Since the last few mass shootings, I’ve decided perhaps it’s time to up my usual carry game from either a 38 snubby or a sub compact 9mm.

Those are light and easy to carry, but if I’m going to a bigger place, perhaps a compact 9mm with a 15 round mag is a better option.

I ordered more JHP, which sent me down the path of big money gun bloggers (the kinds with millions of YouTube subscribers, ads, merch, and sponsored videos) doing ballistic gel testing.

Apparently I’m going to die because one of my guns is loaded with Federal 124 grain Hydra-Shock.  I also have a bunch of Winchester Ranger that I got as Law Enforcement surplus.

See, these are older styles of hollow point and when these guys did their tests every once in a while they didn’t mushroom perfectly and maybe only penetrated 11.5 inches instead of the minimum 12.

Then there was a test of one of my loads I have a bunch of, Buffalo Bore 124+P.  Sure, every bullet consistently hit 14 to 15 inches deep, and fully mushroomed, but the jackets shed some petals and there wasn’t 100% weight retention, so it was rated as “junk.”

I seem to remember an old saying “perfection is the enemy of good enough.”

I’m pretty sure that putting a 124 grain bullet into an asshole at 1200 fps and sending it 15 inches into him will do the trick whether or not it forms a perfectly symmetrical, 100% weight retained mushroom.

Not to mention that some of those older bullets, e.g., Winchester Ranger, Federal Hydra-Shock, Remington Golden Saber, etc., have decades of use as duty ammo yeeting assholes.

Let’s not discount that over one gel test.

And if your first shot doesn’t stop the bad guy, shoot the fucker again.

Maybe my pragmatic approach is why I don’t have a million subscribers and a sponsored YouTube channel.

Because “buy JHP you can afford and put the rest of your money into practicing good follow-up shot placement” doesn’t sell as much as “your beloved JHP is obsolete junk and will get you killed, buy my new favorite load instead.”

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By J. Kb

21 thoughts on “Screw you and your block of Jell-o”
  1. ALOT of youtube is “look at me aint I great”… hydrashocks came out after the disaster of the miami shootout where silvertips perform like spitballs. I STILL carry them in my .45 along with others. Anyone with a big mouth and a camera is an “expert” these days. I figure if leo carry it it will work for me.

  2. The question isn’t “Does this perform the best?” The question is “Does this get the job done?” I have some mags loaded with 230gr range candy. When I need a little bit of range therapy I’ll go to the backyard range and send 8 rounds down range and feel better.

    Part of that evening is cleaning and reloading the mag.

    If it is the case where I’m out of JHP and the bad guy(s) are still coming, I’ll send range candy down range at bad guys. Good shot placement will work.

    At this point I have some 30 year old hydra-shock and some 5 yo hydra-shock and some critical defense from Hornady. But I also have a bunch of JHP rounds that I loaded.

    I’m sure my loads aren’t as good as the factory loads, but they do just fine against steel plates and pumpkins and soda/water bottles. I think they will do the trick if needed.

  3. I’m still carrying Gold Dots. I learned a long time ago NOT to trust the Intarwebz ‘experts’, and ballistic gel is just a show piece. You want to find out what your ‘real’ penetration is, go shoot a side of a hog. THEN you get to see what really happens to that bullet.

    1. Plus, ballistic gel can be mixed to a range of gel-to-water ratios and still set “solid”, and its consistency will vary based on the gel temperature, air temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. The FBI tests specify exactly what concentration and conditions are to be used, to ensure as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as is possible.

      It’s not likely your average YouTube “expert” is able to duplicate that precision on a local outdoor range, which means that as temperatures change, the gel block will perform differently. If it’s hot out, the gel will soften over time (easier to penetrate deep); if it’s cold, it will harden (harder to penetrate deep).

      And I notice that a lot of the “experts” are in Texas, the Midwest, or the South, run their tests in the summer, and tend to shoot their favorite loads last. Just sayin’.

      So yes, I agree, ballistic gel is a show piece. How a round really penetrates a body, is best tested by shooting a body. Hogs are good candidates, being available both live (via hunting) and not (via pork processing), with bone thickness and density and organ structure similar-enough to humans to get a reasonable approximation.

    1. I have HST’s which are newer than hydras but in all honesty get one that feeds and shoots accurately with the gun. Chasing the latest gel tests is a waste.

  4. A while back took my nephew to look at guns. While they were running a background check we looked at ammo. He was agonizing over which hollowpoint was the best. I told him to buy the cheapest they had. Damn gun holds 17 bullets, you don’t wanna have to take out a loan to do a mag dump.

    1. The funny thing is, some of those cheap HP work just as good as the premium stuff. Remington UMC JHP has fantastic performance.

  5. Ask any one of those YouTube “experts” if they’d be willing to stand still and let you shoot them with some Wolf surplus .22LR lead round nose. Every single one, to the last man, will say no.

    Since it’s “crap” ammo in a “crap” caliber that’s practically guaranteed to not hurt a bad guy, why is that?

    I carried some Remington JHPs I picked up in a bulk box of 100, when the household budget couldn’t support $30 for 20 rounds of top-label JHPs. I’ve never seen a review on them and I’m not entirely sure what they’d do inside a bad guy. What I do know is, testing them out by mixing them randomly with FMJ rounds, they shoot and cycle the same as my practice/target loads, so I’m confident I can put JHPs within “minute of bad guy” without jamming just as well as FMJs.

    Because the latest and greatest whiz-bang ammunition isn’t going to do crap if it causes FTFs or FTEs in your gun, or if you can’t hit the bad guy with them.

    Besides which, you can find one YouTube “expert” that will happily tell you their chosen (read: sponsored) load is the best, but if you change channels you’ll find another one telling you that their chosen (read: sponsored) load is the best. And oddly enough, the “best” load tends to evolve at approximately the same speed as sponsors! It’s almost like they’re being paid to say good things about sponsored products! Go figure!

    Bottom line: Premium ammo is fine, but cheap rounds on target are better than failures and misses with “good” ammo. Carry what works for you, your budget, and your gun. F*ck the YouTube “experts”.

    1. Yep, what you said about .22s. Even worse are the blowhards that demean the, admittedly, crappy .25ACP fired from excellent to extremely crappy semi-autos. The round is so bad that it is responsible for a good portion of inner-city deaths since the round was introduced.

      “Oooooh, the .25 will just piss off the bad guy, only idiots shoot .25, durhur…”

      Yes, if I had a better gun than a .25ACP semi-auto, I’d use it. But if all I had was a pistol in that caliber, well, better than nothing, and the pistols (both great and horrible) are easily carried.

  6. I’ve been evaluating gunshot wounds for 37 years. The bottom line is that all this agonizing about the details of terminal wound ballistics is pretty minor compared the important thing of putting a hole in the right structure. Yes, a golfball-sized hole has a better chance of damaging a major structure than a dime-sized hole. But the hole still has to be in the right place. When my wife decided to get a carry permit, she was trying to decide whether to use a smaller caliber weapon she was comfortable with, or to move to a larger, heavier weapon she did not like shooting. I told her it was much better to hit what you are aiming at with a small caliber round than to miss with a large caliber round.

    10
    1. Boy do you have that right. In the same way it is the gun you carry that counts. If you have the worlds best carry gun with the worlds best defensive rounds and it is sitting in your safe when you need it, it isn’t the best.

      For years a carried a KalTek PF9. It was double action only. Hurt to shoot. Had shitty ergonomics.

      What it did do was go with me everywhere. What it did do was put rounds on target within minute of bad guy. What it did do was feed reliably anything I feed it, including JHP.

      This made it the best gun *for me* at that time.

  7. Speaking of jello- they just gave me some, a little tiny tub of it… post foot surgery. Gonna be in a few days so gonna prob haunt the blog.. I ll try not to be a PITA..

  8. I went through what you are talking about several years ago. I had the money and the time, so I decided to set-up my own test. I used phone books, plywood and gallon jugs of water and started using all the expensive JHPs first. I found the following to be consistent with the FBI standards of 12-15″ penetration with a mushroom or fan-blade type expansion, travelling through half-inch plywood, a Miami phone book, and two-gallon jugs of water (each full gallon jug is supposed to equal 5″ of human flesh).

    Testing 9mm Winchester 147 gr Golden Saber, Federal 150 gr Micro HST, Federal 147 HST, Federal 124 HST, Barnes 115 Tac all had enough penetration and the best mushroom performance of more than a half inch on the micrometer. I tested some of the same rounds you mentioned but none of those brands came remotely close to these five rounds

    And I also tried the newest new-fangled Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defender 90gr FTM (Fluid Transfer Monolithic) +P and it performed slightly better than any of the 9mm JHPs. The wound channel was a little wider and the penetration was a few inches more, consistently. (Bill Wilson now, also promotes this ammo for his customers).

    I also noted that the Lehigh Defense rounds felt more like my practice FMJ cheap stuff rounds and had just about the same five-round grouping when firing rapidly. So, I now use this ammo as my go-to round for saving my life from criminal threats. However, I still have back up mags with the JHPs mentioned above. A round which causes heavy damage of over half the size of the bullet through my testing materials I figure will give me the best odds of stopping the threat.

    Here is a link that I later found which mimics what I accomplished in my testing. https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

    1. I forgot to include the Winchester Ranger T Series 147 gr 9mm rounds. They performed very well. Had excellent expansion, consistently. and above average penetration.

  9. Voice(s) of sanity, thanks y’all. We internet gunnies tend to spend a lot of time and effort chasing the last few percentage points of optimization. “I’ll spend thousands, change out my carry gun, holster(s), etc. to gain a eighth of a second faster draw and have 2 extra rounds in the magazine!”

    I confess to having spent some time today checking out youtube gel tests, trying to check what we have available locally in social purposes rounds.

  10. So the latest word on the dead mall shooter is that the good guy engaged in less than 15 seconds, with a Glock 9mm, scored 8 of ten from 40 yards, or more. Seems like he’s being silent for now. Maybe we’ll find out later what he used.

  11. Despite reading many, many decades of post-shooting news reports, I have yet to read a SINGLE one where the bad guy was made of ballistic gel.

    There are a million factors in what stops a bad guy, such as location of the hit, whether it hits bone or a vital organ, whether the guy can continue to function due to adrenalin, drugs, or panic, whether the bullet passes through an obstacle first, whether the bullet deflects within the body, etc., etc., ad infinitum…

    My point is, don’t take it all too seriously, it’s just a single data point. The only relevant priority is to hit what you need to hit, don’t hit the good guys, and keep shooting until the bad guy is no longer a threat. Ammo is cheaper than your surgery or your funeral.

  12. There is a very simple way to double the effectiveness of your ammunition: Shoot twice.

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