Ballistic Gelatin

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Ballistic gelatin is a solution of gelatin powder in water. Ballistic gelatin closely simulates the density and viscosity of human and animal muscle tissue, and is used as a standardized medium for testing the terminal performance of firearms ammunition. While ballistic gelatin does not model the structure of the body, including skin and bones, it works fairly well as an approximation of tissue and provides similar performance for most ballistics testing. Ballistic gelatin is used rather than actual muscle tissue due to the ability to carefully control the properties of the gelatin, which allows consistent and reliable comparison of terminal ballistics. To ensure accurate results, immediately prior to use, the gelatin block is "calibrated" by firing into it a standard .177 caliber (4.5 mm) steel BB, from an air gun over a gun chronograph into the gelatin, and the depth of penetration measured. While the exact calibration methods vary slightly, the calibration method used by the INS National Firearms Unit is fairly typical. It requires a velocity of 600 10 f/s (183 3 m/s), and a BB penetration between 3.25 and 3.75 inches (8.3 to 9.5 cm). 600 ft/s (180 m/s) is two to three times faster than the velocity of a BB propelled by a typical spring-air BB gun, and so where a typical BB gun might not penetrate the elastic skin of an animal, the higher velocity calibration shot will penetrate the gelatin more than might be expected. Since ballistic gelatin mimics the properties of muscle tissue, it is the preferred medium for comparing the terminal performance of different expanding ammunition, such as hollow point and soft point bullets. These bullets use the hydraulic pressure of the tissue or gelatin to expand in diameter, limiting penetration and increasing the tissue damage along their path. While the Hague Convention restricts the use of such ammunition in warfare, it is commonly used by police and civilians in defensive weapons, as well as police sniper and hostage-rescue teams, where rapid disabling of the target and minimal risk of overpenetration are required to reduce collateral damage. The MythBusters team is known to use ballistics gel in many of their experiments, but not necessarily involving bullets, including the exploding implants myth, the deadly card throw, and the ceiling fan decapitation. They sometimes place real bones (from humans or pigs) or synthetic bones in the gel to simulate bone breaks as well. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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