Most frangible ammunition is made by compressing copper powder (either pure or with tin and/or polymer added) into the shape of a bullet on a machine basically identical to the kind used to manufacture medicine tablets. When a frangible round hits something hard — a steel plate, a rock, etc. — POOF! It transforms back into dust.
But just how easily does that happen? Does frangible ammo return to dust if it hits something like a car door? A window? A tire?
To find out, Nick and I hit the range with a box of Sinterfire 9mm and a garden variety GLOCK 19. The results surprised both of us.
If you’re at work or just don’t like watching videos, here’s the spoiler:
The frangible 9mm zipped through one car door, through the door card, through the other door card, and — sometimes– exited the door on the far side of the car. The bullet shed copper the whole way — it entered the first door at 9mm and exited the second one at maybe 4mm…who knows? But it appears to have stayed quite deadly the whole way.
A frangible round zipped through the trunk and through the rear seat, with a couple of small chunks remaining in tact enough to puncture its way into the front seat.
Another one made it through both sidewalls of a steel-belted radial tire and punched through the plastic wheel well liner.
One made it right through a cast aluminum valve cover. What it did inside there or how much solid projectile was left, if any, after breaking through, we don’t know.
Interestingly, the frangible 9mm didn’t like vehicle glass. Even shooting at the pre-fractured safety glass of the rear window, the bullet was reduced mostly to dust and possibly a few chunks, though the damage we saw from “copper chunks” could have been caused by flying glass, too.
Laminated windshield glass also appeared to mostly destroy the projectile. At least, it certainly turned much of it into dust. Certainly more than the sheet metal did.
So there you have it. Once again, we find that a car provides concealment, but not cover unless you’re behind a solid chunk of metal like the engine block, hubs/brakes, etc. Even if you’re facing frangible pistol ammo.
Nick and I were surprised to see this kind of ammo pass completely through two car doors. We wouldn’t have guessed that a pane of automotive glass, whether a window or a windshield, is actually better at turning a frangible projectile into dust than steel body panels, but there you go.