As much as the curmudgeons favor it, .45 Auto has a dirty little secret: its typically low velocity often causes it to perform poorly in heavy clothing. Some bullets do perform well, but many fail to expand when fired through heavy clothing. Calibers such as 9mm Parabellum benefit from higher muzzle velocity when fired from a service pistol length barrel and that can somewhat make up for less than optimal bullet design.
In this test, we find that the lighter weight bullet helps to achieve higher velocity, which in turn, helps to achieve reliable expansion in heavy clothing. Were this a lead core bullet, that lower mass and consequently lower sectional density might also lead to inadequate penetration, especially when fired into bare gel. It’s a difficult balance to strike: reliable expansion in heavy clothing and adequate penetration in bare gel. That’s because, if a bullet expands more readily, then it also slows down more quickly. Conversely, if heavy clothing delays expansion or reduces the degree of expansion, it reduces the amount of drag the bullet experiences, which of course increases penetration.
But as it turns out, the performance produced by this bullet was almost identical in both cases. There was less than 2″ of variation between the shallowest bullet and the deepest. Likewise, expansion occurred almost instantly. The four layers of denim do not appear to have delayed expansion at all.
The measurements bear out this consistent performance, and frankly, this is no great surprise. Solid copper hollow points have a reputation for producing almost boring repeatability and this test supports that reputation. The ammunition was loaded very consistently, with an extreme spread of only 26fps and the bullet held up its end with consistent penetration, weight retention, and expansion. While there may be some debate about the real world usefulness of sharp edges, it certainly can’t hurt performance and these bullets toss that in as a cherry on top of virtually text book performance in every other regard.
Velocities in feet per second:
Bare gel measurements:
Penetration: 14.2″, 16.6″
Retained weight: 185.0gr, 184.5gr
Max expansion: 0.815″, 0.797″
Min expansion: 0.449″, 0.446″
Heavy clothing measurements:
Penetration: 13.9″, 14.5″
Retained weight: 184.7gr, 185.0gr
Max expansion: 0.815″, 0.777″
Min expansion: 0.451″, 0.448″
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