April 30, 2013 by jervin2012
We tested a wide assortment of ‘exotic’ ammunition for the 12 Gauge Shotgun that was marketed as either producing exceptional terminal ballistic damage or yielding some kind of special incendiary or foliage-penetrating effect when fired. Our samples were produced by Fire Quest International and consisted of: Double Slug, a pair of unstabilized stacked lead shotgun slugs; Flame Thrower, a strong incendiary commonly known as dragon’s breath; a Signal Flare of the type that one would use to signal approaching aircraft while lost at sea; a cartridge that fires a shot cup of small sharp steel darts called Flechettes; Macho Gaucho, commonly referred to as a bolo round, which links two lead weights together with a 5.3” long steel wire; Rock Salt which contains chunks of salt and is reportedly used as a non-lethal cartridge; Terminator, a shell consisting of an unstabilized lead slug and #4 birdshot and the Zombie Killer, which contains a mixture of #4 lead birdshot and 00 lead buckshot.
In the interests of maintaining relevancy to the shooter in the field, we covered the target gelatin blocks in different materials to include a light cotton T-shirt and fresh pig skin to simulate human skin. The Double Slug offers great theoretical benefit by increasing both hit probability and damage to the target but failed to disperse significantly at the 10 feet distance between the muzzle of the shotgun and the front of the gelatin block. Flame Thrower failed to set the skin simulant on fire but succeeded in setting fire to the surrounding grass, table and target fixture. Signal Flare was shot at a cotton T-shirt covering skin simulant and a ballistic gelatin block. The Flare did not penetrate the ballistic gelatin block but did cause light burning to the cotton T-shirt. Flechette cartridge lacked the muzzle velocity to stabilize the flechette rounds in air and demonstrated lackluster penetration and terminal performance as a result. Macho Gaucho separated in air once out of the three shots fired, exposing the steel wire to cut the ballistic gelatin during penetration. Rock Salt was not able to penetrate the fresh pig skin barrier at the ten feet distance. Terminator yielded an impressive combination of shallow damage and deep penetration on the instances where the slug impacted the gelatin at an angle close to 90 degree obliquity. Zombie Killer offered satisfactory terminal performance with its combination of shallow damage and pellet deformation of the larger buckshot pellets.