Ammunition testing is always interesting.
Velocity, accuracy and a clean powder burn are important. However, feed reliability is a million times more important than any claimed ballistic advantage. When it comes to personal defense ammunition, you have to wade through the hype and misrepresentations.
My first criterion for choosing personal defense ammunition is reliability. The ammunition must survive being soaked in oil, water and solvent, respectively, overnight to ensure that both the case mouth and primer seal are adequate.
Then, I cycle a single cartridge through the pistol action several times (usually a half dozen). The bullet must not take a setback into the cartridge case. This setback breaks the case mouth seal, inviting contamination of the powder charge and also severely increasing pressure. Next, I fire the loading for function and feed reliability. (Feed reliability means that the bullet nose moves through the action and feed ramp properly. Cycle reliability means that the basic operating criteria of mass and velocity are suitable for the particular caliber and handgun.) Lighter-than-standard bullets in the popular calibers are the worst offenders for cycle reliability.
G2 Research R.I.P. Ammunition
G2 Research has developed a bullet called the Radically Invasive Projectile (RIP). This bullet is intended to offer adequate penetration and to fragment in the threat. The bullet features a serrated nose in order to spin off eight trocars from the bullet base, expanding the radial dispersion of the wound channel. The bullet is CNC machined and constructed completely of copper. As with many other designs, this bullet is intended to quickly give up its energy in the target.
There are competing criteria for personal defense. Some favor a bullet that quickly gives up its energy. Others favor a bullet with deep penetration—expanding to an extent, but not at the expense of penetration. The deep- penetration school of thought plans not for the average scenario but for the worst-case scenario. I let common sense and decades of research guide my choice.
The single most important component of wound potential is shot placement. Given shot placement, the bullet should penetrate at least 12 inches in gelatin or water testing and expand to one and a half times of the original bullet diameter.
However, reliability comes first. My choices are not exotic, and my handguns are service-grade pistols. With this in mind, I tested the RIP 9mm load based on its own merits and also in comparison to past experience.
I will state the facts in a few words: The RIP load seems to have good primer and case mouth seal. The simple tests were passed. As for feed reliability, I was able to fire 10 rounds each of the loading (a limited test, true, but this ammunition is expensive at more than $40 for a box of 20) in a CZ-75B, CZ-75 P-01 and a Browning High Power. Feed reliability was good, and the cartridges cycled normally. Be certain to test your personal handgun with any potential defense load.
“RIP AMMUNITION IS AN INTERESTING OPTION. FOR HOME OR PERSONAL DEFENSE CHORES, ITS PERFORMANCE WILL APPEAL TO MANY SHOOTERS.”
I like to skim or surf a little and see what others are saying about a new product. There is a lot of fantasy out there, and that’s the difference between the Internet and a print publication. You actually have to have qualifications to work for Gun World, and every article goes through an experienced editor. (As an example, one individual on the Internet noted that the RIP 9mm 92-grain load breaks 1,294 fps, which equates to 490 foot-pounds of energy. No, it does not. This would have been 341 foot-pounds.)
The highest velocity recorded was with the Browning High Power, at 1,301 fps, but this pistol generally exhibits higher-than-average velocity. The CZ-75 averaged 1,240 fps, and the CZ-75 P-01 averaged 1,223 fps. With the 91-grain bullet, 1,240 fps equates to 314 foot-pounds of energy. As a comparison, a 124-grain JHP at 1,100 fps averages 333 foot-pounds.
The RIP load isn’t in +P territory, which can be a good thing. Energy figures are useful for comparison, but the actual damage is the most important in the real world. The loads demonstrated a full powder burn. There was little to no muzzle flash, even from the shorter-barreled pistol. That is good. There was also little unburned powder—also a sign of good load development. With the light bullet, felt recoil was modest. Control isn’t an issue, and those who find +P recoil difficult to manage in a light handgun might find the RIP loads desirable.
Next, I fired the RIP 9mm for accuracy. This test was conducted at 15 yards. This is a good yardage to test a personal defense load in a compact pistol. I went with the compact CZ-75 P-01, because I knew the shorter barrel would be the least accurate of the three handguns. I was pleased with a five-shot group of less than 2 inches. With this accuracy and control, the RIP load has no issues in personal defense in these categories.
To test penetration, I chose to test the RIP loads in water. Water is simple to use, is repeatable and can be used for comparison by anyone. As a rule, water testing might overstate penetration and expansion by about 10 percent, compared to gelatin. For instance, a bullet penetrating 12 inches in water will penetrate about 10 inches of gelatin. Gelatin is a reputable form of testing, but it certainly isn’t flesh, blood and bone.
I was interested to see how the eight trocars performed. The design goal was to provide secondary missiles to radiate from the wound channel and contact vital organs while the center base continued to penetrate. How the bullet will perform against bone isn’t easily gauged.
The bullet entered the first jug, and then the trocars exited the rear of the 6-inch-wide water jug, to be found in the second jug. There was a dispersion of 2 to 3 inches in the exit hole of the first water jug. The projectile base continued past the second jug, for more than 12 inches of penetration.
Upon exiting the second jug, the bullet base would sometimes only dent the third jug and fall to the table; sometimes, it penetrated the third jug and fell to the bottom, gauging about 12 to 13 inches total penetration.
You will have to decide if the ammunition produces adequate penetration for your scenario. In home defense, for those wishing to limit penetration, the RIP load has promise. The wound produced will be complex and not easily repaired, so give some thought to how this loading would be perceived by a jury of laymen.
I also conducted another test by shielding the water with heavy denim: I wrapped a pair of well-used jeans around the water jugs. The bullet did not break up in the denim—the entry wound into the water jug was perfectly round. The bullet seemed unaffected by traveling through either one or two layers of denim.
I then used wood barriers. I often use tomato stakes for supports at the range, so I sacrificed several, placing them over the water jug. In this test the bullet also made a clean hole in and out of the wood, not breaking up. When the bullet was recovered, it seemed to have behaved as many conventional JHP bullets do; in other words, penetration was enhanced after impacting a wood barrier. The trocars seemed to have broken up more in the second water jug than the first, and the center projectile traveled 14 or 15 inches.
RIP ammunition is an interesting option. For home or personal defense chores, its performance will appeal to many shooters. A drawback is the cost—nearly twice as expensive as many competing loads.
The reliability of the ammunition is confirmed in older firearms, such as the Browning High Power. Velocity is maintained, even in short-barreled handguns, such as the CZ -P01. The loading maintains its performance after penetrating denim and wood barriers.
One question about RIP ammunition is whether the penetration adequate for all scenarios. Yet another is whether the wound mechanism equals conventional hollow points in total wound potential. The jury is still out on the RIP loading.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the September 2016 print issue of Gun World Magazine.