Why does clothing inhibit hollow point expansion?


January 23, 2005, 09:06 PM
There are many tests that show that clothing inhibits or even prevents many hollow point handgun bullets from expanding. The majority opinion is that the cavity of the hollow point becomes clogged with the fabric.

I suspect or theorize that the fabric does not enter the hollow point but instead covers and wraps around the tip of the bullet before it sears off the shirt or jacket. In effect a fabric patch that is larger in diameter than the hollow point cavity is created and this fabric patch covering the front of the bullet is what inhibits expansion.

I further theorize that hollow point bullets that tend to still expand when shot through clothing are doing so because their profile is cutting through the fabric without creating this patch or is creating a patch that is small enough to enter the hollow point instead of wrapping around it.

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January 23, 2005, 09:13 PM
I'm 99% sure that the clothing usually enters the hollowpoint. Recovered bullets shot through 4-layer IWBA denim tend to have cloth stuck in them. I'll try to find some pics.

Can see, somewhat, that there's blue junk in the hollowpoints there.

Ammolab.com is no longer free, but I distinctly remember that in their test of .45 ACP Taurus copper bullets, the ones shot through denim very obviously had denim stuffed in them, even though they did expand successfully.

That's all I can think of.

January 23, 2005, 09:26 PM
I have a friend, a 1911 aficionado, who carries hollow point in his .45 during the summer and switches to ball ammo in winter because he believes just the opposite of this -- he feels heavy winter jackets will cause a hollow point to expand too soon and not achieve penetration.

Does anyone know for sure?

January 23, 2005, 09:47 PM
a friend of mine accidently shot himself. it was the very first shot out of a brand new sig 220 with black talon .45 ACP ammo. he was sitting with his ankles crossed. he neglently/accidently fired the 220, pointing down. first the bullet hit his jeans, then shank of hightop cowboy boot, about 9-10" of very sinewy calf muscle, missing the bone or barely grazing it, then the other side of the cowboy boot shank, other side of jean leg, then the other leg's cowboy boot foot, the sock, through the foot-missing any bones, the other side of the sock, and then lodging in the sole of the cowboy boot. one freaky accident.

this happened in my shop. he shot himself in the leg and then the opposing foot. he took off his boots and inspected the damage. he decided that the ER was in his future. the DR asked why he shot himself twice? my friend layed on the ER bed and got POed that the doctor did not believe he only shot once. i then noticed about 8" of thread hanging from the hole in his yet to be bandaged foot. it looked like thread from the stitching from his boots.

anyway, after i rushed him to the ER, got him checked in ETC., i went home to look for the bullet. he wanted it for a souvineer. i finally found it in his boot, between the liner and sole. i was lookin' for a hole in my shop floor. the bullet was pristeen, except for the rifleing marks. it did not have any cloth in it but it had three layers of leather stacked in the hollowpoint. you could reload it and shoot it again. i have a blacktalon .45 ACP bullet that was fired into water. it is one of the most evil lookin' things you ever saw.

he ended up mending ok with minimal after effects. he still kinda freaks when he sees someone get shot in the leg or foot in a movie or on TV.

i feel that the leather plugging the hollowpoint saved his leg and foot. that is the only reason i can think of that the hollowpoint didn't expand.

January 23, 2005, 09:49 PM
I think that HP uses hydraulic forces, so only liquids might work?

I've heard Korean war excerpts that .30 carbines won't go through winter clothing, but today's winter clothing usually isn't all that heavy, anyway.

January 23, 2005, 10:50 PM
Actually, some clothing promotes expansion... think of a Wonderbra!


January 23, 2005, 10:58 PM

It's Sunday dude, keep it clean will ya :D

As to the subject, I have no idea.


January 23, 2005, 11:07 PM
think of a Wonderbra! Sure thang - it's in my daily routine!! :p

January 23, 2005, 11:10 PM
No girl friend of mine has ever needed a wonder bra! :D

January 23, 2005, 11:14 PM
I've found wads of cloth jammed in the (partially expanded) JHP cavities in just about all the play dough tests I've done while using various layers of clothing. If the JHP managed to expanded completely, that wad of clothing can still be found somewhere along the "wound track".
I typically toss these little wads of cloth, but below is a pic that I included it in.

135gr +P Speer Gold Dots, far left partially expanded after 4 layers of denim. Wad next to far left was recovered, anchored in remaining cavity.

January 23, 2005, 11:47 PM
What I suspect is that if the hollow point is deep enough and the patch is small enough and thin enough, the patch will not fill the hollow point all the way up to the top and expansion will occur.

What might be the possible with some hollow points is that the hole starts out wide then takes a quick taper that steps the hollow point cavity down to a much smaller diameter cavity. Maybe the fabric patch gets hung up in the top wider part of the hollow point and thus prevents or inhibits expansion.

But with some hollow point designs I suspect a wide fabric patch may be created that in effect "gloves" over the bullet turning it effectively into a FMJ design.

What I suspect might be best is a hollow point with a sharp outer cookie cutter edge and a wide near straight down deep cavity that is deep enough to take in a reasonably probable amount of fabric without getting filled all the way to the top. The top outer part of sharp cookie cutter jacket should be thin and notched to help initiate expansion.

Anyone know of a brand of bullet like I am describing?

January 24, 2005, 12:54 AM
I always believed that prevention of clothing clogging the hollow point was the reason hydroshocks have the little pointing thing inside them.

FWIW - I've had very mixed results in shooting through clothing. I usually use wet phone books as a backing and will then cover them with Jean, t shirts, old jackets, etc. I've never really achieved consistent results . . . rather I usually get a mixture of expanded and non expanded rounds - even from within the same box. And the rate and efficiency of the expansion also varies a lot.

Just my observations, not sure what it adds.

January 24, 2005, 07:31 AM
Cor-bon and federal have an intriguing solution in their powrball and expanding fmj, respectively.

Instead of relying on the target to supply the needed mechanism to expand, they have a ball of polymer in the HP cavity to encourage expansion.

If anyone here has any actual street results with this round it would be greatly appreciated.

It looks like it should work.

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