Ballistic gels are used by professional forensic teams to simulate the effects of bullet impact on flesh. Professional grade ballistic gels are expensive and hard to come by. By following this guide, you can make your own ballistic gel at home to take to the shooting range by yourself. You can also make small gel blocks to use with BB guns and pellet guns.
Method 1 of 4: Preparing the Ingredients
Step 1. Understand the recipe
This recipe will produce two ballistic gel blocks that will serve for both pistol and rifle testing. This will simulate the effect of the bullet on the soft tissue.
Step 2. Get the gelatin
The key to a good ballistic gel is in the gelatin you use. While you can order specialty gelatin, it can be quite expensive. Knox's brand of gelatin works very much like specialty gelatin and can be found in most major grocery stores.
Step 3. Make sure you have access to enough water
To make the gel, you will need about 3.8 liters of water for every 368.6 grams of gelatin. This will make about 10% of the mixture by weight, which will make the best ballistic gel.
This recipe will use 34.1 liters of water and 3.3 kg of gelatin
Step 4. Measure your refrigerator
For this recipe, you'll need to cool the gel to about 2.2°C. Make sure that your refrigerator can fit containers or that you have a cool place, such as a garage, to prepare the gelatin.
This will take at least 8 hours to set up in a cool location, so make sure you can afford that much space in your refrigerator
Method 2 of 4: Preparing the Mold
Step 1. Get a large plastic storage container
Find a container that measures 30.4(h) x 30.4(l) x 50.8(h) cm. Avoid using containers with patterns on the sides or bottom, as this will make it more difficult to transfer the gel.
Step 2. Measure and mark the mold
Measure the inner wall 15.2 cm from the bottom of the container and mark it with a permanent marker. This will be the water line that you will fill.
Step 3. Spray the container with non-stick spray oil
Coat the entire inside with the spray oil to help release the gel when it's done. Wipe off excess spray oil to avoid cloudiness in the finished gel.
Method 3 of 4: Making the Gel
Step 1. Fill the container with warm water
Fill the mold with warm tap water up to the previously drawn line. Ideally, the temperature should be around 40.6°C. Use a thermometer to maintain a good average temperature.
Making gelatin takes longer with warm water than with hot water, but results in a clearer final product
Step 2. Prepare to mix
The mixing process will take some time, so make sure that you can comfortably mix for about twenty minutes. You will want to mix it using a large spoon, made of wood or metal.
Step 3. Add gelatin
Use a measuring cup to slowly add the gelatin to the water. You have to stir it constantly to avoid clumping. Add all of the gelatin to the mixture for about 10 minutes, adding cup by cup.
- This step is much easier for two people to do. One person stirred, while the other slowly added the gelatin. Once the gelatin is added, you can alternate between stirring tasks to rest your arms.
- To improve clarity, you can add cinnamon oil to the gelatin. You will need about 9 drops; 1 drop per 3, 8 liters of water. Add the cinnamon oil about halfway through the mixing process.
Step 4. Scoop out foam and bubbles
After the mixing is complete, there will be a small amount of foam at the top of the mixture. Gently scoop out and discard. There should be no foam or lumps of undissolved gelatin visible in the final mixture.
Step 5. Cool the gelatin
You want to cool the mixture to about 2.2°C. Avoid freezing them or the blocks will become too cloudy. If you don't cool it enough, the gel won't get the density it needs. Refrigerate the gel for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Step 6. Extract the gel
Once the gel has completely cooled, gently rotate the container on a clean flat surface, such as a kitchen counter. Gently guide the gel out of the container with your hands to help prevent the block from cracking.
Step 7. Cut the gel
Use a large kitchen knife to cut the block in half. Cut lengthwise so that you get two thin blocks of dimensions 15, 2 x 15, 2 x 50.8 cm. Gently wrap each block in its entirety in plastic wrap. This will prevent evaporation, which will affect the density and integrity of the block.
- After wrapping the blocks, place a stiff piece of cardboard on each block and repack. Cardboard will make transporting blocks much easier.
- Store blocks at 4.4°C or cooler until you are ready to shoot them. Transport the blocks into the cooler to help keep them at optimal density.
Step 8. Shoot the blocks
Place the block on a stable flat surface. A piece of plywood on an easel will do. Adjust the blocks so that you shoot into the end of the square that is 15.2 x 15.2 cm. If you're shooting a high-powered gun, place a cement block behind the ballistic gel to keep the force from falling off the mount.
- Always follow proper safety procedures when handling firearms.
- Carefully unwrap the gel, you don't want it to crack before you shoot it.
- Ballistic gel is usually shot from a distance of about 3.0 m.
- There are three types of standardized tests: Plain - nothing covers the block. Dress lightly - two t-shirts cover the block. Dress heavily - two t-shirts and two pairs of jeans cover the block.
Step 9. Take a photo
If you want to take a photo of the result, paint the plywood where you placed the block on it with white. This will highlight the shrapnel. You will be able to see the best results in the sun.
Method 4 of 4: Making A Small Block for Rifle Pellets, BB Guns & Airsoft
Step 1. Prepare your ingredients
You will need two plastic containers (453.6 grams), two packs of Knox Gelatine, a measuring cup, spray oil and water.
Step 2. Pour the gelatin into one of the containers
Add both packages into one container. Pour 3/4 cup of water into the measuring cup.
Step 3. Slowly add water to gelatin
Gently stir the mixture with a spoon to prevent air bubbles from forming. Place the stirred mixture in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Step 4. Fill the sink with hot water
Place the cooled container in the hot water for about 15 minutes to melt the prepared gelatin back into a liquid.
If the water is not hot enough, the gelatin will not melt back into liquid form. Heat the water on the stove if needed
Step 5. Spray another container
While the gel is melting, spray the second container with spray oil. If you don't have access to spray oil, any non-stick oil will work.
Step 6. Pour the melted gel into the second container
Slowly pour in the melted gel to keep no air bubbles from forming beneath the surface. Place the gel back in the refrigerator and let it cool for 12 hours.
Step 7. Tap the gel out of the container
Once the gel is ready, you can tap it out of the container. It should easily come off in one piece, thanks to the spray oil.
Step 8. Shoot the gel
Place the gel on a flat stable surface and shoot it with an airsoft gun or pellet. Shoot from a distance of about 3.0 m.
Always follow proper safety procedures when handling firearms
- When stirring the gel, stir gently to reduce the formation of air bubbles.
- Try to keep the mixture flat in the refrigerator, so that when the gel melts, it forms an even surface.
- The above steps are for ballistic gel manufacture for entertainment and not for scientific use.
- Never fire a gun unless you are trained to do so and you are in an environment suitable for using the weapon.