Ballistics and wounding factors!

Yes, yes, this is the article I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for. I’ve been gathering material over the last couple of months, reading it, compiling it, and well, I’m finally done.

I had been inspired by the cover of a gun magazine to start this. I don’t remember the name of the magazine, which issue it was,  just that on the cover it said “Is the magic rifle caliber .33?” I never bothered to open it, just saw and studied the cover every time I walked by the sporting goods section.  Eventually, in a sleepy stupor on a boring 11:15 p.m. drive home, I figured well, there is enough data out there for handgun ballistics through ballistics gel testing, autopsy reports, and the various FBI reports, I could read it all, compile it, and come out with a magic caliber for handguns.

So, using my academy credentials, I emailed, called, and smoke signaled as many of the major and smaller departments I could, as well as the FBI. I received quite a lot of information, not only written reports, but visuals, like X-rays and autopsy photos. I broke down the written reports into calibers, then by how many shots the suspect took before they were incapacitated or killed. However, I couldn’t find much of a pattern. Some guys took multiple .45 shots before death, others only took one 9mm round.

So I took the conclusions I drew from that, and started looking towards ballistic testing. However, there are just so many variables when it comes to ballistics testing. One group says this, than another group refutes that group, then another group refutes both. Some say ballistic testing is useless, and only thing its good for is wasting money. I still looked at the raw data (when it was posted), however, there wasn’t much to be gained from it in my opinion. Why? There are just too many variables in the human body for it to be precisely duplicated. Heck, just muscle tissue is different from person to person.

The only hard conclusion I can say and that I’m willing to put my name on, honestly, is handgun calibers suck. If you know your going into combat, bring a rifle, and bring several friends with rifles.

Now, obviously everyone can’t carry rifles everywhere 100% of the time, so what alternatives are out there? Well, sadly, again, the only conclusions I’m willing to put my name on comes from the FBI’s Handgun Wounding Factors and from the study of the various autopsy and police reports. These conclusions are already well-known, so don’t be shocked:

  1. Penetration is the most important factor when selecting a handgun round.
  2. Shot placement is critical. Severing the spinal cord or a headshot is instant incapacitation and/or death.
  3. Larger calibers TEND to be better at stopping a suspect/perp, however, remember the above, a 9mm to the chest will do more damage than a .45 to the arm.
  4. Don’t rely on expansion from JHP. There were several cases where a suspect had been shot 5+ times with JHP ammunition, and only a handful of the shots actually expanded.

Honestly, just practice, practice, practice. The major factor in all the cases, reports, and autopsy records I’ve read, is shot placement.


3 Responses to “Ballistics and wounding factors!”

  1. […] Posted May 3, 2010 Filed under: Guns | Tags: Guns | Jay comes to the same conclusion: All Pistol Rounds […]

  2. […] right on the aspect of handgun calibers suck, however, as I said in my Ballistics article, caliber doesn’t matter, it’s shot placement. A .380 to the spine is a lot more combat […]

  3. […] all handgun calibers suck and Central Nervous hits are about the only reliable thing to stop a […]

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