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Ballistic Gel and Ammunition Testing Glossary

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Ballistic Gel and Ammunition Testing Glossary

April 17, 2018 - customcollagen

Ballistic gel has helped FBI agents, law enforcement, and gun enthusiasts better understand their ammunition for decades.

Before you test your ammunition, there are several important terms to know. Find them here in our extensive Ballistic Gel and Ammunition Glossary.


Ballistic Gel Terms


Bloom — The measure of the ballistic gel block strength, otherwise known as Bloom strength. The higher the number, the stiffer the gel. For comparison sake, gelatin used in food is between 125 Bloom and 250 Bloom. Meanwhile, ballistic gel has a standard Bloom of 250.


Clarity — One of the major terms related to the quality of the ballistic gel. The clarity of the gel allows you to see through the block and report ammunition performance. The level of clarity is measured by Nephelometric Turbidity Units or NTUs.


De-Foamer A substance that helps reduce the occurrence of foam or bubbles in ballistic gel.


MPS — An abbreviation for millipoise, a unit of measure indicating viscosity. A higher number of millipoise indicates more viscosity.


NTUs — An abbreviation for Nephelometric Turbidity Units, which are used to measure the clarity of ballistic gel. This unit measures scattered light at a 90-degree angle. A lower number means more clarity.


Solubility —  How quickly the ballistic gelatin will dissolve in a solution. When making a ballistic gel block, you want the gelatin to dissolve quickly, so you don’t overmix and dismantle the protein in the gel.


Viscosity — Determines how quickly the ballistic gel block will set as well as how slowly it will melt during testing. More viscosity means faster setting and slower melting.


Ammunition Terms


Bonded Bullets — Ammunition in which the core of the bullet is bonded to the jacket, to prevent separating. These bullets are used for big game hunting, where it’s crucial for the bullet to remain intact.


Expansion — Bullets are designed to expand when they make contact with the target. Ammunition tests allow you to compare the diameter of a bullet before and after firing into a ballistic gel block. An ideal bullet will expand to about 1.5 times larger than the original bullet diameter.


Fragmentation — When a bullet breaks into pieces or fragments upon impact.


Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) Bullets — Ammunition in which the bullet has a soft core encased by a harder metal.


Hollow-point bullets — A bullet that expands on impact. This expansion is caused by the hollowed out shape at the tip of the bullet.


Jacket — The harder metal encasing the softer metal core of the bullet.


Jacket Separation — When the jacket of the bullet and the core separate upon impact. Some bullets are more prone to this than others.


Mushrooming — When the front of a hollow-point bullet expands upon impact, creating a wider, rounded nose at the end of the cylindrical portion, resembling a mushroom. This process reduces penetration while also increasing damage along the wound path.


Non-Bonded Bullets — Bullets that don’t feature a connected bullet core and jacket.


Ordnance — Military equipment, such as firearms and ammunition.


Penetration — One of the factors to test with ballistic gel. To test the penetration of the ammunition, measure the distance from the edge of the ballistic gel to the deepest point the bullet touches.


Retained Weight — Another factor to measure during the ammunition test. Retained weight shows how intact the bullet remains while traveling through a target. To measure this, you’ll compare the weight of the bullet before being shot and after being retrieved from the ballistic gel block.


What Else You Need for Ammunition Testing


Besides the knowledge of these terms, there are several items needed to create gel blocks with ballistic gelatin.


Ballistic gel blocks should be a standard 6″ x 6″ x 16″ size. To create the blocks, you’ll need a ballistic gel mold and mold liner. Or you can purchase a ballistic gel block kit, to stock up on all necessary supplies.


Now that you know the terms and the needed supplies, you are ready to test your ammunition.


Order your supplies now to start testing your ammunition and see how your bullets perform.


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