Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Tensile Strength Measurements of Frangible Bullets Using the Diametral Compression Test



Steven P. Mates, Richard L. Rhorer, Stephen W. Banovic, Eric P. Whitenton, Richard J. Fields


Frangible bullets are designed to disintegrate on impact against rigid surfaces to avoid ricochet hazards in recreational shooting ranges or law enforcement training facilities. Their behavior against protective soft body armor is therefore quite different than conventional lead bullets, which are designed to expand on impact rather than shatter into fragments. Models to predict the impact of frangible bullets on soft body armor are currently sought to aide in the development of new performance standards for the law enforcement community against this unusual ballistic threat. Modeling success rests on the availability of constitutive data for frangible materials used in these bullets, such as tensile strength. To supply this critical data, the tensile strength of a common Cu-Sn frangible bullet material is measured using the diametral compression test at quasi-static (1 m/s) and high (12.5 m/s) displacement rates. The latter tests are conducted using a Kolsky Bar. Finite element modeling is used to calculate the stress in the specimen at failure. Using a maximum tensile strain criterion, the effective tensile strength was found to be 104 MPa 14 MPa and was insensitive to displacement rate.
International Journal of Impact Engineering


diametral compression test, finite element modeling, frangible bullets, Kolsky bar, soft body armor, tensile strength


Mates, S. , Rhorer, R. , Banovic, S. , Whitenton, E. and Fields, R. (2007), Tensile Strength Measurements of Frangible Bullets Using the Diametral Compression Test, International Journal of Impact Engineering, [online], (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created May 8, 2007, Updated November 10, 2018