Ballistic Testing of HPR Black Ops in 9mm

Welcome to the sixth installment of our ballistic gel testing series. The current series is sponsored by Clark Armory who provided the testing medium and rounds:

About a month ago Nicholas C posted an article showing a comparison video of organic ballistic gelatin to Clear Ballistics that was done by There was quite a lively discussion in the comments. Tom G and I did feel that that comparison was invalid since the density of the gels were not consistent. Obviously a gel with a lower density is going to show deeper penetration–so evaluating round penetration in gel (either kind of gel) is going to be skewed. If it is not calibrated and you are trying to control against a specific density, your results are going to be skewed. End of story. There are apparently factions of gel testers out there: the #neverclearballistics and the #dontcaresolongasitisconsistent. Tom G and I fall into the latter. I personally could care less, so long as the medium is calibrated and consistent (and I’ll shoot what ever they send me). There are important hills to die on–ballistic gel nerdology is not one of them. At the end of the day, shooting gel, is, well, shooting gel. If you want to know what a round will do to a person, then you need to test on a person. Which gets expensive and messy. And ultimately proves the point–round placement is everything. Caliber and gimmicky rounds just allow for sloppier round placement.

Technical Details of HPR Black Ops in 9mm

Black Ops OTF by HPR is designed to be the ultimate round in both terminal performance and accuracy.  HPR Black Ops Ammo is loaded with BlackOps OTF frangible hollow point projectiles.  These projectiles are designed to transfer 100% of its energy to the target upon impact and create a wound channel up to five times greater than the bullet’s original diameter.

HPR Black Ops in 9mm

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Weight: 85 gr.
  • Bullet: Open Tip Frangible
  • Velocity: 1320 fps
  • Energy: 329 ft. lbs.

About HPR:

At HPR, we pride ourselves in our American heritage. We use the finest USA made components, and every round is meticulously inspected by US Citizens. We strive to be the leading innovator of center-fire ammunition for military, law enforcement, and civilians. Every load is developed for a specific purpose with a focus on consistency, accuracy, and even,in some cases, felt recoil. Each round is designed, manufactured, inspected and packaged to bring you a superior shooting experience and the confidence to dominate downrange.

HPR Ammunition’s website:

Test Parameters and Setup

With this test we are changing our format a little. We originally tested a single round into a gel, and conducted four tests: against bare gel, gel covered with several layers of clothing, gel behind drywall and gel behind automotive glass (both of the last two will also have a layer of clothing over them). And we also compared it to a known popular round.

Our new test format is going to fire six rounds into the same gel, and only test bare gel, and gel covered with “heavy clothing”. The rationale is that one round could be a zebra in a herd of horses (may have a totally different outcome). Firing multiple rounds normalizes that a tiny bit. From a purity standpoint, technically we should shoot into clean, and CALIBRATED, gel each time. If we start seeing huge variance we may do that (using clean gel; we calibrate each block). We are cutting out the drywall and auto glass tests due to the amazing mess that they make (to both the testing venue and the gel itself). While fun, they are probably not the most relevant tests (other than being in the “golden eight” from the original FBI test).

First order of business will be testing the density of the gel with a BB fired at a known rate. We will fire the BB into a corner of the gel. If it doesn’t pass, then we need to start over and use a gel that does since the results would not be consistent.

The test will look like this:

  1. Set up shooting position and recording devices
  2. Set up naked gel
  3. Fire BB at 500 to 600 feet per second at Gel and photograph penetration
  4. Fire round at gel while filming video and then photograph penetration from front, side and top.
  5. Repeat steps 3 to 5 with the other tests.

Test 1: Bare Gel

Bare Gel -BB

Bare Gel -BB

Bare Gel - Front

Bare Gel – Front

Bare Gel - Side

Bare Gel – Side

Bare Gel - Top

Bare Gel – Top


The Black Ops expended most of it’s energy between 2 inches and 4 inches. Most of the frangible portion petered out between 5 and 6 inches, with a few bits traveling further. In most cases the jacket came apart within the earlier mass, though we did see one end up around 12 inches (that could have been pushed by a subsequent round).

The Black Ops would not technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass did not penetrate twelve inches–not that it claimed to, though. What it did do is create a hell of a mess, and we agree that the soft tissue damage would be impressive. And likely annoy any doctor having to clean it out.

Test 2: Heavy Clothing

Heavy Clothing - BB - Sitting right at 3.25" (through repeated resetting we have lost a little bit of material; I also forgot to take the pic before doing this shoot)

Heavy Clothing – BB – Sitting right at 3.25″ (through repeated resetting we have lost a little bit of material; I also forgot to take the pic before doing this shoot)

Heavy Clothing - Front

Heavy Clothing – Front

Heavy Clothing - Side

Heavy Clothing – Side

Heavy Clothing - Top

Heavy Clothing – Top


The Black Ops actually over-penetrated and exited the gel. Every single round. But this is not really unexpected. Most of the hollow point rounds we have seen exhibited the trait of picking up material and penetrating much further than did the rounds through bare Gel. The Black Ops behaved no differently. We were able to recover a couple of the rounds from the bullet trap, with the compressed innards still intact (though the jacket flowered nicely).

You can see the jacket expanded (after entering the bullet trap, and that compressed material slug was still mostlly inctact. We also recoved that once in a lifetime focus dot (which you can see fly off in the slo-mo video).

You can see the jacket expanded (after entering the bullet trap, and that compressed material slug was still mostlly inctact. We also recoved that once in a lifetime focus dot (which you can see fly off in the slo-mo video).

The Black ops would technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass penetrated twelve inches. This is contrary to the advertising that their trademarked HyperExpansion would limit and reduce “over penetration”.


We shot this test using a Glock 17 outfitted with KE Arms new Charlie slide (and their Glock trigger replacement).

The round was consistent with advertising with respect to bare gel. It did over penetrate (as in at least 15.75 inches; we had a little lossage of material from the last reset) when passing through clothing. My guess is that if it impacted anything firm in the body (like bone) the round would come apart much like in the bare gel test. And in the video (through heavy clothing) you can see that it did create a pretty significant expansion.

We can debate the efficacy of the FBI standard (in the comments), but it is a pretty well defined and understood test at this point, and provides a good way to compare rounds.

Also a quick little footnote.  The HPR plant is currently shutdown and it is not entirely clear when (or if) it is going to reopen:


Thanks to Clark Armory and BMC Tactical for sponsoring and supporting this test. Clark Armory provided the Ballistic Gel from ClearBallistics and the ammo (they sell the Black Ops: HPR 9mm Black Ops OTF).

BMC Tactical provided an indoor lane with consistent lighting and temperature to run the test.

We appreciate these two companies providing necessary materials and infrastructure for the tests.

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; 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.


  • El Capitan

    It is interesting to see what “frangible ammo” does in bare gel. It clearly suffers from the same issues as other hollow points when penetrating dense fabric but its spread in tissue is nasty.

    • Doc Rader

      Yeah, I was totally not expecting what this did. I *knew* it was frangible, but was not expecting to see that level of mess.

    • BillC

      But it does that “spread” only at the surface level. 2-4″ in gel is pretty much skin before bone.

      • Doc Rader

        Yeah. I think it would hamburger up the tissue it hits. I’d be a hell of a pissed off doctor trying to clean that mess up if the recipient survived.

    • Billy Jack

      Call em sepsis rounds.

  • thedonn007

    It is interesting that it was just reported on TFB 7 days ago that HPR is going out of business.

    • Doc Rader

      My understanding is that they are not formally out of business. They were planning to relocate to TN. But based on the rumor-mill I suppose anything is possible.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        That article was pretty damning, and stated that the TN move was a pipe dream and a smoke screen for their financial troubles.

      • ExurbanKevin

        Maybe. Anything’s possible. As the guy who sent the link to TFB about the plant shutdown, here’s a couple more updates: HPR has deleted their Facebook page and has been MIA on social media since May. The town of Payson has started to people who worked there find new jobs.
        Neither of these is indicative of a company on the rebound.

        • Doc Rader

          Well, that is definitely more definitive. Oh well. Not the greatest round anyway.

  • Henry Reed

    Lehigh Xtreme Defense still seems like the clear winner. Not affected by autoglass, heavy clothing, or drywall and creates consistent wound channels.

    • valorius

      I prefer the extreme penetrator.

    • A Fascist Corgi

      The Xtreme Defender does have the most impressive ballistic gel performance that I’ve ever seen, but I’m hesitant to adopt it for 3 main reasons.

      1) I’m worried about the weird bullet face geometry causing reliability problems. I’ve seen more failures to feed with these bullets than any other type of bullet.

      2) If a bullet was designed to create the most impressive wound tracks possible in ballistic gel, I’m not sure if that translates to real world performance. I’d be interested if any experienced hunters out there could comment on how these types of bullets perform in the real world compared to conventional bullet technologies.

      3) Government agencies aren’t adopting it. Government agencies seem to be folding to the pressure from environmental groups to use lead-free bullets. So, if these bullets really did perform better than hollow points, then you’d think that government agencies would be buying them in bulk.

      • Henry Reed

        1. These rounds are reliable in most pistol models. Some like Kahr will have issues, but those are outliers.

        2. This has been used for hunting.

        3. It’s too early for any agency to adopt this, they haven’t been around long enough.

        • A Fascist Corgi

          1) No, they’re not. I’ve seen them fail to feed in all kinds of pistols.

          2) I’m sure that they have. What I want to hear is how they perform. I haven’t seen any hunters rave about the performance of these bullets.

          3) Then it’s too early for me to adopt them as well. I haven’t even heard of a single police department adopting them.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        1) That seems like a fair concern, and one that will be determined before too long.

        2) The mechanics of creating wounds in flesh and in ballistic test media are the same, bigger wounds in one = bigger wounds in the other. That is literally the reason this stuff exists and was the sole purpose it was created for. Put that worry to rest, it is 100% unfounded.

        3) Government agencies are notoriously slow moving, as a rule. Government adoption only means that something has been around for a decade or more already and is thoroughly vetted in the community, and might have even been surpassed by then.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    With HPR out of business, why even bother posting this?

    • Doc Rader

      The ammo is still out there and can be bought at a number of places, and I haven’t heard confirmation that they are formally out of business.

      Also it is an interesting demonstration of the effects in gel of that type of ammo.

      We post on many things that no longer manufactured… 🙂

      • USMC03Vet

        Doc, you even upvoted my comment on the closing article! Doc? Are you ok?

        • Doc Rader

          It was hilarious. And clever.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        One can buy used, out of production guns from other people, as old guns are not themselves one-use items.

        Ammo? Ammo is the definition of a one-use item.(don’t get on my case about cases, people)

  • Sulaco5

    When I was working at a gun/sporting shop the HPR semi truck ad van showed up in the parking lot and began selling their products in the parking lot and gave us T shirts or a box of ammo free if we listened to the sales pitch, partly so we could sell the product to customers and answer questions. They were very nice and I got to speak with a relative of the owners of the company for some time. (I should mention they did not show up unannounced they had advised us and got permission weeks in advance as part of their national tour.) Ironically they left us a demo gel block to display on the gun counter showing the results of shooting it with their .45 acp. Penetration was less then 8″ but like the above photo’s very impressive for soft tissue damage. I got a free box of .45 and they look really “bad a**” but I in the end decided not to carry it. Mostly because it’s an odd ball round very costly to load up my standard EDC and practice and my HST is the standard of LE’s out where I live.

  • Core

    Have you guys tested the Extreme Shock Air Freedom cartridges or any of their other line?

  • art frewin

    great logic, but testing this stuff with barriers would be a joke. it reminds me of the early experiments with fragiles. glacier and i cannot remember the other name. they used shot gun shot BB’s or something smaller. they had a good reputation. they really did well in the Strasbourg tests. of course they cannot perform them any more. goats lives matter more then people. WTF!! you certainly could not disrupt the central nervous system very well with this stuff. while the spread was impressive the size of the holes were very small and i doubt they would bleed much, but you guys are certainly way more of an expert then i. thanks for the video and article i learn something every day or at least i try. keep up the good work..