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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I believe the primary problem with this debate is that we (the firearms enthusiast) are looking for a statistical rate of probability that can be clearly defined and repeated.
Once it can be repeated than we can state that it will occur with percentages of probability.
Well to quantify human reactions to stimuli like wounding by gunfire is not possible and never will be unless the world becomes a very bad place to live in, it does in fact make for nice discussion and reading material and it does breed a higher rate of product consumption in the enthusiast.
I do not subscribe to either side of the argument (light vs. heavy) as I have been wounded and also delivered the wounding and IMO what I do know is that a handgun any handgun with light-fast, heavy-slow, expanding, non-expanding bullets is a poor tool to deliver an adequate wound that will cause the cessation in offensive action that we require (stopping power).
You can curtail that risk (failure to stop) by delivering your wounding mechanism of choice (Super Death Ray bullet of the month) to vital organs and structures that will cause death or near fatal injuries to your adversary. They have been detailed in thousands of cultures since the dawn of man and we should all be aware of what they are.
When your bullet contacts those organs if it has enough kinetic energy (weight and velocity minimums are important here, remember double the weight, double the energy, double the velocity quadruple the energy) it will damage them and deliver the wound you require, (remember that you can achieve either goal with weight or velocity provided that the projectiles construction is sound) if your bullet cannot reach them it will not harm them, if your bullet passes through the body/organs in question it will still damage them regardless of expansion, shape, design, construction.(any penetration of the vital organs is a bad thing and handgun bullets do not have enough velocity/energy to obliterate them).
Once your bullet passes through the antagonist you will be held both criminally and civilly negligent for the next target it encounters until it stops traveling.
So obviously once we have reached the minimum and maximum energy limits that a torso can withhold we have achieved our optimum balance in “stopping power”.
If we use more energy we over penetrate, if we use less energy we under penetrate.
It becomes essential then that the projectile is of sound construction that it can penetrate intermediary objects and barriers like clothing, glass, wall material to reach our target organs and still deliver adequate energy (this we can test for and develop statistics through experimentation as we already know what the minimum energy and velocity requirements are).
Like it- love it- or leave it the armed citizen, the police officer, the soldier, the hunter, all require a different bullet design and weight due to the intermediary targets/barriers they may come into contact with. The Police Officer that believes he will need the same ammunition as the soldier is fooling themselves. Likewise the citizen does not need and should not carry the same bullet design as the highway patrolman and the highway patrolman is going to experience a failure to stop if he is required to engage an adversary with a bullet designed for the citizen. Just as a skilled hunter will select his ammunition based on the weight and environment that his game inhabits each individual must choose their caliber and weight of handgun projectile carefully. If you carry only the “holy” .45acp and you encounter armed targets in varied environments the day will come that you will experience a failure to stop. Statistically we can also prove that you will experience a failure to stop. No pistol caliber is exempt and we also need to look at factors such as mechanical design, pistol size, availability, accuracy, the shooters ability and skill level.
We can begin to assess caliber sizes when we consider shooter skill, physical strength, and target distance. Let me show how statistical probability can work for us:
For the purposes of this model we assume the following:
1. Shooter A is legally justified in carrying and using a firearm. He/she is licensed as a citizen, police officer, solider whatever.
2. The firearm in question is accurate and reliable.
3. We know that in this person’s lifestyle and environment 15 yards is the longest range he/she will be engaging from.
4. We know that 1.3 seconds and 5 rounds can be considered effective stopping power based on the average size/weight person.
5. We know that more than one round from a handgun is necessary to provide stopping power.

If we can demonstrate that shooter A can present five missiles (bullets) into the intended target in the same area equally 4” or less to maximize damage to the organ group with a given caliber (.40 S&W for example) in 1.3 seconds At a distance of 1-15 yards. Then we would not believe that a larger caliber pistol should be carried by shooter A if the resulting time on target exceeded 1.3 seconds or the distance was reduced to less than 15 yards. To use the larger caliber pistol would actually reduce the statistical rate of stopping power.
If shooter A can achieve a faster or more accurate presentation to target by using a “smaller” caliber handgun (9mm) that still meets the 705 fps minimum velocity and 350 ft. lbs of energy we all know is required to achieve adequate wounding. Then shooter A is actually statistically increasing his/her ability to survive the confrontation by using the smaller caliber.
If we can show that shooter A is able to present the same amount/number of missiles on target in the same length of time with a larger caliber (.45acp) handgun then he/she will be increasing stopping power from a statistical standpoint.

If we can complete this exercise then our next step is to define our environment and develop an average number or standard if we must compromise and depend on the same firearm for multiple environments.

I will continue this post tomorrow and we will define our environments then.
 

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David,

Thanks for the post. I found your comments very thought provoking. I guess I'm not totally clear on what you're suggesting. Is it that when selecting a round I should take into consideration all possible environments in which I might carry my weapon of choice and the issues associated with each (construction, penetration, etc.). Or it that it doesn't make any difference which round you use as long as it meets at least minimun weight/velocity and that it can be delivered it with speed/accuracy. And are you also saying that we shouldn't use statistics on prior use of the various rounds due to variations in each circumstance?

I must admit that when I selected my carry round I looked at the various statistics on the effectiveness of the rounds available. I picked a bullet that was highly rated and would feed absolutely reliably in my pistol. One of the things that went into my decision was that I wanted a heavy bullet at a reasonable velocity.

In choosing between rounds that met my criteria, I did address some of what I consider to be environmental issues. I live in the South, so differences in seasonal clothing wasn't really an issue. I live in an urban environment, so I didn't want a round that would over penetrate. But that's about it. What I picked was the 230 gr. Federal Hydra-Shok.

I'm not sure I can meet your criteria of 5 rounds on target in 1.3 seconds at 10-15 yards with my .45, but then I probably couldn't do it with a 9mm either. So, am I better off getting 3 or 4 rounds of 9mm into the threat rather than 2 or 3 rounds of .45? I don't know, but it sounds like you're suggesting that it is better.

I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts on this topic.

Terry


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Terry Thompson on 2001-05-09 11:38 ]</font>
 

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It's only a hand gun...there isn't 2 cents worth of differenece between any of them in service grade arms or ammo worth talking about, IMO :grin:

Fast, slow, heavy or light, a hand gun is still a "weak sister" when it comes to being used on a human in a violent confrontation. Shot placement is the only real issue.
 

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On 2001-05-09 12:11, Dane Burns wrote:

Fast, slow, heavy or light, a hand gun is still a "weak sister" when it comes to being used on a human in a violent confrontation. Shot placement is the only real issue.
Absolutely. Volumns have been written on the topic, and some more are being written here. David's points are well said, but Dane has summed it up nicely in two sentences.
 

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Whew...Someone's been drinking too much coffee. Me, I just put 2 in COM and 1 head shot from my Encore in 7mm-08. :wink: Don't know 'bout the 5 shots in 1.3, though. HeHe
Sorry, couldn't resist. Hard time waking up this morning. :smile:

_________________
Make It Hot!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: dpcdivr on 2001-05-09 13:28 ]</font>
 

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I like it! Please continue...I'd like to see how far along we can carry this...:wink:
 

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I, too, agree with Dane.

THE best fight stopper that I have personally witnessed, is the 12 ga. slug. Youda thunk it was a movie the way they went down...
 

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Let me be more specific. I wasn't trying to be wet blanket on David's commentary. He is posting good info and some great history that I sure didn't have the time to look up and post correctly. So I thank him for that.

When we start disecting how handguns work, the fact are they don't generally. So I loose interest quickly in the "handgun performance" discussion.

What I do know is that if I place GI ball on your spine it is going to make life and aggression to me difficult for you. I also know if I shoot a lot trying to hit your spine, life and aggression is going to be more difficult for you with every shot. I would prefer not to use 9mm ball but past that and including 9mm ball I don't want to be shot with any of them either.

Realising there is no such thing "as fight your way to your rifle" in a civilian context I prefer to carry the platform I shoot best...a 1911 so I can actually shoot you in the spine if needed. Depending on the environment...a good point David brought up and not often addressed, I will use either 9x23 or 45.

But I sure don't feel disarmed with a j frame 38 either.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-05-09 16:16 ]</font>
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Addressing environmental issues: Stage 1


If we are to develop an indicator of probable performance we need to evaluate and define our physical environment and our “need” for our pistol/defensive firearm.

We will want to begin with our sphere of personal space; my sphere involves the area within 40” of my physical self. This figure is based on my ability to reach, grab, strike, lunge and jump. Within this area I will use any combination of common objects, weapons, strikes, blows, and “cheating” behavior necessary to protect myself. For the purposes of this thread I will not discuss them here.
My next area is a radius of 30’ feet I use this radius as it has been previously tested and instructed to me by people who know more than I do so I listen to them. This area is the hardest one to plan for as it involves so many different environments such as my home, my car, my office and my daily travels.
Beyond this area involves a gradual reduction of threat factors until we reach the improbable.
Accordingly we need to define the known environmental hazards as a first step, then the probable or likely to the “what if ??”
If my daily environment involves people all day in close contact and proximity, then the people I potentially come into contact with are my primary hazard.
For the purposes of this exercise we will exclude Lions, and tiger, and bears (oh, Alligators too...)
Let’s say I am the average citizen and that my physical environment changes from residential to urban and back again as I commute, work, meet, and lunch each day.
If we begin at home then I have the option of choosing a more effective shoulder fired weapon to increase our stopping power probability, now I need to define my criterion for effective performance or home "stopping power".

For the purposes of this article today we will discuss stopping power in the home.
I am not going to address all of the common sense rules like locks (especially firearm security), lights, alarms, etc. and we will all assume that we have decided that we must use and do require a personal defense firearm.

We can isolate some of the home statistical issues for further thought/research as follows:

Firearm and Cartridge selection:

1. Penetration characteristics in building materials, what are the known penetration measurements for your selected ammunition in sheetrock, furniture, glass, plywood, plaster, cement, tile, and stone. (For this we can use gun magazines as a informational source as someone is always being paid to think up new reasons to offer the newest “death ray with grips” and reasons why this 180 grain bullet @ the same velocity is more effective than the same bullet @ the same velocity by our new sponsors/advertisers)
For example we know that a .45acp JHP Hydra shock bullet will penetrate an average distance of 30” in ballistic gelatin after penetrating a sheetrock/framing lumber based interior wall.
We know that a 110 gr.30 caliber soft point bullet from an M1 carbine will penetrate 1-3” of solid plaster and concrete. A 180 gr.40 S&W JHP bullet will penetrate up to 10” of plywood before stopping. A 240gr.44 magnum bullet will penetrate an average of 9-13” of common masonry brick wall.
A .9mm 124 gr. FMJ round can pass through 28 separate ¼” panels of standard glass when fired from a 16” carbine.
2. What are my personal physical limitations? Can I operate an auto loading, pump action, or bolt action weapon more effectively under stress?
3. What are my population numbers? Do I have children, spouses, relatives, or friends that will be living with me? (If so seriously revisit number 1)
4. What is the physical location and domain type of my home? Do I live in one common structure with interior walls, is my home an apartment, townhouse, row house, or do I live in a mobile home, a single dwelling? (If the answer is anything other than a single family home, seriously revisit number 1 above)
5. If I live in a single family home what is the distance and location of barriers to my neighbors? If the distance is 100 yards or less then a rifle/carbine is out of the question as we know that even a .100 grain 9mm JHP bullet carries enough energy after passing through ¼” glass to be fatal at 100 yards. If my known distance is from 25-100 yards then we know that we can select a .12 gauge or .20 gauge shotgun with shot based cartridges.
6. What is my distance/response time for my nearest police or Sheriffs department? I can estimate the amount of responsive fire and length of time that I may be required to defend myself or keep intruders at bay by the approximate measured length of time that a Police response will take to reach me. If I live in an upper class suburban neighborhood with a 2 minute response time then I can be reasonably sure that I will not require several 100 round drums and multiple magazines/reloads for our home defense firearm. If on the other hand we live 40 miles from the local road and our only response will be from the State Police located 100 miles away we will need to plan accordingly with high capacity ammunition devices and the capability to defend ourselves for an extended length of time.
7. Can I depend on other family members to be skilled, armed, prepared, and responsible?

From these questions we can determine our optimum pistol/firearm for home defense.
Once we determine and define our equipment we will of course practice extensively to achieve optimum skill so we can place our shots to target with accuracy and speed.
Assuming that we have added awareness, accuracy and speed, proper ammunition/weapon selection, and we have chosen responsibly so our bullets only deliver fatal injury to our chosen target(s), can we now predict our level of home stopping power?
Will we need to debate and evaluate again based on firearm brand, action type, caliber, or bullet design? If we have accurately evaluated our home defense firearm needs will bullet caliber, weight, and design be a factor (Are we sure we should not worry about the .04 tenths of an inch and 10 grains (a grain is an equal measurement for 1 particle of sand) difference between a 124gr 9mm JHP and a 135gr .40 JHP, we may only get one round off, will it matter?
 

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Dane, you weren't being a wet blanket, you were just being irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Uh, wait, I think I could have said that better. :grin:

Especially with something as feeble as a handgun, Dane is of course absolutely correct that *how* you use the weapon is 99% of the issue.

But... that's not what we're talking about. All these ammo debates, in the end, are about gaining an INCREMENTAL advantage... figuring out what gives us the other 1% (or 10% or 5% or whatever). I think it is extremely productive to talk about and try to figure out what is the "best" for our particular needs -- as long as it doesn't keep us from the range, where we pick up the other 99%. I'm a firm beliver in getting EVERY advantage I can lay my grubby little hands on, no matter how small, uncertain or downright piddling.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
CastleBravo you are correct and on point.
It is easy to state that a handgun is an ineffective tool but in my case and I believe most enthusiasts situation the pistol is the personal defense tool I am most likely to have on hand when trouble arises.
It is my hope and intention to stir the readers of this web site to thinking and evaluating their individual needs at a very high level; through in depth analysis and the process of evaluation it is possible to extract the remaining 1-2% of performance from our personal defense equipment. The handgun may be mediocre but it will be the most effective tool at hand for our environment at the time.
It is my highest hope to cause the readers/members or visitors to these posts to stop and think for themselves, question the facts when you read that an "expert" claims that the Navy Seals use this new titanium toothbrush and by using it you too will be able to chew through concrete. I have been factious here to over exaggerate my point, but seriously question when someone tells you that 100 fps and .04 tenths of an inch or 25 grains makes the difference between a "fight stopper" and a "failure to stop". Of course it doesn't and if we examine the "statistics in print with even the basic scope of arithmetic you will see that the numbers are nothing short of "vapor ware" and marketing hype.
Think, plan, train, be safe.
 

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Sorry to have missed this thread in my enforced absence this week. Lots of good points.

If I may comment I would like to both agree and disagree with my Amigo Dane. How's that for being political? :smile:

Dane is so right when he says "its a pistol"... don't expect too much. In fact I will step out and say rifles under .30 caliber aren't something to expect too much of either. That is if your goal is to instantly incapacitate an attacker with one shot to the "A-zone". You might get the job done but then agian, depending on just WHO your attcker is, or more importantly how he reacts to being shot, will make all the differenece for those critical few seconds wich will determin if you go unscathed or not. That is unless you disurpt his central nervous system (spine or some parts of the brain). So Dane is right, it does not matter much what you shoot if you expect a heart shot to do the job instantly (yes a bigger hole will work quicker but that is like 15 seconds vs. 20 seconds - not at all something we are interested in).

Where I disagree is in the implication that your selection of caliber or ammunition does not make an important difference. The selection of the bullet (far more than the selection of caliber) is something on which many lives have been staked and on which many have been LOST . The failure of numerous .357 125gr. jhp hits have been documented (5 alone in the Mark Coates case caught on video), the failure of the 115gr. 9mm JHP to reach the intended target, when they were "perfectly placed", The failure of well placed .223s to penetrate adequately, the failure of 10 .38 +P jhps in the recent Police Marksman (and earlier Ayoob Files, which were well placed but did not hit the spine , including one contact hit to the head (which cleaved the skull in back and hit part of the brain) as well as a contact wound to the armpit which passed through the arota, ... I can go on, and on.

What I am trying to say is that in this quest for a "more powerful" (whatever that is) round that is less likely to "overpenetrate" (whatever that is), we chose ammo that has a really high chance of failing to reach an important target.. this problem is increased in the smaller calibers in the quest to make a bigger hole and such distortion of the bullet "puts on the brakes". Pistol bullets (and many rifle bullets) are highly unpredictable in people and animals... I have seen Remington 150 gr. Core-Lokt 30-06 fail to go deeper than 6" on several occasions (no this is not the norm but it is about 10% - would you carry ammo in your gun that failed to feed 10% of the time? )... now just how much more potent is your 9mm 115?

I see the number one goal in a fight to go home "unholey" - no bullet holes or knife slashes. The bullet is one of the tools which may help accomplish this goal. Placement, preferably to the spine, is the best way to achieve this, by shooting a bullet that penetrates well (at least 8 to 9" in wet newsprint, which seems a much more realistic medium than gelatin from experience of many people who have shot a lot of stuff.. and is actually accepted by the IWBA) is a bare minimum. After that you can worry about what you might penetrate with your misses... I don't plan on misses so I ignore it :grin: However I do want to be able to shoot people through walls and sheet metal.

Food for thought,
Back to my cave :smile:
Be careful out there,
Jim Higginbotham
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
All good points Jim,
One that I think is important to elaborate on more thoroughly is the ability of the average person to test his/her favorite loads in wet (soaking) newspaper. I too have found newspaper to be a more accurate predictor of performance in live animals.
Informative anecdote coming: In 96' I had the opportunity to shoot some groundhogs with some very nice HS Precision custom rifles. At the end of a very enjoyable afternoon we were on our way back to camp when I spotted a "large" Jack Rabbit standing broadside left shoulder to me at a distance of 31 yards. I was carrying an HK P7 M8 at the time loaded with Corbon 115gr +p 9mm ammunition. I took careful aim and hit him directly in the left shoulder; you’re thinking "splat" no more rabbit right? Wrong the little sucker actually made it about 10 painful feet away and began squeaking "screeching" in rabbit (calling down a rabbit curse on me that has prevented me from ever winning the lottery). I approached him and placed a double tap into his head and neck to prevent any further suffering (if I had known that the Corbon round was that poor I would not have shot him in the first place). I still have the first bullet it penetrated approx. 1.25" through the rabbits shoulder and slightly into his chest. The rabbit weighed 18 lbs, I was lucky, really lucky he did not weigh 180 lbs and intend to do me harm with a bowie knife if you get my point. The day I returned home from that trip I contacted Kind and Knox and ordered my first 25lb batch of Ordinance Gelatin and began my quest to evaluate and test each load I planned to carry. I am getting to a point here. Initially I tested my Corbon 115 gr. Loads in 10% bare gelatin and discovered how effective my rounds should be with a complete fragmentation and a penetration depth averaging 8”.
Out of curiosity and disbelief I tested my same Corbon load again with a beat up Wilson’s leather bomber jacket balled up in front of the gelatin block. It then penetrated 5.3” and fragmented into two pieces.
I then tested the same round into really wet newspaper with the jacket in front of it again; the bullet completely fragmented and penetrated slightly over 3”. I am seriously glad that rabbit was not wearing a leather jacket or he probably would have beat us to death as I am sure that he could have covered the 31 yards faster than I could have hit him again....
Seriously, testing results in gelatin especially 10% gelatin can be deceptive and could get you killed. I still use it as an indicator but it is only one of a dozen tests I perform before I adopt a new carry load, be very cautious of "trends" and "revolutionary" new bullet designs, test them personally before you place your life behind them.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David DiFabio on 2001-05-11 21:15 ]</font>
 

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Hello, all. Very interesting post, Mr. DiFabio. Like you, I've tested any "carry" load as well as others in animals as well, generally jackrabbits and of the last few years, javelina. They are tough little critters.

In any event, I have found Hornady XTPs to be much more effective than the results given by Marshall & Sanow or as predicted by practically any test in media. Yet, they perform poorly in the "OSS" stats and at the yes-it-happened/no-it-didn't "Strasborg Tests."

We're talking quite a few beasties here and not all were perfect shots to be sure!

Triton's 125 gr +P JHP has also performed pretty darned well out my 9mm Brownings. Do you have any test data on this factory round? If so, I, for one, would appreciate hearing what you've learned.

Best.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Stephen,
I believe I have mentioned it before but I really like the XTP bullets. I have done a lot of field testing with the Black Hills .45acp 230 grain XTP loading (I am sorry to see it go) and I really grew to like that loading.
I have not as of yet tested the Triton 9mm loads but I have spent several weeks working with the Triton .40 Super and it seems they have finally standardized the velocities and pressures. I am not a fan of bullet designs that over expand and fragment early as they often lead to underpenetrations and serious "flesh" wounds that may or may not stop my attacker.
In the case of the .40 Super 135 gr. loads I will make an exception as the permanent wound cavity is so large in diameter in comparison to a standard auto pistol bullet wound channel. The feeding and flat shooting charcteristics of the .40 Super also appeal to me as a "field" gun (rabbits, coyotes, small deer etc... Not to be confused with a "forest" gun (bear, big cats, etc..) The XTP does not create a wound channel that is "large" enough for the M&S crowd but the bullet construction rarely, ok, very rarely fails and the XTP can be depended upon to penetrate and damage the vital organs that can often reside behind bone and muscle structures.
As to shooting goats in France, I tend to believe Jan Libourel could have demonstrated a higher level of integrity by waiting and asking the "real" questions before publishing the "Urban Legend" of Strasburg. I do have several friends in the UK that have reported on the shooting results of "mad" cattle and "drooling" sheep and the 5.56mm was given a rest in favor of the 7.62mm and it seems that several of the sheep forgot to die when shot in the head with 9mm NATO.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David DiFabio on 2001-05-12 08:35 ]</font>
 

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Very interesting comments, gentlemen. Might I ask all you folks, in all of your testing, what .45 rounds have impressed you lately? Unfortunately, Mr, Higginbotham, my 7mm Mag simply must disagree with your "< 30-cal rifle" comment :wink: (but, in general, I think I know what you mean). Thanks, guys.
 

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On 2001-05-11 21:10, David DiFabio wrote:
All good points Jim,
<snippage>
I then tested the same round into really wet newspaper with the jacket in front of it again; the bullet completely fragmented and penetrated slightly over 3”. I am seriously glad that rabbit was not wearing a leather jacket or he probably would have beat us to death as I am sure that he could have covered the 31 yards faster than I could have hit him again....
Seriously, testing results in gelatin especially 10% gelatin can be deceptive and could get you killed. I still use it as an indicator but it is only one of a dozen tests I perform before I adopt a new carry load, be very cautious of "trends" and "revolutionary" new bullet designs, test them personally before you place your life behind them.
That is a great example and report David. Reminds me of my experience with the .357 magnum and a "Raging Bull 'Possum" :grin:

People who do not shoot a lot of stuff would just not beleive what actually happens when bullets strike flesh, sometimes.

back to my cave,
Cordially,
Jim H.
 

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Just a little more evidence of how powerful a hand gun is :grin:
I use to eradicate the mag pies from my wife's yard. Typically I would do that with a surpressed MP5 and 147 gr JHPs. Not unusual to center punch either a crow or a mag pie with the 3x9 Leopold on that rig and have the darn things fly to the next yard, at least 100 yards away!

Figure what a 147 gr, 9mm round equates to on a 2 # bird. It would be like a human getting center punched with a 8" shell.

I do remeber that cat's eye marbles do a fair job on Bohemian Wax Wings....that is about like a 12" shell center punching a human...

Jim good to see you "up" and at it :grin:
 

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Well Dane, maybe 9mm just sucks :smile: When I was shooting starlings with my M40A1(M118 Special Ball 7.62x51) they just tip over dead. I think the problem is not so much in shooting flesh, it's hitting bone and(to a lesser extent) cartilige that the problems arise. When I started researching armour penetration(that's hard armour) I discovered that a lot of the stuff that happens to bullets hitting bone is similar to what happens when shot or shell hits armour plate. You get deflections, skipping, shot shatter and all sorts of other strangeness. That seems to be an issue in a lot of these "problem" shootings. The solution in the case of armour defeat was to increase projectile hardness and shape, perhaps this is to be looked at for anti personel rounds. We may not want to increase hardness, since that would preclude expansion(for the most part) but shape might bear looking at. Some thoughts to ponder. Semper Fidelis...Ken M
 
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