Tuesday, April 10, 2012

.45 vs Kevlar Vest.

Cousin Wallace tests the vest.

Well, I've been entertaining/educating myself again at the range. Last Saturday I went to test some 6.5X55mm Swede loads and carried a couple of handguns to "plink" with after running the test loads over the chrono. After I finished testing the M96 Swede I grabbed the handguns for some fun.

I have an old discarded kevlar panel from long expired body armor that stays at my range. Body armor isnt warranted after 5 years so isnt approved/guaranteed for duty use after the expiration date. Somehow I ended up with this panel about 3 or 4 years ago & it has laid out in the sun/weather ever since. Over the yeras I have shot the panel with various calibres and bullet types, mostly handgun. Most 9X19mm, .357 Mag/Sig, .30 Carbine, etc will penetrate about half the layers and stop. The bullets typically will be mushroomed and display a cross-hatch pattern where the fibres of the Kevlar resisted the relative soft projectile.

Since I had my beloved S&W M1911 with me and some 230gr Hardball rounds, I hung up the old vest panel on the fibreboard target backer and backed up about 5 yds before shooting a spot that hadnt been damaged on the panel. Mucho to my surprise, the big & heavy bullet bounced off!!! It didnt even penetrate a single layer of the old expired body armor. This was with a plinking load that Clocked just over 760 fps from my 5" barrel....about what you would get from one of the short/chopped .45 carry pistols popular today. The bullet was very slightly mushroomed as you can see in the attached photo. Thinking this just couldnt happen with a full power 230 hardball load, I again put the vest against the target backboard and shot it again, this time with a full power 230gr Hardball at about 850 fps. Same result...just mushroomed the bullet a bit more. Not even a single layer penetrated.

Now, I still love the old .45 and it will guarantee a .45 calibre "leaking hole" in somebody....if they arent wearing armor. I do have to say I was disappointed in it's lack of penetrating ability though. It knocked the crud out of the panel and caused a dent about an inch in dia & half-inch deep in the fibreboard that was behind the panel. It would have hurt & bruised a person pretty bad even though there was not a single layer pierced. With that being said, I believe the heavy .45 bullets will penetrate BETTER in some mediums. I've been to 3 wound ballistic seminars and believe, based on my observations, the .45 will do better when encountering automotive glass than some of the lighter/faster calibres. No bullet does what it is otherwise designed to do when it hits glass. It becomes a shapeless "glob" and the heavy glob of the .45 seems to be deflected less...at least that's been my observation.

As crooks get more sophisticated and sometimes wear body armor, it's something folks need to keep in mind. ( I'm thinking the guy at Tyler, Smith Co courthouse that enguaged the madman with his .45 and failed to stop the guy before the gunman killed him. He was eventually killed by riflefire by Tyler patrolmen shortly afterward...correct me Robert L. or Justin U. if I'm wrong). We recently (about 2 weeks ago) arrested a felon in possession of body armor so it's getting more common.

Anyhow, thought you gun nuts might find this interesting. As always, comments welcome.


OpenMindedRepublican said...

Saw some police investigation report a few months back that had pictures of a shootout.

Two shots from a .45 failed to penetrate the door of an SUV from maybe 20 feet.

Not a fan of .45 for serious purposes. Love my 1911... for a range gun.

Old NFO said...

OMR, something doesn't make sense with your comment about .45 not penetrating a door. I've shot cars from 25 yards with a .45 with 230gr HP and gotten PLENTY of penetration (unless those doors were armored).

And more and more bad guys are getting body armor, time to train to head shots!

Paul said...

About the Court house shooting. Yes Robert, you are right. Arraryo did have body armor and Wilson did shoot him in the chest, where the armor covered, and THOUGHT he was out of action.

So if you even suspect they bad guy has a vest, do as Dillinger did. As Dillinger said, "Feds I know you have those vest, so I'm gonna aim high and low" and shot his way out of a FBI trap.

Anonymous said...

From the reports of the courthouse incident, you are correct. The .45 is a proven penetrator in SOFT media and through some barriers. Obviously, the big, fat rounds have more mass and, therefore, more inertia to avoid deflection. But you can't fight physics. It's easier for me to push away a bowling ball being thrown slowly than a BB being thrown quickly, even though the bowling ball would have more energy. One thing not often considered in penetration tests is cross-section. It would be nice to see more data on that particular factor.

Anonymous said...

Zombie Rule #2: Double taps. Then failure drills or as Bruce Nelson, inventor of the first "Summer Special IWB holster" once said, "Two to the body, one to the head".