The information below is not intended to be a complete technical discussion but rather a layman's explanation of how frangible ammunition works. We then go on to describe our technology, so that you can better understand the advantages our products have over conventional ammunition.
"Frangible, or 'soft,' rounds are designed to break apart when they hit walls or other hard surfaces to prevent ricochets during close-quarters combat. Frangible ammunition represents the first viable revolutionary change to firearms science in the past 100 years. Frangible ammunition is a relatively recent development in bullets, presenting a departure from the standard projectiles in use for both range shooting and personal protection. With the advent of modern hostage rescue tactics in the 1970s and 1980s, the military and police agencies began to look for ways to minimize overpenetration risks." [Source: globalsecurity.org, emphasis ours]
Frangible is a descriptive term used to describe anything that is capable of being broken or possessing the property of being fragile. Practically anything can be frangible, depending upon the circumstances. Your car seems built solidly enough, but drive it into a concrete barrier at 65 mph if you want to test its frangibility. A frangible bullet (or slug) is designed to survive being discharged from a firearm intact, but will break into pieces upon impact with the target. The harder the target, the smaller the pieces the projectile breaks into.
Frangible projectiles have been around for some time, but it is only within the last 20 years that manufacturing processes have emerged making them a viable tool for the law enforcement and home defense communities. The performance of a modern frangible projectile, when loaded correctly, rivals or exceeds that of conventional ammunition. Sinterfire, Inc., in Kersey, PA, makes some of the best frangible projectiles in the business. In their patent they briefly describe their manufacturing process:
"The frangible metal bullet is formed from a mixture of metal particles and metal or metalloid binder forming material which is compacted into the desired shape, heated to a temperature above that needed to form at least one intermetallic compound but below the temperature of joining of the metal particles by sintering and below the temperature of formation of substantial amounts of a ductile alloy of the metal of the particles and the metal or metalloid binder forming material and then cooled. Such bullets have sufficient strength to maintain their integrity during firing but disintegrate into powder on impact and can be formulated to be lead-free." [Source: U.S. Patent 6090178]
Some materials are not very frangible at all. Lead is one of them. For centuries, lead was the obvious choice for small arms ammunition. It was abundant, inexpensive, and denser than other common metals. Lead's advantage is its malleability; its ablity to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking. This means that when a lead projectile hits the target it is squished out of shape by the impact forces, but it stays mostly in one piece and retains most of its kinetic energy. Hollowpoint lead projectiles use malleability to their advantage by mushrooming upon impact and creating a single large wound channel.
Malleability makes lead a fantastic choice for dropping a rhino, but not necessarily a good choice for use in your home. Why? Remember how we said that the newly shaped lead projectile retained all of its kinetic energy? Well, that energy should have been deposited in the target, but instead the projectile passes through the target (although slowing along the way) with some of its kinetic energy intact and deposits it elsewhere: The wall behind the target, the hostage behind the target, through the wall and into the loved one behind the wall... And what happens if you miss? The lead takes over. As in overpenetration.
The whole reason you brought that gun into the house in the first place was to protect your loved ones. Doesn't it make sense to use an ammunition that will keep them the safest? Yes, you have to neutralize the threat, but when you miss (when, not if, look at the pro's stats) your loved ones may be at significant risk of injury or death if you are using conventional ammunition. Lead projectiles will pass right through that wall, retain most of their mass, and deposit their energy into an innocent bystander. Shooting against an exterior wall? Your neighbor gets a little surprise!
Replace your lead-based ammunition with frangible. Overpenetration risk is substantially decreased, stray bullets are broken down by walls and rendered less-lethal on the other side, and ricochets become a hazard of the past.
Okay, this type of discussion is not without controversy. But, we hope you will follow our train of thought here and agree that our SafeGuard™ line of frangible slugs are trying to cover all the bases.
Imagine a pendulum. On one side is shock. On the other side is bleeding out. Somewhere in the middle is multiple wound channels.
Shock is a simple kinetic energy dump. Imagine getting hit with a baseball bat. Ouch. Did it break the skin? No. But did you feel the kinetic energy? Oh, yeah. The damage to your body is under the skin; a broken bone, internal bleeding, bruising, and other tissue damage. Now what if that baseball bat was Volkswagen sized? You may not walk away from this one. The more kinetic energy you dump into a person then greater the damage.
To keep this discussion simple (ha, too late), the formula for calculating kinetic energy is: Kinetic Energy (KE) = 1/2 MV2. In ballistics we talk about muzzle energy and use foot pounds (ft·lb) as our unit of energy. To put this into perspective, our slowest (Tactical Velocity 1,100 feet per second) 325 grain 12 gauge slug produces 873 foot pounds of muzzle energy. Our Magnum Velocity slug (1,400 FPS) produces 1414 ft. lbs. Compare that to a .45 ACP handgun load at about 391 ft. lbs. A standard .308 Winchester rifle load is about 2648 ft. lbs. Simple calculator here. Remember, all things held equal, more muzzle energy will mean more felt recoil.
Bleeding out is even simpler to visualize. A needle prick will produce a small amount of bleeding, whereas a cut from a Venetian schiavona of the late 17th century (Itialian basket-hilted broadsword) would produce significantly more bleeding. Bigger hole = more bleeding. That's why hollow-point bullets are so much more effective killers than solid bullets. After hitting the target they mushroom and create a bigger hole.
Multiple wound channels are created when multiple projectiles hit at or around the same time. Machine guns are highly effective killers. Many a soldier owes their life to one, and many a soldier lost his life to one. Buckshot loads are also excellent killers for this reason.
"A large body of Boxers wearing their red sashes and carrying large swords and spears advanced toward the hastily detrained British sailors and U.S. Marines. The Boxers proved not to be invulnerable to bullets, as they had claimed, but they were very hard to stop. One British lieutenant had to shoot a Boxer four times with his pistol at short range before the man dropped. Captain Bowman McCalla of the U.S. Navy also complained that it took more than one rifle bullet to stop the onrushing sword-swinging Boxers. Machine guns turned out to be more effective, and eighty-eight Boxer bodies were left on the field, at a cost to the allies of only five dead. These five were Italian sailors caught unawares by the Boxers." [Source: Warriors of the Rising Sun, By Robert B. Edgerton, page 72]
Our patented technology allows us to "program" the depth of penetration of a frangible projectile. We do this by utilizing (hollow point) cavities of varing sizes and/or skives. Essentially we control, or program, the size of the fragments that the projectile breaks up into upon hitting the target. A large fragment retains more kinetic energy, so it travels deeper into the target. Conversely, a small fragment posseses less kinetic energy, so it is stopped earlier by the material it is passing through.
Now that you've learned more about the power of frangible, check out our Product Pages and see what our ammunition can do for you.
And, if you made it this far... Thanks for reading!