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Heck I kind of know how they are made and the basic reasoning behind them, but the more I think about them the more puzzled I get. I have some in several calibers that look like metal filings that are fuzed together to form a solid projectile.

The basic idea is to have a projectile that will break apart and not penetrate walls, right? Well when does the breaking up part begin? Are these self defense rounds that break up in the bad guy or after they exit the body and hit something more substantial? Or are they rounds basically for indoor shooting ranges that will not damage the backstop?

If they are fired into ballistic gelatin, do they break apart in that medium?

Heck, maybe one of these days I should just get out and shoot some of that stuff to check it out.
 

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The only ammunition that I have ever fired which was marked 'Frangible' on the box has been ammo we fire at the range for my job. We normally use our regular ammo at the range, but when firing on steel plates close in during some tactical exercises we use frangible stuff. I can say without a doubt that the frangible stuff, at least to me, seems much less likely to cause an injury due to any of it coming back at the shooter off of a steel plate. Other ammo, in fact any brand we have used that are copper jacketed hollow points, does come back at the shooters, and sometimes has caused minor injuries. I have seen smalls cuts, bruises, scrapes with the regular ammo, but not with the frangible. All these injuries were caused by small pieces of the copper jacket some with and some without lead still attached. Sometimes the great majority of the HP bullet actually comes back off of a steel plate, I have been hit with two of them, both times in the face. Once my forehead got a small cut from a nice sized chunk of bullet, and I was well behind the shooter at the time. Another time or three, I have taken small fragments to the shooting glasses, and I once had a piece of copper wind up in the corner of my eye (yes even with the shooting glasses on. Other times my neck and arms have been scraped by pieces coming back at me.

Frangible has another purpose, it is usually lead free or green ammunition, and some firing ranges require this. They are usually made up of composite material containing powdered metal as I understand. So frangible has its place at the range when shooting steel; but I don't think I would consider shooting it in any type of self defense scenario.

Frangible ammunition may also have another rather unconventional application, and that is as a body armor penetrator. Being in law enforcement, and often wearing body armor, I was not going to bring this one up, but the information about this possible aspect of frangible ammo is readily available on the Internet at: http://www.justnet.org/testing/frangible.html. So I guess I am not divulging any secrets.

Of course things like this possibility are good reasons to always wear the ceramic or metal chest shock plate along with your body armor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well I have to admit that I am surprised at this aspect of the frangible ammo. I never would have suspected it would penetrate ballistic vests. I would have bet money on the exact opposite effect.
 

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I know just what you mean.
 

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if you are ignorant of what makes bullets pierce Kevlar, maybe. Ever seen 44 mag just buckle 3/16" thick steel plate, and 223 knock a nice hole in 3/8" plate? The frangibles do not pierce armor UNLESS they have quite high velocity, as in 2000 fps or so.
 

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Frangibles aren't designed to penetrate vests. Just the opposite actually. They are designed to minimize penetration on hard targets such as aircraft bodies and such.

Mike
 

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223 Fan,

You know all the experts in the world were surprised when they accidentally discovered that frangible rounds were penetrating vests; well apparently except for you. You seemingly imply you know it all as to why frangible ammo penetrates vest, and you seemingly attribute that to, possibly among other things, its muzzle velocity. Check the muzzle velocities of commonly available fragible ammo. Then read the article to which I supplied the link above, or just settle for reading the quote from that article that follows:
The tests were conducted using NIJ Standard-0101.04 backing material conditioned to meet the standard's drop test criteria. The test methods used were NIJ Standard-0101.04 Penetration and Backface Signature (P-BFS) tests and Ballistic Limit evaluations. P-BFS test velocities were varied to include NIJ reference velocities and recommended manufacturer service velocities (approximately 1150 - 1250 ft/s).

The results of these preliminary, limited tests indicate that frangible bullets may represent an unconventional threat to personal body armor, when contrasted with traditional lead based bullets.
Quote source: [URL=http://www.justnet.org/testing/frangible.html]http://www.justnet.org/testing/frangible.html [/url]. Now read again what you wrote and think about what you implied. Care to comment with corrections?
 

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notice that it says MAY be athreat to vest wearers. I dont settle for "maybes". At the sort of velocities to which lw bullets are easily driven from belt pistols, AP performance, along WITH real manstopping trauma, is a LOT more likely to be present. You wanna dick around with lower velocities and "maybe" performance, go ahead. :)
 

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the "experts" are typically very igorant about lots of things, actually. As I posted here before, the original Glaser 9mm was AP, 30 years ago. the fact that you and many others are ignorant of that fact doesn't surprise me at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well OK, andy. Why don't you tell us all WHY those rounds are armor piercing?
 

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Folks, andy and Hard Rock are right about this one.

Some frangibles may penetrate due to their velocity or a facet of their construction, but not because they are frangible. Frangible bullets are commonly made of zinc dust that is pressed together, or from polymers. The whole purpose of frangible bullets is NOT to penetrate.

Simply put, frangible bullets are more brittle than lead bullets. When the bullet fractures, some of its energy that could otherwise go to penetration is used to break the bullet.

However, a slick, pointy bullet can sometimes pass between the weave of soft body armor, like an ice pick. Also, a pointy bullet, striking at high velocity, can melt or overload the few fibers in contact with the nose, causing vest failure.
 

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Yes I second that thought, why not explain to us in detail supported by research data, the complete reasoning behind why those rounds pierce armor. Remember while you are doing it that the discussion is about regularly available commercial frangible ammunition with the lower muzzle velocities as described in the article. Then once you discount that theory, tell us about why only frangible ammo in the upper velocity range that you speak of which will penetrate body armor not maybe but positively since you don't deal in maybes. Then explain to me for just how long you have known this, where you obtained frangible ammo in the faster muzzle velocities, and how many people's body armor you have penetrated with these rounds.

While you are filling us in here at this site, why not contact the people who are doing the study and fill them in also. You say you are not surprised that I or any of the others here at AL, or any of the experts, are ignorant of the facts; but I can assure you that every other shooter in the world would be surprised that it is only you who was aware of these facts.

Now tell me again when did you learn all of this and what was the exact scientific process that you utilized to determine that frangible ammo posed such a threat, and where on earth - YES WHERE ON EARTH OR IN THE REMAINDER OF THE UNIVERSE DID YOU PUBLISH YOUR FINDINGS? I would sure like to read your work on this exact subject.

Now to get real, yes frangible ammo does penetrate some body armor at the lower velocities, some pretty darned effective body armor at that. Yet you of course know better than everyone else. So as I said prove your point for a change, instead of just barfing it out. Thanks

Glenn B
 

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i knew it 20 odd years ago, from personal experimentation, and just because you are too lazy to bother doing the same thing doesn't mean that better men havent and can't. I've MANY times posted what loads to use, and how to make such bullets. Just because you are too lazy to do such doesn't make it impossible, it just makes you lazy, that's all.
 

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Please repost your detailed data for reloading these bullets. I'm sure it would generate some lively discussion.
 

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If I'm going to go through the trouble of machining my own bullets, I have much better designs than a split point tin bullet.
Of course they'd also be illegal in FL, so I'm not going to do it here.
 

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Glenn Bartley said:
Now to get real, yes frangible ammo does penetrate some body armor at the lower velocities, some pretty darned effective body armor at that. Yet you of course know better than everyone else. So as I said prove your point for a change, instead of just barfing it out. Thanks

Glenn B

Glenn, if you don't believe me, and I have researched this topic, check out this link:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/frangible.htm

Here's a quote from it:

Frangible bullets are not armor piercing munitions. In fact, they are the exact opposite.
For published test data, check out:

http://www.policeone.com/police-products/tactical/body-armor/articles/54281/

Notice that the study concluded:

CONCLUSION: No total penetration of any of the ballistic vests with frangible or non-frangible ammunition.
 

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so eat <font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font>, dumbass. :)
 

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Now that was an intelligent come back!
 

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GBullet,

First of all my apology that I made it appear that I was responding to your post.
Glenn, if you don't believe me, and I have researched this topic, check out this link
Actually I was replying to 223 Fan not you, you write respectfully and get respectful answers from me.

As to the issue: I do not for a minute doubt that high velocity fragmenting rounds will more readily pass through body armor because of the velocity, nor that high velocity frangible rounds would do likewise. The point of this discussion was that frangible ammunition that travels at much lower velocities than those quoted by the all knowing expert 223 Fan are also passing through body armor. This is regardless of the fact that:
The whole purpose of frangible bullets is NOT to penetrate.
Now while they were designed not to pass through a target, those targets for which these rounds were designed to break apart upon impact were in fact hard targets such as walls, hard plate armor, aircraft bodies and so forth - and not soft body armor. These rounds were not designed for anything to do with soft body armor. One of the main reasons they were designed was to arm the original US Sky Marshals with ammunition that would not penetrate an aircraft body (Glasser Safety Slug).

Yes they were designed to break apart upon impact with hard surfaces, and no they were not designed with soft body armor in mind.Therefore, the consternation of all parties including professional firearms and ammunitions experts when it came to the repoted soft armor penetration properties of the lower velocity frangible ammo - which by the way is the velocity of most frangible rounds. The whole thing about 223 Fan's claims are that they have little to do with the original discussion because it is like discussing apples and watermelons. No one was talking ammo at 2,000 fps but closer to 1200 to 1400 fps. No one was talking fragmenting ammo, or split point ammo but commercially available frangible ammo made from metal dust and other materials that bond the metal dust, and that have velocities much lower than 2,000 fps.

By the way I read the article on the link you supplied and it makes my point about the possible penetration of soft body armor and states the same source I cited. Now how does that support GKs argument at all? In fact, I do not believe it said anything about 2,000 fps frangible rounds in there anywhere did it? Only 223 Fan knows about them being the only ones capable of penetrating soft body armor, and allow me to quote him here to remind you that such is in essence exactly what he meant when he said what he said:
223 fan said:
The frangibles do not pierce armor UNLESS they have quite high velocity, as in 2000 fps or so.
The real people in the real business of testing such claims, not 223 Fan, are quite concerned about this UNEXPECTED yet reported property of some frangible ammunition, and to date they have stated that their initial testing shows these concerns to be worthy of additional and more complete tests because the regular velocity stuff was possibly penetrating soft body armor. As for the satement by Hard Rock:
Hard Rock said:
Frangibles aren't designed to penetrate vests. Just the opposite actually. They are designed to minimize penetration on hard targets such as aircraft bodies and such.
That is not exactly correct. They were never designed with soft body armor in mind at all, so no they were essentially not DESIGNED to penetrate a vest. However, they have in some instances reportedly done just that. Yet they were not designed, as hard Rock said, to do just the opposite of penetraing soft body armor. That would mean they were designed NOT to penetrate soft body armor. That statement is in essence incorrect. Rather what they were actually designed to do was to NOT penetrate HARD surfaces. Soft body armor was not in the picture with regard to their development. It is however now in the picture because of findings that some types of frangible may in fact penmetrate some types of soft body armor. That is why extensive tests are being conducted (or were being as they may already be over but not yet reported on). Look at the test parameters of the National Institute of Justice as seen in the article to which I originally supplied a link, here they are in brief, and note the date:

May 2003 Update

As a result of the preliminary ballistic penetration tests that indicated the need for more extensive tests done on a broader range of materials, a test plan has been developed. Currently, testing materials are being procured for these studies. Ballistic panels of standardized constructions are being made from the full range of ballistic resistant materials commonly used today, specifically: Aramids, PBOs, and Polyethylenes. Both woven fabrics and shield fabrics will be assessed, at both normal (0-degree) and 30-degree angles of incidence. Three types of frangible bullets will be used in this evaluation, sintered/pressed metals, jacketed pressed metals, and metal/polymer composites. After all test materials have been procured, the ballistic tests will occur in the first quarter of 2004. .
Quoted from source: http://www.justnet.org/testing/frangible.html

Funny how they at the NIJ still wanted to perform testing after the Orange County testing (which was reported on in a 2002 dated article), isn't it! Did you read them closely and notice that the types of bullet make up of the bullets to be tested by the NIJ are specified! What about by the Orange county PD? Sure they told you what velocity they were, but did they tell you of what type of composition/construction the frangible ammo was made? Did they use the same type of ammunition against each vest? No they did not! In fact on one vest they used only 2 types of frangible ammunition not three like the others, why do you think they did that? Did they fire at different angles of impact as would the NIJ - if they did this at Orange County they failed to report it. Did they fire at the same type of vest as would be used by the NIJ? I don't know enough about vest construction to say if they did or not, but my bet would be no. What was the backing for the vests into which they fired? Was there a backing at all? (These factors make a substantial difference.) Did they use vests in various states of wear, and of various ages representative of various stages in the normal lifespan of the tested vests? There are just too many vasriables of which that report seemingly fails to make reference, and to which I believe it should have made reference.

I heard, at work, reports of the tests done by Orange County shortly after they performed them, and the consensus among firearms professionals with whom I communicated seemed to be that they had not performed valid scientific testing to in essence relaibly state that these rounds pose no penetration threat on soft body armor of all currently used types. They had reportedly, as I understand, jumped the gun due to eagerness to get some sort of recognition. Maybe their results are correct across the board, but I will not surmise that they are with the limited testing they apparently performed. Certainly I do not doubt that the ammo they used did not penetrate the vest they used, but that does not necessarily support any claim that frangible ammunition will not penetrate all commonly used types of soft body armor. I will wait for the more complete testing to be accomplished by the NIJ, unless of course it is determined that such testing is no longer needed based upon the Orange County or other testing. As I pointed out though, the NIJ was still intent on more complete testing subsequent to the completion of the Orange County test. Go figure.

I enjoy a good discussion of the issues. I would like to be able to discuss this some more in nice respectful tones and with presentation of more factual data. So to 223 Fan, and/or Andy I say this: TICSMYD (you should know that by now but in case you forgot it: Talk Is Cheap Show Me Your Data). Do you have any date 223 Fan and/or Andy? Or is it all talk as usual? I am more than amenable to seein the testing facts, and figures that you have come up with and please be as complete as is possible. I am certain that the NIJ would also be interested in your scientific findings if you really have any that hold water. They are, however, not interested in Brown Smelly Stuff even if it winds up being right in the long run. You see they try to do it through rigorous scientific testing and they really try to scientifically ascertain the reliability and validity of their results before they open their mouths because people's lives may depend upon what they find. If you have such evidence of your claims, that only high speed (2,000fps or better) frangible rounds will pierce soft body armor please produce it; I would be interested in reviewing it even if it proves wrong the theory that such penetration may be taking place with lower velocity frangible ammunition. I await your data with high anticipation. Thanks.
 

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There's lots of armor out there that's no damned good, especially if it's ever bee wet, as in being laundered by some <font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font><font color=red>*</font> who didn't know the facts, or been thoroughly soaked with sweat, rain, etc. There's a big flap going on about Spectra (I think that was the name) fibers degrading rapidly over time, etc. So the vests, IF they really WERE penetrated by low velocity frangibles, may well have been penetrated by regular 9mm ball, too, because they were flat no longer bullet resistant, to the expected degree.
 
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