Is fragmentation a bad thing?


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Old 12-26-2013, 05:36 PM   #1
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Default Is fragmentation a bad thing?

I recently loaded up some .357 ammo for my SP101 with a Speer 125 grain jhp with 16.4 grains of VVN110. I noticed when I checked the wood backstop that the jackets had been mangled and separated from the lead. I know many people say that handloaded ammo for SD is a big no-no but I feel much more secure knowing that every bullet is perfect inside and out. So is fragmentation a good or bad thing?

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Old 12-26-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SRK97 View Post
I recently loaded up some .357 ammo for my SP101 with a Speer 125 grain jhp with 16.4 grains of VVN110. I noticed when I checked the wood backstop that the jackets had been mangled and separated from the lead. I know many people say that handloaded ammo for SD is a big no-no but I feel much more secure knowing that every bullet is perfect inside and out. So is fragmentation a good or bad thing?

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IMO, no it isn't. this is strictly my opinion though. if it does fragment but inside the BG, then over penetration is probably not going to be an issue. but the key issue is does it still have adequate penetration to do it's job? and wood is generally much harder than human tissue and organs as well.


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Old 12-26-2013, 06:30 PM   #3
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Early fragmentation can be a bad thing, if it reduces projectile weight to the point that effective penetration is compromised. If fragmentation occurs once the projectile is 4-6 inches inside it may not be a bad thing.

Axxe pointed out that important point already though, and also pointed out that test medium for checking penetration and fragmentation should be closer to the consistency of what you are concerned about penetrating. If you wanted to know that a bullet would break up in wood or drywall to reduce penetration risk on teh other side, then shooting wood and drywall would be appropriate. If you want to know how it will penetrate and hold together in flesh, you need something that more closely resembles flesh in consistentcy. Bsallistic Gel, wet newsprint, wet phone books, etc, are closer to flesh consitency than wood.

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Old 12-26-2013, 07:59 PM   #4
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Bullet fragmentation is a bad thing. That means it's not performing in a predictable way. If it fragments on something soft like wood it's going to perform worse on a goblin if it hits bone. Fragmenting on bone means deflection and noncritical hits.

Handloading has nothing to do with bullet performance unless your driving the bullet faster or slower than it's designed performance envelope. Bullets that work fine and hold together great at 9mm levels may suffer severe fragmentation and failure at 357 mag or 357sig velocity.

You need to know your bullet before loading it.

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Old 12-26-2013, 08:02 PM   #5
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Bullet fragmentation is a bad thing. That means it's not performing in a predictable way. If it fragments on something soft like wood it's going to perform worse on a goblin if it hits bone. Fragmenting on bone means deflection and noncritical hits.

Handloading has nothing to do with bullet performance unless your driving the bullet faster or slower than it's designed performance envelope. Bullets that work fine and hold together great at 9mm levels may suffer severe fragmentation and failure at 357 mag or 357sig velocity.

You need to know your bullet before loading it.
that's a good point Jon. but are not some pistol designed to fragment when they strike soft tissue?
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Old 12-26-2013, 08:12 PM   #6
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There are "pre-fragmented" bullets, and frangible bullets.

Frangibles are made of, well- dust, pressed together with God's own hydraulic press. On impact, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Intended to reduce spatter of bullet. Not really a SD round IMHO.

Pre-fragmented? Well, there are segmented bullets made to break at segments, and then there are Glasers- charge of lead shot inside a thin metal jacket, designed to break open at impact. Concept being to deliver all energy very quickly to target, very little penetration.

They have their fans. I am not among them. I want a bullet that will open as big as possible, but hold together. Breaking into small pieces TOO EARLY, penetration just went to crap. And the parts of a bad guy I need to damage are inside. Too little penetration, that may not happen.

But as said, what a bullet does in wood and what it does in flesh and bone are not the same.

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Old 12-26-2013, 08:20 PM   #7
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So is fragmentation a good or bad thing?

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That depends on where the fragmentation occurs, and what the fragments hit. To give you a blanket yes or no answer would do you a disservice. I will say that as a general rule it is not desirable, but if it happens in the right places within your attacker it could end the threat sooner.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SRK97 View Post
I recently loaded up some .357 ammo for my SP101 with a Speer 125 grain jhp with 16.4 grains of VVN110. I noticed when I checked the wood backstop that the jackets had been mangled and separated from the lead. I know many people say that handloaded ammo for SD is a big no-no but I feel much more secure knowing that every bullet is perfect inside and out. So is fragmentation a good or bad thing?

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Firearms Talk mobile app
for your chosen application it will likely make no difference. The fact of jacket separation that is. You can run a gelatin test to see if it happens too soon on the impact. That said, hand loading for SD under normal circumstances is OCD to say the least. Plus your intent will get under severe scrutiny, but I guess you already know that.
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:29 PM   #9
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"Fragmentation" in wood is not a good indicator of performance in flesh. A Gold Dot will only lose weight/fragment if the core separates from its self. That is very difficult to do as the GD is plated. There have been several versions of that bullet over the years. Many had a very deep HP cavity and were intended for .38 velocities. You may be over stressing the bullet. Regardless, The forces necessary to break up a Gold Dot are HUGE! IF one does as you describe, I find it doubtful it would do so in thin skinned flesh. Gold Dots GAIN weight as they pick up bone fragments, etc.



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