SOLID DE­FENSE

NON-EX­PAND­ING HAND­GUN LOADS ARE SOME­TIMES A BET­TER AL­TER­NA­TIVE TO HOL­LOW­POINTS

Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY BOB CAMP­BELL

Non-ex­pand­ing hand­gun loads are some­times a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive to hol­low­points.

By Bob Camp­bell

It’s time to start think­ing about al­ter­na­tives to hol­low­point bul­lets in your de­fen­sive hand­gun.

There is only so much en­ergy be­hind a bul­let. That en­ergy may be used in pen­e­tra­tion or it may be used to ex­pand and de­form the bul­let. The small cal­ibers sel­dom have enough power to both push a mush­room and of­fer ad­e­quate ex­pan­sion. The big bores do not need ex­pan­sion to be ef­fec­tive. Loads in the mid­dle—the

.38 Spe­cial and 9mm Luger—ben­e­fit the most from hol­low­points as they usu­ally have suf­fi­cient power to make the most of a well-de­signed bul­let.

Solid bul­lets in loads from Black Hills, Buf­falo Bore and NovX are ex­am­ples of ef­fec­tive choices for de­fense that might just be bet­ter than tra­di­tional hol­low­points, es­pe­cially in small-cal­iber hand­guns.

SMALL BORES

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, when small bore car­tridges per­form be­yond ex­pec­ta­tion it is be­cause they have pen­e­trated ad­e­quately. When big bore car­tridges fail, it is be­cause of in­ad­e­quate pen­e­tra­tion. The .32 ACP, .32 H&R Magnum and the .380 ACP—es­pe­cially with hol­low­points—of­ten fall short for per­sonal de­fense. That isn’t an opin­ion but a con­clu­sion based on many years of re­search.

An ex­pand­ing bul­let in a weak cal­iber doesn’t have enough pen­e­tra­tion to be ef­fec­tive. The bet­ter choice is a load­ing that of­fers deep pen­e­tra­tion. If we could add a blunt nose that cuts rather than pushes flesh aside, wound po­ten­tial would be in­creased.

A valid com­par­i­son is the size of a man and a deer. Both weigh about the same, as least as far as east­ern and south­ern deer go. Both are about as hard to put down, save that an­i­mals are not sub­ject to shock through blood loss. There is no psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pect as an­i­mals do not know they have been shot. Yet deer shot with the .308 Winch­ester or .30-06 of­ten run 100 yards or more af­ter be­ing shot. We need to stop a threat im­me­di­ately to stop his ac­tions and to save our life and yet some rely on car­tridges with lit­tle chance of do­ing so.

“AN EX­PAND­ING BUL­LET IN A WEAK CAL­IBER DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH PEN­E­TRA­TION TO BE EF­FEC­TIVE. THE BET­TER CHOICE IS A LOAD­ING THAT OF­FERS DEEP PEN­E­TRA­TION.”

Un­for­tu­nately, dur­ing the past few years there seems to be a com­mon thread among writ­ers to dis­count ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence and au­thor­i­ta­tive re­search in fa­vor of opin­ion and shad­owy stud­ies that pro­fes­sion­als doubt even oc­curred. I have not shot drugged goats and prob­a­bly no one else has ei­ther, but I have looked over both ends of the gun bar­rel and stud­ied the af­ter ef­fects of bul­let wounds for decades.

When my ex­pe­ri­ence agrees with the ac­counts of rep­utable men of the past, peace of­fi­cers, sol­diers and re­li­able cor­re­spon­dents, I think I have a con­clu­sion. A re­peat­able and ver­i­fi­able ex­per­i­ment will have va­lid­ity even with­out prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, but I find va­lid­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence a solid com­bi­na­tion. If some­thing sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is.

PENTRATION IS KEY

The sin­gle most im­por­tant cri­te­ria for a de­fen­sive car­tridge is pen­e­tra­tion. The op­po­nent might be a pretty big guy. It isn’t unusual for a mem­ber of our pro­tein-fed, ex-con crim­i­nal class to top 280 pounds af­ter years of hard time pump­ing weights and liv­ing in a highly dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment. Even the av­er­age sized felon will be heav­ily clothed in the win­ter, and this cloth­ing will fill the nose of a JHP bul­let and can­cel ex­pan­sion. Small cal­iber non-ex­pand­ing bul­lets do not have a good rep­u­ta­tion for wound po­ten­tial. But whichever we use, the bul­let must have good pen­e­tra­tion. This means 12 to 16 inches in gelatin. I have tested mod­ern frag­ment­ing loads that ex­hibit per­haps 5 inches of pen­e­tra­tion. Some are .380 ACP hol­low points, oth­ers are 9mm and .45 loads de­signed to frag­ment. They are not very use­ful for per­sonal de­fense.

The felon may have his arms out­stretched and the bul­let will have to pen­e­trate the arm bones, cloth­ing and the chest to reach a vi­tal or­gan. The felon may be be­hind cover, which is a separate prob­lem.

While shot place­ment is the sin­gle most im­por­tant com­po­nent of stop­ping power, wound po­ten­tial is dic­tated by pen­e­tra­tion. Con­sider the en­tire depth of pen­e­tra­tion. As any hunter will tell you, an an­i­mal that takes a rak­ing shot and all of the en­ergy of the bul­let is ex­pended in the body goes down quickly. While I trust the larger cal­ibers as carry guns, I also be­lieve that the .380 ACP and .38 Spe­cial can be use­ful in the backup cat­e­gory. A cool head that shoots straight will pos­si­bly have good re­sults if the bul­let has ad­e­quate pen­e­tra­tion. If the bul­let can be de­signed to da­m­age tis­sue with­out ex­pan­sion, we will have some­thing.

SOLID BUL­LET AL­TER­NA­TIVE

So, what’s the al­ter­na­tive to hol­low­points for de­fense? One promis­ing de­sign is the Black Hills Honey Bad­ger ammo that pro­vides a good com­bi­na­tion of needed pen­e­tra­tion and wound cav­ity that can max­i­mize the ef­fec­tive­ness of your de­fen­sive hand­gun, es­pe­cially if you carry one of the small cal­ibers.

THE HONEY BAD­GER

The Honey Bad­ger is an an­i­mal with a fe­ro­cious at­ti­tude akin to that of the Wolver­ine or Tas­ma­nian Devil. As for the Honey Bad­ger am­mu­ni­tion, like my pet Dingo Lucy with proper un­der­stand­ing there is noth­ing like them.

Jeff Hoff­mann, CEO of Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion, wanted to de­velop a non-ex­pand­ing bul­let load with wound po­ten­tial ri­val­ing that of a hol­low­point bul­let. You have to un­der­stand that deep pen­e­tra­tion with a non-ex­pand­ing bul­let equals more to­tal wound po­ten­tial than a JHP bul­let that of­fers shal­low pen­e­tra­tion. The pen­e­tra­tion part is easy. Wound po­ten­tial is more dif­fi­cult. The Honey Bad­ger is a solid cop­per bul­let. The bul­let has sharp scallops cut into the nose. I was

“THE HONEY BAD­GER... BUL­LET HAS SHARP SCALLOPS CUT INTO THE NOSE…THE .380 ACP IS SO SHARP I HAD TO BE CARE­FUL LOAD­ING THEM IN THE MAG­A­ZINE!”

sur­prised—the .380 ACP is so sharp I had to be care­ful load­ing them in the mag­a­zine!

They are de­signed to ro­tate and push fluid around in the body cre­at­ing a wound chan­nel larger than the bul­let it­self. In­stead of a bul­let cal­iber wound, the wound is larger and this is born out in gelatin test­ing. With gelatin test­ing a cav­ity may be cre­ated and the cav­ity is larger than FMJ bul­lets and com­pa­ra­ble to hol­low­point bul­lets.

Some­thing is go­ing on as the Honey Bad­ger doesn’t pen­e­trate like a FMJ. As an ex­am­ple, the 135-grain .45 ACP load­ing pen­e­trates 24 inches in wa­ter com­pared to 30 inches with 230 grain FMJ “hard­ball.” This is de­spite the

.45 Honey Bad­ger trav­el­ing at over 1,200 fps com­pared to the 830 fps 230-grain FMJ bul­let.

There is an­other com­po­nent other than fluid dy­nam­ics and one more eas­ily un­der­stood and demon­strated. A hol­low­point bul­let is sim­ply a round nose bul­let when it meets flesh and blood. It must ex­pand to push the mush­room and cre­ate da­m­age in the body. If the hol­low­point nose strikes bone or fills with in­ter­me­di­ate ma­te­rial such as down cloth­ing, it may not ex­pand at all.

The Honey Bad­ger fea­tures sharp flutes that are whirling as they strike the tar­get. They cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant da­m­age. This is ob­vi­ous when you fire at a pa­per tar­get. There is a unique sig­na­ture from the Honey Bad­ger bul­let.

I was most im­pressed by the per­for­mance of the .380 ACP. Af­ter all, it is a light cal­iber. I am de­ploy­ing the Honey Bad­ger in my .38 Spe­cial re­volvers. The .45 ACP gave ex­cel­lent per­for­mance.

“THE HONEY BAD­GER FEA­TURES SHARP FLUTES THAT ARE WHIRLING AS THEY STRIKE THE TAR­GET. THEY CRE­ATE SIG­NIF­I­CANT DA­M­AGE.”

A prob­lem with the .44 Spe­cial has been achiev­ing enough ve­loc­ity to make a JHP bul­let work. At 700 fps I have lit­tle con­fi­dence in a 200-grain JHP in this cal­iber. The Honey Bad­ger .44 Spe­cial jolts a 125-grain bul­let to 1,100 fps with ex­cel­lent po­ten­tial. I was in­ter­ested to note that de­spite more than 200 fps more ve­loc­ity the .44 Magnum load did not pen­e­trate more than the .44 Spe­cial. This ex­hibits proof the fluid dy­nam­ics are at work. While the other loads threw the wa­ter jugs about, the .44 Magnum erupted four in line and soaked the au­thor thor­oughly! This is a load that should prove re­li­able for an­i­mal de­fense. CC

The NovX load­ing is in­ter­est­ing both in terms of the pro­jec­tile and the mod­ern car­tridge case. NovX photo

Per­for­mance ex­hib­ited by Buf­falo Bore’s .32 ACP flat point was im­pres­sive.

Above: The .44 Spe­cial Honey Bad­ger is among the hard­est hit­ting of factory .44 Spe­cial load­ings.

Mid­dle: The au­thor was im­pressed by the .380 ACP Honey Bad­ger.

Bot­tom Left: Each Honey Bad­ger has a unique de­sign for the cal­iber.

Top Left: Left to right: .380 ACP,.38 Spe­cial, .45 ACP, .44 Spe­cial and .44 Magnum Honey Bad­ger loads.

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