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Thread: Real gel testing of CBs for Hunting

  1. #21
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    State of Denial
    I've been to a number of LE ammo mfg sponsored gel shoots, and also pseudo-scientifically ruptured more than my fair share of milk jugs. A couple of relevant points that might help you out:

    *typical police pistol hollow point loads will penetrate about 14"-16" in bare gel, give or take. They also typically seem to stop in 3, sometimes 4 milk jugs very consistently. Since numerous sources will tell you that full expansion is almost immediate (first few inches), we can reasonably expect that X depth in gel will roughly equate to Y depth in water. Obviously, with jugs, you can only really measure in 8" increments, but figure the dual layer of plastic at the juncture between two of them is a reasonable approximation of hide or clothing on the exit side. Probably not much difference in resistance than a spindly little deer rib.

    *I consider a one gallon milk jug to be the rough equivalent of about 4-5 inches of gel. If you're playing with hollowpoints, a 4 to 5 jugger would probably make for a DANDY deer load.

    * I've gotten nine jugs out of hard alloy LFN/WFN format bullets in both .45 Auto/230gr/830fps and .32/130gr/1250fps. In the case of the .32, changing the alloy to 20-1 but leaving the load alone created a nice mushroom that stopped in 4 jugs.

    *Also got 4 jugs and a nice mushroom from a 20-1 .40WFN/180gr/1350fps.

    *Have fired a hard alloy Lyman 358430 (195gr round nose) into FBI gel at 570 fps to see what the old British Webley concept was all about. I ran out of gel at 18" and recovered the bullet off the hard rubber backstop.

    *clearly from the above, expansion or non-expansion will be a major influence to depth.

    *With cast hollowpoints, I think your major design criteria are going to be (1.) does the bullet expand and penetrate adequately at the distance you expect the impact to occur?, and (2.) does your bullet/alloy/impact velocity combination allow your HP cavity to stay together, or does it fragment off? You might need to download to simulate your impact distance.

    *My own two cents: a large meplat slug that does NOT expand, or expands minimally, delivered to the right place is going to be a VERY consistent performer, regardless of impact speed, and expansion can be a variable can of worms. Deer taking a solid pass-through cardiovascular hit that does not also take out a supporting bone structure seem to consistently take about 10 seconds to fall over regardless of what you hit them with. If it sounds like I'm saying "save yourself the trouble with the gel", maybe I am just a little bit. Such experiments are fun for their own sake and worthwhile for the knowledge gained, but fact is we're learning in LE circles that energy transfer isn't really a useful thing; hyrdostatic shock doesn't really start helping us until we've got impact speeds of over 2,000 fps; shot placement and initiating rapid blood loss is what it's really all about; and the main "advantage" of expansion is that it chills out those who are more concerned about "over-penetration" in an urban setting than they are about stopping the threat. A solid flat nose will drop your deer just fine and be easier to cast.


  2. #22
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Im not sure hydrostatic shock really helps at all. Between deer taken from 3 or 4 people i know, theres many examples percentage wise of lung shots with extensive damage from bergers in 30 06 to 300 wthby making huge exits lots of shock and bloodshot and the deer dont really seem to care if it has lungs and a bloodshot torso and runs 100yds. Never had a 25 06 but the few people i know that used em say it shocks deer a lot but they dont die and they stopped hunting with it. Then the 5 deer me and my father got with muzzle loaders all just fell down even though the energy and shock is about 3 times less. So to me it seems the best indicator of effectiveness is just mass and diameter.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master

    skeettx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amarillo, Texas
    You are to be commended for your efforts
    I stand by to watch for a report of your tests
    NRA Benefactor 2004 USAF RET 1971-95

  4. #24
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Yep, same here. Ain’t never going to discourage someone adding to the collective knowledge. I don’t do expansion testing, well other than on critters, but comparative data adds to the knowledge base. Since critters aren’t made of jell, using a known baseline bullet as a control will give a good comparison value. Looking forward to your testing.
    “You don’t practice until you get it right. You practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Jason Elam, All-Pro kicker, Denver Broncos

  5. #25
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Water is too hard. I tried some 44 mag 265 grain HP’s with 80/20 mixed with 16% pewter through water filled totes. They made perfect mushrooms. The same boolit never expanded with complete pass throughs through three deer last year within seconds of each other. All recovered with boolit diameter entrance and exit holes. 50/50 and 16:1 pewter and pure lead mixes literally flattened to a thick penny at the same 1750 FPS velocities in the the totes and peeled back the pedals like a banana. I shot the same soft HP’s in dirt and they looked like perfect mushrooms...dirt/ mud is softer that water...and that’s not saying a lot.

    You can see some of my testing and expanded boolits on my home page photo albums.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 09-07-2019 at 11:15 PM.

  6. #26
    Moderator Emeritus

    Treetop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I'm subscribed! Thanks in advance for your testing, curioushooter.
    Two of my favorite posters here on castboolits are Larry Gibson and Outpost 75 because of their extensive cast boolit testing protocol and the generous sharing of their results. Anything that you can add will be great, IMO! Semper Fi, Treetop
    Sgt. USMC

    "Accuracy has a suppressive power all by itself."
    Lt. Gen. George Flynn, USMC

    “The Second Amendment was not written to protect your right to shoot deer.
    It was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants…”
    Judge Andrew Napolitano

  7. #27
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Here’s a water test with a 7.5 BH 265 grain (started as) 44 cal Lyman devastator at 1750 FPS shot out of my Ruger 77/44 into water filled milk jugs.

    Pretty flat expansion looking like a penny and very shallow penetration. It would stop in the 3rd to 4th milk jug.

    Here’s the same boolit and alloy and velocity shot into a dirt backstop at 25 yards. Nice mushroom that that peeled back. The chunk next to it was a pedal on the other side that broke off. Weight is around 180 grains VS about 130 grains in water above.

    Water is WAY to hard of a boolit test.

    Here’s a water test of a 15.4 BH Lyman devastator with a MV of 1875 FPS. I filled up two monster totes with water and put them back to back the long way. This boolit stopped in the first tote and bounced off the opposite end leaving a white stress crack in the tote. The second one sailed through both totes. I slowed the load down to 1750 Fps and shot three deer last year at 20 yards to point blank with zero expansion, Evan after shattering the backbone and rib bones. I posted the boolit diameter exit holes on previous posts. So imo making an alloy that expands perfectly in water is going to be to hard of an alloy to get expansion on thin skinned game. I had two of the three deer run 100 and 120 yards with perfect archery shot placement (broadside lung shots) before expiring with very little kinetic energy transfer. IMO I would have got a quicker dispatch and shorter travel before expiring with a softer boolit.

    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 09-11-2019 at 10:09 AM.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master reloader28's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    nw wyoming
    Wet paper, milk jugs, jello all work perfectly fine.

    But I dont care which one you use, you HAVE to have 2 or 3 commercial bullets close to what you are replicating for a comparison. That is a must. As far as a test media, they all work fine

  9. #29
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    New Zealand
    When I was developing loads for my hornet I used saturated wool furniture padding rolled tightly into a beer can (with the end cut open). The wool was rolled into the cans before saturating. These were placed in a containment cylinder one behind the other. Penetration and bullet expansion was identical to critter tests. I gave up on that test method simply because it was too much trouble and I had in any case progressed onto critters and new I had a super hornet, fit for goats. I came up with the saturated compressed wool in an attempt to mimic muscle and it worked.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

    ''Assume everything that moves is a human before identifying as otherwise''

  10. #30
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Northern Michigan
    I commend you for taking the time and effort to do this work. It is a labor of love. It will be interesting to see your work.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  11. #31
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    I've been studying the effects of bullets for more than 50 years and I've shot about everything one can imagine. I gave up on gel testing mostly. It just isn't worth the effort and can be very misleading.

    First off the penetration is "optimistic", yes I've seen some bullets go as deep in flesh as in gel but not most. Wet newsprint otoh can be sort of "pessimistic" bullets often go deeper in flesh but not always. We've had two shootings in our county with .45 230 gr. FMJ - neither exited the victim shot in the chest (and neither was a large person), also have shot deer with .45 ball - have not had one exit though certainly it would depend on how much bone was hit or how big the deer were. I've seen .357 magnum 125 gr. JHP penetrate less than 1" and 3", but I've also seen them go completely through a small deer with very little damage (and the deer ran 400 yards!).

    Secondly, as someone mentioned above, there is no bone. For self defense a well directed bullet will hit the sternum which does not have much meat over it. When I started testing modern handgun bullets with something hard over them (I use hardwood flooring which give the same penetration with BBs as rib bones - but those are dead bones, I've not tested them with live or fresh killed) I found that most of these do not expand at all.

    Thirdly, flesh and bone has grain - it resists bullets differently depending on the path of the bullet. Gel does not.

    Fourthly, the wound channel in gel is grossly exaggerated and some people just cannot get past that.

    That said, at least it is consistent if you monitor the temperature and test it with a BB at 590 fps. It is just difficult to deal with.

    Just bear in mind, it is not what the bullet does to the gel that matters (because it is not a direct simulation of flesh and bone - it is in fact designed to give reasonably close penetration and expansion to pig muscle) but what the gel does to the bullet (like stop it, or expand it).

    Charles Schwartz, an engineer, has a good little book out called "Quantitative Ammunition Selection" in which he provides a formula for converting the results of bullets shot into water to gel and says there is no qualitative difference between the two mediums. I tend to agree.

    Still, we need bone or something resembling it.

    Just Ramblin'


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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check