different ammo, so you need to experiment. This may just be me but I like to run a mag of my self defense carry ammo every so often just to keep it fresh, there’s no scientific reason to do it but I don’t walk under ladders either.

    IMHO the thing about ammo that is the most important is being able to put it on target, I don’t care how good it is, if you can’t hit what you are shooting at; what good is it anyway, so practice comes first, 2nd & 3rd, then being able to get multiple rounds on target quickly to me is important also.

    IMHO if I am going to a gun fight I’m bringing a long gun, so pistols are purely a secondary weapon but sometimes that is all you got, so why not make the best of it?

  4. Comrade X
    Comrade X March 24, 2018 10:51 am

    From a friend;

    “The good and bad on this test is they used super compact pistols in .380 and 9mm, where at least usually in 9mm tests the 9mm would have another inch of barrel or more, resulting in more velocity, which changes the outcome of both expansion and depth. The 45 is full size, so pretty normal compared to what the ammo is designed for there.

    Normally, under an FBI test all pistols would be similar and results are closer too because the ammo is designed to optimize at that velocity. This test shows what happens out of compact pistols in comparison, and that is good. I think I might get some of that 99gr .380 Federal for my wife. Good expansion and penetration, with the added benefit of less chance of over penetration compared to the non expanding rounds she us currently loaded with.

    It must be hot as hell to be the heaviest and highest velocity in test. +P generally isn’t that beneficial in shorter barrels, but this one sounds really powerful.”

    FMJ vs HP is a big consideration, when I am in bear country I carry a 10mm & FMJ rounds, but in my home for my neighbors sake I go with HP’s. then there’s the body armor issue, practicing heads & hips is a good practice because most pistol rounds can’t penetrate it but there are some rounds in the 5.7 which supposedly can handle that too, if you ever come across it.

  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 24, 2018 11:32 am

    Brandon wrote to me and asked if I’d like to test some of the HP ammo. I was delighted to accept the challenge, and the box came last night. It will be at least a week or so before the mud dries enough to use the outdoor range here, but I hope to be ready by then. I’m interested in seeing how the low tech results of my testing compare to the official ones. I don’t have any gel blocks, or machines to measure velocity, etc., but I’m going to do my best to capture some of the bullets fired to compare expansion and deformation going through various targets made with heavy clothing.

    Here are the tests I made a few years ago for AmmoMan.

  6. david
    david March 24, 2018 11:38 am

    Decide for yourselves what to use for your purposes. I merely want to point out that I always use www. to shop for ammo.

    They survey over 200 vendors (as I recall), you can select for multiple criteria at once, and then sort your results by several other criteria, including ‘price per round’. I’ve never had any issue with them when I ordered except the time I ordered a case of copper solid slugs – and the problem was that it was heavy to pick up!

  7. ExpatNJ
    ExpatNJ March 25, 2018 1:20 pm

    “Pistols in general are under-powered, unreliable, inaccurate, and difficult to shoot. This situation encourages gun buffs to indulge in endless arguments about which gun is “best” for defense. There really isn’t a “best” pistol for defense. If you want the “best,” you get a rifle. A pistol is a self-defense first-aid kit which you carry when you want to be armed but it isn’t convenient to carry your rifle (i.e., when you are on top of a ladder washing fallout off the barn roof). The pistol also serves as a second line of defense in case the rifle jams or runs out of ammunition. It is not a primary weapon – but it is indispensable … Learn to shoot it skillfully and it will save your life in situations where you would otherwise be caught unarmed.”
    – Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D., “Life After Doomsday”, 1979 (and as re-published).

    EVERY prepper/survivalist/freedom-lover should have this book in their library.

    Yes, one should always plan on bringing enough gun to a gun fight. Yet, one belief I hope we can all agree on is that “the bad guys” – whoever ‘they’ might be – don’t want to be shot with anything, regardless of projectile type/caliber.

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