A Bonding Experience

A Bonding Experience

Winchester's new bonded pistol ammo is one hot number.

Developed to meet FBI protocols, Winches-ter's new Bonded PDX1 ammo delivers the goods in terms of velocity, penetration and expansion.

Winchester is, as I'm writing this, unveiling a new bullet line. How new? The ammo they sent me to test was snatched off the loading bench of the R&D department. They didn't even have finished packaging to send the ammo in, so they slapped new labels on old Winchester boxes.

The reason for the new ammo? The unforgiving demands of the FBI ballistic protocols. It is asking a lot of a bullet to go through heavy clothing, auto glass, plywood or sheet metal and still not only hold together but expand once it hits gelatin.

I've shot a bunch of those materials and more through the years, and the primary cause of bullet failure when encountering such obstacles is jacket/core separation. Once the jacket and core part company, performance goes all to hell.

To prevent that, Winchester bonds the core to the jacket, hence the name Bonded PDX1. The result is a bond tighter than a Congressman to his campaign contributors. Even after being slammed through obstacles and decelerating in gelatin, the core and jacket cling tightly to each other.

As there was a strictly limited supply to send me, I couldn't do my usual test. No hundreds of rounds to see if the feeding is reliable (I highly doubt that will be a problem), and no chance to run dozens over the chronograph to see just how consistent the velocities are (again, no problems anticipated here either), but I did manage to test it in three pistols, as well as shoot some obstacles and test medium.

The three pistols I used were an S&W M&P, a modified Browning Hi Power and an STI 1911 competition gun. They all gobbled their portion of the ammo without fail. The velocities were what you'd expect: the M&P slowest and the STI fastest.

The recoil of the PDX1 ammo is definitely stout. Meeting the performance standards of the FBI tests is not something you can do with a sedate cartridge. If you want to get a 180-grain .400-inch bullet through plywood and more than a foot deep into gelatin, you have to push it hard. Still, the recoil wasn't oppressive, although if you use PDX1 ammo in a compact pistol I imagine you'll have your hands full.

Accuracy was also right on par with expectations. I could shoot only a pair of groups each, but those groups were what the pistols normally deliver.

Winchester sent me an expanded bullet to get an idea of what the PDX1 can do. I proceeded to do my own testing, and produced bullets so similar to the sent sample that it was only from the slightly oxidized surface of its lead core that I could tell theirs from mine. Penetration and expansion were everything the FBI wants. Indeed, this is the ammo the FBI is accepting shipments of, in its never-ending quest to find the perfect bullet.

I had only cloth and plywood to use in intermediate barrier tests, but they proved to be no hindrance to the PDX1. Bullets looked the same regardless of what they passed through before impact. Whether it was air, cloth, plywood, the results were the same: well over the one-foot minimum required by the FBI, and full expansion.

With accuracy like this, and 100 percent reliability and plenty of punch, PDX1 ammo will be hard to beat.

At 14 to 16 inches (depending on intermediate barrier), the bullets expanded to more than .610 inch in diameter and did so uniformly. The hollowpoint opens evenly, and the petals roll back in a uniform manner and amount.

The uniformity is not just consistent, it is even a bit scary. The consistency carries over to velocity, where not only are the bullets going fast, there isn't a whole lot of variation in velocities.

To top it all off, there seems to be almost no muzzle flash. I shot the ammo on a cold, overcast, almost drizzling day, and at no time in the testing did I detect any kind of a muzzle flash. Now, I'd have to try it at night to get a complete impression, but often an overcast autumn day is good enough to get an idea of what a round will do.

As mentioned, Winchester is right now finishing the R&D and setting up production. So don't expect your gun dealer's shelves to be groaning under the weight of PDX1 ammo right now. And you can count on a lot of it being grabbed by law enforcement when it is available. But when you can lay hands on it, you should. Projected loads are a 130-grain .38 Special +P, 147-grain 9mm +P, 165- and 180-grain .40 S&W and a 230-grain .45 ACP.

Bullet Weight (gr.) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Avg Group(in.)
S&W M&P, 4.5 inch barrel
.40 S&W1809773.0
Browning Hi Power, 4.75 inch barrel
.40 S&W1801,0002.5
STI 1911, 5 inch barrel
.40 S&W1801,0472.0
NOTE: Accuracy results are averages or five-shot groups at 25 yards, fired over sandbags from a bench. Average velocities recorded on a CED M2 chronograph 15 feet from the muzzle with two-foot screen spacing.

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