Finding the right material for your backyard ballistics tests
By Jason Wimbiscus
Lined up wax blocks of set dimensions create an easy to read ballistic testing material. Just be careful not to get wax on anything valuable. (Photo: Jason Wimbiscus)
On a few occasions I have been asked by incredulous gun curmudgeons why I waste my time, energy and money on terminal performance testing. After all, manufacturers of ammunition and reloading components publish an endless stream of ballistic data on their products detailing trajectories, muzzle velocities, and kinetic energies. The naysayers also point out that manufacturers generally conduct extensive terminal performance tests of their own and that my own backyard endeavors are likely redundant exercises.
The short answer is, while I could spend endless hours on the internet compiling data from tests that have already been conducted by others, I find it’s much more fun and rewarding to conduct tests myself. Terminal performance testing is a hobby in and of itself.
Admittedly, part of the appeal of terminal performance testing is simply a fascination with what happens to materials when they are subjected to extreme conditions. The same personality traits that drew me to melt glass bottles in campfires as a child drew me to fire bullets into soft media as an adult. Shooting is