A couple of weeks back Black Hills surprised me with their new HoneyBadger 9mm 100gr +P. I was curious when I opened the boxes, as I discovered a radical and aggressively different bullet design.
As you probably know by now, a Honey Badger is a highly aggressive little beast. It is, by all accounts, one of the most fearsome critters in the world as well as one of the most clever and destructive. A member of the weasel family, the Honey Badger is a go-getter, capable of digging in or climbing almost anything to get what it wants.
So how does that relate to this new ammo? Well, like its namesake, the Black Hills HoneyBadger line is short of reasons to care about barriers, expansion, and recoil.
Accuracy and Basic Performance
I fired the HoneyBadger 100gr +P in a SIG SAUER P320 Compact for my testing. This is a great pistol and is very, very accurate with all the ammo I’ve fired with it. It’s almost the same gun that the Army is beginning to issue as the XM18, which is the compact version of the M17 MHS.
The load features an intimidating bullet which is a non-expanding solid. The bullet has four flanges with serrations that are designed for tissue displacement. The case is standard brass and it’s crimped slightly into one of the grooves on the bullet. The primer features red sealant for weatherproofing.
I tested the load for accuracy and velocity and achieved great results. Accuracy was nothing short of stellar. At 15 yards I fired five-shot groups from a standing position that came in at less than an inch. This translated to groups that measured an impressive 1.75-2” off the bench at 25 yards. It was next to impossible to miss a 10” steel plate at any distance under 50 yards.
Listed velocity from Black Hills is 1,300fps. The tested load reached just under this at 1225fps over my Oehler 35P chronograph for an average of 10 shots.
I experienced no failures to feed or eject when using this ammo. It allowed fast follow-up shots and rapid recovery.
For this test I used a 10% FBI block from Clear Ballistics. Due to the accuracy I was able to achieve with the P320, I tested the load at a distance of 10 feet and out to 25 yards.
Over-penetration at close range is a distinct possibility. At close range in bare gel it passed completely through the gel block while delivering fantastic terminal performance all the way through. At ranges past ten yards it penetrated to a depth of 15-16” depending on barriers, and I recovered several.
What was most interesting is that this performance didn’t change much if at all when firing through almost anything. T-shirt fabric had no effect on the bullets at any range. Heavy denim and leather induced tumbling about half the time, which reduced penetration depth to 12-14”.
Barriers were very interesting as I noticed that the bullets deflected and yawed much more, but they generally didn’t tumble as much as the ones that went through heavy fabric. Side by side, you can’t really even tell what the difference between a bullet that went through a 2×4 or a piece of fabric.
This bullet is a hard one to stop, much like its namesake. It always seems to get its penetrating depth, even if that means first passing through wood, fabric, or thick wall materials. The interesting part is that the bullets had the same effect on the gel even after passing through these barriers. The science is in the shape of the projectile.
Wound channels were typically 15-16” long and featured permanent damage at a depth of 5-10”. Permanent cavities displayed significant tearing and were wider than most hollowpoints. The most dramatic thing was the damage done by temporary cavitation. The fluid action that the bullet imparts on the tissue causes sudden and surprising expansion, which can deliver even more damage than a traditional hollowpoint.
I didn’t believe this until I tried it and it’s a fantastic trait of this ammo. Bottom line is this: if you can hit your target, the bullet will do the job.
You won’t have to worry about clogging or bullet failure because the spin is where the magic is and the gel told that story with every hit.
The 9mm 100gr +P HoneyBadger is an incredible new design. Today’s advancements in bullet technology have given us surprising new levels of function and performance. This load demonstrates that you can have deep, lethal penetration with low recoil and high accuracy.
The fact that this bullet doesn’t rely on expansion is key to its effectiveness at any range a defensive handgun will be used. The radical appearance translates to function in that it can go through a 2×4 without clogging and then still deliver lethal tissue expansion. It’s the shape of the bullet that does the work, not the mechanical action of a traditional hollowpoint.
Price wasn’t listed for this load on the Black Hills site at the time of this writing, but I expect it to be in the same range as the rest of the HoneyBadger line.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * * *
This load was very, very accurate. It just wanted to shoot tiny groups.
Handling: * * * * *
Recoil was low, not snappy at all. The noise and muzzleblast was a bit sharper than most 9mm loads, but that’s to be expected in a supersonic +P load?
Reliability: * * * * *
It fed reliably throughout the course of my testing.
Terminal Performance: * * * *
This Honey Badger don’t care what it has to go through to get a tissue scramble. The results I got were fantastic and it delivered solid performance in my test circumstances. Over-penetration is a factor at close ranges.
Overall: * * * *
Despite its aggressive appearance, this is a honey of a cartridge. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a carry gun. I think Black Hills has a winner here and it is a welcome departure from the carry ammo norm.