There’s no denying there’s a lot of interest in G2 Research’s new R.I.P. Ammunition. Their marketing video has gone viral, with well over 1.5 million views as of the time of this writing. And even the mainstream press has picked up and run with the story of the new, amazing, superty-duper ammo that is “like no other projectile the world has ever seen.” The company has been making some very bold claims about the performance of this new round. And when we didn’t have any ammo to test, we were able to use some elementary deductive skills and basic logic (along with some junior-high-school math) to determine that some of their marketing claims were, to put it kindly, hogwash. No, we couldn’t say that the ammo did or didn’t perform well, as we hadn’t tested it. But we could at least determine that some of the marketing statements were unlikely or even impossible. Things are different now, though . . .
We got our hands on some of the G2′s uber ammo, courtesy of the fine people at www.ammotogo.com.
And now we’ve conducted the world’s first independent review of the ammo’s actual performance. That means that you, dear reader, are about to find out what really happens when you fire G2 R.I.P. ammo in the real world in controlled testing scenarios.
We conducted testing in two phases – basic gel testing and more advanced testing for claims on barrier penetration, and against conventional rounds. The results are still being compiled on the rest of the tests, but we can reveal the results from the first phase of testing.
Let’s consider our first impressions, though. Just looking at the box, it really does look like no other ammunition you’ve seen. The box uses a window like Barnes TAC-XP rounds do, but, unlike Barnes’s box, the G2 Research R.I.P. box is decorated with the letters “R.I.P.” in a design and color scheme that looks like something you might find on a tombstone, or on an album cover from an ’80′s metal band.
I could say a lot about this – such as that it’s irresponsible, or even offensive to the very essence of self defense (which is about stopping an attack, not about killing the attacker). If a prosecutor could prove that you intended and set about to kill an attacker, your claim of self defense might just go out the window. Will marketing like this help your case? Depending on your lawyers, the prosecutor, and whether it’s a criminal or civil suit, it may or may not matter. But I can certainly say that this over-the-top presentation makes me appreciate the restraint and more responsible branding of, oh, for example, Hornady’s Critical Defense.
Second, it’s a scary looking round. While we can contest the claim that it’s “like no other projectile the world has ever seen”, I won’t deny that it certainly looks like no other projectile the world has ever seen. It’s downright intimidating. Maybe a little scary. Vicious even. Of course, when it comes to bullets (as with everything else), looks aren’t everything. Or, well, really, anything. It’s performance that matters.
Third, it’s expen$ive. It will run you $50 for 20 rounds — that’s $2.50 per bullet. The performance better be magnificent to justify the price tag. You can buy four or five quality 9mm defensive rounds for the cost of each G2 R.I.P. round.
Fourth, you have to wonder if it will it feed. Sometimes guns have issues feeding hollowpoint rounds, and I personally have heard reports of the polymer tip in Hornadys causing problems. How will the sharpened, jagged edges of R.I.P.s affect reliable feeding?
With those impressions duly noted, I put the ammo back in its gaudy box and headed to the range to evaluate the round’s performance. Unlike G2 Research, I decided not to use raw chickens or paint-filled balloons for testing. Instead, I chose to use industry-standard VYSE professional ballistic gelatin from Gelatin Innovations. Ballistic gelatin is the most accurate human soft tissue simulant available, and it’s what professional bullet testers use to evaluate the penetration and damage potential of ammunition.
It needs to be prepared properly, mixed properly at proper temperatures and stored at four degrees celsius for the right amount of time to cure. It also needs to be transported in a refrigerated state and shot when it’s between four and five degrees celsius. Oh, and it needs to be calibrated prior to shooting it by firing a steel BB into it at 590 fps. If you’ve done everything right, that BB needs to penetrate approximately 8.5 cm +/- 10%. Ballistic gel is a pain in the patootie to work with, but it’s the worldwide standard, so that’s what I use for my evaluations.
Now, I know that some people get upset when testers use ballistic gel. They’ll refer to it derisively as “doing Jell-O shots” or some other pejorative term. There are a couple of reasons why I’m using ballistic gelatin for testing: first, because it’s the industry standard, used by all professional ammunition evaluation organizations. Second, because G2 Research has put their claims of gelatin penetration right on their box. I’ve never seen a company do that before, but G2 has printed a picture of a gelatin block right on the back of their box.
Of course, I could point out that there’s no definition of such a thing as “FBI ballistics gel,” and that the picture looks like it’s probably from a block of Clear Ballistics gel, Perma-Gel or some other synthetic clear gel. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with those products (I own and use Clear Ballistics gel frequently), but it’s not what the FBI uses. The FBI uses organic professional ballistic gel which is made from powdered pork skin. It’s actually dried-out ground-up flesh, rehydrated into a gelatin block. That’s the stuff the standards apply to, and that’s what I used in this test.
For the pistol, I chose a GLOCK 19. I’ve been conducting many tests on 9mm ammo from a shorter-barrel pistol, but shorter barrels compromise performance, and I figured it would only be fair to this ammo to use a more conventional-sized gun. The GLOCK 19 is almost the definition of a conventional-sized pistol. It’s not a full-sized duty pistol, but it’s a very common concealed-carry weapon with a 4.02” barrel.
You can review the gel block test, including the results and comparison, in this video:
For those who’d rather read than watch, here’s the gist: G2′s R.I.P. a bit of a mixed bag. In terms of velocity, I was surprised to see that R.I.P. actually exceeded the manufacturer’s rating. They list it at 1265 feet per second, but the observed performance from the GLOCK 19 was a little higher at 1313 fps. So that’s a good sign.
Next, I had an issue with feeding. I fired five rounds in this initial test and one of them refused to feed from the magazine. Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but you get the idea. The slide locked back, and the round hadn’t left the mag. That’s really not something you want to have happen with your self defense ammo.
Moving on, let’s get to the ballistic performance. I fired a round into gel and it expanded as designed. The thin “fingers” of the hollow point (“trocars”) all sheared off and the base penetrated deeply. In other words, it pretty much worked as designed. It did not, however, meet their listed specifications.
G2 claimed a 6” spread for the trocars, but in my test the spread was 4.5” wide x 3.5” tall, so – it missed that one by a mile. As for penetration, on the back of the box they claim 15” to 17”. It didn’t reach that level, in my test the base penetrated to 12.75” and came to a stop. Now, that’s not bad — the FBI minimum is 12”, so penetrating 12.75” means it demonstrates sufficient penetration to be able to reach vital organs, and with proper aim, potentially deliver an incapacitating wound. But 12.75” isn’t 15”… and it certainly isn’t the 17” they listed on the box.
Here’s a shot of it impacting the gel, at the point where the temporary stretch cavity was at its largest:
And, here’s a shot of the permanent damage left in the gel block by the G2 R.I.P. 9mm round:
Is that the impressive? The kind of performance that will (in the words of the company) “take out all the vital organs” or that will “change the ballistics industry”? How do you go about quantifying performance in terms that we can understand, when we’re talking about a bullet that the company trumpets as being such a revolutionary, game-changing projectile?
For me to put it in context, the best way to go would be to use conventional ammunition to simulate the damage that was done by the G2 R.I.P. projectile. I figured that if I could make a block of gel have the same type of damage, at the same penetration levels with a comparable initial damage cavity, then we’d probably be a lot closer to understanding the true destructive power of this new wonder-round.
Here’s how my experiment turned out:
Pretty close, right? It’s got a shallow damage cavity, a bunch of “trocars” peeling off and creating multiple wound paths, and a deep-penetrating base. Of course, my “fake” R.I.P. block actually has more penetration than the real one, so I may have used rounds that were slightly too powerful, but overall I think I came pretty close.
Now that we know that conventional ammo can create permanent damage that closely resembles the magnitude of permanent damage attainable by an R.I.P. 9mm round, we can figure out just how much destructive potential we’re looking at here. So what kind of devastating, ultra-powerful ammo did it take to make this comparable damage?
A few .22LR’s. From a handgun. A 3.5”-barrel Bersa Thunder .22, to be exact. Not even a rifle; it took a few shots from the most woefully inadequate defensive weapon on the market to recreate the damage profile of the new G2 R.I.P. ammo.
Specifically, I used a couple of shots of CCI Segmented Hollow Point 32-grain varmint rounds to make the initial large damage cavity and the “trocars”. The CCI segmented hollow point splits into three pieces. Each piece weighs a little under 11 grains and they each go on their own path, just like the G2 R.I.P. trocars do. However, the R.I.P. trocars only weigh about six grains each, so the heavier chunks of .22LR bullet actually penetrated quite a bit further (and therefore did more damage) than G2′s trocars do. Since each CCI segmented hollowpoint splits into three pieces, I used two shots to get six “trocars” in the block.
Then, to simulate the deep-penetrating FBI requirement-meeting base, I used a 60-grain Aguila Sniper Subsonic round, traveling at a paltry 747 feet per second. I chose that round because I figured the G2 R.I.P.’s base would probably be about half its bullet weight (and I was right, it weighs in at 48.4 grains) and so a 60-grain .22LR would probably come close to matching it for penetration, and I was spot on. Unfortunately for us, the Aguila SSS round yawed halfway through the block, which made its damage path much bigger than the G2 R.I.P.’s, so it doesn’t look quite identical. But it looks close.
Now, to be fair to G2, even though the .22LR did penetrate deeper, the R.I.P. round is bigger in diameter – it’s about .36”, versus the .22 of the 22LR. And .36” will destroy more tissue than .22” will. But that’s a two-edged sword, because if bigger is better, then why would you want to use the G2 R.I.P.’s tiny little 48-grain .36” projectile, when you could use a Federal HST instead and get a much-larger, 124-grain, .52” projectile? And if the only answer is “the trocars”, let me remind you that the trocars aren’t delivering any more damage to the target than a couple of squirrel-hunting varmint rounds, and only penetrate to a bit more than half as far as the varmint rounds do.
To me, that’s a lousy tradeoff. I would hate to give up penetration depth and having a larger bullet striking deep in the body, in exchange for some superficial flesh wounding at 4” deep (and note, that’s 4” in gel, not 4” in a body – it’d be shallower in a body, and may not even get past the ribcage.) That’s not a choice I’m comfortable making, and I think most, if not all ballistics experts would agree with me.
I’m not going to say that the G2 R.I.P. is junk. It does have the capability to penetrate deep enough to cause an incapacitating hit if your aim is good enough to put it on target. It’s not like some of the other gimmick rounds that woefully underpenetrate. But that said, the only thing it really brings to the table that’s new (a big shallow surface wound) is done at the expense of delivering destruction where you want and need it – by putting the biggest possible bullet deep within the body. That’s a poor tradeoff. But the decision’s yours – decide and use whatever you’re comfortable with. Just consider making your decisions based on knowledge and results, rather than on over-the-top claims and marketing hype.
R.I.P. Ammo generously provided by Texas’ own Ammo To Go (ammunitiontogo.com)