About Us

Shooting The Bull is a site dedicated to discussing all aspects of personal defense through the use of firearms, spreading some truth you can bullieve in, and dispelling a lot of the bulloney out there.

On these pages you’ll find equipment reviews, ammo tests, and general articles on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.  What you’re not going to find is a lot of hype, or politics, or rabble-rousing or stirring of the pot.  There’s enough of that out there on the internet, we don’t need another voice contributing to that cacophony.

Over here, we’ll challenge common assumptions, we’ll put equipment to the test, we’ll document the results and you can decide whether a particular claim is something you can bullieve, or if it’s bulloney.  We’ll do it with precision, with personality, with humor and with sincerity.  After all, if it’s no fun to read or no fun to watch, why would you read or watch it?

We’ll also be a definitive source of information for the Taurus Judge (inspiration for our logo) since it’s an incredibly popular, and incredibly maligned, piece of equipment.  We’re not limited to discussing just one brand, but we think you’ll find Shooting The Bull to be the most comprehensive source for information about the Judge and how it really performs.

Welcome.  Sit back, relax, read, watch, enjoy, and comment.  And if there’s something in particular you want to see, send us a note at shooting.the.bull.410@gmail.com.


Share Button

135 thoughts on “About Us

  1. William L Noble Jr ( Bill )

    I’m in mourning…the HPR webcatalog/magazine does not list the .380 90gr XTP .
    Re: the TCP 780, .380 ammo test series results. I’ve emailed them about it and am waiting
    to hear. Meanwhile, you’ve really got me wondering how the CorBon .380 HP would
    do in same gel test by comparison? Do you plan on putting CorBon through the gauntlet,
    ( in case HPR is done with their’s, for whatever reason ) ?


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Bill,

      Have no fear, the HPR .380 round is alive and well. It’s just not on their website, for some infathomable reason. Look for it on ammoseek.com and you may find it; right at this moment it’s showing it as in stock at ammo supply warehouse. There are also other rounds that use the Hornady XTP bullet besides HPR; you’ll see in upcoming tests that I put the Fiocchi Extrema, Precision One, and Hornady Custom through the tests too, and all perform well; some better than others, but all performed basically as well as the Gold Dots and Hydra Shoks.

      I don’t have any of the CorBons right now, but have been planning on picking some up to test.

  2. Russ

    Did not see the CorBon 380 90gr JHP’s .. if you couldn’t find any Cabela’s has them right now, as well as a couple other places listed on GunBot. I know your into the finals now, but maybe you’ll allow a late entry.

    All the results I’ve seen show them at 12-13″ and near a half inch expansion with clothed gelatin. Problem is, I can’t find anyone who’s posted results for bare gelatin. The only concern being they may open up too much and run shallow in a bare gel test.

    — Thanks

    1. Shooting The Bull

      I’ve got a box of CorBon 90-grainers in my ammo can right now ready for the next trip to the range. You’ll see a test in bare gel soon.

      EDIT: video now posted.

  3. chris

    Hey I’ve really enjoyed your .380 comparison videos! I’ve had a little difficulty navigating all the videos, though. Could you maybe create separate playlists for the initial clear gel tests and the finals? Maybe even create a chart on your website with a summary of the results? It would be nice to see all the results in one place for easier comparison. Maybe that’s already in the works…

    Also I didn’t see any Remington Ultimate Defense. Did I just miss it?

    Can’t wait for the 9mm results!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Chris,

      I totally understand. Yes, navigation would greatly be enhanced with playlists etc; this whole thing just spiraled out of control as I kept finding more and more ammo to test!

      I plan on doing two things to rectify this:
      1) I’m going to post a summation video that separates the ammo into various classes (i.e., “never use this”, “this is better than nothing”, “this is decent”, and “these are the winners”). That should make for one-stop viewing.

      2) I’m going to do a tabulated, organized blog post that summarizes overall performance of each round, including links to their video reviews.

      Once those two resources are posted, I think it’ll be a lot easier to navigate.

      And yes, I’ll try to take the lessons learned in creating this series, forward into the 9mm series, so it should be easier to navigate and follow the 9mm Ammo Quest.

      Thanks for reading and watching!

  4. dlj95118

    Just want to say how much I appreciate your efforts in testing , producing, and publishing your material. I cannot image the amount of time required.

    So, thank you. I’ve found much useful info and frequently point people to your YouTube channel for, as I tell them, “clear and concise” information.


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Thanks Dave! It’s been a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it and I’m doubly glad that other folks are finding it useful. Check out the latest blog post (http://shootingthebull.net/blog/final-results-of-the-380-acp-ammo-quest/), I put up a summary of the entire .380 Ammo Quest so you can quickly review and compare all the tested rounds, see pictures of the recovered bullets, and there’s links to all the videos for further research. I hope it becomes a reference page for people searching for the best ammo for their .380 micro-pistol.

        1. Shooting The Bull

          Donations can be sent to:
          F.I.F., Inc.
          3091 College Park Drive, Ste 240-6
          The Woodlands, TX 77384

          It’d be best to check with me to see if I already have what you’re considering sending, or if I can even test what you’re asking for (I may not have an appropriate firearm that can even chamber the round you may want tested).


  5. Brad

    Are you going to continue the “9mm Ammo Quest” series with denim and gel? That would be a HUGE service to the “pocket carry” CCW crowd.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Brad,

      Yes, there are many videos coming in the 9mm Ammo Quest series. The second one is actually going public today, the test of Hornady Critical Defense.

  6. rw walden

    first – thank you, thank you for the 26 videos regarding 380 ammunition.

    second – would you consider setting up a test protocol that uses actual garments vs. folded denim? thinking
    real world clothing combinations would be most illuminating for 380, 9mm and 38spl. here in the rockies,
    we get hot summers and cool, cool winters. actually seeing the results of clothing barrier penetratin would
    “clinch” the speculation regarding whether or not we need hand cannons (4-something or higher) in order
    to adequately deal with the clothing issues).

    third – would you consider testing through pork shouders (bone and meat). actual result of light bullet
    meets flesh and bone would go along way to deal with all the mathematical theorists.

    fourth – would you consider polling your u-tube audience for financial support to conduct the tests?
    (recognize you have a DONATE button here, but your audience may not object to a broader survey)
    i would be up for a donation of a hunnert or two toward the expenses.

    ah ‘preciate it, and good nite !!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi rw walden,

      Thanks for the comments! Let me address ’em here…

      1. Actual garments — that’s more like the FBI’s “heavy clothing” test; they use t-shirt denim, polartec fleece, etc., in a specific combination to simulate “heavy clothing”. I follow the IWBA protocol instead, which uses four layers of excessively heavy denim. The idea is to get a full spectrum of bullet performance, from the best-possible case (the bare gelatin) to the worst-possible case (four layers of heavy denim). It’s not really designed to emulate clothing, it’s designed to challenge the bullet’s hollowpoint cavity and its propensity to deform when striking a substantial barrier. So in reality, if the bullet can pass both tests, it should also perform well in any imaginable clothing situation. Or, put in other words, if the bullet doesn’t deform or clog on four layers of heavy denim, then there’s no way it’s going to deform or clog on a t-shirt or a blouse. Does that make sense? Or do you still think there’s a necessity to do alternate clothing tests? I could run a “light clothing” test just to illustrate the point, if you think it’d be helpful.

      2. Pork shoulders — this is a common test among amateur bullet testers or do-it-yourselfers, but it’s not done among professional testers. It seems on the surface to make sense — humans are made of meat, so why wouldn’t you test in meat? Seems logical, right? But in fact it’s a completely invalid test! The reason is simple: living tissue and dead meat aren’t the same and they don’t respond the same way to bullets. If you wanted to shoot into a cadaver to test bullet performance, you would have to do so within about 15 minutes of the body dying. Tissue decay and rigor mortis set in very rapidly and change the density of the (well, I guess I have to say the word) meat. Living tissue is very wet, it’s hydrated by a massive network of blood vessels and capillaries. But when the heart stops pumping, that fluid stops flowing, the meat stops being hydrated, and — at that point, it stops reacting like living tissue does. It doesn’t provide valid testing data. Shooting a cadaver gives no indication of what a bullet would do in a LIVING body.

      That’s where ballistic gel comes into play. Dr. Martin Fackler developed it to simulate the density of living tissue, not dead corpses (like a ham or beef ribs or whatever). He killed a lot of pigs to do it. He shot into living pigs, and he also killed pigs and shot into their absolutely-fresh thighs, and he was a combat surgeon so he used his own experience and correlated with coroners and medical examiners and forensic pathologists to get data on what real bullets did in real living flesh. He compared that against cadavers and found that cadavers simply didn’t react the same as living tissue did. He then formulated ballistic gel (which is, by the way, actually meat — it’s dried and powdered pork skin, reconstituted with water). He formulated it to deliver basically exactly the same deformation, expansion, and penetration characteristics as living tissue did. He tested it against bullets fired into living pigs, and into freshly killed pigs (as in, fresh — less than a few minutes). He fine-tuned the formula until he got ballistic gel to the point where the bullets pulled from a fresh pig through fresh meat, and those pulled from ballistic gel, were identical in size, shape, penetration, and performance.

      So that’s why we use ballistic gel, and not hams/roasts/pork etc. The dead meat just doesn’t give legitimate performance as compared to what really counts — living tissue.

      3. Financial support? Sheesh, that’d be most welcome — this stuff is getting expensive! I calculated that it costs me about $10 for every round fired, $50 per block of gel with five rounds fired in it. And that doesn’t count the cost of my time to film and edit the videos, those usually take several hours each. So, yes, it’s expensive, and if people wanted to donate that would be most welcome, but not expected — I’m doing testing because I want to know, and I love to teach, so I’m not expecting or demanding contributions. And while my videos are monetized on youtube, the money they make is laughable. I’d probably have to get over 75,000 views on each one just to make back the hard costs I spend in producing them. But I’d be lying if I said that contributions don’t help, because of course they do. Thank you for thinking of it, I appreciate the sentiment. The question would be — practicality? How does one ask youtube viewers to donate? If there’s a simple and unobtrusive and socially acceptable way to make it available without turning it into a beg-fest, I’d certainly do so — but I don’t want to turn my videos into something that resembles “pledge week” on NPR or PBS, that would be counterproductive. Any ideas?

      Thank you very much for the comments and for thinking of ways to support the efforts here, it’s much appreciated!

      1. rw walden

        wow ! really surprised at the detailed response….because i know you are busy.

        re the “real clothes” test, most of us out here are not academics. ballistic gel tests remain in the “theory” territory. seein’ is belivin’. the suggestion for “real clothes” is to let us see as close to “real world” as possible how cloth affects bullets. not just t-shirts, but things like 5.11 gear, sweatshrits/hoodies, navy P-Jackets, ski jackets, sweaters and such combos. it is one thing to demonstrate, “see, if it will do this in gel, it will do the same/better/worse in any type clothing. with many of us speculating that maybe 380 is ok for attackers sporting summer wear, we need to move to 9mm or larger for winter clothing. we haven’t seen any tests to validate/de-bunk, but our “theory” seems sensible.

        as to “meat” targets, the demo of impact damage is nore vivid than gel. yes, the dead meat and live (or near live) meat respond differently, but the visual is more powerful than gel (and sometimes we need to see what happens when bone is actually struck (gell generally does not cause bullets to act unpredictably or erratically, whereas real bone can be an eye-opener.

        donations….how ’bout setting up a demo with real clothing covering a pork shoulder, and in the narrative note that the demo is a prototype. if the youtube audience would like to see more, fuller demonstrations, donations of $XXXX is needed. you could provide an address for checks, a paypay venue, or go through kickstarter (in any event all money will be returned if the goal is not reached). cannot verify, but from the youtube comments it seems people might be willing to donate if they know in advance what they will get, and when.


        and merry christmas

        1. Shooting The Bull

          Hi RW Walden,

          I can certainly see the visual appeal of what you’re describing — but what I’m struggling with is how to do such a thing while having it still be actually relevant to the viewer. I mean… I don’t want to do something just for the visual appeal, but have it actually mislead the viewer (which is what I think pork/ham tests do… they’re not representative of real bullet performance, and they lead the viewer to form a false impression of what damage they should actually expect.) To me, it’s like using clay to test — you can get some incredible images from using Plastilina clay, because it leaves the temporary cavity permanently embedded in the clay. But — it’s misleading, because in handgun rounds, the temporary cavity is usually basically meaningless, it doesn’t lead to actual damage to the body, it just makes some stretching (not all that different from flexing muscles or someone sucking in their gut — a lot of motion, sure, but no damage). So dead meat may leave a lot of false impressions because it’s not wet, it doesn’t stretch like living tissue does, and so it may look like there was a lot more damage done than there actually was, and I wouldn’t want to leave an audience with those false impressions.

          Ballistic gel isn’t “theory”, it’s settled science. It was designed by a combat surgeon who saw bullets every day, who knew exactly what bullets do to real flesh, and who wanted to design a testing medium that would result in damage craters and bullet damage that’s exactly like what one would see in real tissue. Have you seen my tests of the Lehigh Maximum Expansion rounds? In those I show a cross-section of the damage the round does to the flesh simulant, and I think it’s pretty convincing…

          As far as clothing itself — the science says that if it passes the 4-layer denim test, it’ll handle any combination of clothing anyone’s likely to be wearing. However, in this case I can certainly see room for some “seeing is believing” — people would probably like to see what the real-world difference is between a t-shirt and a leather jacket or ski jacket etc. That type of testing I can certainly do. And I recognize your point about the debate of whether one has to move to a larger caliber in winter (i.e., maybe .380 is okay for summer wear but to get through winter wear you’d need something more substantial). That could be an interesting and informative test and I’ll put that on my schedule of things to do.

          Do you have specific clothing combination suggestions you’d want to see tested?

  7. rw walden


    and happy and joyous new year to you and yours.

    i reckon the thing most folks in cold country would like to see is a test with heavy wool, i.e. navy pea coat, or something from cabelas, placed over sweatshirt or two, or sweater and flannel. also, the leather jacket over something has appeal.

    as to ballistic gel “theory”, science in the lab is not as informative (impressive?) as science demonstrated in common environments. i don’t expect to be shooting through engine blocks or car doors, but where those events are shown on video, i can get the “light bulb” to turn on with a, “hhhmmm, reckon it would penetrate dry wall if i miss my target” sorta thing.

    as a former air force pilot, i can grasp the science behind induced drat, coefficient of lift and L over Dmax. but it was made patently clear when i attempted my first 3G turn and saw the airspeed decay at an alarming rate, along with loss of altitude at a most inauspicious moment.

    thanks for everything you do, and for taking time to continue this string.


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Gotcha. Well, I’ll try to think of ways that can make the demonstrations more clear and approachable. Everybody loves blowing up pumpkins or other such stuff because of the wonderful visuals, and I’d like the audience to receive as much value and knowledge from the tests and articles as I can deliver. I just want to make sure that I don’t show anything that is misleading, as I fear a meat shot would be. That’s one reason I like using ballistic gel, because the damage it leaves is pretty much exactly the same damage that would be observed in a body hit by that same bullet, but I understand that it doesn’t have quite the same “sex appeal” as when someone shoots a thawed turkey or ham…

      Unfortunately there’s always more ideas than there is time to implement them; I have an outline for an idea that will hopefully really get people to understand “kinetic energy” and how much importance they should attach to it, which uses some rather interesting (or, hopefully, at least entertaining!) examples that really put things in perspective. Just gotta find time to get to it…

      Thanks for your readership and support!

  8. rw walden

    like your ideas. will be very interested. do you blast an announcement to your audience so we know when to look to youtube?

    let me know what i can do to help.

    wasn’t “blowing up pumpkins” a rock band once upon a time????


    1. Shooting The Bull

      I think the band in question is “Smashing Pumpkins”.

      For notifications on when a new video is posted, the best thing to do is “subscribe” on the YouTube channel (or, alternately, on Google+, but obviously YouTube subscribing is more likely to be effective).

  9. rw walden



    tried to subscribe; google wants too much, and is the only way to subscribe since purchasing youtube.

    btw, tried to pm your email, but yahoo, hotmail, lycos do not recognize the gmail fractioning of addresses. have one successful gmail pen pal, but only one dot (.) in the address prior to @.

    hope this year is off to a good start !!

  10. NotoriousAPP

    I’ve watched some of your recent videos via http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com, I really like what you’re doing. I get so tired of people making decisions and statements about firearms (or anything for that matter) which are not based on data or reality.

    I’m an engineer and one of the tools I use in my job is applied statistics: I specialize in data collection, organization, analysis using statistical techniques, interpretation and presentation of data. I noticed in Part 1 of the Judge video you stated that the difference between the bullet speed between the XDS and Judge were, “practically statistically a tie”. Yikes!!! Did you perform statistics on the results of the bullet speed? If so, can you present the data?

    I’m not here to flame you, I think you present the information better than almost everyone on the internet today. I’m offering to help, if you would like me to perform statistics on your testing results just get with me before you run the test so I can understand what you’re doing to make sure that you’ll collect enough data. I can also advise you on how to setup the experiment such that it is a proper statistical experiment. If you add this element to your testing I think it would go a long way with your “brand” and reputation.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi NotoriousAPP,

      No, you’re right, I shouldn’t have used the word “statistically” because there weren’t enough data samples to truly compile representative and meaningful statistics. I should have left it at “they’re within about 3% of each other” without invoking the word statistics. Sorry ’bout that!

  11. rwwalden


    just saw the 115 corbon 9mm test video. your technique/methodology was previously the best on the net, and provided what is probably the closest results to RW. changing methods to catch-up the backlog is customer friendly, but degrades the testing standard you already set. my input is, take your time with the tests; we will wait for the full range of candidates. the HST round (and the CORBON) give us good rounds for the interim, and there should be no rush to get a bunch more brands on video. if voting is allowed, count me in the slow, but relentless camp endorsing your methods for the 380 quest.


    1. Shooting The Bull

      I do agree that the more methodical standard and 10 rounds per test is a higher standard. I still think 5 shots is better than one, but I would prefer to do 10 shots whenever possible and will try to adhere to that as best I can.

  12. rw walden

    random thought (question, actually) floating by, and i captured it.

    what’s up with all the forum/blog claims regarding “energy dump”? if the blunt end of a baseball bat impacts a human chest at 300fp, will the reaction not be different from a 124gr 9mm (or larger , or smaller) bullet impacting with 300fp? seems to me the “energy dump” of the bat will likely dump the recepient, where the bullet will penetrate, but not dump the receiver. i can understand the thought that a big bullet (.454, or .500) will blast a person off their feet, and back several feet, but that would mean the shooter would experience the same – in the opposite direction. is there anything useful about knowing the amount of enegry dump (probably should have restrected this entry to that last question)


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Ah, the “energy dump” or “energy transfer”… that’s one of the most misunderstood, and misleading, and annoying claims that happens in all of ballistics.

      Put simply, it seems like some people believe that “transferring energy” or “dumping energy in a target” is somehow equivalent to damaging or stopping the target. And, of course, it isn’t. A bullet wounds or stops a target by damaging them through stress — by cutting, ripping, crushing, or stretching tissue. “Dumping energy” doesn’t have anything to do with it. Energy is the ability to do work, but what counts is what work gets done.

      Simple example — a .32 ACP FMJ, and a .32 ACP hollowpoint, both have identical energy. Both will “dump all their energy in the target” — meaning, after the bullet leaves the muzzle, it will possess about 133 ft/lbs of energy, and both will come to a stop within the target’s body, so when they stop they will have zero ft/lbs of energy. Accordingly, both will have “dumped all their energy” in the target. They will have “transferred their energy.” But — one of them will have shredded some flesh superficially and penetrated poorly (the .32 HP), and the other will have penetrated deep enough to actually potentially disrupt the vital organs (the FMJ). So which is the more effective bullet? Unquestionably the FMJ in this case. Yet both “transferred all their energy”.

      Another example — a .45 ACP Critical Defense hollowpoint bullet weighing 185 grains, fired from a 3″ barrel, possesses about 333 ft/lbs of energy, penetrates 12″, expands to gigantic size, and is an excellent manstopper. It will come to rest entirely within the body, thus “transferring all its energy”. In comparison, a CCI pest-control shotshell in .45 ACP carries 120 grains of #9 shot at 1100 feet per second, for a total payload of 322.34 ft/lbs of energy. Basically identical energy, right? But #9 shot is designed to be used against pests, rats, squirrels, maybe pigeons. It is not a “manstopper” by any stretch of the imagination. If you were to shoot a person with a CCI #9 shotshell out of a .45 ACP pistol, it would indeed hit them, and it would indeed transfer 100% of its energy to them, but all it would do to them would be to cause a nasty, big, ugly flesh wound. There’s pretty much no stretch of the imagination anyone could take that would say that a .45 ACP CCI shotshell would be as effective in stopping a person as a .45 ACP Critical Defense bullet! Yet, in both cases, they “transfer” the same amount of “energy.”

      Energy doesn’t wound. Energy doesn’t damage. Cutting, ripping, tearing, crushing, smashing — those are the things that damage.

      Now, if you had a case of the identical same bullet, and one has more kinetic energy than the other, then it’s possible that the higher energy bullet could do more damage. Possible, but not guaranteed. Energy is the capacity to do work, but it depends on what work gets done! If all the energy goes to making the bullet expand bigger, such that there is very little energy left over to propel the bullet deeper, then no, that will not be a more effective manstopper, even though it has more energy.

      Think of energy like money in your wallet — technically, having more money should be better than having less money, right? But it really depends on what you spend it on. If you blow all your money gambling and lose it all, and I spend my money on basic supplies, then — does it matter that you had twice as much money as I did, to start? Who’s better off? The guy who spent his money wisely, that’s who.

      So it is with energy. You can totally waste your energy by making a fragmenting projectile that disintegrates and doesn’t penetrate any more than 4″, or by making a ratshot cartridge that sends lots and lots of ineffective tiny projectiles… or you can spend your energy wisely, by making a bullet that penetrates deeply, expands largely, and cuts and destroys a lot of tissue.

      So what’s with all the talk of “high energy transfer” and “maximum energy transfer”? It’s marketing. It plays well to the audience. Bigger numbers and more exciting claims make you think you’re getting something special. But in actual scientific terms, it’s not the energy that you have, it’s the WAY the energy is deployed, it’s the work that gets done, that determines a bullet’s effectiveness.

      Okay, last thing — you said ” i can understand the thought that a big bullet (.454, or .500) will blast a person off their feet, and back several feet”… and that’s a complete fallacy. No big bullet is going to move a person at all. All this stuff about people getting knocked over by a bullet, is straight out of Hollywood. It’s movie special effects, but it’s not reality. The Mythbusters tried to tackle this one; they showed that even a 12-gauge slug would move a human-sized target only an inch or two at most.

      1. Jim

        i can understand the thought that a big bullet (.454, or .500) will blast a person off their feet, and back several feet”… and that’s a complete fallacy. No big bullet is going to move a person at all. All this stuff about people getting knocked over by a bullet, is straight out of Hollywood. It’s movie special effects,”

        I watched enemy personnel hit by 50 BMG rounds from both M2 machine guns and Barrett sniper rifles those rounds dam well threw the bodies back, twisted then up and even single rounds have cut people in half I saw it many times.

  13. Kevin

    Hey STB. I love your videos. I look forward to when your videos are posted. Very professionally done and entertaining. Just wanted to drop a quick note.

  14. Dean

    Might ammunition designed to meet the FBI spec, that will penetrate a barriror and then get the bad guy, tend to over penetrate the ballistic gelatin that you use for your test. Where this might not be the case with personal defense ammo not designed for that purpose. Love the vids!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Dean,

      This may seem counterintuitive, but actually, the reverse is true — typically ammo performs much deeper through barriers than it does through the bare gel. Bare gelatin tends to result in the shortest penetration depths; gel covered in denim tends to produce deeper penetration, and bullets that first pass through plywood, auto glass, wallboard or car doors all tend to penetrate deeper than they would through bare gel.

      The reason is due to bullet deformation. On the bare gel, the bullet impacts the gel directly, and because there’s nothing interfering with it, it expands to its biggest size. So even though it has the most velocity at impact (because it hasn’t been slowed down by having to penetrate barriers), it still stops the soonest because it expands to such a larger size that there’s so much additional drag caused by that large size (like a parachute) that it slows the bullet down quickly.

      Whereas when going through denim, the bullets tend to expand to a smaller size. And that smaller size puts up less drag, and results in the bullets penetrating deeper, in general, than the bare bullets did.

      And when you get to hard barriers like plywood or auto glass, those can cause the bullets to deform somewhat, which means that they don’t expand nearly as large as the bare bullets. And, as such, they penetrate deeper or even much deeper.

      As a quick example, let’s use the Gold Dot 147 grain 9mm. According to le.atk.com, it penetrates like this:

      12.58″ in bare gel
      14.93″ through FBI “heavy clothing”
      19.43″ through car door steel
      15.63″ through wallboard
      16.13″ through plywood
      12.90″ through auto windshield safety glass.
      16.93″ through IWBA heavy denim.

      My conclusion here is that ammo that performs well on the FBI test, is also ideally suited for personal defense use. You can largely ignore the barriers because they don’t (typically) play a role in self defense usage; as long as it performs well through the bare and denim tests, that’s what we in the self defense community are primarily concerned with. If it also happens to perform well through the other barriers, that’s a bonus, but not something we need to be overly concerned about.

  15. MDdiddy

    I love your tests. My question would be why havent Federal Hydra-Shok 9mm been tested in 124 or 135 grain? They are such a popular round and perform out of a full size duty weapon but they need to be tested out of a 3″ barrel. So many people carry these that it would be really helpful to see them tested out of a shorter carry gun.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      No reason other than that I haven’t got any and haven’t gotten to them yet. I do have some Hi-Shoks, and lots of HSTs, but don’t have any Hydra-Shoks on hand. Once I get through all the other ammo that’s already been bought or donated, I’ll look at Hydra Shoks.

  16. DeeDee

    I have drank your Kool-Aid, it is epiphany laden. Thank You Sir.

    My question, revolves around a desire to find an answer that lays on the opposite side of your investigative inquiry. I introduce small weak hands to the pocket pistol world. If you don’t want to carry/conceal (on the physical person) because of styles of attire, a defensive firearm serves diminishing utility.
    The .380, small, light, etc., is specifically for conceal-ability purposes, not because it’s hand-held inertia is the most stable platform, nor because it’s comparable ballistics are cliché ridden vis-à-vis effectiveness. So, the question is, of all the .380 ammo out in the marketplace, which would you judge might be the least snappy, jumpy, pushy, flippy (et. al.) of those factory brands readily available.
    I used the phrase “… would you judge …” because I fully realize you are a clinician/technician who uses real comparable measurable and repeatable data as the standards to formulate your analysis. My answer, if held to your adopted standards really lies with the use of force gauges with peak readouts and high speed vids to simultaneously observe movements and motion distances while in something akin to a purpose designed Ramson. Understood. Since both of us are apparently light in those departments at present, I cede to your impressions and “better judgment” experiences to help me with this ‘guesstimation’.
    Keeping in mind, this is not intended to be the defensive carry round, just the introductory target ammo for total ‘newbies’. Also, that all the often described procedures for attaining proficiency and confidence in the chosen carry round (XTP, thank you again) will be employed. This is all about incremental introduction to specifically small weak hands and wrists. .22lr is/were the starting point(s).
    To reduce the info void, the present procedures start with the G 42, then go to the S & W BG, then to the TCP which is my (and their, though for some different reasons) most desirable of the field in the DA only mousers, when considering weight and size immediately behind function(ality) as the effective requirement.

    Thank You for Your Service,

    P.S.: (IMHO): You should be given a ‘blind’ industry grant to pursue your investigative approach to the fullest of your imagination. Ammo functionality really should be tailored to the specific firearm (barrel length). Great call. With a ‘voluntary’ “Bull” standard printed on the box, ie. Bull A1 = 4″ barrel & Bull A3 = 3 1/2″ barrel. Yo, Bulldude, start the Standard(s), “… if you build it, it will come …”.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi DeeDee,

      Recoil is a really tricky thing to scientifically expound upon, because there’s observable calculatable “free recoil”, but there’s a subjective feeling known as “felt recoil”. And it isn’t related to the ammo so much as it is to the ammo from a particular gun. There are some simple observations we can make, such that Underwood XTP ammo (at 913 fps) is going to have more felt recoil than HPR XTP ammo (same bullet, but at only 790 fps). Obviously the equal-and-opposite-reaction is going to apply, and the Underwood is exploding with more force, so you’re going to feel more.

      But the weight of the gun makes such a big difference. Example — I have a couple of Taurus Judges, the little 2-lb Public Defender and the gigantic 5-lb Raging Judge. Using the same ammo in each, the difference in recoil is simply astronomical — rounds that make the Public Defender want to leap out of my hand, have absolutely minimal recoil in the Raging Judge. And polymer guns of equal weight to steel guns may reduce felt recoil a little, because the polymer frame itself can “give” and absorb some of the impact.

      Recoil is felt hardest when it’s experienced in a shorter period of time. The more time it takes for the shock to play out in your hand, the less you’ll feel it. That’s why many people refer to the .40 S&W as a “snappier” round with “more recoil”, as compared to the .45 ACP, even though the .40 has a lighter weight bullet and perhaps even less total kinetic energy. The .40 is a high-pressure round and it exerts all its force faster, where the .45 ACP is typically a lower-pressure and slower-moving round, so its energy burst happens a little slower.

      All of which is to say — it’s really difficult to put a scientific number on, or scientifically evaluate, “felt recoil”.

      What I can say is this — if you want the lightest recoil for any given round, use the heaviest gun. A Sig P238, for example, is an all-steel gun that weighs over 15 ounces. The Taurus TCP is a polymer gun that weighs about 10 ounces. Even though both are shooting .380 rounds, even the same round, the Sig is a much softer shooter than the Taurus. But that’s not all there is to it, because in my experience with the Ruger LCP (which is equivalent size and weight to the TCP) I found the Ruger to be “jumpier” in my hands than the TCP was. It was easier to shoot straighter and faster with the TCP, than with the Ruger. Shape of gun, grip, bore axis, weight, they all play into the equation.

      Back to back, the Glock 42 gave off substantially lower recoil than the TCP. If you’re dealing with someone who has small weak hands, my overwhelming recommendation would be to run to the store and look at the Glock 42 and the Sig P238. Besides being softer shooters than the others, these two are so much easier to rack than just about any other pistol I’ve tried. My wife has difficulty racking the slide on most semi-autos, but she loves Glocks and Sigs, they’re so much easier to rack that it’s not even funny. It really was a night-and-day difference.

      And yeah, let’s work on getting that blind industry grant, that would be awesome. This is an expen$ive hobby! :)

  17. rw walden

    OK, anyone got ideas on how/who would be the starting point to get a “blind” industry grant? anyone ever written a grant request?

    cheers, ya’ll

  18. Blaine

    I have been hooked on your videos for the past few months, and watch it when there is an update. I have to appreciate the comprehensive reviews you conduct. I have looked through your videos and do not see one for Winchester PDX1 9mm in a short barreled pistol. I currently carry their 124+P in my Shield, and am hoping to see a review of that round, or a similar round, soon. Based on your review, I will probably switch to the HST 124s soon.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      PDX1 reviews are coming (sooner or later!) I have both the 124 and 147-grain versions sitting in my ammo box right now, just waiting their turn. So, stay tuned!

  19. John F

    Hi I came across your videos on you tube and absolutely love them. I have a question though I am fairly new to guns. I own a glock19 gen4 and a smith wesson shield! I do have a ccw permit! Should i use hst tactical 147grain or 124 grain hst tactical?? both your videos on them looked great I have both I want something that does not have a bad recoil and kick. Thank you so much if you respond and keep doing the great videos you are very good. Thanks

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi John,

      Frankly, the two rounds you’re debating between were both spectacular performers. You wouldn’t go wrong with either; both should perform very well from both pistols.

      At this moment I’m still in the process of testing 9mm HSTs, I’ve done the standard-pressure 124 and 147, but I still have to test the +P versions of both. So it’s possible that one of the +P rounds would be even better-performing than the existing ones. We’ll have to wait until the testing is complete to know.

      If you’re wanting to keep the recoil down, you may want to go with the 124-grain version, and you would probably definitely want to avoid the +P versions for now. And remember, your ammo is only a small part of the overall picture of being effective with a handgun; where you place the shot, and how much control you have, are both more important than what bullet you use. That said, you always want to use ammo that will perform well. Great ammo won’t make up for lousy shot placement, but lousy ammo can ruin great shot placement. Great shot placement + great ammo = the best odds of successfully defending yourself against an attack.

      My simple advice would be to grab some of the 124gr HSTs and not worry about ammo anymore, you’ll have some excellent stuff, and you should then focus your energies on becoming comfortable with your pistols and practice with them to the point where they’re intuitive and second-nature. Welcome to the world of armed self defense!

  20. John S.

    I’ve found your denim/gel tests to be very informative; and recently came across your blog with summary information regarding .380 testing. Great job. I’m very interested in the new Remington Compact Handgun rounds – particularly in .380 ACP. I see that they are now available. Would you be interested in conducting denim/ordnance gel testing on these if I purchase some and send them to you?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi John,

      That Remington bullet looks exactly like the Golden Saber that I already tested in different loadings from Remington and Underwood. It also carries the exact same weight (102 grains). I don’t know anything else about it; is there any reason for optimism that there’s something different about it, versus the Golden Saber? Have Remington said anything along the lines of it being reformulated for today’s smaller pistols, or anything like that?

      If there’s something new about it, I’d love to test it. If it’s the same old ammo in a new box, then I don’t see why it would give results any different than what I already got from my prior tests, here:

      So, yeah, if it’s different, I’d be glad to test it.

  21. John S.

    Yes, I too am wondering if Remington is simply re-branding their Golden Sabre round, or otherwise hurriedly making minor revisions to it; but I am cautiously optimistic that the Compact Handgun ammo is indeed carefully engineered to expand at lower velocities than the GS version. The right formula of powder type, lead composition, jacket design and even primer selection can make a significant difference in (A) optimizing bullet acceleration through a short barrel, and (B) optimizing the ability of the projectile to expand at low velocities (with softer lead, more forgiving jacket, etc.). A potential, inherent advantage of the heavier-for-caliber bullet (102 gr.) is that a heavier bullet has longer dwell-time in the barrel, allowing it to absorb more “push” from the expanding gasses behind it (or so says another major ammo manufacturer). Case in point is the Speer GD “Short Barrel” line of ammo, which uses heavy-for caliber- bullets with great success (I am a big fan of this line; unfortunately they don’t have a Short Barrel version of .380 ACP – yet). Of course, bullet weight has to be balanced against the need for adequate velocity for expansion.
    Here is Remington’s description of the new line:
    Designed with the concealed carry permit holder in mind to deliver big gun terminal performance out of shorter barreled pistols and revolvers. This round has been engineered to provide optimal penetration and expansion through even heavy clothing at lower velocities for maximum stopping power. It’s all of our premium features now finely tuned for your most important handgun.”
    Here is a comment form another site/blog? “The Shooting Wire” which includes some a summary of test data from the 9MM version:
    “The Ultimate Defense Compact Handgun will have a somewhat familiar brass jacketed hollow point. The new bullet has spiral nose cuts and a “hex-punch” hollow-point cavity in the soft lead core. Low flash propellants are used and the case mouth and primer are water-proofed.
    Will the round perform? The 9mm Ultimate Defense Compact Handgun load was fired in a ballistics demo from a ca. 3 1/4″ barrel compact pistol into calibrated ballistic gelatin and “heavy denim.” The bullets expanded nicely and gave 15″ of penetration. The velocity reading was 1072 feet-per-second. Note this load is not Plus-P.”
    If the data above are correct, then it would seem to me that Remington IS doing a good job of optimizing velocity and expansion from short barrels.
    I will obtain a box of the new .380 line to send to you for testing.

  22. John S.

    To add to my post of earlier today…I’ve come across a website with photos comparing the Remington GS .390 round with that of their new Compact Handgun line. The jacket of of the new round is described as being more “like the HST” bullet whereby there is less lead near the edge of the hollow point. Maybe this will lead to more reliable expansion. Here is the site with the photos and commentary:


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Nice find! I am officially very interested now. If they’ve actually redesigned it to perform better with compact handguns (which it looks like they may indeed have done) then that does definitely warrant a new test.

      I was at AmmoToGo.com yesterday picking up some new ammo to test; unfortunately they didn’t have any of these new Remingtons, but I’ll be on the lookout for them.

  23. John S.

    I have 2 boxes (20 ct.) on order from Midway USA, and expect to receive them next week. If you’re going to conduct a denim/10% ordnance gel test, I will send you some. Just let me know how to go about it.

  24. Keaton Hamilton

    Hi, I have a question for you and I know this would require a lot of time and money( I would donate if I could.( I’m broke for the next 2 weeks at least) By quick calculations and allowing a margin of error of 5%-10% shows that when “Precision One” shot out of a G42 and into layer of denim and ballistic gel that it would under penetrate 2 out of 5 and 1 clog and over penetrate leaving 2rounds at an average of 12.58 inches and I was wondering if it could be tested. If this is true could it mean the fiocchi extrema is a better choice. So if possible can you do both of these rounds with the G42 into heavy denim layered ballistic gel and show us the results please?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Keaton,

      I can’t test that because I don’t have access to a G42 anymore. However, I am not sure I can agree with your basic premise, because bullets typically penetrate deeper when they’ve first encountered denim. In all my testing with .380 XTP rounds, penetration through denim was usually at least the same, and frequently deeper, than penetration through bare gel. There were a few odd exceptions, like with the Hornady Custom, but in general denim penetration was as good or better.

      Why do you think they would underpenetrate through denim on the G42?

      (and, for the record, I do think the Fiocchi Extrema would be an excellent choice as well).

  25. Keaton Hamilton

    I looked each test and calculated each one and usually on the denim I agree but for some reason I don’t know if it’s the propellant or what but my calculations ended up different only for this round out of that gun the ones that under penetrated had really good expansion I will admit though that it still did better than what I thought it would but it was like instead of clogging they opened up too soon which I’ve never seen before like that really

  26. George Ernul

    GREAT .380 test! Thanks ! I live in the SE and carry in my pocket a Ruger 380 LCP, ALWAYS. I just loaded it with G2’s 380 RIP bullets and believe it to be the best for a defense bullet after reviewing all the testing and videos. I don’t plan on a shoot-out and figure the gun’s use will be at a couple feet out to perhaps 10 (I hope). Anything past ten means my situational awareness failed. Do you plan on testing this round…soon?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi George,

      I haven’t tested the R.I.P. in .380, but from the results of my testing it in 9mm, I am not optimistic. In 9mm it wasn’t a bad round, it did still retain the ability to cause a potentially incapacitating hit, but I found it to be grossly overmarketed and an underperformer when compared to a conventional bullet.

      In .380, I’d be concerned that the “trocars” would be taking away the already limited potential that the .380 has to penetrate deeply enough. But that’s speculation, I couldn’t say for sure until actually testing it. I don’t have any plans at this time to test it.

  27. George Ernul

    G2 shows 9-11″ penetration, the ‘minimum standard’ so it still looks good-to-go. The Glaser tests didn’t show as good penetration but from field reports from RVN, any type bullet fragmentation was nasty and effective up close with illegal ‘stared ammo or buckshot. Shooting/practicing the use of your personal carry gun at over ten feet is good for fun but self defense will find you shooting at 1-10 foot. I understand some live tests on enemy POWs was done in the Philippines way back when they could get away with it and the results were not as predictable as thought. Live sheep and pigs would do these days and the Army routinely conducts live animal test for chemical warfare so I imagine bullet tests are also don but for PC reasons, classified.

  28. Craig

    I enjoyed your video Federal .410 OOO vs 4 buck. Have you ever completed a test using Hornady 410 Critical Defense 2 1/2 shells? These have a hollow point bullet followed by 2 balls. Or have you tried Leigh Defense multiple projectile 45.

    I have a Circuit Judge and was wondering if you have any plans on doing pattern and ballistics test with this gun. I used to load mine with 3″ Winchester PDX1, but my last trip to the range I was able to do some pattern testing and did not like the results with just the thread protector. I also shot some of the Hornady and was very pleased with the pattern, but cannot test penetration. I would love to see a penetration test using Hornady, OOO Federal, Winchester PDX1, Leigh Defense multiple projectile, and Leigh Defense maximum expansion. I am concerned about over penetration with the longer barrel.


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Craing,

      I’ve done a ton of patterning with the Circuit Judge, and posted a couple of ballistic tests from it. Unquestionably, without a doubt, you *have* to use the straight-thread rifled choke to get good patterns from any birdshot or small-buckshot load (so PDX1, or 4 buck, etc). With the straight-thread choke installed, it performs reasonably like a smoothbore shotgun. With just the smooth thread protector in place, it sprays wildly wide patterns.

      I haven’t done ballistic testing on PDX1 or 000 buck. I did use the Lehigh Maximum Expansion, and it performed pretty much identically to the Raging Judge. Lehigh Multiple Projectile is not a great load from the Circuit Judge because it stays very much in a single column — in my testing it didn’t really separate out and create multiple wound paths; in fact if I remember correctly from the CJ I got two wound paths, one for the lead bullet and the other was the four smaller projectiles all following each other. Then again, that may have been from a Raging Judge; I do remember getting wider spread from the shorter barrel Public Defender for sure.

  29. Brian

    I wanted to firstly thank you for this test battery you are doing. It’s so refreshing to see actual data and actual repeatable testing as compared with surfing the web and begging gun stores to give you advice, rather than just try to sell their products. I don’t own a 380 or 9mm as of today, so I’m looking forward to your 40 S&W series. I’ll send you some ammo if you get to that caliber (Federal Hyrdroshok is my go-to round, but I also have some Gold Dot I am unsure of).

    Anyway, from an engineer who’s known to be a bit picky about details, I truly appreciate the effort and clarity you’re putting into these. Keep ’em coming.

  30. Jimmy

    I was recently looking at ammo, more specifically .45 acp pow’r ball ammo. I was wondering if this ammo was worth it considering the price tag or should I just stay with my +p ammo for personal protection rounds?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      I haven’t tested Pow’r Ball specifically. My understanding of it is that it is designed primarily to ease feeding concerns for guns that will properly feed round-nose FMJ’s, but have trouble feeding bullets with the truncated nose profile of a conventional hollowpoint. For cases like that, the Pow’r Ball provides a polymer insert that gives the bullet the same feeding profile as a round-nose, while the ball itself is used to help trigger expansion of the soft lead core. It was introduced to the market about 13 years ago.

      Reliability is the #1 most important concern for handgun ammo; reliable feeding and firing and extracting are all vital tasks that have to happen. So if your gun won’t properly handle conventional hollowpoints, by all means give the Pow’r Ball a good look. But if your gun does reliably feed hollowpoints (and I believe all modern handguns should) then I think there are probably better choices on the market. This review from The Gun Zone doesn’t really seem to show superior terminal performance from the .45 Pow’r Ball: http://www.thegunzone.com/powrball.html

      (of course, that’s just one review, other reviewers may come to opposite conclusions)

      I have yet to conduct my Ammo Quest on short-barrel .45 ACP pistols, but I can say that based on my testing in other calibers, I would be optimistic about the type of performance that you would likely encounter from the CorBon DPX, rather than the Pow’r Ball, or the Federal HST. Sooner or later (probably later) I’ll do proper testing on the short-barrel .45, but as of right now I have HST loaded in mine.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Liberty does actually attain those velocity levels; I observed 1900 fps out of a 3″ barrel and 2300 fps out of a 6″ barrel.

      As to whether that translates into improved terminal performance or “stopping power”, that’s a different question entirely. In general, fragmenting handgun rounds are the domain of specialty ammo makers, and have never been accepted or adopted by the mainstream. For example, you won’t find a fragmenting or frangible round offered for self defense or duty use by any of the major ammo makers (Federal, Hornady, Speer, Remington, Winchester etc). Frangibles and/or fragmenting rounds have been around for at least 40 years now, yet they are offered (and aggressively marketed) by smaller niche companies (DRT, Extreme Shock, Quik Shok, Liberty, G2 RIP, HPR Black Ops, etc). And some of those (like Quik Shok and Extreme Shock) have already gone out of business; in fact Extreme Shock issued an apology to their customers, and blamed their marketing company for (and I quote) “marketing that described Extreme Shock ammunition into magical performance levels that defied both basic ballistic knowledge and the laws of physics.”

      I’ve tested Liberty, and found it to be exactly what I expected. I am trying to figure out how to do a comprehensive exotic ammo test to determine just what these types of rounds can do, and what they don’t do, what’s marketing and what’s reality. Still working on that.

  31. alan laprath

    what is the difference between the [ non plus p] 124 grain FEDERAL “tactical” and the 124 grain “personal defense” round.? the box that shows the bullet marked “tactical” has 50 rounds in it and is the same price as the box of “personal defense” with 20 rounds in it. I have tried to find the difference, but no luck.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      I don’t think there is any difference. The 50-round box is sold to law enforcement distributors, the 20-round box is sold to regular stores, but I believe the contents are exactly the same.

  32. ron

    Really enjoyed the AmmoQuest series for 380 and 9mm. How about a series for the 38 Spl in snubbies? Thanks for the great videos!

  33. RG

    Just curious, have you tested the 147 gr Golden Saber during your 9mm test? It’s on the list of best choice for self defense ammo, but I was wondering how it would perform in your test, being shot from a shorter barrel gun. Thanks for your videos. I haven’t found a more complete series of testing on the internet.

  34. Brett

    I found some information that you may find useful for your tests. It’s the EXACT type of barriers (make/model/part number/vendor) that the FBI uses when conducting their ballistic tests. This was taken from the FBI’s 9mm Luger ammunition solicitation in 2013 (RFP-OSCU-DSU1301):

    1 ) T-shirt Material
    Sew Classic Knits, white solid interlock, Item Number 8043382
    Available from http://www.joann.com.

    2) Dress Shirt Material
    Symphony Broad Cloth, Item Number 636373
    Available from http://www.joann.com
    SF30 Continuation Page 3 of 4

    3) Polartec Insulation
    Polartec Classic 200, Item number 7614-9017
    Available from Mill Direct Textiles
    15 Union Street, Lawrence, MA 01840

    4) Denim
    14 oz, Bull Denim Navy, Item Number 40276
    Available from Interior Mall
    1004 22nd Street, Barling, AZ 72923, PH: (479) 434-6780

    5) Gypsum Board 1/2 inch Gypsum Panel, “SHEETROCK” Brand, Item Number 14301211708 Available from The Home Depot.

    6) Plywood
    23/32 inch Sanded Pine Plywood, Item Number 166057
    Available from The Home Depot.

    7) Sheet Metal
    20 ga Galvanized Plate
    Available from Dominion Steel Inc.
    4920 Quantity Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408; PH: (540) 898-1249

    8) Automobile Windshield
    1/4 inch AS.1 Auto Glass
    Available from Glass Distributors Inc.
    3800 Kenilworth Avenue, Bladensburg, MD 20710; PH: (301) 779-2430

    Source: https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=c0eee1966af6b1297f5a4d9465444131

  35. Craig

    I really enjoy and learn a lot from you videos, especially the ammo quests. I am a quadriplegic and have limited use of my hands. I cannot use a semi automatic handgun. I can work a revolver. I am currently saving up to get a Taurus 905 9mm revolver. I wanted something light, but with enough power to be effective. Plus with my limited function the moon clips will make reloading much easier and more efficient. I have been watching the 9mm ammo quest to see what ammo would work best and then when I have purchased my firearm do some of my own testing.

    Do you have any plans or is it possible for you to run some tests on this particular firearm? Is it possible that you could compare and test the Taurus 905 against the Ruger LCR 9mm? So you think there would be much difference between the 3″ barrel in your test compared to the 2″ Tauars or 1.875″ Ruger?


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Actually, the 9mm Ammo Quest from the 3″ barrel will show you almost exactly the same performance as you’d see from the Taurus 905 or Ruger LCR. The nominal barrel measurements are different (2″ vs. 3″) but that’s a technicality, in actual fact they’re almost identical. See, in revolvers, they measure the barrel excluding the chamber (the cylinder), but in a semi-auto they measure the barrel including the chamber. And the chamber is about 1″ long in a 9mm. As such, the total distance that the bullet travels, and the total amount of space for the gases to expand and push on the bullet, are almost identical between a 2″ 9mm revolver, and a 3″ 9mm semi-auto.

  36. Jose

    Is there a way that you can try the Grizzly 70 grain xtp hp ammo .380 acp in testing through the ballistic gel , and also using 4 layers of denim , too ?

  37. Chuck

    So I like your review of the .380 Ammo Quest in conjunction with the Glock 42 ammo tests. I’ve decided the best option for my G42 is the hard to find Hornady XTP round. However, I couldn’t find a ‘final results’ page for the 9mm Ammo Quest. I have a G19 (4.01″ barrel) and from what I could gather it looks like that same XTP round is a great option. What is the BEST though, and am I far off?


  38. Scott

    I like your YouTube Clips.
    It helps a lot to choose ammo for me. Thank you so much.
    I’ve got a question.
    You mentioned FBI Specification of penetration for .380 and 9mm. for self defense ammos.
    What about others? .40, .38, 44, 45.. etc. Do other cartridges have the FBI Specification?
    And if they have, can you let me know the spec?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      The FBI specification isn’t limited by caliber. It’s based on the science presented at the 1987 Wound Ballistic Conference, wherein experts in combat surgery, forensic pathology, and other related sciences got together to determine what it is about a bullet that makes it potentially capable of stopping a human being. The determination, regardless of caliber, can be summed up as: a minimum of 12″ of penetration through soft tissue (and deeper is better, up to 18″) and after that, any additional energy should be spent on expanding the bullet to the largest size you can get.

      The FBI specs go further than the conference’s recommendations, because the FBI incorporates and tests for barrier penetration above and beyond general bullet performance. The FBI adds tests for heavy clothing, steel car doors, plywood, drywall, etc.

      The FBI doesn’t establish different standards for different calibers (although there is reference to a looser standard for backup/”get-off-me” guns, like the .380), but that has to be taken in context — the FBI doesn’t issue or recommend .380 (or smaller) pistols to its agents. The standards are set for primary duty weapons. The thinking is that if you’re reduced to using your backup gun, you may very well be in a close-combat hand-to-hand struggle, the kind of scenario where shoving the gun up the bad guy’s nostril or jamming it in his ear might be an option — and in those scenarios, you don’t require 12″ penetration depth to reach something vital.

      However, in my testing, I was presuming that a concealed-carry citizen would be using their pistol not as a back-up/”get off me” gun, but instead as their primary weapon. Therefore, I hold that the bullets have to perform to the same standards as established for primary weapons. Hence why I held the .380 and the pocket 9mm to the same depth and expansion standards.

  39. Kramer

    I greatly apprentice all the work your doing for the shooting and self defense community. More information is always good when considering what type of gun and what type of ammunition to use. I would like it if you could make a video comparing all the 9mm tests you’ve done like the video for the 380acp. Iv seen so many videos and reviews of different 9mm rounds that all seem to be the best in each video. It would be great to have all the rounds compared in the way the 380s were.

  40. mike t

    I see federal has released a .380 acp in the HST bullet. Any chance you will test this, or is the .380 complete?
    thanks for all you do for us

  41. Randy Winstead

    I really enjoy the straight forward videos of ammo tests and results.
    I recently discovered your site after slogging through tons of ammo test videos where the author was more concerned about his gun and shooting than the actual/measurable results of the tests.

    I appreciate your focus on effects of the 3″ barrel on ammo performance. I recently purchased a baby Glock to carry and have not seen many articles or videos that focus on this issue.

    I look forward to upcoming videos, thanks for putting some rigor into your content.

    R –

    1. Shooting The Bull

      An XTP is pretty much an XTP, unless there’s something very different about the powder charge each manufacturer is using. I tested the 124-grain XTP from Hornady, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7votVplXtZM

      The Hornady loading is rated at about 100 fps faster than the HPR load is; based on that difference (which was, admittedly, from a 4″ barrel) we could reasonably assume that we would get less expansion and even further penetration from the slower loading. Since the Hornady loading resulted in inconsistent expansion and mild over-penetration, having less expansion and further penetration would lead me to think that the HPR loading just wouldn’t be suitable for a 3″-barrel gun. Maybe okay for longer barrels, but my Ammo Quest testing has been centered on finding rounds that perform well from a 3″ barrel, and my experience is telling me that it would be a waste of time to go testing an even-slower XTP than the one I already tested.

  42. Craig Bradburn

    Any chance you can sum up all your 9mm ammo quest findings in an easy to read table?


  43. Lohn

    First of all, thank you for all your time and effort.
    I like the way you do the same thing twice to compare bullets, instead of saying, “No, this is the brand I use and you must use it or your dumb” kind of attitude.
    You helped me make a decision on the Mini Revolver 22lr for conceal carry. I was just about to quit looking, just couldn’t find or have what it takes to carry the bigger ones, and like you said which I liked and thought to be honest, it would not be your choice but would be better than nothing, and I was at the nothing point.
    Now regarding your video on the test from the Mini Revolver, I found it very helpful, as you know 22lr ammo is hard to come by, even today. The only two I could find were the American Eagle 38 gr hp and the Remington viper. The viper has the most accuracy from my gun. Have you done any research on the Viper or Yellow Jacket? If not, would you consider conducting some in the future?


    1. Shooting The Bull

      The American Eagle 38gr HP is a mediocre but okay performer. There’s better out there, but there are definitely worse out there too. I don’t have any Vipers so I can’t test those.

      1. Lohn

        Thank You
        Like I said there is not much choice out there if any, I will go with the Vipers for now, the American Eagles had quite few key holes.
        I will try some of the better ones you tested as supply permits.



    1. Shooting The Bull

      I don’t recommend any version of “380 +P”. It is a nonstandard caliber, and as such, nearly all pistol manufacturers recommend against or specifically prohibit its use. The only pistols I would consider using any .380+P in would be the Kahr or the Beretta Pico, since both those manufacturers warrant that those pistols are able to handle that nonstandard caliber.

      My philosophy has always been — if you can’t get adequate performance out of a particular pistol, then you need a different pistol, not nonstandard ammo. My test of the Precision One .380 ACP standard pressure in the Glock 42 showed quite good performance. If you need more than that, then I’d recommend getting a Glock 43 instead.

  45. francis cady

    I saw the report on the Lehigh Deep Penetrator. Underwood uses the same bullet but in a hotter standard load and a plus p load in 380. I am thinking the plus p might over penetrate but the hotter standard load might give us better penetration. What is your thought?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      The hotter load will almost certainly penetrate more, as Military Arms Channel found in their test. The question is — do you need or want more penetration? I found the Lehigh XP to be just about perfect; if you want more, you can get it from the Underwood, but I don’t know that that makes it a better overall choice.

  46. To Old To Run

    I just had a thought, that happens from time to time.
    Is there any need to refresh your carry ammo? I know ammo will last quite a long time sitting on the shelf, but that is in a stationary position and in a somewhat controlled environment.
    My main thought is with the rim fire ammo, but center fire ammo may be something to think about also, don’t know.
    I don’t think there is many, if any, pistol ammo that is loaded to case capacity. So I’m thinking that the powder is going to be moving around quite a bit, not so much on side carry, but more towards pocket carry. Will that cause any loss of integrity to the ammo over time? With the rim fire ammo, will that movement disintegrate the primer material that is used.
    Like I said , just a thought.

  47. Ricky

    Great job on the ammo quests! I love the series and really appreciate the time and effort you put into your tests and research. I was wondering if you ever thought of doing an ammo quest for the perfect 38 special carry round? I carry a 38 snubby on duty and off duty as a backup on my left boot. I know a TON of people that carry snubbies for primary and backup. I would love to hear your two cents on this.

    PS. If you ever decide to do a 38 quest, please shoot me an email and I will be more than happy to send you a few boxes of different brands/weights for you to test.

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Many people have asked for it; the only problem is, I don’t currently have a .38 snubby and don’t have any plans for getting one anytime soon, so … while I may do it someday, I can’t say that it’ll happen anytime soon…

  48. John

    Loved watching your 9mm Quest videos! I was wondering if your “Quest” is complete. If so, have you created a summary video or page with the “best” performers? if not, what ammo are you using for your 3″ Signal? Thank you!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Not nearly done yet. Man, I really gotta get on this, it’s taking forever… probably will have done 50 tests by the time I’m done. Right now, I am using either 124 HST or 147 Winchester Defend, depending on which magazine is currently in the firearm. I think either of them are superb performers, but I would be just as happy with CorBon DPX, or 124+P Short Barrel Gold Dots, or Critical Defense. I think that any of them are winners; I just think that the HST and Defend have a slight edge over the others.

  49. Allen

    The work you are doing is greatly appreciated and is better than anything else I’ve seen on the web.

    I did read your article on why you (generally) don’t advise using +P ammo, including your references to MagSafe. And I’ve ready your comments about some pre-fragmented bullets. But, I’ve looked for over an hour but cannot find a specific reference to the MagSafe .380 SWAT or MagSafe .380D Defender and I’m not sure your comments I have found actually were intended to include those rounds. Please set me straight.

  50. Andrew

    I would be very interested to see some ballistic comparisons between subsonic .300 blk and .45 acp. Based on numbers alone, they seem very close, but I am sure that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lehigh Maximum expansion and the Noveske HP blackout rounds seem like they would outdo the best of the .45s.

  51. dennis de ford

    I don’t know where you get the patience to keep repeating all the preliminary information (specs,etc.) before you get into the actual test. I’d be willing to front the money for a sign you could hold up for 30 seconds.

  52. Tom Nutt

    Great website, and great blog!

    I recently bought some Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator in .380 for my Ruger LCP, based on a video test on Military Arms Channel. Their tests seemed impressive, but didn’t actually compare the Lehigh round to anything else, such as JHP rounds. I’ve looked through your website, and read all of this forum, but didn’t see anything about specific tests.

    Am I missing the tests, and if not, do you plan to perform any? I’m referring to the solid copper, “scalloped” round, which Underwood also offers in a somewhat higher velocity version.

    Thanks for what you do.

  53. Craig Bradburn

    I just wanted to drop you a note letting you know you are in my thoughts an prayers. You stated in your last video there were medical issues that have prevented you from doing more videos. Hope all is goin well.


    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi Craig, thanks for the kind words! Yes, I’m pretty much back in action, you should see more videos coming soon.

      1. Bill Vaughan

        That’s great to hear! I’m probably one of the many who have been concerned about you and hoping/praying you’d come through your health issues and get back in action. I’ve been there and it isn’t fun.

        Thanks for all you do for us! You’re the only ammo test I trust!

  54. Brad

    Barry –

    Would you be interested in testing the Winchester Ranger-T series in 124gr+P?
    I could send you 10 of them for gel/denim tests.
    Let me know.

  55. Tim

    I wanted to tell you that I really appreciate the work you put into your tests. You’ve really helped me to make some good buying decisions whereas without your work I’d be reduced to “Hey that Rusty Scimitar ammo really has a cool sounding name!” buying decisions. I know that the vids are 15 minutes or so, but they represent hours of work on your part. I especially like that you keep things on point covering the science and facts with none of the stupidfying “Yeah boy, that dog won’t hunt!” So thank you!

    I did want to make one request. I just read with a lot interest your 380 ACP tests and understand that XTP bullets are the way to go. I wish you had also covered some of the smaller manufacturers though. For instance, Freedom Munitions has an XTP load that I would have really liked to see in your testing. I am certainly not deeply informed about the ammo marketplace, but I know that a lot of the “reman” producers out there also make products with new materials and not just recycled brass. Not knowing a great deal about all the suppliers out there, perhaps it would be unrealistic to track down these smaller outfits and try to incorporate them in your testing. It is something that I would be interested in learning about however, how smaller companies like Freedom stack up against the major producers.

    Thanks again!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Afraid I can’t help you out with that one; I don’t have any .32 H&R firearms and I already have an excessively full plate of things to test. Good luck though!

  56. Mark

    Thanks for all the time and effort that you’ve put in over the last few years. Very well done. I particularly appreciate the testing you’ve done with the 380 ammo and the short barreled 9mm ammo tests.

    As instructors, we’ve never recommended the 380 for the exact reasons that the majority of your tests reveal. However, your tests do show that there are a small handful of ammo choices that do allow the 380 to provide some level of reliable performance. Very well done.

    Any plans to put a summery of the 9mm tests on your web page? I’ve seen most of them on Youtube, but I’ve not been able to locate any of them on the website. I’ve personally found them to be very useful. Again, as instructors we promote the idea of having at least 2 handguns. One that’s a full size for comfortable use at the range, and one that’s smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to carry. Your tests apply very well to that 2nd option, and I’ve often been concerned about the performance of ammo out of these shorter barrels. Your testing has saved me a lot of time and $$ narrowing down my choices for carry ammo in our shields, Glock 26s, and DB9s. Also, any plans on doing the same thing with a 40? I have the same concerns regarding the G27 and 40cal Shield.

    Thanks again for all your work!

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Yes, there will be a summary of the 9mm quest when it’s done, which should be over the next few months. Glad to hear you’ve found the testing useful! I totally agree with your assessment; the .380 is marginal for a primary weapon, but with the proper ammo it can make a great lightweight backup pistol.

      As for the .40, I am undecided on that. I like the .40 a lot, but I don’t have any short-barrel .40’s to test from, and I’m already committed to doing a .38 Special followed by a .45 Auto Ammo Quest from short barrels. I may someday get to the .40 (I might like a G27 specifically for that purpose) but it’s too far away to say at this time.

  57. David Beatu

    Hello, your penetration and expansion tests may only be accounting for half of the factors that determine if a round is effective at stopping an attacker. If you put in the email address of Phd researcher from West Point Michael_Courtney@alum.mit.edu into google you will find many scientific papers
    that show he and others have done extensive research and referenced a lot of other research which shows that penetration and expansion are only half of what determines the time it takes to drop a shooting victim. The FBI conference you frequently reference may have missed some very important aspects of wound ballistics which contribute to the stopping power (time till the person who is shot is rendered immobile). You be the judge, but this science i’ve mentioned seems to indicate that expansion, penetration and pressure wave from a handgun bullet all contribute to determining to how fast an attacker will drop after being shot. If what i am saying is true, you could alter your effectiveness tests to include a measure of this new information. Your new measurements would likely need to include something to place each bullet on the curves seen in the journal article entitled: “Relative incapacitation contributions of pressure wave and wound channel in the Marshall and Sanow data set”. If you don’t lend any credence to Marshal and Sanow no worries (their famous book documenting the stopping power effectiveness of numerous rounds is entitled “stopping power” and is co-authored by Marshal and Sanow), Michael Courtney has tested the Marshal and Sanow data to see if it correlates with deer slayings. He claims that it does in his scientific journal article: “A method for testing handgun bullets in deer”. Weigh this for yourself. Michael references several other actual live animal tests documented in several other papers (for example a paper by Strousberg [this paper may be available for purchase online, but i did not look for it] documenting the slayings of goats which have been instrumented with pressure sensors in their brains show that the pressure in their cranial cavities spikes up to as high as 50 psi when they are shot in the shoulder) to show that penetration and permanent wound cavity are only half of the story when it comes to stopping an attacker. Let me know what you think. Your bullet testing videos are great and extremely thorough and sometimes hilarious with your commentary at the end where you are kissing bullet boxes and chanting perfect perfect perfect. Thanks for posting those. Feel free to email me in response. I am an engineer working for Siemens Energy in Orlando Florida. babygremlins@gmail.com

    1. Shooting The Bull

      Hi David,

      I’m well aware of Courtney (and Courtney) and their various work into “pressure waves” and “remote neural damage”. Generally, I find their work quite unconvincing. Especially in reference to the Strasbourg Goat Tests, of which there is no evidence that any such tests ever took place, and the tests were declared a fraud unanimously by the scientists who run the FBI Firearms unit. In general the established science that I follow simply does not support Courtney’s conclusions nor his evidence.

      Now, unlike some of the scientists who reject his positions, I’m not going to say he’s “wrong” or that all his observations are pointless or whatever. I’ll say it like this: if there is any sort of ballistic pressure wave damage or remote neural damage that helps a bullet stop a bad guy quicker, then hey, I’ll take it. I’m all for stopping bad guys as quickly as possible. But there is zero evidence to say that such factors are RELIABLE, or that they can be COUNTED ON. That just doesn’t exist. There are too many cases of guys being shot five, 10, even 15 times or more and still fighting back, to believe that there’s any mystical magical “remote neural damage” that causes them to drop like a sack of potatoes. Additionally, there are way too many people who’ve been shot in the leg or thigh or butt and show NO evidence of any remote neural damage whatsoever, to put much credence in the testing where they attempted to document such damage.

      Even Courtney himself says that this remote neural damage and ballistic pressure wave can’t be relied upon to stop someone. Even at the end of his most famous paper, he says that shot placement is still vital. A bullet through the heart or aorta or a major artery WILL, undoubtedly, unquestionably, absolutely and always, bring a man down – sooner or later. Internal bleeding that lowers the blood pressure below the level required to maintain consciousness will always stop an attacker in relatively short order. It is that process that I am an advocate of, and I find the concept of “pressure waves” or other such to be a dangerous distraction from what really matters. If Magtech rounds really did stop people with super stopping power (as advocated by the fictional Strasbourg Goat Tests), you’d expect every police force in the country to be using them, right? But they’ve been on the market for 40 years, and (as far as I know) there’s not a single police force that uses them as a primary duty round.

      I wish there was such a thing. I wish there was some bullet or device that would instantaneously stop an attacker, guaranteed, every time. But there just isn’t. So the way I look at Courtney’s work is like this: if your bullet does what the existing scientific consensus demands that it do (expand and travel 12+” through ballistic gel), then — it’s good to go. Once you have that, if you want to add fragmentation or frangible action or hyper velocity or whatever else to achieve the “ballistic pressure wave”, then hey, go for it, knock yourself out, make yourself happy, so long as doing so doesn’t compromise the primary mission of the bullet. That was my problem with the G2 RIP, for example — in order to add the extremely unimpressive “trocar” petals, they ended up compromising the core bullet down to something that is, in effect, about half of a .380 round. I don’t want my 9mm turned into a half of a .380, and I don’t think a few petals that penetrate about 4″ of gel (the same as a BB from a BB gun) are a desirable tradeoff for accepting that the core is now effectively half of a .380.

      A round like the PDX1 .223 is quite interesting however, as is the “Controlled Chaos” .223 from Lehigh Defense. That’s a deep-penetrating core bullet; in the case of the PDX1, it hit about 13″ if I remember, and it expanded quite big for a .223. On top of that, it delivers rifle-style fragmentation to create a 3.5″ to 4″ wide initial damage cavity. I think that seems like a great round and might be very effective in stopping someone.

  58. John Smith

    What about the new Ruger ARX ammo. I’m a little concerned about the bullet weight. Also, as you have repeatedly found matters a lot, what about performance in a short-barreled pistol? Just not sure I want to switch to the .45 in this ammo type (currently Hornady Critical Defense, since I haven’t found a 230grain I like better) or my daughter to the 9mm in her little pistol (currently Train & Defend D, per your recommendation). Pre-testing, any thoughts on the ARX?

    1. Shooting The Bull

      I tested the Polycase ARX, in 9mm and .380. It did decently, but I’m far from sold on using it in a caliber where there are already proven, solid designs (such as 9mm or .45).

  59. Al

    I’d like to see a test on the Winchester “White Box” 9mm, 147 gr. H.P. Another tester on YouTube did a short test on this load with VG results. I’d be willing to ship you a box of 50 or so if you’re so inclined.
    Thanks, Al

  60. Gary Powell


    Just wanted to say I like your videos and I hope your able to make some more videos soon. I looked forward to watching your videos. Keep up all the good work.


  61. Jeremy

    Federal just came out with a 150 grain HST specifically designed for micro pistols. I just ordered one box for my self but have not received them yet. Was maybe hoping to see a video on them soon? I use a S&W shield 9mm and a Springfield XD mod2 9mm. Love the videos and can’t wait to see the 150 grain 9mm HST test!

    heres a link

  62. Ed

    Have you ever tested 9mm hollow points shot from a 16 inch barrel carbine. Mine will not feed or cycle 147 HST but handles 124 HST fine. With the increased velocity out of the carbine barrel, will the 124 HST or any JHP retain it’s integrity by expanding and penetrating without shedding it’s petals from too much speed? Do you have any suggestions for 9mm carbine ammo. There is a growing market for 9mm carbines, but no ammo made for it. Kind of the opposite problem your 9mm Ammo Quest had with short barrels. I followed your advice on HST for my P290RS , will they work in this application or would a bonded bullet like the Gold Dot be better at that speed. Also, can over penetration be prevented. Your short barrel tests opened a lot of eyes. I have sent countless people to your videos when I heard they were using ammo that didn’t perform in the shout barrel pistol. Hope you can add some insight to this question.

  63. John S.

    A couple notes the effects of long barrels on terminal performance; as well as a note regarding bullet weights in short barrels: Yes, the 100-250 extra fps from a 16″ barrel will often cause bullets to break apart when encountering ballistics gel. The petals can break off or get bent excessively backward; or the bullet can literally break apart like a frangible round and fail to penetrate. The best of today’s bullets (HST, GD, etc.) are engineered to perform in specific velocity windows. I saw some testing done in an article a few years ago in one of the gun magazines (maybe Shooting Times or Shooting Illustrated) where they tested multiple rounds in 9mm, .40, and .45 ACP from a couple of 16″ carbines. As I recall some of the very light-for-caliber bullets came apart or lost their petals; whereby the heavier bullets stayed together better and some expanded tremendously. I think the bonded bullets (whereby the jacket is molecularly boded to the lead) and the all-copper bullets also performed better. Another observation – the heavier bullets gained less % velocity in the longer barrel than the lighter bullets; but also consider that (in short barrels, especially) the heavier bullets have slightly more “dwell time” in the barrel, so they take advantage of expanding gasses longer. This “dwell time” tends to allow them to lose a lower % of velocity/energy from short barrels because light bullets exit short barrels so fast they haven’t had time to experience as much pressure from the expanding gasses.

    1. John S.

      CORRECTION: In my post regarding performance of handgun rounds fired from carbine-length barrels, I stated that that heavier bullets gain a smaller percentage of velocity than light bullets – but what I meant to say was that they gain less ACTUAL velocity (not % gain).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>