Editor’s note: The good folks at GunsAmerica fight to review everything cool, new and hot. Unfortunately, the opportunity to do so sometimes means they have to share some pain in the name of teamwork. The article you are about to suffer through is such an instance. The punisher: Heizer’s single shot pistol, available in .223 and 7.62 x 39. If you have not read the full review, I would encourage you to click over. This supplement will focus solely on the results of our ballistic gel testing. There was some concern that the attenuated barrel, coupled with the ample porting, resulted in the very low velocities recorded in that review, and that these velocities would have a very real effect on bullet performance. Is this true? Enter Jon Hodoway with the ballistic gel!
Read the full review: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/heizer-defense-pocket-ak-pocket-ar/
Read about the PAR1: http://heizerdefense.com/category/products/guns/par1-guns/
Read about the PAK1: Read about the PAK1: http://heizerdefense.com/category/products/guns/pak1-2/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=heizer
Gel Testing Plan
Brief aside: I’d like to clear up some misconceptions and describe what ballistics gel does, and does not do. Anyone who has studied the aftermath of gunshot wounds can tell you that ballistics in the human body can result in almost any outcome imaginable. Simply put–any round, whether through skill or luck, can result in the instantaneous death of a human or animal. On the flip side of that–the most powerful round can completely and utterly fail to incapacitate or kill a human or animal. When it comes to a human target, all bets are off. Have an example: a .22 rimfire round fired from a small handgun striking an adult male just under the armpit, missing the ribs, can penetrate both the lungs and the heart. It isn’t far-fetched.
Consider the murder of Corporal Mark Coates of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. During a traffic stop, the subject began to struggle with Corporal Coates and they both fell to the ground. The subject fired a .22 caliber handgun into Corporal Coates’ chest, but the round was stopped by his vest. Corporal Coates was able to force the man off of him and return fire, striking him five times in the chest with his .357 caliber revolver. As Corporal Coates retreated for cover (and to radio for backup) the man fired a second shot; the round struck Coates in the left armpit and made its way quickly into his heart. The subject, who had been skillfully struck five times by larger and more powerful rounds, survived the incident. He was sentenced to life in prison.
So why even mess with ballistic gel? Because it serves as a great way to see what different rounds do in the same basic, and control, scenario. If you took the average density of muscles, internal organs, circulatory system, nervous system and fluids, you would end up with a medium very close to the density of ballistic gel. Our test medium was Clear Ballistics gel that is approved for bullet testing by all relevant government agencies. As I indicated above, your results will probably vary and predicting the exact results of a round’s performance in a gunfight is truly a fool’s errand.
Considering that our Heizer was launching a .223 round at just under 1100 ft./s and a 7.62 x 39 round at 900 ft./s, I felt it appropriate to select ammunition that would perform the most effectively for this platform. When the time came to select the ammunition, I looked for the lightest, fastest rounds that were also designed for optimal expansion.
I found two .223 loads that looked promising. The first was the Lehigh Defense 45 grain Controlled Chaos, advertising a velocity of 3,300 fps. The second load I settled on was the Winchester Varmint X 40 grain, which indicated a muzzle velocity of 3,100 fps. Both of these rounds touted the fact that they would expand and fragment upon impact. I wondered if they’d ever met a Heizer before.
The Lehigh Defense has consistently been a showstopper in ballistic gel. If it advertises penetration, fragmentation or expansion, the results are usually quite spectacular. Unfortunately, the spectacle was largely foiled, as the Heizer’s demure ported barrel gave consistently erratic performance. The bullet would enter on a desirable trajectory, only to quickly change direction and exit the gelatin. I repeated the test several times to ensure that this was not the result of user error. The camera and evidence left in the gel indicated that there was little to no expansion, and not much of an energy dump prior to exit.
The Winchester offered a consistent and more predictable path. Although the ballistic tip did separate from the bullet, there was zero expansion. Reviewing the photography indicated that there was a moderate temporary wound channel.
To put this frankly- the terminal ballistics offered by the Heizer was not what I’d hoped for. These two rounds fired from the Heizer made even a .380 automatic look like a beast. I do not fault the rounds in any way; I believe that this platform, with its short barrel and porting, consistently fails to provide sufficient velocity for these rounds to perform the way they would form a rifle.
This is hardly Heizer’s fault. They have never made promises about terminal ballistics. And they’ve made far fewer promises than some of those who are still pushing bird-shot through .410 revolvers as the end-all-be-all for self defense. We, the end users, simply make assumptions about performance that are often erroneous.
But shooting guns is always fun, right? So what was impressive? Well–the muzzle flash, report and recoil could only be outdone by the Smith and Wesson .500 Magnum.
So what about the 7.62×39?
Really good 7.62 x 39 is much harder to find than boutique .223. The Hornady steel case rounds are among the best. This round was able to bring the muzzle flash, report and recoil levels all the way up to Damn Near Unbearable! I’m pretty sure that wielding this gun hurt me just about as badly as it hurt the gel. The performance in the ballistic gel was, again, lackluster at best. I could have re-used the bullet if the ballistic tip hadn’t broken off. There was no fragmentation and no expansion. The camera does record that this round outperformed the others in both penetration and energy dumped to the target, but that’s not an exceptionally high bar to clear.
And just to round things out, the Heizer exhibited a very nasty habit of locking itself closed after each round of 7.62 x 39. This feature was remedied through the use of a hammer and brass rod, after which the gun performed as designed.
First and foremost, let me say that I would not want to be shot with either caliber offered by this firearm. We can mock ballistic gel results and velocity measurements all we want, but being shot is being shot–all bets are off. If I were going to use this for a self-defense handgun, I would definitely choose the 7.62 x 39, as it has the largest potential to achieve the desired effect.
That being said, this is one of those situations where I would urge you to choose a different caliber. I believe that you would be much better served by the option offered by Heizer in .45. if this is the platform for you.
When I add in the second factor–hand shock–I grow even more concerned. Practice is an important part of proficiency. While the gun shoots straight, shooting it isn’t easy. his Heizer is quite the conversation piece, and everyone is free to make the choice to carry the gun they want. If someone has a compelling reason for this caliber choice, drop me a line and I’ll gladly reconsider my stance here.