Expansion vs. Fragmentation

Discussion in 'Vintage Topic Archive (Sept - 2009)' started by Death Penalty, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. I have quite the paradox right now... When you shoot a woodchuck at 200 yards with a .223, the object is for the bullet to completely explode, hopefully causing the woodchuck to follow suit. The same goes for coyote, fox, bobcat, cougar, etc... Why is it that if a handgun bullet fragments, it is less lethal than one that holds together. it just seems to me, causing an explosion of lead fragments is more traumatic to soft tissue than one hole. I did an experiment with a cheap Remington 115 gr JHP and a Speer GDHP 147 gr. Both were fired into blocks of red potting clay approximately 8x10x14. There were at least five noticable exit wounds from the 115 gr which had completely fragmented, the copper jacket sitting on the bank behind the block. The hollow in the block of clay was large enough to fit both my hands into once I peeled open the initial entry wound. The 147 gr left a hollow I could fit one hand into and left one focal exit wound approximately the size of a golf ball. It just seems to me that a fragmenting bullet is more lethal than just an expanding bullet. Both rounds were fired from a 995 at approximately 20 yards.
  2. Do you have pictures/video of this test?

    Honestly, body tissue is much more dense than potting clay, that's a given, so no bullet is going to perform the same in actual shooting, hunting or SD. In body tissue, if a bullet fragments, it of course loses velocity, and doesn't penetrate as deep, possibly not reaching vital blood carrying organs. The fragments stop and all you have is a really messy flesh wound.

  3. TnShooter83

    TnShooter83 Guest

    Like PrimalSeal said.
    Penetration is the key to a good round.
    The bigger the hole, and the farther in it goes the better the round.

    As for woodchuck ect...You don't have near as much flesh to penetrate.
    And in many cases these rounds were created to stop over penetration.
    I use mine on farm land......cows, horses, sheep, ect.

    For safety concerns I'd rather have the fragmentation as to over penetration. There would be less of a chance for any farm animal being hit
    by the pass through bullet. This may go against what I just stated about
    penetration. But in my case it's a varmint. I want it to stop digging holes,
    killing live stock ect. Which is pretty hard to do with a nasty wound...
    So far all have died, a few ground hogs have made it back to the hole after being shot with a .22lr

    As for big game bullets, if you research you will find they are made to expand, and penetrate. Not fragment. I don't want to track my kill.
    I want it dead as fast as possible.
  4. Uraijit

    Uraijit Guest

    Yup. When the bullet fragments, the smaller pieces each disperse more of their energy. 1 solid object will retain more energy and will be able to penetrate better.

    Exploding woodchucks sound cool though!
  5. I hear ya. Dangerous game bullets are designed to hold together because the skin they are punching through can swallow a bullet designed to expand much at all. There have been bison skinned with 12ga slugs half-buried in their skin, mushroomed out all to hell.

    PrimalSeal, no I don't have any documentation of the test, but I'm planning on testing out rounds once I start handloading, so I'll document those. The test was designed around one I saw on Weaponology testing 45acp vs 9mm FMJ rounds. The 45 left a rather large cavity, but nowhere near what I experienced with my jhp 9mms. I'll do another test in about 3 weeks most likely, testing GDHPs vs Nosler Partitions vs. cheap Remington 115gr JHPs to see which explodes the biggest. Mind you these were also shot from a 995, not a pistol. The velocities are quite a bit higher than the bullets were designed to go.

    TnShooter, if you handload and have a .223, hornet, .204 ruger, or .17 centerfire, jamescalhoon.com sells double-hollow points in 17, 19, 20, and 22 caliber which are designed explicitly to shoot varmints with. The soft core explodes upon impact, and greatly reduces chance of ricochet. I would have gone with his bullets for handloading, but I'm also shooting coyotes and need something that will hold up better to penetrate past bigger bones.
  6. Death Penalty, if you can afford to, make up some ballistic gel to do your tests, you'll get better results on your ammo tests. Plus you'll be able to see the round inside the gel, so you can then measure your penetration depth. Just an idea. The gel isn't terribly expensive, but it's a mess to mix up if you don't have the proper tools.
  7. I like clay better than shooting gel. It demonstrates pretty clearly how the bullet behaves upon impact, and it holds the cavity open much better. The entire premise of the exercise is to not see the bullet inside anyway... I'm not saying clay is a better analog than ballistics gel, I'm just saying that the ability to disect the wound channel is more important for this particular experiment. I have no doubts about penetration of any bullet fired from a 995 either, just explosion factor.
  8. DP,
    I understand what you are saying. Just a thought, the Extreme Shock ammo is supposed to theoretically work that way. Now I don't have an opinion on ES ammo, but there are pretty big claims out there.


    I thought this was just a silly redneck video until i saw the whole thing. It made me think.
  9. Ari

    Ari Guest

    Except clay does not react like flesh, and makes the bullets perform deferent so the cavity you see in clay is not showing you valid data.