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Ballistic gelatin calibration standardisation
  1. Amy Pullen1,
  2. D C Kieser1,2 and
  3. G Hooper1
  1. 1 University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2 Medical Corps, New Zealand Defence Force, Christchurch, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Amy Pullen, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand; a.pullen{at}


Introduction A review of ballistic gelatin calibration standards has highlighted that data used from studies with different calibrations methods may not be able to be compared. Calibration of ballistic gelatin did not occur until the mid-1980s when Fackler recognised the deficiencies of uncalibrated gelatin. He determined that the calibration standard should be 85±5 mm of ball bearing penetration for a 180 m/s impact velocity. This study looks to improve on and optimise current ballistic gelatin calibration standards

Methods Nine 0.177 cal (4.5 mm) spheres were fired using a Daisy Powerline air rifle at velocities between 134 m/s and 224 m/s at 25 gelatin blocks (n=225). Velocities were measured using an Oehler Model 36 Chronograph with three Model 57 screens. Depth of penetration (DoP) was measured from the entry surface to the back end of the sphere via a Mitutoyo Absolute vernier calliper.

Results The R-squared regression model showed that all batches had a close fit to the regression line. Using the R-squared regression model, the equation y=0.584x – 20.02 (where x is the velocity) returned a DoP of 84.918 mm for a 180 m/s impact and therefore needed minimal adjustment to align with Fackler’s 85 mm DoP. The equation can be adjusted to y=0.584x – 20.12 to return a DoP of 85 mm for 180 m/s.

Conclusions We propose that the calibration standard of ballistic gelatin with 4.5 mm spheres is DoP=0.584x – 20.12 where DoP is the depth of penetration (mm) and x is the impact velocity (m/s), The measured DoP should be within 5% of the calculated DoP.

  • biophysics
  • statistics & research methods
  • basic sciences

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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  • Contributors AP conceived the idea, developed the methodology, carried out the trials and analysis. DCK supervised the work, verified the analytical methods and reviewed the results. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript. GH supervised and oversaw the project.

  • Funding The project was funded by the New Zealand Defence Force.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.