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  • Post last modified:April 9, 2023

Ballistics and ammunition testing are topics that often spark debate and confusion among firearm enthusiasts. Here are reasons why ballistic gel tests show real results than people's opinion online without physical tests.

In this article, we will also reference some professional tests done by other content creators to better explain about what ballistic gel can teach us about bullet performance.

The Importance of Ballistic Gelatin Testing

One of the first questions asked was why ballistic gelatin is used to test ammunition and how it can be trusted to represent how bullets behave in real-world situations.

ballistic gel penetration

Referenced Policeone.com

Ballistic gelatin is a rendered substance out of animal tissue that is brought back into a mixture calibrated to a certain specification, which gives them a tissue density that approximates human tissue.

The purpose of having a certain specified density, as set forth by the FBI, is to have an apples-to-apples comparison that is comparable one to the other

Organic vs. Synthetic Gelatin

When it comes to the gelatin itself. The main difference between organic and synthetic gelatin is in the temporary wound cavity, where the gel stretches out after impact, which looks more dramatic in clear gel on high-speed video.

However, this temporary cavity is not a good indicator of how effective the ammo is going to be.

Penetration and Expansion

38 special expansion

38 special bullet expansion

Penetration and expansion are the best test metrics for evaluating handgun ammo. Energy and velocity are interesting aspects to consider, but they don't necessarily correlate to terminal performance.

ballistic gel test bullet tumble

When a bullet from a handgun hits the human body, it creates a temporary wound cavity, which happens so fast that it can't be seen by the naked eye. This cavity is made up of water and a substance that can't be compressed.

Handgun Ammo Vs Rifle Ammo

bullet ballistic gel testing

Referenced Pinterest

When a bullet is traveling at speeds greater than 2200 feet per second, the temporary wound cavity can tear at its limits and margins, causing a permanent wound cavity. This is why people who are hit with rifle projectiles typically succumb much quicker than those who are hit with handgun projectiles.

A bullet that works well and achieves the desired penetration and expansion is more important than trying to push a bullet faster to make it do more damage. There is no incremental gain in moving up to a higher caliber, in fact, having the proper bullet design is far more important.

Read more: 380 ACP VS 38 Special