Back in September, I posted about some testing I did on the use of the .45 ACP as a field carry pistol. The theme of the post centered on the 200gr Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator bullet and its suitability on dangerous animals one may encounter when roaming the great outdoors. I also included some 230gr ball rounds for comparison.
I was expecting the Lehigh to not only penetrate deeper than the 230gr ball rounds but to penetrate much further. Imagine my surprise when just the opposite happened. Not only did the Lehigh penetrate the least, it was beaten by my 230gr handload by over 15 inches. Even the Winchester USA 230gr round did better.
It has been pointed out to me that the Lehigh bullet, a solid copper bullet, was designed to defeat hard barriers and not necessarily deep into soft tissue. Also, a solid or hardcast bullet with a large meplat is more likely to track straight and not glance off of thick skulls and hard bones. While all the above is true Lehigh’s ligature would suggest that the “Progressive nose geometry for deep, straight penetration”.
I had thought the .45 caliber bullet loaded in the .45 ACP may not be the best example of the capabilities of this design but maybe the 10mm would meet my expectations. At the time I didn’t have a 10mm to use and so I put the idea on the backburner. I did shortly afterword acquire a Colt Delta Elite but other things keep coming up and so I keep putting it off.
I started perusing the 10mm forums and saw a discussion on a bullet made by Cutting Edge Bullets. I have seen their HG solid bullets when I was looking into the testing the Lehigh and thought it would be an interesting bullet to try out. However, I still intended to try out the 140gr 10mm bullet that Lehigh offered. That was until I saw two videos on YouTube by Kentucky Ballistics and The Chopping Block where the penetrating wasn’t much better then what I got with the .45ACP.
At this point, I decided to abandon the idea of trying this bullet and decided to try out the Cutting Edge bullets instead. One of the people involved in the discussion, on the 10mm forum, use to work for Cutting Edge and claimed the 10mm 190gr bullet would penetrate three blocks of Clear Ballistics Gel with a velocity under 1100fps. I was intrigued, to say the least. So I put an order in with Cutting Edge for 50 190gr .40 and 50 200gr .45 caliber bullets. With shipping, it put the price at almost $1 a bullet, much like the Lehigh.
Now time to load the bullets and see what I could come up with. The .45 was fairly easy, I just used the same load I used with the 200gr Lehigh. I figured it would be a good place to start since it was not showing any signs of pressure with the Lehigh bullet. Because the Cutting Edge bullet is a little shorter than the Lehigh, the extra case volume resulted in a lower average velocity then I was getting with the Lehigh. I worked up a load until I hit an average velocity of just over 1000fps at 1024fps. At this point, I felt pretty happy with its performance and it was only showing slight signs of pressure, much like a .45 +P.
The 10mm, on the other hand, was a little different story. I started at what I thought would be a moderate load, I was expecting 1100fps, but it was showing signs of overpressure, very overpressure. I’m not just talking about flattened primers and a bulge at the unsupported portion of the case, often called a smiley, I’m talking flat primer and full tooth shit-eating grin. Apparently, the Delta Elite isn’t the best at handling high-pressure ammo. I worked down until I found a load that showed signs of normal pressure and got an average velocity of 1102fps with this load. Although I was hoping for more, I felt that about 1100fps is still very respectable for a 190gr .40 caliber bullet.
At this point, the only thing left to do was to shoot a few into some Clear Ballistics Gel and see how they performed. Based on what I was reading these should penetrate pretty deep, and based on that thought, I decided to use four 16 inch block of Clear Gel. Passing through all four block seemed a little unreal but I wanted to make sure I stopped the bullets. Considering the velocity I was getting I was felt that I should at least get as much penetration as the .45 handload I shot previously.
First off the 10mm. I set up at 10 feet in front of the gel blocks with the chronograph just in front of the blocks. The first found out of the Delta Elite hit the upper left corner of the front block with a velocity of 1104 fps and penetrated the first three blocks of gel and came to rest in the fourth for a total depth of 50.25 inches. The second shot hit just below the first and penetrated to 52.75 inches. That’s just under 4 and a half feet of penetration. Its velocity was 1118fps.
With the .45, I wasn’t expecting as much as I was getting with the 10mm but the amount I got out of the 10mm was encouraging. I put the first .45 ACP round in the top right corner at a velocity of 1052fps and it penetrated 42.25 inches. Round two entered the block at 1025fps in the lower right corner and penetrated to 41.75 inches. I felt that was about the best one could hope for with the .45 ACP.
So how do these compare with the Lehigh test I did last September? The 10mm 190gr bullets penetrated much further than my 230gr FMJ handload by about a foot. I also went twice the distance of the Lehigh 200gr XP’s 23 inches. The Cutting Edge 200gr .45 bullets also beat the other .45’s by at least three inches and surpassed the Lehigh by a foot and a half.
At this point, some people may think I’m putting down the Lehigh bullet and its performance. The Lehigh is a different bullet and may offer advantages, such as better terminal performance. However, for a woods load, I would prefer greater penetration over a slight boost in the terminal performance you may get with the Lehigh.
One question that remains, how will this bullet compare with a hardcast bullet of similar weight and profile? I intend on testing some in the future but I suspect the hardcast to do a little better because of the higher velocity that can be achieved. Wide flat nose hardcast bullets are a very popular bullet style for this application and very good reason. They penetrate deeply, track straight, and punch through tough bones and tissue and they cost less, a lot less than the Cutting Edge bullets. There’s also no factory loaded ammo using this bullet. If you don’t reload you are out of luck.
So why not just use hardcast? Well, the obvious answer is no lead. In some locations, the use of lead bullets are becoming more restricted and these bullets would be a suitable substitute. Also, lead bullets are not recommend by some gun manufacturers, I’m looking at you Glock, and so these bullets may perform better in this case.
Shooting them was uneventful. I did not have any feeding, chambering, or extracting issues in either of the 1911 patterned guns I used. Understand that the number of rounds fired was limited but functioning was just as smooth as ball. Recoil in the 10mm was about what one would expect with a 10mm. With the .45, it was certainly more than you would get with most .45 ACP ammo but not unmanageable and neither was as bad as you would get with a small .44 magnum like the S&W mountain gun. I didn’t shoot them for groups but at 10 yards the bullets hit to point of aim.
In conclusion, are these bullets something I would carry if I were trekking around in the woods? Sure, there’s no reason not to. Are they the best? I guess that would depend on how they compare after I test some hardcast bullets later.