Underwood 9mm & .40 S&W Hard Cast in Clear Ballistics Gel

Test Gun: Sig P226
Barrel length: 4.4 inches
Ammunition: Underwood 9mm 147gr Hard Cast, .40 S&W Hard Cast
Test media: 10% Clear Ballistics Gel.
Distance: 10 feet.
Chronograph: Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2.
Five shot velocity average:1085, 942fps
Gel Temperature 70 degrees.

The discussion of what to carry in the field seems to come up often on the various online forums. It normally revolves around the best caliber and load for bear protection. I would say most peoples first reaction if asked, is to pick a .44 magnum or some other large bore revolver. When talking about semi-auto pistols the 10mm is normally the default answer. The .45 ACP/ .45 Super is often brought up as a viable option to the 10mm and as we have seen in my past test with the right load it can perform very well. To a lesser extent, the option of the 9mm or .40 S&W will be considered. 

 With is in mine and after testing the Underwood Xtreme Penetrator I grab some hard cast loadings from Underwood. Two of them were the 9mm 147gr +P hard cast and the .40 S&W 200gr hard cast.
Underwood lists their hard cast bullets as a. “Hi -Tek Coated Hard Cast Flat Nose 21 BHN”.

“Hi-Tek coating allows you to enjoy the benefits of a hard-cast projectile and the cleanliness normally seen in copper jacketed/plated rounds.

“Hi-Tek is a polymer based compound* that not only reduces fouling in your barrel, but also substantially reduces airborne lead contamination (allowing for use in some indoor ranges). The elimination of the wax lubrication combined with the reduced airborne lead contamination results in considerably less smoke produced with each shot. Hard cast flat nose bullets are non-expanding, powerfully penetrative
bullets that are designed with your woods defense needs in mind; whether fending off wild hogs or black bears, the hard cast flat nose bullets
are consistently effective in taking down any wild animals that you may encounter”.

Both of these rounds were shot out of a Sig P226 with a 4.4-inch barrel.

Starting with the 9mm I got an average 5 shot velocity of 1085fps with a high of 1091fps and a low of 1081fps. This was 15fps lower than the advertised velocity of 1100fps. The recoil was very manageable and about what you would expect from a 9mm +P. The spent cases didn’t appear to show any signs of excessive pressure when compared to the Winchester “white box” 124gr standard pressure. There were no malfunctions or failures with this round. 

With the .40 S&W, I got an average 5 shot velocity of 942fps with a high of 952fps and a low of 938fps. This was 58fps lower than the advertised velocity of 1000fps. Like the 9mm this load was very controllable. Spent cases didn’t show any signs of excessive pressure when compared to the Federal 180gr HST loading. There were also no malfunctions or failures when shooting this round.

Five rounds at 10 yards 9mm
Five rounds at 10 yards offhand .40 S&W
9mm case comparison
.40 S&W case comparison

So how will they perform in the gel? To find out I used the same set up I used with the Underwood Xtreme Penetrator testing. Four 16 inch blocks of Clear Gel for the two bare gel shots and two through the 20 gauge steel plate at 30 degrees. 

Round one from the 9mm was shot int the upper left corner of the gel block and passed completely through the four gel blocks and was caught with the body armor placed at the end. The only other round to pass through all four blocks was the Double Tap 10mm 200gr FMJ. The velocity of the first round was 1074fps and the recovered weight was 147.1 grains. Round two in the bare gel was shot in the upper right-hand corner had a velocity of 1086fps and also pass through all four blocks of gel. The recovered weight was 146.4 grains.

Shooting the 9mm through the sheet metal the first round penetrated to 18.75 inches. Velocity was not recorded and the recovered weight was 137.1 grains. The second rounds velocity was 1091fps and it penetrated to 18.5 inches. The Recovered weight was 134 grains. 

Now on to the .40 S&W. The first round in the bare gel had a velocity of 958fps and penetrated to 52 inches. The recovered weight was196.6 grains. Round two hit the bare gel blocks at a velocity of 959fps and penetrated to 52.5 inches. The recovered weight was also 196.6 grains.

When shooting through the sheet metal the velocity of the first round was 955fps and penetrated to a depth of 17 inches. The recovered weight was 190.6 grains. The second round had a velocity of 959fps and penetrated to 16.25 inches. It’s recovered weight was 188.4 grains.

If we compare these rounds to the 9mm and .40 S&W Xtreme Penetrators that the hard cast bullets in 9mm penetration completely went through all four blocks, 64 inches, of gel. The Xtreme 115gr penetrators went to 47 and 47.5 inches. That’s around 17 inches or one complete block of gel. Through the sheet metal, the depths were much closer. The Underwood’s hard cast went 18.5 and 18.75 inches to the Xtreme’s 16.5 and 18 inches. Closer but the hard cast still beat the Xtreme Penetrators.

With the .40 S&W, the hard cast beat the Xtreme bullets by a large margin, 52 and 52.5 inches to the Xtreme’s 22.5 and 23 inches. Through the sheet metal, the Xtreme proved to be the better penetrator with 17 and 18.5 inches compared to the hard cast 16.25 and 17. Better, but not by much.

At the suggestion from someone in another forum, I shot two rounds of some M882 9mm into some bare gel. This was the same blocks I used for the Underwood test. To my surprise, both rounds only penetrated about a block and a half, 24.5 and 24.75 inches. I was expecting much more.


  1. Just found this site and love it. As Sargent Friday would say “just the facts”, no rambling.

    I love the fact that you use service and compact barrel lengths on 9mm. So many ammo testers use service length barrels and that doesn’t help me and my Glock 43.

    Now if you could get a Shield in 40 and 45, as well as a Glock 29 it would be perfect!


  2. As usual, great review.

    On another outdoors forum, ther is a body of opinion that the S&W M&P 2.0 .40 S&W with 5 inch barrel and using 200gr hardcast DT or Underwood rounds would be a very good all around trail/woods gun. They think it will get 1100 FPS or better thru the 5 inch tube, has 15 round capacity but with out the bulk of a Glock 20.

    I haven’t bought one yet but they have me about convinced.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts. Thanks again for your down to earth testing and write-ups.


      1. Yep, I kind of think you are right. If you got 950ish with a 4.5” barrel, 1000 is probably the best a 5” would do.

        The more I follow this, I think there are optimistic and pessimistic chronographs. I think the manufacturers usually have optimistic chronos.


  3. With a 5.0″ barrel, vs. a 4.5″ barrel, I’D expect ~5% in velocity, if that. The “rule of thumb” I use is:
    Velocity in shorter barrel x (longer barrel length/shorter barrel length)^0.5 = PREDICTED velocity in longer barrel. USUALLY, my estimates of velocity vs. chronographed velocities are within 25 to 40 f/s, ON THE LOW SIDE.
    A 5″ barreled .45 ACP launches a 200 gr. projectile at 950 f/s. We want to know what the LIKELY velocity would be with the same load in a .6.05″ (!!!) barreled “longslide” version.
    (6.05″/5.00″) = 1.21. (1.21)^0.5 = 1.1. 950 f/s (1.1) = 1045 f/s. Based on this, I’D expect the chronographed velocity from the longslide to be 1005 – 1020 f/s.
    This equation assumes certain things:
    1.) the round is shot from a “locked breech” action, with a barrel length between 3.5 and 7.5″.
    2.) Propellant burn-rate between Bullseye and 2400 (including those)
    3.) Differences in length between longer vs. short barrels does not exceed 2″.
    4.) Sometime, despite my most careful calculations, I’m going to be wrong, but USUALLY to the benefit of the SHOOTER.


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