HSM .44 Mag 300gr XTP Gel Test and Review

We shoot HSM .44mag 300gr XTP ammunition from a Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum with a 4″ barrel into Clearballistics ballistic gel to measure velocity, penetration, expansion/fragmentation, and retained weight.

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Guns in this video:
S&W Model 69

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • jonp

    Well, it does say “Bear Load” right on the box so everyone should take them at their word. Can this do anything a 300gr Hardcast over a very stout load of H110 in my Blackhawk can’t? I’m not sure complete pass through is desirable.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      IMO if you dont need a hard cast bullet, you dont need a .44Mag.

      And while pass through is a waste of energy, overpenetration is infinitely better than underpenetration.

      • jonp

        Well, there is that! The chance always remains that you could bounce one off of the charging bears skull and that would suck too much to contemplate. But expending the energy inside of the bear with a wide meplate hardcast or one a little softer to expand even bigger seems a better idea to me

    • Stuki Moi

      The final, expanded shape of these heavy for caliber XTPs, aren’t too far off the shape of the wide meplat hardcasts used for bears. The XTP may end up with an even wider meplat, but that really comes down to the specific design of the hardcast bullet.

      For a revolver, I’d just as well shoot a hardcast load. Where XTPs really shine, is in auto calibers. As autos don’t feed extremely blunt bullets well. But with an XTP round, you get reliable feeding, yet terminal shape and effect that is closer to that of a blunt hardcast, than either a roundnose or most hollowpoints.

      • jonp

        I understand but we are talking revolvers and I should have pointed out I was referencing a 45LC but the same holds for my view of 44Mag.

  • Steven

    Why is this guy talking about a 300 grain .44 mag load for self-defense? Of course it over penetrates for that, it is supposed too!!! Sometimes I really doubt this guy’s credentials beyond being a range commando.

    • ProudAmerican

      The commentator repeatedly emphasized that the load makes no sense for defense against human predators, but makes good sense for defense against bears. Only the most careless listener would have missed that.

      Having watched several of his videos I appreciate that he offers us interesting data points. Testing loads in ballistic gel is, though imperfect, one of the more meaningful and reproducible load comparisons. To provide those useful data points, he doesn’t have to be an engineering PhD or a professional killer for the banksters. He only has to be what he is, a diligent experimentalist.

      He is modest, even humble, inviting commentary and criticism on his data and reasonable conclusions. He never engages in hyperbole or “watermelon wound ballistics.”

      • jonp

        I like his video’s. I just found it odd that he showed a clear picture of the box saying “Bear Load” in big letters then talked about self defense however, in his defense there are a bunch of not so bright people buying a hand cannon out there that know little about the ammo to feed them. I saw a sign in a sporting goods store over a rack of ammo that said “This Is 45 GAP, It Will Not Work In 45 ACP Firearms”

        • ProudAmerican

          The initial social contract was built for the 98% , sensible and decent people. Now the 98% must suffer ridiculous laws and abuse because of the 1% who are idiots and the 1% who are swindlers.

  • Stuki Moi

    That’s how xtp bulllets are supposed to expand…….

  • Palmier

    No such thing as over penetration.

    • T Rex

      Exceptionally ignorant comment.

  • Edeco

    Huh, yeah, I’m sure it’s the right balance of girth and penetration for something, but I would think there’d be a less fancy way to get it with that much weight and velocity to start with.

  • James Young

    .44 Special is usually the self defense round. Be curious to see some testing of it

  • uisconfruzed

    I’d like to see how that’d perform in an 8″ barrel.

  • Ted Unlis

    Funny to read the various comments from virtual small arms experts in denial of the fact that unless the assailant is a bear or big cat, the 44 mag is a poor choice for defensive carry, something LE came to realize 40 years ago. I personally recall an officer involved shooting back in the early 80’s where 2 officers were attempting to restrain a drunk that wanted to fight in the confined space of a small diner when the assailant broke loose then pulled a pistol and pointed at one of the officers who promptly drew his Model 29 4″ and put a single 240gr JHP smack dab in the middle of the assailants chest, exiting his back, and finally stopping in the lower abdomen of the other officer. The drunk died and luckily the officer lived. I also know of officers shooting a 44 mag who got tired of blowing the string of fire in a 50 round duty ammo qualification course we used back then where from 15 yds you had to fire 18 rounds in 25 seconds, which is extremely tough to pull off within that alotted time with much accuracy due to the 44’s recoil. Over penetration and excessive recoil is why except for a few Dirty Harry & Buford Pusser fans, most of LEO’s back in the day carried 357 mag revolvers.