Videos

Here are several short videos documenting various parts of the process.

SETUP

The very first day of testing.  Shows the basic process we followed in positioning the chronographs, setting up the shooting platform, and so forth.  We would follow the same basic procedure each subsequent day of testing, including measuring out from the table with the shooting vise to the front of the first chrono.  Because of weather concerns, we constructed a crude cover for the chronos using 2x2s and a clear plastic dropcloth.  It is not very readable in the video, but the tent we used for protection is a "Remington" brand.

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THE FIRST SHOTS

This shows the very first shots, using the .380 barrel and ammo.  From this you can see the entire procedure we followed for all 6,000+ rounds of ammo tested, and get some idea of how long it all took.

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IN THE RAIN

Jim D had to run back to town (about a half hour, each way) to get more batteries for the laser sight we added for the second course of tests.  Steve continued to test ammo, while Jim K did the dressing on the chopped barrels.  You can hear the rain hitting the tent.  And it was cold.  Ah, the glamour of it all!

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CHOP CHOP

Demonstrates the process for chopping the barrels on site.  Particularly when we started getting down into the 6" range, it was necessary to use a length of hose and a piece of PVC pipe to stabilize the barrels for cutting.  Each blade of the saw was good for about a dozen cuts, then had to be replaced.

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TESTING, TESTING...

What it looked like once we were 'in the groove'.  Jim K is chopping, Jim D running the T/C, Steve (off camera) recording data and setting up the ammo.  Note the sequence:  three good shots of ammo (with data), then swab the barrel once with a Boresnake.  Move on to the next type of ammo to be tested.  Rinse, repeat.  A cleaning rod was used to pop out the spent brass when necessary, and the laser sight allowed for speed in shooting.  Well, when it worked right, it did.  Spent brass went into a bucket located behind the shooter.

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STEVE'S LONG RUN

On the afternoon of the final day of testing, the mounts for the rail holding the laser sight failed.  Completely.  We had grown completely dependent on the sight by this point, and five days into this final course of tests, none of us were feeling particularly ready to try sighting with just the stub barrel mounted into the housing on the T/C.  Particularly with the big calibers, which were developing quite a bit of kick with the short barrel lengths (and which had prompted us to set up the box around the shooting vise which you can see, to control the force of the shock wave coming off the gun).  Jim K tried, with minimal success.  Jim D tried, did even worse.  But Steve was able to make it happen.  So he got stuck shooting the final several hundred rounds of ammo, all in one long run, pushing to get it done.  It was amazing.

Also, note two things evident in this clip:  the 'confetti' flying around, which is actually parts of the cardboard facing stripping away due to the shock wave; and the bounce-back of bullet parts hitting the tent from the target.  This wasn't actual ricochets, but rather bits of previous bullets embedded in the stump we were shooting into flying back when hit by the new bullet.  It got so bad that we were very happy to have the tent there providing some basic protection, even though some such fragments managed to come straight back into the tent and strike us.

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PARTING SHOTS

The final three shots from Steve's Long Run, followed by some calibration shots with the Python.  We were having some trouble with getting the chronos to read consistently, since it was late in the day and the light angle was throwing off the sensors.  Because of this, Jim D had to repeat a couple of the benchmark rounds, and managed to bounce one shot off of the armor plate placed in front of the chronographs for protection (happens at the 2:03 mark).  What can I say - we were tired, but wanted to finish off the testing.

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MEDLEY FROM 2009 TESTS

Here's a clip I've come up with from the second sequence of tests.  Since very little new can be seen from the routine chop tests, they make up a small part of this clip.  Rather, what's there is testing a bunch of "real world" guns (including a nice sequence where Keith, our new team member, is working to get a Korth 9mm - one of the most expensive production handguns in the world - working properly) as well as a bit of relaxed shooting of some of Steve's black-powder rifles.  All fun stuff hope you enjoy!

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Other Resources

BBTI is not the end-all of ballistics testing, just one more component available for the common good.  In addition to extensive discussion about ballistics to be found at many gun forums, here are some other great resources pertaining to ballistics testing you should check out.  (And if you would like to recommend a site to list here, please send an email.)
  • BrassFetcher:  excellent resource, with an emphasis on bullet performance in ballistic gelatin
  • The Box O' Truth:  testing ammo penetration through various barriers
  • Terminal Ballistics Research:  Specializes in the research of cartridge & projectile performance, using hard data gathered from 20 years of hunting game.

Acknowledgements

We'd like to personally and specifically thank Pat Childs at Fin & Feather in Iowa City, as he not only helped get most of our ammunition and other supplies, he was the brilliant gunsmith who worked with us to make this insane project much more practical.  Without his help all of this would have been much more difficult and perhaps impossible.  Anyone who uses our data owes him a debt of gratitude.

And thanks to our spouses, who were not just tolerant but enthusiastically supportive of this rather nutty project.

Disclaimer

This project, and all of its results, is only our fault.  We (well, Jim K, mostly) paid for everything ourselves, and we did not receive any kind of sponsorship or remuneration from anyone.  We did all the work.  We used products we were either familiar with, or because they were what was available, and mentioning them by name does not constitute an endorsement of any kind.  Furthermore, the data is provided purely for entertainment purposes - to better facilitate arguments over what ammo or caliber or gun is "best."  How you use the data is entirely up to you.  And if you think you could do better, feel free to spend the money and do the work and publish your own results.  Or not.  Your choice.