I’ve been putting G2 Research’s new R.I.P. ammo through conventional ballistic testing to see how the round performs in a flesh simulant (ballistic gelatin). In Part I of the process, I did bare gel testing. In Part II of my examination, I conducted three more tests – against four layers of denim, plywood and then 12 layers of denim. And for comparison’s sake, I subjected Federal Premium HST to the same tests . . .
We’ve already addressed G2 Research’s claim about their supposed “hole saw effect” in a prior article. Suffice it to say that no, it doesn’t act like a hole saw. G2 Research’s bullet penetrates barriers using the same method as other bullets do – they all smash through barriers, they don’t saw through them.
That said, the question becomes – what is the residual bullet performance, once the round has gotten through that barrier? G2′s bullet is different from conventional hollowpoints, – approximately half of the bullet’s material is used to make the hollow point cavity. And even then, that material is sliced into thin strips to make what they call “trocars.” Will that hollowpoint cavity get plugged? Will the trocar strips get smashed or fold over? How would those hold up to barriers?
TEST 1: Four Layers Of Denim
In the first test I used a ClearBallistics synthetic ballistic gel block and four layers of IWBA-standard (16 oz per square yard) heavy denim. The G2 Research R.I.P. bullet punched right through, expanded to shear off its “trocars,” and the base penetrated to 14.25”. The denim had basically zero effect on the round; the resulting damage cavity looked pretty much the same as the damage cavity from the bare gelatin test.
The trocars spread out to a 3.5” diameter, and penetrated to about 4” of depth. Again, neither of those results meet the claims on the back of the box (where they say it’ll achieve a 6” spread on the trocars, and 15 to 17” of penetration) but that’s another question that can be addressed later.
How did the HST do? Superbly. It penetrated 16” and expanded to an average diameter of .460”. Both rounds performed through the denim-covered gel exactly as expected, and very comparably to how they had done in the bare gel. The HST expanded a little less than it did in bare gel, as is typical of denim-covered gel tests. The bare gel bullet expanded to .522”, the denim-covered gel bullet expanded to .460”.
Side note: some may ask why I used ClearBallistics synthetic gel instead of professional organic gel for this test. Two reasons: First, because I can only make and transport four blocks of organic gel at a time, and I used those throughout the other tests. But second, I really wanted at least one test to use the clear synthetic gel because in all of G2′s marketing videos that I’ve seen, it looks to me like they’re not using organic gel; it appears that they’re using a clear gel, either ClearBallistics or Perma-Gel or one of the other synthetic gels on the market.
Accordingly, I wanted at least one test using the same type of gel just in case there was any significant difference in performance between the organic and synthetic gels when running the G2 R.I.P. round. There wasn’t, but hey, part of testing is asking questions and being thorough and diligent to get the answers. Plus, I really wanted a test in clear synthetic gel because I wanted to explore one of the images from their video to see how realistic it was – and it was very illuminating indeed!
Test II: Plywood
One of the FBI standard testing protocols is shooting through 3/4” of plywood. I did the same, but was not exactly the same as the FBI does it. The FBI test specifies a distance of 18” between the plywood and the gel block, with a layer of light clothing over the gel block. I didn’t bring a way to rig the plywood to be supported independently, so I just stuck the plywood right in front of the gel. After all, the goal here wasn’t to try to conduct an FBI-specific test, it was to examine how the two rounds performed after encountering a sheet of plywood.
Also, the FBI uses a specific type of fir for their plywood test. I just grabbed a piece of whatever plywood I happened to have in my garage. I doubt it’s fir. It may be birch, I don’t really know. What I do know is, it’s 3/4” of plywood. So I’m not making claims that this is a recreation of the FBI labs plywood test. Take it for what it is – a test of a bullet penetrating a 3/4” plywood sheet and then moving into professional organic 10% ballistic gel.
G2 Research claim that their round defeats all known barriers, such as plywood. Well, it did smash through the plywood and enter the gel, so yes, it did defeat the plywood. Unlike the four-layer denim test, in my plywood test shot the performance of the R.I.P. bullet through the plywood was not the same as in bare gel: only three of the trocars broke off. The other five stayed attached. This made for a rather interesting gel block; the resulting R.I.P. bullet looked more like a conventional expanded hollowpoint, with a large expansion diameter. Because of the larger diameter, it also didn’t penetrate as deeply; it came to rest at about 9.25.” The initial expansion cavity wasn’t as large as in the bare or denim tests; I measured it at about 1.50” across.
The trocars that did break off didn’t really “deploy” like in the previous gel tests. In the bare gel and 4LD tests, the trocars broke off and stayed straight and long, each creating its own wound channel. In the plywood test, only three broke off and they were curved, like those that stayed attached to the bullet. Only one of these detached curved trocars tried to depart on its own wound path. The others basically stayed in the central damage cavity, very similar to how Hornady’s Critical Defense will frequently shed petals that remain in the permanent crush cavity.
The HSTs didn’t do well here. My first shot smashed through the plywood and entered the gel, but didn’t expand. It over penetrated…and kept on penetrating to about 23.50.” I then tried again, and got similar results; a second HST smashed through the plywood, failed to expand, and penetrated to about 22.25”.
Neither round did well in this improvised, non-standard plywood test.
Test III: 12 Layers of Denim
For test number three, I wanted to explore a claim that G2 Research was making that said their bullet would penetrate through an absurdly thick 12 layers of denim and still perform as designed. Twelve layers isn’t a standard test, of course. The four layers of denim test was designed to present a worst-case scenario for a bullet to face, and the purpose of the four layer test is to see if a hollowpoint bullet will get clogged and fail to expand. I think most reasonable people would think four layers was “overkill.” So in that respect, 12 layers would have to be, what, “over-massacre”? But, hey, it was a claim that was made, it’s easily testable, so…test it I did.
I used the same IWBA-spec 16 oz. per square yard denim, stacked it 12 layers deep and covered a 10% organic ballistic gel block with it and fired one round of each into the block.
The G2 R.I.P. did what they said it would. It sliced through the 12 layers, the trocars broke off, made a 2” diameter cavity and the base penetrated to 14.25”. It really looks pretty much exactly the same as it did through four layers, except that the trocars didn’t spin out and create an 8-path ring of separate wound channels, they just kind of bunched together in the initial damage cavity.
As for the Federal HST, I kind of blew it. Foolishly I didn’t have a backer block behind the main block, so after getting through the denim, the bullet shot through the first 16” block and was lost. I know it penetrated over 16”, but I don’t know exactly how far the bullet went. Perhaps it would have stopped at less than 18”, perhaps it overpenetrated, I don’t know. So, my bad on not getting a backer block in there to try to catch the bullet.
I’ll try to re-run that test at some point in the future and update this article with the results of an HST through 12 layers of denim in organic gel. I don’t know whether the HST will pass this test or not; it’s well outside the standards so I doubt the engineers would have taken that into account so I am assuming that the HST would clog and overpenetrate.
Terminal Performance Evaluation
The G2 R.I.P. did surprisingly well through the barriers. It handled the 4-layer and 12-layer denim just fine, and it penetrated through the plywood and still manage to deploy an expanded bullet. I remain unconvinced that the “trocars” are any sort of substantial wounding element; the extremely shallow (4”) penetration of the trocars in the 4LD test, and the failure of them to create any notable separate damage paths in the 12LD and plywood test, lead me to believe that they would perhaps create a nasty, but shallow superficial wound, but not contribute much if anything to the overall terminal performance of the round.
To be fair, it’s possible that the size of that superficial wound could possibly contribute to a higher likelihood of a psychological stop…meaning, an attacker may feel the pain and see the blood and decide voluntarily to discontinue their attack. Obviously we can’t know that until there are actual cases in which the R.I.P. round has been deployed in a self defense situation. But I can see how a reasonable case could be made that the psychological effects of seeing such a large surface wound may inspire someone to call it quits. Then again, maybe not.
Since the infamous FBI Miami Shootout, the focus of law enforcement and self defense ballistic performance has been to find out what bullet performance parameters can reliably force an attacker to stop. It’s referred to as involuntary incapacitation, where the bullet damages the attacker’s body to the point where the attacker has no choice but to stop.
A psychological stop relies on the attacker choosing to stop. Which means a possibility remains that the attacker may not choose to stop (perhaps he’s excessively determined, or enraged, or passionate, or perhaps he’s not thinking logically due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, or perhaps he’s mentally unstable). But in involuntary incapacitation, none of that matters. The bullet takes away the attacker’s choice by forcing the body to shut down. And, in handgun rounds, involuntary incapacitation is caused by a bullet that penetrates deep enough (defined as 12” to 18” through ballistic gel) and expands large enough that it destroys as much tissue as possible in the region where the vital organs are located.
As determined in Part I of this review, each R.I.P. trocar penetrates less and damages less than a segment of a .22LR segmented hollowpoint. The CCI .22LR segmented hollowpoint broke into pieces and penetrated in a comparable diameter – but to deeper depths – than the R.I.P.’s individual trocars do. So for terminal performance effect, I would rate the trocars as ineffective, since their performance can be exceeded by a couple of segmented varmint rounds from a .22LR. It’s not that they could never force a stop or a kill, just that it’s pretty unlikely. The remaining base of the R.I.P., however, does penetrate deeply enough to reach vital organs, and should be evaluated for its potential in causing an involuntary incapacitation.
Given that context, let’s examine the recovered bullets and see if we can come to any conclusions.
At the top of the picture are recovered bullets from bare organic gelatin. The G2 R.I.P. bullet measures .375” in diameter at the face of it (the shearing off of the trocars left a little bit of stubble at the front face, which increases the diameter a little above the main body of the bullet, which measures .355”). Using the formula for area of a circle (3.14 * radius * radius) we can determine that the G2 R.I.P. base presents 71 square millimeters of potential disruption, in 48.4 grains of weight.
Using the Schwartz Quantitative Ammunition Selection mathematical formulas, we can calculate that the R.I.P.’s base would destroy 19.66 grams of tissue. The HST, on the other hand, expanded to an average diameter of .522”. That gives it a total surface area nearly twice as large as the G2 R.I.P. bullet, 137 square mm. And, combined with the HST’s deeper penetration, that gives us a total level of tissue destruction of 44.34 grams.
How much meat destruction is that? It’s about as much as a hot dog; imagine someone carving a hot dog’s worth of flesh out of your body, and that’s about what a 9mm HST will do. In comparison, the G2 R.I.P. did a little less than half that much damage. Still substantial, but more on par with a .380 ACP hollowpoint than a 9mm hollowpoint. As far as total tissue destruction, we could up the G2 R.I.P.’s total some if we added up the trocar penetration. But in terminal ballistics the quest isn’t about total overall tissue destruction, it’s about disrupting the vital organs, and the trocars don’t penetrate deeply enough to likely affect the vitals.
In the test through four layers of denim, the difference is less. The HST again exceeded the size of the G2 R.I.P., but not by as much. The HST through denim expanded to .460”, as compared to the .375” of the G2 R.I.P. That gives the HST 107.22 square mm, about 50% more than the G2 R.I.P.’s 71.25 square mm of frontal surface area. The HST penetrated to 16”, and the R.I.P. penetrated to 14.50”, so the Schwartz formula tells us the HST destroyed 37.20 grams of tissue, and the R.I.P. destroyed 22.29 grams. That leaves the HST doing about 67% more tissue destruction if disregarding the trocars’ shallow destruction.
The plywood tests were inconclusive. Both rounds penetrated through the plywood. The G2 R.I.P. resulted in an underpenetrating round of large size, the HSTs resulted in overpenetrating rounds of small size. If I had to choose, I’d take overpenetration over underpenetration. According to ballistics expert Dr. Martin Fackler, “overpenetration may get you sued, but underpenetration can get you killed.” But I’d rather have a proper performer in either scenario.
Could a G2 R.I.P. stop an attacker through involuntary incapacitation? I believe it definitely could. But I would put its overall likelihood of doing so on par with a .380 ACP round using an XTP hollowpoint, rather than compare it to conventional 9mm hollowpoints. In my extensive testing of .380 ACP from 2.8” barrels, I found that the best .380 rounds would penetrate to about 13.50” and destroy about 23 to 25 grams of tissue. Those results are very comparable to the G2 R.I.P.’s penetrating base, although the .380 projectile is carrying about twice the weight of the R.I.P., and that would give it more momentum and perhaps better straightline penetration through bone. That’s speculation though, as obviously I haven’t tested that to verify.
In any case, in terms of penetration and tissue destruction, I would rate the G2 R.I.P. 9mm base as about comparable to a good .380 hollowpoint. I believe that it’s capable of reaching deep enough to cause a hit to the vitals that could lead to an incapacitating hit.
However, the HST will reach deeper, with a bigger bullet, and destroy between 2/3 and twice as much tissue. It does so with a projectile that weighs two and a half times as much as the base of the R.I.P. bullet (124 grains vs. about 49 grains), so the retained momentum will be a lot higher with the HST. The advantages would be a potentially straighter path of travel, potentially better bone penetration, substantially more tissue destruction, and the potential of hitting nearby targets that the smaller R.I.P. bullet may miss (in other words, with identical shot placement, the R.I.P. could potentially just barely miss an artery or vital organ, whereas the larger size of the HST might reach out and nick or hit the artery or organ.) In my opinion, there’s no question as to which would be the more likely round to cause involuntary incapacitation, and that’s the HST.
But What About The Shock Wave?
Finally, let’s address what is, in my opinion, one of the most absurd statements ever issued in ammunition marketing. G2 says (and I quote): “The acoustic wave that is imparted into the intended target is sent along predictable vectors. This action creates an ease of entry by reducing the deceleration at the point of impact, allowing potential energy to be conserved, thus transferring a devastating kinetic energy wave.”
Now, I don’t know exactly what they’re trying to get at, but I think they’re trying to imply that somehow they’re creating a larger temporary cavity which would mean the bullet can penetrate farther without having to use up its kinetic energy on penetration? And that, as a result, they can transfer “a devastating kinetic energy wave.”
I do not, in general, use profanity. However, if I did, I would at this point describe steer manure in two simple syllables. Or, perhaps this is a case where the old adage comes into play – “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS.”
First, we’ve already figured out what their actual penetration is, so whether it comes from ripping through flesh or it comes from “ease of entry by reducing the deceleration at the point of impact”, the net result is the same – the trocars barely penetrate at all, and the base penetrates okay.
Second, about that “devastating shock wave” – shock waves from handgun bullets don’t, in general, damage most tissue. Mechanical stress (ripping, crushing, tearing and cutting) is what accomplishes that. There’s a highly disputed theory about “hydrostatic shock” that perhaps they’re trying to invoke here – but if so, they’re on the wrong track. While the concept of “hydrostatic shock” is rejected by many leading terminal ballistics experts, even its most ardent proponents (such as Courtney and Courtney) acknowledge that you’d need a bullet with at least 500 ft/lbs of energy to produce a temporary cavity large enough to even begin to produce this shock wave effect. As tested, the G2 Research R.I.P. doesn’t come anywhere close to 500 ft/lbs. My test shots averaged 1313 ft/sec, and at a 96 grain bullet weight, that calculates out to 367.41 ft/lbs of energy, far short of Courtney’s specified minimum of 500 ft/lbs.
So – horse hockey.
But What About That Gel Block Shot They Show?
Perhaps the most impressive demonstration in the entire marketing video is where G2 Research shows an R.I.P. round passing through what looks to be a block of either ClearBallistics synthetic clear ballistic gelatin, or perhaps a block of Perma Gel – it’s impossible to know, because G2 Research doesn’t identify the material.
Now, that picture shows a tremendous temporary expansion cavity, trocars flying out of the block and the bullet easily overpenetrating out the back. But – no details are offered. What type of gel is that? What size block is it? How would a calibration BB perform in it? And why did it overpenetrate, when clearly in standardized testing it doesn’t? Are there some shenanigans going on here?
For comparison, here’s a picture of what a G2 Research R.I.P. actually does, when fired from a Glock 19, into a 16” x 6” x 6” block of ClearBallistics synthetic gelatin, covered with four layers of denim. Note, the denim shouldn’t matter, as testing revealed the bullet performance to be comparable with and without denim in place.
That was taken from the 1200 frame-per-second slow motion footage, at the maximum diameter of the stretch cavity. It measures about 5.5”. Not bad, but nothing like what G2 Research showed. We can’t know for sure what G2′s image shows, so we have to assume (yes, I know all about what “assuming” means, but – without further clarification, the video leaves us with no alternatives). If we assume that they’re using a standard 6” x 6” x 16” block, then the diameter of the temporary cavity they’re showing is at least 8.5”. That’s fully 55% larger than what it actually did from the Glock 19. That’s outrageous. That cannot possibly be true.
So, let’s explore another possibility: perhaps their stretch damage is the same as what my Glock 19 did, but they used a deceptively smaller block of gel to make it look bigger. If that’s the case, and their stretch cavity is a realistic 5.5” in diameter as my shot was, that would mean their gel block is only 4” tall and 9” long.
The standard for testing handguns in ballistic gelatin is a 6” x 6” x 16”-long block. Is there such a thing as a 4” x 4” x 9” block? Turns out there is. A quick examination of ClearBallistics’ online shop shows that they do sell an air rifle block that’s 4” x 4” x 9”. Is that what G2 Research did? Did they use a miniature block to make their round look more impressive? If so, that’d be deceptive as hell. I would find it hard to believe that a manufacturer would do such a thing. But it sure would explain the difference in size, and also the overpenetration (because in a standard block of gel, from a Glock 19, G2 R.I.P. definitely doesn’t over penetrate.)
So ;et’s explore an alternative potential explanation: did they, perhaps, “water down” their gel or heat it up to make it softer? Would that make it more pliable and exaggerate the penetration? Possibly, but that would be so sketchy as to perhaps qualify as fraud, so I’d say that I would find it highly doubtful that they did such a thing. We know for a fact that they understand the concepts behind gel testing and FBI standards, because they reference them in their FAQs and even on their ammo’s box, so I can’t believe they would use a fake or watered down gel.
Yet another possible explanation would be that that was a super-hopped-up, massively over-pressure round, that traveled at higher velocity. I doubt it, though, as that would be profoundly dishonest – presumably they’re showing us the ammo that we can buy, after all.
I can’t say exactly what they did, but I can say from my experience what they didn’t do: that isn’t a case of a standard-size handgun shooting a standard-pressure round into a standard-sized clear gelatin block of standard density. It just doesn’t match up with the real testing I did.
I’d like to believe they used standardized clear gel. And I’d like to believe that they used it in a standard block size. And that they shot it at normal temperatures. Because to believe otherwise would be to believe that they’re trying to be intentionally misleading or even fraudulent — and I wouldn’t want to believe that. So there’s one other possible explanation I can offer. It’s possible that what we have here is a case of them firing the 9mm bullet from a rifle or carbine, instead of from a handgun.
If they used something like, say, a Kel-Tec SUB-2000 with a 16” barrel, maybe it’s possible that the longer barrel would deliver 200 or 300 extra feet per second, and that may be enough additional velocity to make a larger temporary cavity and cause the base to overpenetrate. That’s a total guess on my part, but I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
In any case, I can conceive of no possible way that what they showed is a representative shot of a normal handgun firing an over-the-counter G2 R.I.P. round into a standard-size block of gel that’s calibrated to deliver performance comparable to 10% ballistic gel. No way.
It seems obvious to me that there’s something nonstandard going on here. Either they used a smaller block to exaggerate the viewer’s impression of the round’s potency (such as using an “air rifle” block meant for testing air rifles), or they used an extended length barrel and are showing a rifle’s results. That would be okay, if they would just label it as such. Without any labelling, the impression given (or, well, at least the impression I got) was that we were looking at a handgun round impacting standard synthetic gel.
A 9mm bullet is, after all, a handgun round, so it would be logical and reasonable to think that we were seeing the impact of a handgun round fired from a handgun. And what they’re showing is absolutely not a handgun round being fired from a handgun into a block of gel meant to be used for testing handguns, so … something’s out of whack here and clarification from the company would be appreciated.
In my opinion, there’s no advantage to the R.I.P. in terms of penetration or vital organ tissue disruption, so the only real area of discussion would be in terms of the initial “trocar” damage cavity. If you’re choosing between a conventional hollowpoint and the G2 R.I.P., the only thing the R.I.P. adds over a conventional hollowpoint is that initial, shallow “trocar” damage cavity.
It’s my opinion that the “trocar” cavity is not going to provide some mythical “devastating shock wave”, certainly none beyond that provided by a conventional handgun round. So we have to look at the actual damage done by the “trocars”, which amounts to six grains of copper each, penetrating about 4” deep. In general, that’s a lot less damage (per trocar) than you’d see from a segmented 22LR hollowpoint (which, in my testing, each segment penetrated between 5” to 9”) so I simply don’t see a little sliver of metal penetrating 4” to be that overwhelming a threat.
If you were talking about a “belly gun” where you were actually pushing the pistol upwards into someone’s abdomen right below the ribcage, then yes, the trocars might penetrate deep enough to destroy vitals, and boy would that be a nasty wound. But for conventional engagements where it’s likely that the bullet is going to have to penetrate through the ribcage to reach the vitals to cause an incapacitating hit, I just don’t see the trocars adding much if anything to the round’s overall damage potential. That leaves us with only the solid base of the G2 R.I.P. as our potential incapacitator. And while it could get the job done, a conventional HST (damaging 67% to twice as much tissue) would be more effective in getting that job done.
R.I.P. Ammo generously provided by Texas’ own Ammo To Go (ammunitiontogo.com)