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How Many Keyboards can a 12 ga Slug Shoot Through?

By Andrew Betts

As gun owners, we often get wrapped around the axle about how serious guns are. It is true that they are inherently dangerous tools and it is true that, with proper training, a firearm makes a formidable defensive weapon, but they are also ridiculously fun to shoot. As fun as it is to shoot paper, clay, and steel, sometimes it is a real hoot to shoot other things, too.

 

 

Who knew that there was sheet metal and thick wires inside a new style membrane keyboard? Who would have thought a keyboard could stop a slug so quickly? This sort of “test” doesn’t really teach us anything we didn’t already know, but it does remind us that shooting is supposed to be fun.

If you are blessed to have access to places like this to shoot, though, please bring along a few trash bags and always leave the site cleaner than you find it.

M855A1: Beyond the Hype And the Hate

M855A1 (one)

Many articles have been written about M855A1 since the US Army first announced plans to adopt a new “green” 5.56x45mm cartridge to replace M855. Often, those articles have been highly speculative or have referenced results from earlier versions of the M855A1 cartridge, before it was fielded widely. There has been a reflexive tendency to look poorly on the new cartridge because of its supposedly environmentally friendly design. It is popular to denigrate anything labeled “green” as being inferior to the original flavor, non-filter, leaded, trans fat version, but that is not always accurate. “Electric car” sounds like some sort of weak, hippie nonsense, but a Tesla Model S can do 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds. As the ammunition filters out into the public, and independent testers get hold of it, some remarkable results are coming to light.

This test used a chrome lined, 14.5”, 1:7” twist barrel to match the M4 barrel that this round will be fired through most commonly in combat. The most immediately apparent result is the almost complete absence of a neck. Typically, when a projectile enters tissue, it travels some distance before it begins to yaw, expand, or fragment. This leaves a relatively narrow wound channel visible in the gel before the upset begins and this narrow portion is referred to as the “neck”. M855 is notorious for having erratic performance in this regard, with the neck sometimes being somewhat reasonable (4”-5”) and sometimes being so long that the projectile is likely to exit a target before beginning to upset. This erratic performance is due to a variety of factors including muzzle velocity and in-flight projectile yaw, but the end result is that it can sometimes produce the ice pick wounds that we often hear of anecdotally. The extremely short neck exhibited by M855A1 in this test is very encouraging in that it seems to indicate M855A1 is more able to reliably produce incapacitating wounds than M855.

The question that remains is how M855A1 performs out of short barrels or at longer range. Does it continue to produce an extremely short neck at lower velocity?

The answer appears to be “yes”. It retains the practically nonexistent neck seen in the longer barrel test. This gives us a peek into what the performance could be at about 100 yards. It is important to remember that it is a sample size of one, so it is by no means conclusive. It does present a rough idea of what we could expect, though. As mentioned above, M855 can perform adequately at close range, but as distance increases and velocity decreases, fragmentation occurs deeper in the target, if at all. As velocity decreases beyond 2,700 fps or so, fragmentation may not occur at all. The fact that M855A1 was able to fragment almost instantly, even when fired from a short barrel is very encouraging.

M855A1 (two)

As good as the performance in tissue looks, it is irrelevant if the projectile cannot even make it to the tissue because of intervening obstacles. M855 was adopted in part for its ability to penetrate Warsaw Pact steel helmets at 800 meters. M193, which was replaced by M855 can penetrate level III steel body armor, when fired from a 20” barrel at 50 feet or less, due to its relatively high velocity. M855 typically cannot penetrate that same armor. M855A1 has an exposed steel penetrator that is pointier and about twice the weight of M855’s penetrator, so it looks as though it was designed with penetration in mind, but how does it actually perform?

The test does show that M855A1 can penetrate steel armor, but it isn’t quite that simple. The armor used in this test is not just level III, but an improved version the manufacturer refers to as level III+. The plate used in the test stopped M193 in a previous test so M855A1 is seen here penetrating a plate that neither M855 nor M193 could penetrate. This does not mean that this armor is inferior in any way, it simply means that M855A1 is significantly better at penetrating hard barriers than its predecessor.

M855A1 might be considered “green” because of its lead free design, but it appears to be a dramatic performance improvement over M855. Rather than compromise performance for the sake of environmentalism, as some critics have claimed, it seems very likely that the Army used the political desire for environmentally friendly ammunition to develop and field a more effective replacement for M855. Time will tell, but it appears that American soldiers finally have a better small arms cartridge.

What Does "DRT" Stand For?

DRT

According to the manufacturer, it stands for “Dynamic Research Technologies” but the acronym more popularly stands for “Dead Right There”. Of course, this is no accident, the makers obviously want people to make that connection, but testing indicates that perhaps “Don’t Rightly Trust” or “Didn’t Really Test” may be more accurate names for this snake oil. Like many other gimmick ammo makers, DRT seems to be either unaware of the currently accepted and FBI recommended 12” minimum penetration standard or they just arrogantly ignore it.

As with previous tests of DRT, this 10mm version of their fragmenting pistol ammunition performed exactly as advertised. Unfortunately, the penetration is far too shallow to reliably reach vital organs. Invariably, the response to this criticism is that an average chest is only 8”-10” thick and the heart is less than 6” deep, even in a very large person, so 7” of penetration should be more than enough to reach the heart. The problem is that if you shoot a person in the middle of the chest who is standing motionless with their arms at their sides, that’s called “murder”. It may surprise some people to find that bad guys actually prefer not to be shot and they tend to move and shoot back at you when presented with the option. In doing so, that puts their arms out in front of their torso and that means that a bullet is very likely to strike a limb before impacting the torso. The fact that both parties to a gun fight are likely to me moving, ducking, perhaps even kneeling or prone on the floor also means that bullets tend to hit the torso at odd angles. If a bullet has to traverse diagonally through 6” of arm before even reaching the torso and on top of that, strikes the torso at an oblique angle, 12” of penetration might not even be enough, but it usually is enough, which is why that is the minimum standard. DRT can make an ugly wound, but it should not be trusted for defense.

Will Level III Armor Stop High Velocity 5.45mm?

By Andrew Betts

7N6 is some of the warmest 5.45x39mm ammunition available in the US, and it has a steel jacket. What’s more, 53 gr 7N6 is narrower and therefore has a higher sectional density than 5.56x45mm 55 gr M193, which we have already seen can easily defeat level III AR500 armor. Level III is not rated to stop 5.45x39mm, either so this was a difficult one to call.

At first glance, these results seem to be pretty definitive. The plate did stop the round. End of story, right? Maybe not. The impact velocity was 3,167 fps, which was just below the 3,248 fps that compromised an uncoated plate in an earlier test of .223 45 gr varmint ammo. That velocity difference is close enough that one shot cannot really be conclusive. Without at least a five shot average to determine extreme spread for the velocity of that load, we cannot know if the round that hit the plate was at the high or low end of the normal velocity range. Commie ammo has been known to have somewhat inconsistent velocity at times.

While the coating on the plate is not intended to provide any extra ballistic protection, with the velocity so close to the failure point of this plate, it is possible that the coating slowed and/or yawed the bullet just enough. It is also possible that the impact occurred right at or near the V50 of the plate for that round. That is the point at which 50% of the rounds will make it through and 50% will be stopped. It could simply be that this test represents a “lucky” shot.

We hadn’t noticed how close that velocity was to the previous failure point until we got home or we would have fired more rounds at the time. Rest assured, we will repeat the test when we have the opportunity. In the interim, it is interesting to know that this type of armor at least has the potential to protect against threats which substantially exceed its rating.

8mm Mauser vs AR500 Level III Steel Armor

By Andrew Betts

If you haven’t read our previous articles on AR500 armor, please go back and take a look at them. There is some ground work laid in those articles that will help to put this test in better perspective. This article analyzes our test results for Turkish 7.92x57mm vs. AR500Armor.com’s Level III plate. Let’s start with the test video:

Read more8mm Mauser vs AR500 Level III Steel Armor