Winchester’s PDX1 Defender 12 Gauge Buckshot and Slug Ammunition

Winchester's PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defense load creates a large pattern with slug and buckshot.

I was working with a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I have in for review and brought along a box of Winchester PDX1 Defender Personal Defense shot shells. Winchester makes a couple of varieties of this product line in 12 gauge. One is a segmenting slug design, where the slug is designed to fragment into three large chunks as it impacts the target. This load is a buckshot and slug combination, but with a twist.

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

Three 00 buckshot pellets are placed on top of a 1 ounce slug. Image: Winchester Ammunition

As you see by the illustration here, there are three 00 Buckshot pellets loaded on top of the one ounce slug. This has the effect of dispersing the three .30 caliber pellets in a broader pattern while the slug continues along a straight path.

I shot it at a target placed 15 yards downrange, and as you can see by the target photo, the slug hit center while the three 00 buckshot pellets created a triangle pattern. The pellet impacts are just about 10 inches from each other measured along the sides. That’s a pretty broad pattern even from the cylinder bore of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun used for this test.

Winchester advertises one feature of this as “compensates for aim error.” This certainly appears to be true. As with any ammo choice, you need to carefully consider your environment and desired performance. If you live in a crowded environment, you may not want ammo that expands into too large a pattern, as you’re responsible for where those projectiles go. On the other hand, if you’ve got space, you may want ammo that performs exactly this way. This load is designed to create a big pattern of large projectiles, so if that’s your desired result, then check it out. It’s an interesting load.

Cabelas has it in stock.

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain

Since it’s the giving season, I decided to bring a pile of different ammo types to the range for some quick and dirty testing. Ammo makes great gunny gifts by the way. In these times of scarcity, your giftee will know you worked for it!

First up is a .45 ACP load I had high hopes for – the Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain hollow point.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load still offers weight, but with more velocity.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load still offers weight, but with more velocity.

Speer Gold Dot ammunition features bonded construction, meaning the lead core is surrounded by a chemically “stapled-on” jacket. This means two things. First, the jacket and inner core stay together which helps penetration. Second, expansion is almost always even and predictable. You can shoot most any Speer Gold Dot ammo into water or ballistic gelatin and it will expand perfectly. Where things get a little weird is when bullets have to pass through barriers – especially heavy clothing. Any type of hollow point ammo can clog up and inhibit expansion.

I was keen to try this .45 ACP 200 grain +P load because I’ve had mixed success with standard pressure .45 ACP 230 grain hollow points when exposed to heavy clothing barriers. The lower velocity of the full 230 grain projectiles tends to make expansion an iffy proposition. This load is not only lighter, and therefore can be loaded to faster velocity, it’s a +P load which gives it a little more energy boost.

I measured the velocity of this ammunition at an average of 1,047.7 feet per second with a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet from the muzzle. Not shabby at all for a .45 load, right?

To provide some challenge to test expansion, I shot through two layers of thick leather and four layers of fabric. Two out of three projectiles expanded properly. The third got all cloggified with leather and barely started to expand. The largest expansion measured .748 inches in across – nearly 1.7 times original diameter.

The loads shot to point of aim and recoil was not perceptibly different than the 185 grain loads I normally shoot.

If you’re looking for a little extra zip for more predictable expansion performance, check out the Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP +P 200 Grain load. It’s still heavy, but a couple hundred feet per second faster than a standard pressure 230 grain alternative.

Nice ammo

Choosing Ammunition for the Springfield Armory XD-S & Other Short Barrel Handguns

The performance of any gun is only as good as the ammunition you put into it. And I’m not just talking about using any quality self-defense ammunition.

One of the reasons that 9mm guns are more effective today than ever before is the performance of modern 9mm ammunition. Of course, improvements are not limited to 9mm – .45 ACP performance, at it’s lower velocity, is also in a golden age.

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

Before we talk about some great ammunition options for the Springfield Armory XD-S, we need to spend a minute discussing bullet design.

Modern self-defense expanding ammunition considers opposing factors to gain the best overall performance – penetration and expansion. Both of these attributes are impacted by velocity. More velocity tends to drive expansion at a faster rate. At any given velocity, a bullet can expand less rapidly and penetrate more, or expand more rapidly and penetrate less. It’s kind of like diving into a pool. If you enter the water vertically, with your hands pointed in front of you like an olympic diver, you’ll go deeper. If you jump off the board and do a spectacular belly flop, you won’t go very deep, although you may wish you would quietly sink to the bottom, thereby ending your misery.

When ammunition companies design a specific round, say a 9mm, they will create a bullet that will travel a certain depth into standardized ballistic gelatin at an expected average velocity for the caliber in an “average” gun. So, as an example, ACME Road Runner Blaster 9mm ammo might be expected to fire at 1,150 feet per second from something like a Glock 17. ACME might design the bullet to penetrate somewhere in the 10 to 14 inch range while expanding fully.

Why all this diversion into ammunition design? Here’s why. While there are numerous ifs and caveats, the shorter a handgun barrel is, the lower the velocity of any given bullet. A rule of thumb is that a handgun will generate 50 feet per second less velocity for each inch lost in barrel length. The Springfield Armory XD-S has a 3.3 inch barrel, so when compared to a full size gun with a 5 inch barrel, you might see velocity for any given ammunition reduced by as much as 80 to 100 feet per second. So, when fired from a shorter barrel, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,100 feet per second may not expand at all when traveling at 1,000 feet per second. Conversely, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,000 feet per second may over-expand, and not penetrate enough, when fired at 1,100 feet per second. Is this bad? No, just different.

With the huge popularity of compact pistols similar to the XD-S, some ammunition companies, like Speer have designed ammunition optimized for proper performance in shorter barrels. For example, rather than designing a bullet to expand at a desired rate when traveling 1,100 feet per second, they design bullets to expand at the desired rate when traveling at 1,000 feet per second.

What does all this mean? It’s not enough to just buy any old self-defense ammunition off the shelf. You need to carefully choose your ammunition, considering the gun you’re buying it for. In my testing, I’ve found that Speer’s Short Barrel ammunition line is an outstanding option for guns like the Springfield Armory XD-S. Let’s take a look.

Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I wanted to test multiple Speer Short Barrel loads, in multiple calibers, from the same gun. The Springfield Armory XD-S presented the perfect opportunity. Except for caliber, capacity and a very slight weight difference, the .45 ACP and 9mm XD-S are identical.

Almost any bullet will expand almost every time if you just shoot it into water, gelatin or even soaking wet newspaper. As I care about at least trying to replicate some degree of real-world performance, I always shoot through some type of barrier like layers of clothing.

For the Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel test, I got somewhat cranky and put two layers of leather and four layers of fabric in front of my super-duper sophisticated soaking newsprint bullet catcher. That’s a pretty tough barrier, but when you consider things like jackets and coats in cold weather environments, it’s more realistic than nothing.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

As you can see from the photo, the projectiles expanded perfectly – even with the leather and fabric barrier. Being a bonded design, where the jacket of the projectile is chemically bonded to the interior lead core, none of the bullets came apart. Just what you want.

Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I’ve found that full weight .45 ACP ammunition is tricky when it comes to expansion. Given the “standard” velocity of a 230 grain .45 ACP projectile at somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 to 900 feet per second, expansion is tough. Every few feet per second of velocity matters when you want the metals in a projectile to spread apart as it travels through tissue. Of course, lots of folks don’t really care as the .45 ACP is a large and heavy bullet even when it doesn’t expand.

But hey, we’ve got modern ammunition technology at our disposal, so I tend to favor ammunition that expands anyway – big .45 bullet or not.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel hollow point has advertised velocity of 820 feet per second out of a three-inch barrel gun. The difference is that the projectile itself is designed to expand with less velocity. I fired the bullets shown here through four layers of denim into a big bucket of thoroughly soaked newsprint. As you can see, expansion was right on target. Pun intended. Like all other Gold Dot projectiles, these bullets are bonded so they stay together except under the most extreme circumstances.

Other Ammunition Options

I test a lot of ammunition and continue to be a big fan of most Speer Gold Dot loads, because they work. I’m especially impressed with the Short Barrel offerings based on how they perform in the Springfield Armory XD-S.

With that said, there are plenty of other options out there. Generally speaking, in a gun with a short barrel like the XD-S, I would personally choose a lighter weight .45 ACP bullet in the 160 to 185 grain range. Why? Velocity. All else equal, a lighter weight bullet is easier to push faster. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, velocity aids expansion. So, in theory, a 160 to 185 grain bullet, moving faster, is more likely to expand when shot from a short barrel gun like the XD-S.

We’re entering opinion territory here and I’m just sharing my personal preference based on the testing I’ve done. Non-expanding, full metal jacket .45 ACP ammunition has performed well for over a century, so you may not care whether your particular choice of bullet is an easy expander or not. That’s OK. My goal here is to help you make a more informed decision, as all ammunition is not the same.

This article is an excerpt from our soon to be released Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S. Be sure to check out The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Ammo Test: Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 Grain Self-Defense Ammunition

One thing I’ve found testing thousands of rounds of ammunition through a wide variety of traditional, and sometimes non-traditional, targets is that you can’t generalize. Broad generalizations just don’t hold up. I mean, there’s the obvious exception of Justin Bieber – ALL of his songs are roughly comparable to pre-gelatinized narwhal poop, but in most other things, you need to evaluate each and every unique circumstance independently.

It’s the same with ammunition. You can just say Brand X is a good performer in each caliber and each specific loading within a caliber. So the 9mm ++P+++ 124 grain load of Fire-Breathing Death Harpoon Ammo expands every single time, but does the .380 90 grain load of that same brand perform as it should? Not necessarily. You need to test your desired carry load, in your specific gun to know how it performs.

So, even though I’ve had great success with all of the Speer Gold Dot loads tested to date, I’m gradually working my way through the product line to try them all.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain self-defense ammo

Expansion performance of the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load was excellent and velocity was just as expected.

Recently I spent some quality time with the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load. At the lighter end of the .40 caliber spectrum, I expected to get some serious velocity out of this one. And with expanding hollow point ammo, velocity is king when it comes to consistent expansion performance.

Standout features of the Speer Gold Dots include a bonded-core construction and a two-stage hollow point cavity construction. Bonded-core construction “melds” the copper jacket and lead core so they are not two separate layers. This allows the projectiles to stay together regardless of barriers encountered. Penetration is boringly consistent as almost all projectile weight is retained. The two-stage hollow point core construction process allows the gurus at Speer to control both diameter and rate of expansion. Basically, they can match projectile performance to caliber and expected real-world velocity.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain

That black stuff in the hollow point core is leather. So the projectile got completely clogged, yet still expanded perfectly.

I shot a bunch of this out of a Beretta PX4 Storm. The PX4 Storm full-size model features a 4.0″ barrel, so I expected measured velocity to approach, but not quite meet the factory specs.

First I checked actual velocity out of the Beretta PX4 Storm. Using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange, I clocked the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load at an average of 1,169 feet per second, or just over 30 feet per second below the factory spec of 1,200 feet per second. This works out just about right assuming the factory tests velocity using a standard 5″ test barrel. That extra inch should easily account for 30 feet per second velocity improvement. So, doing a little serious math, the actual energy of this load, out of my Beretta PX4, works out to 470 foot-pounds actual measured energy. This compared to 496 on the Speer Gold Dot website.

I also wanted to get an indication of expansion performance when projectiles were shot through common and expected barriers for self-defense situations. I set up two layers of leather and 4 layers of light canvas in front of a pile-o-wetpack – a fancy word for soaking wet newspaper. I snapped photos of a few representative samples, but every single projectile demonstrated excellent expansion performance. This has been a consistent observation with the Speer Gold Dot line. The bonded projectiles don’t seem to suffer from heavy material barriers. The three projectiles in the photo measured .583, .685 and .652 inches in diameter after expansion. Not too shabby.

Like the other Speer Gold Dot loads we’ve tested so far, this is excellent self-defense ammunition.

You can get it at Brownells

Cci/Speer Cci/Speer Gold Dot Handgun Ammunition
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You Don’t Have To Aim A Shotgun

Shooting Myths Explained

Fact or Fiction?  You Don’t have to aim a shotgun!

Not many people know this, but shotguns were invented by actor Val Kilmer for use in the movie Tombstone. Kilmer needed a weapon capable of taking out a whole posse of Clantons and McLaurys – without much aiming. Hence the invention of a weapon capable of being fired from the hip, while giving the camera a sexy look.

A lot of people believe shotguns are great home defense guns, and easy to use, because you don’t really have to aim. If you just point one in the general direction and fire, it will clean house so to speak. Right?

Well, in The Terminator movie franchise, that’s how they work. In the real world, shotguns need a little more skill in order to be effective.

Just because a shotgun fires multiple projectiles – BB’s, pellets, buckshot or whatever you want to call them – that doesn’t mean that the shot spreads out like a giant cloud of locust intent on devouring a field of ripe Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes. It’s important to remember that the shot leaves the barrel of your shotgun in a “cloud” exactly the diameter of your barrel. That’s a pretty small cloud. To put it in absolute terms, the shot “cloud” leaving a 12 gauge shotgun measures just about ¾ of an inch in diameter.

While it’s true that shot projectiles spread out more the farther they travel from the barrel, they typically stay in a pretty tight pattern at realistic distances. That’s what that shotgun barrel does after all – keep the shot all together while it launches towards the target. If we’re talking self defense, a realistic distance is some fraction of the interior of your house – like across a room or down the hall.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of range tests to see exactly how much the shot spreads out at realistic “inside your home” distances.

First, we’ll try buckshot. Buckshot loads contain a small number of very large pellets. In the first example, we’re using 00 (double ought) buckshot shells, which have 9 pellets that measure just about ⅓ inch in diameter. Typically, buckshot loads like this one will only create a “cloud” a few inches in diameter at short distances.

RIO Royal Buck buckshot pattern

This 12 gauge buckshot load (9 pellets) was fired at the target from an “inside the home” distance of 18 feet.

If you choose to use shotshells with a smaller pellet size, the cloud of short will typically spread out a little bit faster. Even still, at short distances, we’re still talking a few inches.

Let’s take a look at Number 1 size shot pellets. Number 1 size pellets are about .16” in diameter, or about half the size of the 00 buckshot we tested. The Remington shotshells we tested contain about 125 of the Number 1 pellets per shell.

Remington number 1 Shot pattern

This Number 1 shot stayed in a pattern about 6″ in diameter at a distance of 18 feet.

Finally, we tried really small birdshot – Number 7 ½. These shells have pellets that are only 0.095” in diameter and these particular 7/8 ounce shells have about 306 pellets. As you can see, this very small shot spreads out even more, but still, at a distance of 18 feet, the pattern still falls within 8 inches with most of the density within a 3 inch circle.

Federal Target shotgun Load

The Number 7 1/2 shot spread out to 6 inches, but most of the pellets fit in a 3 inch circle.

The shotgun we used for these simple tests was a Mossberg JM Pro. It has a butt stock that’s just about 12” long. So if you held it like a club and tried to whack someone with it, you’d have to aim less than if you fired it.

The bottom line?

You still have to aim a shotgun.

What Has More Energy? A 3 ½” 12 Gauge Buckshot Load or a Throat Punch By Mike Tyson?

Find out with the Cartridge Comparison Guide, Second Edition

I now have all the answers.

Not because I’m some sort of genius, but because I met the guy who HAS found all the answers at this year’s Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Conference.

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second Edition

His name is Andrew and he created the Cartridge Comparison Guide, now in its second edition.

Thanks to Andrew, I am now able to quickly research definitive answers to important questions like…

 

Question: Is the muzzle energy of the Winchester 12 gauge, 15 pellet, #00 buckshot, 3 ½” load more or less than getting punched in the throat by Mike Tyson?

Answer: It’s a trick question. While the muzzle energy of this load is 3,780 foot-pounds, you can’t really measure the impact of a Mike Tyson throat punch as he prefers 7 punch combo’s led by a jab.

 

Question: Which has a greater sectional density? The .577 Nitro Express Barnes Bullet or Rosie O’Donnell?

Answer: Aha! Tricked you again! You can’t accurately compare the .577’s sectional density of .313 with infinity!

 

Question: Which requires more energy? Stopping a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile once it has traveled 300 yards or prying Lindsey Lohan from a one of Hollywood’s Hookah Lounge bar stools?

Answer: Well, according to the Cartridge Comparison Guide, a .35 Whelen 200 grain projectile will be moving at about 1,916 feet per second at 300 yards, which translates to, let’s see, carry the one, 1,630 foot-pounds of energy. As of last reports, officials still have not managed to pry the wayward actress from her bar stool, so we’ll have to get back to you on this one.

 

Question: What exerts more force? Martha Stewart hot-glueing doilies onto a festive holiday wreath or the recoil of a .221 Remington Fireball?

Answer: The .221 Remington Fireball with a 40 grain Hornady projectile exerts about 1.62 foot-pounds of recoil, while sticking doilies only requires .731 foot-pounds using general purpose hot glue.

 

Question: OK, last chance to improve your score. Which of the following is more likely to create a tear-drop or bell-shaped wound channel? The .17 Remington Fireball 20 grain bullet or Louie Anderson hitting the water from the 5 meter board in ABC’s new celebrity diving show, Splash?

Answer: Due to its 4,000 feet per second velocity and light bullet construction, the .17 Fireball is likely to fragment, thereby creating a tear-drop shaped wound channel. Louie Anderson, currently weighing in at 400 pounds, is likely to empty the pool, rendering wound-channel measurements impossible.

 

Of course, if you want to do more mundane things like find the best hunting cartridge that will minimize felt-recoil, while delivering a certain amount of energy at 300 yards, the Cartridge Comparison Guide will help you do that too. It’s chock full of tables that rank and sort data like bullet weight, muzzle velocity, down range energy, bullet momentum, sectional density and recoil energy.

So if you wanted to know which has more recoil energy, the .270 Winchester with a 150 grain bullet traveling at 2,950 feet per second or a 7×57 Mauser with a 170 grain bullet traveling at  2,545 feet per second, you would just flip to pages 46 and 47. You’ll find that, with an 8 pound rifle, you’ll experience 17.82 foot-pounds of recoil with the .270 load and 15.07 foot-pounds of recoil energy with the 7×57 Mauser. Or perhaps you want to settle the argument of which has more down range energy, the standard AR-15 or AK-47 load. Just look it up!

What the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2 is, and is not.

It is a comprehensive tool that “will help you gain the maximum benefit from a personalized cartridge selection.”

It is not a reloading guide. You will not find powder measure charges in this book.

It is comprehensive, covering cartridges from the .17 caliber to the .577 Nitro Express and everything in between.

It is not intended to interest Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It is a directory of performance characteristics of factory available cartridges – even really rare and obscure ones.

It is not a guide for wildcat and proprietary cartridge performance.

It is a means of sucking up hours of your time. Productively!

It is not appropriate to bring for dinner table reading on romantic dates.

Winner of the Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award for excellence, this book is a gold mine of information.

You can find the Cartridge Comparison Guide 2nd Edition here.

Also check out some of the posters produced by Chamberlain Development, like this American Standard Cartridge poster. It’s painstakingly produced to illustrate each cartridge in actual dimensions to within 4/1000 of an inch.

American Standard Cartridges - The Cartridge Comparison Guide

American Standard Cartridges Poster

 

 

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Hollow Point

Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Hollow Point Ammunition

It’s a good thing these Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 grain self-defense rounds don’t have dystychiphobia. That’s fear of accidents.

Speer Gold Dot 40 S&W 180 grain ammunition

Speer Gold Dot 40 S&W 180 grain ammunition

I say this because in our testing we had a high-speed wreck. One of our projectiles crashed right into the back of another during the expansion testing phase. We’re going to attribute this to our truly amazing shooting skills, and not just random chance.

No worries though. No animals were harmed in this crash testing and the crash test dummy can probably be salvaged.

Just the facts

All Speer Gold Dot ammunition features a bonded core projectile design – more on that later.

What’s interesting about Speer Gold Dot design is that projectiles are optimized for caliber and anticipated velocity. The idea is to make the projectile “soft” enough to expand properly, but no so “soft” that it over expands and comes apart or suffers in terms of penetration performance. This is evident in the Speer Short Barrel product line, where projectiles are designed to expand at lower velocity, but it also becomes apparent with more subtle projectile differences – as in the 180 grain versus 155 grain .40 S&W loads. We’ll be publishing some results on the 155 grain loading in the near future.

Cases are nickel-plated for high visibility and corrosion resistance. You’ll notice the shiny silver case is easier to see when checking chamber status – especially in lower indoor lighting conditions.

Speer Gold Dots use CCI primers that are non-corrosive and non-mercuric. No worries about barrel corrosion or cleaning with Windex.

No dieting zone

One of the biggest benefits of the Speer Gold Dot design is the Uni-Cor bonding technology used to literally fuse the lead core with the outer jacket. This is done to prevent the jacket from separating upon impact. If the jacket separates, weight is shed from the projectile and penetration can suffer.

The rounds we tested for expansion had a fairly rough time of things – passing through 4 layers of light canvas and two layers of fabric. After that, they entered a big pile of wet BS. To be more specific, we took a bunch of old New York Times newspapers and thoroughly soaked them for an expansion testing medium. As indicated by the photos, all of the tested rounds expanded as expected. We’ve come to expect this from Speer Gold Dots. But even we were surprised at the expansion performance demonstrated by the heavier weight, and lower velocity, 180 grain loads. All of the loads tested exceeded 150% expansion with final diameters measuring over .65″ in each example.

Just to check the real performance of the bonded projectile design, we weighed several of the expanded projectiles to see how much they lost from the original 18 grains:

178.3 grains

177.3 grains

179.7 grains

179.9 grains

And the one that slammed into the back of another bullet at 1,000 feet per second? Its post-collision weight was 179.4 grains.

Velocity

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 180gr crashed

This one crashed right into the back of another bullet – and still didn’t come apart.

The Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 grain load is factory rated to achieve 1,025 feet per second, measured at the muzzle. We tested this load with a Beretta PX4 Storm .40 S&W. This particular gun features a 4″ barrel, so one would expect actual velocity to be a tad less than stated on the box. Assuming the manufacturer obtains rated velocity from a full length test barrel.

We went to the range and measured velocity 15 feet from the muzzle using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master chronograph. Taking the average of a bunch of shots, all from the Beretta PX4, we observed an average actual  velocity downrange of 1,018 feet per second. Not bad at all considering the slightly shorter barrel and the fact that our chronograph was 15 feet from the muzzle.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Even for Speer Gold Dots, we were a little surprised at the consistent expansion performance with this load. When velocities start to get near 1,000 feet per second or lower, we’ve seen a lot of hollow point rounds get a little inconsistent with expansion performance. But not this one.
Available Here Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 180 Grain Ammunition

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Winchester Elite PDX1 9mm +P Self Defense Ammunition

Ammo Review: Winchester Elite PDX1 9mm+P Defender 124 grain personal defense ammunition

Winchester Elite PDX1 Defender 9mm +P 124 grain personal defense ammunition is a bonded bullet design intended to succeed against the tough FBI ammunition testing protocol. Without going into top secret details (not really), these tests are intended to examine how ammunition performs in a variety of law enforcement usage scenarios. Do they still expand after passing through barriers like clothing, automobile glass or steel, and common construction materials? Will the bullet achieve adequate penetration after passing through these barriers? Will Jessica still marry Claude after she finds out about his mob connections and previous engagement to the Crown Price of Belgravia?

Winchester Elite PDX1 9mm +P Personal Protection Ammunition

Winchester Elite PDX1 9mm +P Personal Protection Ammunition

With the exception of that last question, we know the answers. The FBI was impressed enough with test results of the Winchester PDX1 round to adopt it as their official duty ammunition. While we didn’t replicate the full FBI test protocol, we did tinker around a bit with a similar scenario or two.

Velocity of the Winchester PDX1 9mm +P load was impressive. Winchester rates it at 1,200 feet per second. We measured it with our Shooting Chrony Beta Master placed 15 feet downrange and found results to be better than advertised. Fired from a Glock 17 Generation 4 9mm pistol with a 4.49 inch barrel, we clocked the Winchester PDX1 9mm +P load at an average of 1,264.7 feet per second. Fired from a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm with just a 3 inch barrel, the average velocity measured 1,146.7 feet per second.

Expansion performance was excellent. We fired numerous loads into thoroughly soaked newspaper through 4 layers of light canvas. All rounds expanded perfectly with no sign of hollow point clogging. The largest expansion diameter we measured was .675 inches – nearly double the diameter of an unfired 9mm bullet. While relative to the testing media used, penetration depth was as good as any 9mm load we’ve tested.

Being a bonded bullet design, we noticed no fragmentation or separation of the projectiles and all weighed in with over 98% of their original 124 grain weight.

We found this to be a quality load for personal defense. FBI approved.

Available Here Winchester Elite PDX1 9mm +P 124 grain personal defense ammunition

Ammo Review: Winchester PDX1 Elite Defender .40 S&W 165 Grain

The .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge has been called many things since it was introduced in 1990.

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 40 S&W 165 grain.JPG

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 40 S&W 165 grain

Slow & Weak

Save your bacon & Walk free

Sexy & Winchester

Shoot & Wound

Sledgehammer & Wallop

Shortened & Widened

Sluggish & Wimpy

Slay & Waste

Studious & Well-spoken

Oh yeah, and Smith & Wesson

Used by the majority of law enforcement organizations, the .40 S&W round has somehow managed to gain flocks of proponents and many vocal detractors. One thing we’ve found in our testing is that broad caliber generalizations are absolutely meaningless. Everything depends on the specific projectile and load being tested with any given caliber.

Let’s take a closer look at the Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 Defender ammunition in .40 S&W 165 grain loading.

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 Defender .40 S&W 165 Grain Ammunition Overview

Winchester PDX1 ammunition is a bonded hollow point design. In average Joe’s English, that simply means that the jacket of the bullet is chemically attached to the lead core interior. Speer Gold Dot ammunition uses a similar design process.

Why?

Winchester believes that a bonded design allows more control over the delicate balance between penetration and expansion – without risk of jacket separation that is prone to occur with traditional jacketed / lead core bullets. The Winchester PDX1 round is pre-programmed by shape and cuts to expand into six segments as the projectile expands.

165 grain .40 S&W: Feel the need for speed…

We clocked a veritable pile of the Winchester PDX1 Elite .40 S&W 165 grain ammo through our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range. When all was averaged out using some complex addition and division with a touch of calculus, we found that the PDX1 ammo achieved average velocity of 1,195 feet per second. Factory specs listed on the box claim 1,140 feet per second at the muzzle, so this round outperformed the claims in our evaluation.

The test gun for the velocity test was a Beretta PX4 Storm full size – we did a full gun review on this one a while back. This particular handgun features a 4 inch barrel, so we’re not getting the full velocity advantage of an extra inch on a longer barreled pistol – and the round still outperformed the velocity claim.

Why?

Could be a number of factors. Perhaps the claimed velocity is a conservative number. We’ve seen that before and we always welcome conservative marketing claims – it’s a pleasant surprise when your ammunition performs even better than expected. Or perhaps our testing is done in a higher temperature environment. We’re in South Cackalackee where weather conditions are generally 90/90/90. That’s 90 degrees, 90 percent humidity, and 90 times hotter than it should be. The hotter it is, the higher the pressure, and higher the measured velocity.

Winchester PDX1 ammo expansion performance

Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 ammo expansion

Expansion performance of the Winchester PDX1 was excellent – most rounds doubled in diameter.

Our expansion testing always considers performance through barriers. Any reasonable ammo will expand in picture perfect manner when shot into water or gelatin. It’s like reality TV. Real, but not really. Many fail however when you place the water or gelatin backstop behind real world barriers like clothing. Not too many thugs run around buck naked as far as we know, so we’d rather see how our carry ammunition performs against clothed attackers.

For the Winchester PDX1 Defender tests, we used a barrier consisting of 2 layers of light canvas and 2 layers of cotton fabric. We’ve settled on this combination to provide an average “clothing” simulation for average weather conditions. We’ve found that many brand name hollow points have failed to perform consistently behind even this relatively simple barrier. Some rounds will expand while others will clog with fabric and behave like full metal jacket ammunition – passing right through the target. Behind the fabric barrier, we used simple wet pack. That’s just thoroughly soaked newsprint.

We obtained excellent results with this particular Winchester PDX1 ammo. The extra velocity available with the 165 grain load made a noticeable difference in expansion performance. The packaging claims 1.5x expansion capability. In our tests, we found that projectiles expanded to over .6 inches in diameter easily, with many rounds doubling in diameter. Performance of the programmed petal expansion was consistent as well with all six petals expanding in nearly every case.

Closing arguments

This particular Winchester PDX1 ammunition performed in stellar fashion. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s important to look at each specific loading independently as performance may vary. We’ll be testing the heavier, but slower, 180 grain Winchester PDX1 ammo as well and will report on that separately. Considering that this test was done with a Beretta PX4 Storm with average barrel length, we highly recommend this round for mid size to full size handguns. We’ll try to test it in a short barrel .40 S&W handgun to see how it fares.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Velocity was better than advertised through an average length barrel and expansion performance through moderate fabric barriers was excellent. What more can you ask?

 

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Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine

If only the Marines has Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine ammunition in 1942…

We tested the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine load in a 1945 vintage National Postal Meter M1 Carbine

We tested the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine load in a 1945 vintage National Postal Meter M1 Carbine

In one of those enduring “after the fact” armchair debates, pundits both praise and condemn the performance M1 Carbine with standard .30 Carbine ball ammunition. While the rifle was handy to carry at about 6 pounds, and the operator could carry large amounts of smaller and lighter .30 carbine ammunition, reports persist of the rounds inability to stop charging enemy soldiers. The common element seems to related to multiple through and through hits of the small diameter, 2,000 foot per second projectile not providing enough “stopping power.”

Do these stories have merit? I don’t know as I wasn’t there. What I do know is that during our ammo review, the new Gold Dot rounds in .30 Carbine demonstrated astounding performance. That old M1 Carbine is now a very viable option for home defense or perhaps a car trunk gun.

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine ammo performance

This particular loading of Speer Gold Dot projectiles appears to be more of a soft point design than a traditional hollow point design. The projectile is a 100 grain bonded bullet loaded to achieve 1,990 feet per second out of an 18 inch barrel. If all goes to plan, this would yield just about 967 foot pounds of energy measured at the muzzle.

We elected to test this load out of a National Postal Meter M1 Carbine originally manufactured in 1945. This particular M1 Carbine has been fitted somewhere along the way with an IBM manufactured barrel. Clearly it’s the ultimate in tactical office equipment! Even though it does not print stamps, we find it immensely practical for home use. It’s light, handy, and features a 15 round box magazine. And it’s more fun to shoot than most .22’s. If you don’t have an M1 Carbine, run, don’t walk, to your nearest dealer or gun show and get one. You’ll love it. And, it makes a great gun for younger shooters. It’s easy to handle and has minimal recoil. The iron peep sights are plenty accurate out to a couple hundred yards.

The Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine ammo is a soft point design that expands beautifully

The Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine ammo is a soft point design that expands beautifully

Function was flawless – as expected. We’ve found this M1 Carbine to be very forgiving in terms of reliability. It’s short-piston, gas operated semi-auto that runs clean and cool – much like the M1 Garand. The Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine load is premium ammunition, and had no issues running consistently from this old battle rifle.

But what about accuracy? I had no intentions of even trying to gauge the inherent accuracy of a modern load like the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine out of a 67 year old battle rifle. What we did try was the clay pigeon 100 yard challenge. No worries there. The combination of M1 Carbine and Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine load was up to the task of consistent hits all the way on those four inch targets up to the limits of our 100 yard outdoor range.

We did test velocity to see how it compared with the claimed 1,990 feet per second figure. With our Shooting Chrony Beta Master placed 15 feet from the muzzle, we measured an average of 2,088 feet per second with most recorded shots hitting the 2,100 feet per second mark. Impressive. And we always like to see products outperform their advertised claims.

At this velocity you can configure your rifle with the Gold Dot load to be very flat shooting from 0 to 100 yards. If you zero your sights at 25 yards, the bullet will be about 1 inch high between 50 and 75 yards, and will settle back to just under 1/2 inch high at 100 yards. So, for a target between 0 and maybe 150 yards, just aim dead on and your results will be close enough for government work.

Fun and games with old body armor

Speer Gold Dot 20 Carbine kevlar expansion.JPG

All of these Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine rounds expanded AFTER passing through an old Kevlar vest

A new acquaintance from my recent outing to the Shooting Industry Masters heard about my obsession with testing ammunition through all sorts of tough barriers. After offering to refer me to a psychiatrist friend, he gave me an old, expired Kevlar vest to play with. How do you spell “FUN” when it comes to ammunition testing? K-E-V-L-A-R. That’s how.

Even though this vest was technically expired, it was still plenty effective. To verify that, we shot it with a Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig round from a Glock 31. The vest stopped this round cold. Even more entertaining was watching the energy dump effect of a 1,404 foot per second, 125 grain projectile stopping against the vest in about 2 inches of travel. The vest literally flew off the wet pack target backing and landed about 10 feet away. Wow. While the wearer would certainly be protected from bullet penetration, it sure would leave a mark!

Back to the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine round performance.

Just for fun, and not for any particularly practical reason, we placed the Kevlar vest over a trashcan full of wet pack. We figured it would be interesting to see how the projectile performed against a really tough barrier. Wet pack is a fancy description for pile of thoroughly soaked, and bordering on mildewy, newspaper. Wet pack DOES NOT smell attractive after a day or so of soaking. We then proceeded to shoot the Speer Gold Dot .30 Carbine ammo through the vest and into the wet pack.

Results?

Like virtually any rifle round, the .30 Carbine passed through the vest. We were less interested in the penetration, which is a given with a rifle round, and more interested in expansion performance after passing through a tough barrier. We measured the expanded bullets and found that most of them doubled in diameter, with some measuring .61 inches across. Now that’s expansion performance!

Closing arguments

Our only regret with this evaluation is that we did not have a .30 Carbine handgun to test. We’ll work on getting our hands on a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .30 Carbine and post an update. That would be fun.

In summary, this round is impressive. It brings a whole slew of usefulness to that .30 Carbine you might have sitting in the closet. Home, car, or whatever. These rounds performed exceptionally well.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! We were shocked, in a good way, with this load. Full expansion after passing through a Kevlar barrier? Wow. This ammo gets our highest review score!

 

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