Ballistic Testing of Gorilla Silverback in .45ACP

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

    Technical Details of Gorilla Silverback in .45ACP

    The Gorilla Silverback (both variations) are following the trend of copper projectiles that flower open creating a much larger wound channel.

    Fully flowered

    Fully flowered

    Gorilla Ammunition’s Silverback Self Defense Ammo features patent pending CNC Swiss turned copper projectiles loaded on nickel-coated brass.  Upon impact, the 5 wings of the Silverback’s hollow point projectile fold back and expand to approximately three times the bullets original diameter.  This results in a wound channel much larger than the projectile’s caliber.

    There were a few more technical details on the Silverback rounds (than some of our previous ones).  Technically BOTH rounds are subsonic even though they only advertise the FBI as such.  The only real difference we noted was the shape of the bullet itself.

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    FBI on the left, Self Defense on the right.

    FBI (Subsonic)

    • Caliber: .45 ACP
    • Weight: 230 gr.
    • Bullet: Copper Hollow Point
    • Velocity: 840 fps
    • Energy: 360 ft. lbs.
    • Penetration: 14 in.

    Self Defense

    • Caliber: .45 ACP
    • Weight: 230 gr.
    • Bullet: Copper Hollow Point
    • Velocity: 850 fps
    • Energy: 369 ft. lbs.
    • Penetration: 9.5 in.

    About Gorilla:

    Gorilla Ammunition has built its name on quality.  Their loading, ballistic testing and quality control programs result in ammo that performs consistently from shot to shot.  Gorilla produces both new and re-manufactured ammo for a variety of rifle calibers.  Recently they have unveiled their “Silverback” line of copper self defense ammo (including subsonic versions) for the major pistol calibers and .300 Blackout.

    Gorilla’s website: http://www.gorillaammo.com/

    Test Parameters and Setup

    Our testing format is to test a single round per article against the following 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).

    First order of business will be testing the density of the gel with a BB fired at a known rate. We will fire this into a corner of the gel.

    Each round will be fired through a chronograph at the ballistic gel and this

    The test will look like this:

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

    We attempted to chronograph both rounds from two separate chronographs, one of which we have used for the other tests, and had total failures. No idea why. Tom G blamed it on the coriolis effect. I think it was a karmic issue related to not bribing my pups with treats before I left for the range.

    We were asked to test the FBI (subsonic) round suppressed, and the Self Defense variant unsuppressed.

    Test 1: Bare Gel

    Bare Gel BB

    Bare Gel BB, 3.25″ penetration

    Bare Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Front, Suppressed with Self Defense Round

    Bare Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Bare Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Bare Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Bare Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Bare Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Bare Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Findings

    The FBI round behaved close to as advertised. The round fully expended it’s energy just shy of 13 inches. The petals opened and bent back a bit.  The Self Defense variant was two full inches short of advertised penetration.

    The Self Defense round would not technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass did not penetrate twelve inches.  The FBI variant would pass.

    Test 2: Heavy Clothing

    BB

    Heavy Clothing BB 3-5/8″ Penetration

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Heavy Clothing Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Findings

    The FBI round behaved close to as advertised. The round fully expended it’s energy right at 13 inches. The petals opened and bent back a bit (just as in the bare gel test).  The Self Defense variant was two full inches short of advertised penetration.

    The Self Defense round would not technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass did not penetrate twelve inches.  The FBI variant would pass.

    Test 3: Dry Wall

    BB

    Drywall BB, 3.25″ penetration

    Drywall Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Drywall Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Drywall Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Drywall Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Drywall Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Drywall Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Drywall Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Findings

    As we have been seeing in all of our tests, rounds with large cavities are packing full of drywall and behaving like penetrators.  The FBI round exited the gel and entered the bullet trap. The Self Defense variant penetrated about 13.75″. The petals remained closed.

    The Self Defense round would technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass did penetrate twelve inches, but did not behave as advertised.  The FBI variant would not pass as it overpenetrated.

    Test 4: Automotive Glass

    The automotive glass was conducted using Tom G’s scaffold from the previous tests we did. This time we were able to cut the windshield down into more manageable pieces. The glass was placed at a forty-five degree tilt, rotated forward by fifteen degrees, and set eighteen inches in front of the gel.

    BB

    Auto Glass, BB 3.5″ penetration

    Auto Glass Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Front, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Front, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Top, Suppressed with FBI Round (the angle of the photo is bad)

    Auto Glass Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Top, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round (the angle of the photo is bad)

    Auto Glass Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Side, Suppressed with FBI Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Auto Glass Gel, Side, Unsuppressed with Self Defense Round

    Findings

    In previous tests with .45 ACP, the auto glass deflected the round significantly downward.  The Gorilla Silverback (both variants) did not exhibit very much deflection, though there still was a bit.

    Both rounds would technically pass the FBI standards as a significant portion of the mass did penetrate twelve inches.

    Conclusions

    From Tom G: Gorilla Silverback (Self Defense) ammunition was designed for rapid expansion and very little penetration. I put a premium on 12-15 inches of penetration through ballistic gelatin. The Gorilla Silverback Self Defense ammunition performed exactly as advertised, though I would not carry this round. I doubt its ability to penetrate heavy clothes, dermal layer, muscle ribcage and ultimately penetrate deep into organs.

    Gorilla Silverback (FBI) ammunition was specifically designed to meet the FBI protocols for expansion and penetration. This round, though advertised as “subsonic”, performed exactly as advertised. What was interesting was that the round had an advertised velocity of 840 fps. For reference the US Military, 45 ACP ball ammunition has a velocity of 830 fps. The manufacturer markets this round as “subsonic”. I think this round would perform very well without a suppressor. I would carry this round. If you have a 45, this would be an excellent choice.

    From Tom R: The rounds behaved as advertised when penetrating soft (or no) barriers.  But, as we have seen in other tests, hollow point rounds tend to pack full of denser material and behave as penetrators.  With regards to these rounds I think the FBI version is a more consistent version.  I think both rounds create a significant wound channel, and I do like that the rounds stayed together (rather than fragmenting).  I would likely carry the FBI version, though I think marketing as “subsonic” is a bit much–both are.

     

    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.

    Credits

    Thanks to Clark Armory and BMC Tactical for sponsoring and supporting this test. Clark Armory provided the Ballistic Gel from ClearBallistics and the Gorilla Silverback Ammo. Also, Clark Armory has redone their website–much nicer IMO!

    BMC Tactical provided an indoor lane with consistent lighting and temperature to run the test.  Walt also graciously donated his USP (and Osprey 45) for the tests.

    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 teaches wilderness medicine and writes for a number of publications, including The Prepared, a site devoted to self-preparedness. 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.

    You can reach him at tom.r AT thefirearmblog.com


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