When it comes to bullet penetration testing, the FBI is cited as the
standard source of information. They use ballistic gel. If you want to buy
some for yourself, I have scoured the internet for information about where
you can get it.
The ballistic gel is made by Gelita (once known as Kind & Knox).
They call it Pharmagel or "250 Type A Ordnance Gelatin".
Gelita USA Inc.
P.O. Box 927
Sioux City, IA 51102-0927
2445 Port Neal Industrial Rd.
Sergeant Bluff, IA 51054
They also have a Chicago office, plus you can check out Gelita's web site for more information.
I've also received a not-overly-pleasant email from Gary Brunet stating that you can also
purchase Vyse Ballistic gelatin. Feel free to contact them:
5001 N. Rose St.
Schiller Park, IL 60176
Ballistic gel is prohibitively expensive. Sites that have cited prices
have it range from $10-$14 a pound. The FBI is said to use 6x6x16 or 8x6x16
inch blocks. Each block is composed of 1 kilogram of ordnance gelatin
powder (about 2.21 pounds) and 9 liters (about 2.37 gallons) of very hot
distilled water. Mix
well. Set in an area where it can not be contaminated for four to five
hours and allow it to naturally cool to room temperature. Chill 48 hours
in a sterile environment to a temperature of 4° C (39.2° F). The
gel must remain at 5° C to be calibrated. You now have a 22 lb brick of
expensive, tasteless gelatin. It is a 10% mixture (90% water, 10% gelatin
It is said that one must purchase at least 25 lbs of the gelatin powder,
which should make about 3.6 cubic feet.
A double batch can make a 6x10x18 brick, and a triple batch can make a
10x10x18 brick. You might want to coat your molds with some cooking spray
so they pop out. If you forget, you could run hot water over the outside of
the mold until it is able to slide out. The gelatin will spoil, so use it
within a week. A few drops of wintergreen oil will help keep it fresh, and
you never should freeze the gelatin.
The acceptable measure of a block of gelatin is a .177-caliber ground
steel BB to penetrate 3.34 inches (8.5 cm) when launched at 590 fps.
The advantage of using this mixture is that you have the closest
resemblance to human flesh that the FBI has found (without actually shooting
someone). Also, when you shoot it, you can see the soft tissue damage as
well as the track of the bullet. The downside is that it is expensive and
you only get one shot per block.