Part1: Testing G2 R.I.P., Liberty Civil Defense, Inceptor, and Lehigh Defense Rounds

Defense Rounds 1

Shooting Ballistic Gel

Thomas Gomez and I were approached about doing a test shoot of four different defense rounds:

The company that made the request, strangely, was not a manufacturer–it was Clark Armory.  They were interested in having TFB perform an independent review (though pseudo-scientific as we will explain later) of some of the defense rounds that they sell.   Of course we accepted.

Disclosure: They did not pay for this review though they did send us two boxes of each of the four rounds, two ballistic gels from Clear Ballistics (and the necessary stuff to reset the gels for reuse).  All of the other materials we provided along with nine range trips, and the countless hours Thomas Gomez spent melting and resetting the gels.

Materials

The gel itself is pretty cool.  It is reusable with a little bit of work.  The gel can be reused 12-15 times and is temperature stable.  Compare that to more traditional gels that are super finicky (like have to be kept at a certain temperature, can only sit for a few hours, etc). Thomas Gomez has written a specific article on working with the gel which is a pretty interesting read in, and of, itself.

After discussing a plan of action and working out the logistics we decided to run four (out of the “standard” eight) of the “FBI Ballistic Tests”.  We’d like to note that we did not find an “official” detail of an FBI testing protocol–just a mega ton of search results that discuss them.  The closest we came to something official was listed in the “FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (November 1989, Volume 58, Number 11, Page 5)” (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/122334NCJRS.pdf).  With two gels and four different rounds, completing four tests would take us eight sessions, assuming nothing went wrong requiring a reshoot.

Some of our more astute readers will likely be thinking, “Why didn’t you fools just shoot multiple times on the same gel?”.  Well, some of the cavitation channels were very large and the gel was disrupted pretty heavily.  We wanted each test to be against as pristine gel as we could provide (a task which became increasingly challenging as the test went on and you will see).

Method To Our Madness

The plan was to shoot on bare gel, gel covered with heavy clothing, gel behind drywall, and gel behind automotive glass in accordance with the four FBI tests we had chosen.  We chose these tests (and eschewed the others) for their probability of being the most common usage in a defense situation.  I suppose some could argue that the plywood is more relevant than automotive glass, but this is what we decided… 🙂

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin discusses the minimum preferable penetration as 12 inches and a maximum of 18 inches.  Our blocks were 16 inches long, so we would not be able to assess the maximum distance dimension without sacrificing the second block and significantly extending our testing.

We used a Generation 2 Glock 17 for the primary tests, but we did fire each of the rounds (and chrono them) with a Generation 3 Glock 19.  Mainly we just wanted to assess if there was any significant loss of velocity between the two platforms.

Since all of the rounds had different published grains and velocities we also wanted to chrono them for verification.  We used our chronograph to verify the stated velocity of the rounds and all four rounds were within stated specs as you can see below.

IMG_2601

Lehigh Defense

IMG_2598

Inceptor

IMG_2600

G2 R.I.P.

IMG_2596

Civil Defense

Bare gel should be obvious as a baseline–we need to see how the rounds perform in the testing medium without any external interference.  Though, I suppose the results of the test would be relevant for shooting a naked intruder (assuming you missed all bones).

Heavy clothing (as defined by the FBI “standard”) is a light cotton layer, heavy cotton shirt, 200W Fleece, and denim.  This is probably the most common way you are going to encounter an adversary in a “defense” scenario.  It should be noted that we adapted the clothing test from the original as stated in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (which utilized 10 oz. down in a nylon carrier)–we used 200W fleece instead.

Drywall is probably the most common building material internal to dwellings these days, so we opted for that as our third test.  We built a simple frame with “studs” spaced at 16 inches, and had two layers of drywall, unpainted and untextured). In our implementation, we did not actually fill the gap with insulation (solely because cleaning fiberglass out of the wound channels in the gel would have been nigh impossible).

Our final test was shooting through automotive glass.  Why?  Because why not.  Super fun.  But also relevant if someone is using a car as a weapon against you.  I imagine this scenario would be more relevant to our law enforcement officers than general public, though.  In fact, in Albuquerque, we had a situation a couple of years ago that a well placed round through a windshield could have mitigated (“suspect” stole a cop car, chaos ensued).

Our setup was using two X-Workhorse Workbenches from Home Depot, a Caldwell Steady NXT Rifle and Pistol rest, Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph Premium Kit, and couple of GoPro Hero 4 cameras (my personal one, and one donated for use by BMC Tactical).  Though, as you will see later, this setup plan did not survive contact with the automotive glass test–somehow the inside of my Jeep became the shooting platform… 🙂

Also we learned a lot about using GoPro cameras. We apologize in advance for some of the crappier videos (our initial videos we did not set the mode for max frame rate, and on some of the videos we had bad lighting angles/glare, or obscured views from the clothing). This was certainly a learning experience throughout.

The Rounds

As we said, Clark Armory graciously provided us with with two boxes of each of the rounds for testing.  Below are some details about each of the rounds.

Radically Invasive Projectile (R.I.P.)

The Radically Invasive Projectile, from G2 Research is a solid copper 96 grain 9 millimeter projectile. Key features of the Radically Invasive Projectile include:

  • 14 to 16 inches of Penetration.
  • 2 inch groups at 25 yards.
  • The G2 R.I.P round creates 9 separate wound channels.
  • Velocity of 1,265 feet per second.
  • 6 inch diameter wound spread.
  • The G2 R.I.P round is advertised to defeat sheet metal, windshields, plywood, sheet rock and heavy clothing.

For testing, Clark Armory provided 40 rounds of 9 millimeter G2 R.I.P ammunition.

Lehigh Defense

The Xtreme Penetrator from Lehigh Defense is CNC machined from a solid piece of copper. For testing we were provided 40 rounds of 115 grain 9mm Xtreme Penetrator. Key features include:

  • 23 inches of penetration.
  • Velocity of 1,150 feet per second.
  • Permanent wound channel that is 1.5 inches across.
  • Radial flutes that the manufacturer claims, forces hydraulic energy inward, increasing pressure.
  • “Progressive nose geometry for deep straight penetration”

For testing, Clark Armory provided 40 rounds of 9 millimeter Lehigh Defense ammunition.

Civil Liberty Defense

Civil Defense, from Liberty Ammunition, is a 50 grain lead free 9 millimeter, hollow point bullet. The Civil defense round is designed to transfer its energy by heavy fragmentation upon hitting a target.  Key features of the Civil Defense round include:

  • Velocity of 2000 feet per second
  • 2 inch dispersion/wound channel
  • Lead free

For testing, Clark Armory provided 40 rounds of 50 grain Civil Defense ammunition in 9 millimeter

Inceptor

Inceptor ARX, from Polycase Ammunition, is a 74 grain 9 millimeter, injection molded polymer copper round designed to penetrate soft tissue and break apart when subjected to a solid medium. Key features of Polycase’s Inceptor ARX:

  • Velocity of 1,475 feet per second.
  • The ARX bullet is composed of a blended copper polymer matrix.
  • The Inceptor ARX is not designed to expand.
  • The Inceptor ARX bullet transfers energy through “lateral force dispersion”

For testing, Clark Armory provided 50 rounds of Inceptor ARX ammunition in 9 millimeter.

Sessions

We are breaking this article into six parts: Introduction (what you are reading now), one part for each of the media/tests, and a post for our overall observations and conclusions. Each post will have links to the other parts for ease of navigation.

Some of the rationale for doing it this way is to keep discussions on the various tests more focused and relevant as well as break up a article with a dozen videos and over five thousand words into more manageable chunks.

Articles in Series

Note:  The below links are not immediately live.  Each part will be released a day apart (by Dec 7th all should be available).

Introduction
Session 1 – Bare Gel
Session 2 – Heavy Clothing
Session 3 – Automotive Glass
Session 4 – Drywall
Observations and Conclusion



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Felipe

    Are the “articles in series” links broken for anyone else?

    • Felipe

      Or.. you know, I could read the entire article that clearly states at the end that this article is the beginning of a series that isn’t complete yet. I’m such a tool sometimes.

      • Thomas Gomez

        No worries. It will be a 6 part series and a bonus article on how to re-melt Clear Ballistics gel.

        I hope this finds you well!

        • TheSmellofNapalm

          I saw that bonus article already, I feel special!!

          • Thomas Gomez

            My mistake! That bonus article will make a lot more sense after reading the first 6. Hope this finds you well!

        • The Wound Channel

          I find that no matter how low of a temp or how long I wait, my gel still yellows quickly.

          • Thomas Gomez

            Hey there Wound Channel.

            Our 7th article/bonus article will have a lot of shots of the gel. We started to see yellowing around the 3rd or 4th melt.

            These tests were a lot of work! Very insightful. Hope this finds you well!

    • Doc Rader

      No worries. We were at a loss as to how to release it. It was too long for a single article, and the natural break was each test, released one per day.

  • Darkpr0

    I am intrigued by these tests. Particularly the Extreme Penetrator which many high-profile reviewers have been singing praise of. I look forward to seeing the test data and crunching the numbers. It would be also extremely interesting to see a comparison of the rounds in 40 and 45 as they scale in diameter or 357 for velocity scaling, but of course such things are expensive.

  • nobody

    >The Xtreme Penetrator
    from Lehigh Defense is CNC machined from a solid piece of copper…
    Key features include:
    >Permanent wound channel that is 1.5 inches across.

    Any evidence of this in actual meat? I’ve heard it repeated for years from various published sources (including “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” from the FBI) that handgun ammunition won’t damage anything that it doesn’t directly impact and also remember hearing about a few other manufacturers in the past who have made ammunition that supposedly performed in a similar way to this round. I’m having a hard time believe that these bullets will actually perform how Lehigh claims they will

    • ostiariusalpha

      Various tissues react differently to the “hydraulic whatever” effect that radially dynamic bullets make. Also, velocity has a unsurprisingly large influence on performance. Basically, on medium sized thin hide animal soft tissue or human soft tissue (like internal organs) with a 9mm round doing over 1000 ft/s there will be a noticeably expanded wounding effect, though less so on the tougher muscle tissue. Tougher critters shot with 10mm Auto doing 1500 ft/s will display a noticeable wound effect. A pig shot with .380 ACP radially dynamic bullet? Probably not so much.

  • Bill

    I really wish that two really disparate pistols were use, such as the G17 and a subcompact like a G26 or small Kahr, in order to see what the effect the extremes of barrel length would impart.

    And is this ballistic gel as funky as the usual ballistic gel when it starts to get warm and nasty? After all, it is just melted animal parts.

    • Doc Rader

      Yeah, we would have liked to do more, but the sheer number of vectors was prohibitive. (Unless we can get a rich “uncle” to donate a dozen blocks of gel that is).

      This gel is synthetic. Temperature stable. Pretty nice to work with. Tom Gomez has a write up on since he was in charge of resetting the gels.

    • Sianmink

      Clear Ballistics Gel and Permagel are pretty neat stuff. Convenient and room temp stable.

  • USMC03Vet

    Pretty bullets. The Winchester train and defend I use aren’t very pretty at all

    🙁

  • Excited to see how the Inceptor ARX performs vs the Lehigh.

    • Doc Rader

      Inceptors are my favorites. Not to “spoil” it, but I felt they were overall the most consistent. The Lehighs just go through everything.

  • The Wound Channel

    I feel your pain of purchasing those gel blocks. They’re great but it’s hard to keep up with the myriad of testing combinations that viewers (and myself) want to see.

    Those are four of the worst possible choices for self defense ammo though.

  • maodeedee

    Terminal ballistics, a sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior
    and effects of a projectile when it impacta a specific target.

    Jello block testing of terminal ballistics is only one specific target of one specific
    density which is loosely analogous to some parts of the human body. This is not
    science because it’s inexact. The human body is not only composed of different
    materials of different densities and in defensive situations particularly, the human body is sometimes but not always in motion and is not always stationary as is a block of jello sitting on a table.

    Physiologically the amount of adrenaline in the human body can also alter the effects of wounds caused by projectiles of any kind unless the central nervous system is
    destroyed.

    Additionally projectiles of all types fired into the human body rarely travel in a straight path which makes it difficult to take an accurate measurement of depth of penetration that would be comparable to another bullet taking a different path. But in Jello block testing all bullets take the same straight path.

    I think that the gun community gives way too much credence to
    jello testing as if it WERE an exact science, and it is not. It is conjecture
    and speculation. To some it’s not even science, it’s religion, as in Gospel.

    • Doc Rader

      Agreed. But we have to have something to use for comparison. Gel seems to be the best medium short of live tissue.