Penetration anxiety?


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Kylaen
March 2, 2010, 11:25 AM
Can't decide between a +P+ 9mm or a .357 SIG. But if even 9mm or 4" birdshot pellet could overpenetrate soft tissue, then should I fear it in a force situation or not? Fear is just eating at my dream of being a cop.

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Steve C
March 2, 2010, 12:12 PM
could overpenetrate soft tissue, then should I fear it in a force situation or not? Fear is just eating at my dream of being a cop.

The only thing you should fear in a lethal force situation is being killed by the other person. Over penetration is an insignificant issue vrs simply missing the intended target. Read just about any article on a police involved shooting and you will generally see many more shots fired than hits on the perpetrator.

hankdatank1362
March 2, 2010, 12:44 PM
The only thing you should fear in a lethal force situation is being killed by the other person. Over penetration is an insignificant issue vrs simply missing the intended target.

Ehhh, not so much. As a lawfully armed citizen, and especially as a LEO, what is behind your target is critical. Many instances have been documented of officers engaging targets without consideration of the angles involved. (watch how a pair of cops confront a suspect. One will never [or should never] be directly behind the suspect at a 180 degree angle.)

Granted, it is dificult to remember such a thing in what is obviously a very dynamic situation, but overpenetration, or "shoot-through" is very common, even with handgun calibers (especially FMJ.) Many officers have been wounded or killed by brother officers failing to take this into consideration. Citizens probably have too, but I can't seem to recall reading about any such incident... but it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Joe Sixpack catching one in the arm when a cop (or lawfully-armed citizen) takes out his attacker and turing around and suing the department or the individal.

Rule #4: Always be sure of your target AND WHAT'S BEHIND IT. It's a rule for a reason.

hankdatank1362
March 2, 2010, 12:45 PM
Oh, and I'm digging the title of the post. Well played, sir.

NG VI
March 2, 2010, 01:20 PM
It's not nearly as high a risk as a total miss. Hits stop fights, better hits stop faster, the sooner the fight is over the less shots have to be fired, meaning less chances to miss and hit someone with a full-force round, so really, more practice is the answer to your 'penetration anxiety'.

armoredman
March 2, 2010, 02:02 PM
Worry about hitting, let the Dept worry about penetration. if you're in LE, your Dept will pick your ammo, not you. You put the pill on target, the Dept lawyers take care of what thier ammo did.
Use the same ammo off duty as your local PD, if you are not yet sworn.
Practice, practice, practice. Most cops can't shoot as well as we'd like, overcome that hurdle first, worry about things that do matter, like the academy and the academy of the street.

Ben86
March 2, 2010, 03:00 PM
Lol! Penetration anxiety! Oh my. :p

Load up with premium hollowpoints and you shouldn't worry much about overpenetration. It is still good to be mindful of your backstop, in case the hollowpoints do shoot through the skinny weasel a bit.

I'd go with 9mm. It will allow for much more ammo options. You can get cheap target loads, regular defensive loads, +P and sig like +P+. Did I mention the ammo is cheaper?

And by the way, if you are super nervous about ever having to use your gun it is worthless to carry it in the first place. Don't carry unless you are confident you will use it if you have to. And not only use it, but use it well.

RyanM
March 2, 2010, 05:08 PM
Underpenetration is probably more deadly to bystanders than overpenetration.

If a round overpenetrates, it can only hit something incidentally, that you weren't actually aiming at, and at a reduced velocity to boot.

If a round underpenetrates and fails to stop an attacker, that means he could shoot (or otherwise attack) you and a bunch of other people. Intentionally, and at full velocity.

Also, I'd recommend standard pressure 147 gr 9mm JHPs, instead of fancy whizbang stuff.

Mr.Davis
March 2, 2010, 05:21 PM
One should make the general assumption that any shots fired at a target will overpenetrate and strike what lies beyond.

Overpenetration cannot be controlled without extreme tradeoffs in lethality. Even a bullet designed for very consistent penetration is risky depending on how deep the person is at the point of impact. A bullet designed to penetrate to 12 inches in a COM shot may not be far enough on a 400 pounder, but would go right through when striking a thinner individual in an upper arm, for example.

Get an angle without a innocent backstop if possible and shoot to stop. Keep in mind that collateral damage of this type is very rare in self-defense or officer-involved shootings.

Warhawk83
March 2, 2010, 05:33 PM
Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

BTW,I never have penetration anxiety.:neener:

Cosmoline
March 2, 2010, 05:45 PM
I love the thread title. There really does seem to be an almost pathological concern for this potential. The problem is if you're shooting to defend your life you ought to be using the biggest, meanest firearm available. Downgrading the weapon's power in order to avoid some theoretical overpenetration risk misses the point of self defense shooting. If you must fire to protect your life, then that's the end of it. You either stop that threat immediately or you die (or get seriously wounded). You simply don't have time to worry about what's behind the person attacking you. Indeed you don't have time to find out what's behind him. The best way to limit the risk of hitting bystanders is to limit the number of shots you need to take. That means a powerful long gun such as a rifle or shotgun. The handgun is a poor substitute to be used only if concealment is required.

By choosing the LESS powerful round out of overpenetration fears, you actually may increase the danger to bystanders because you'll need to fire more rounds. You're also increasing the chance that you'll lose the fight.

NG VI
March 2, 2010, 07:37 PM
:neener::neener::neener::neener::neener:

:neener:Ha, Warhawk :neener: likes :neener: getting :neener: penetrated!:neener:

:neener::neener::neener::neener::neener:

EmGeeGeorge
March 2, 2010, 07:46 PM
I think true penetration anxiety really results if you arent justified in a shooting and are sent away to bad boy camp...

NMGonzo
March 2, 2010, 07:52 PM
.44 magnum will cure that.

Carry that sucker around for a few months and you will prance back to 9mm.

Clifford
March 2, 2010, 10:22 PM
Only in when I was in highschool:D

mljdeckard
March 2, 2010, 10:54 PM
Get this 'overpenetration' notion out of your head.

Of course you want a defensive bullet to penetrate at least 12" in ballistic gel, giving indication that it will perform at least this well in real life. If it were not this effective, why would you carry it? ALL effective pistol rounds are going to 'over' penetrate. That's why we use them. And what about the bullets that miss? IN REAL LIFE, not all of your shots are going to hit anyway. This is why Rule #4 always applies. As a cop, as a civilian, on the street, in your home, on the range, on a foreign battlefield. You are ALWAYS responsible for what that bullet does. There is no such thing as a bullet that is both effective for self-defense, and unlikely to go through a human target and hit what is behind it.

I don't like +s in cartridge titles. Cartridges were designed to operate with particular bullet weight, diameter, and velocity. If you think a regular 9mm is too slow, don't carry one, bump to a .357. (Magnum revolver type.) As for a .357 Sig, the main reason I see for its existence is in pistols with barrels so short that they have lost velocity and are less effective. I would use a .357 Sig in a sub-compact pistol to get the velocity back to regular 9mm numbers. Which seems to me like swallowing the spider to catch the fly.

What is it you think a +P+ 9mm is going to do that a regular 9mm won't?

hankdatank1362
March 2, 2010, 11:01 PM
Spot on, Mr. Davis.

m00t
March 3, 2010, 02:42 AM
Legitimate reasons exist to carry .357 sig. This ballistic gel comparison is pretty old, but still serves to illustrate the point. .357 sig has much better tissue disruption than 9mm, and has a flatter trajectory than .40 or .45 (or 9mm for that matter). The largest problem with .357 sig loads at present is ammo manufacturers cramming a 9mm bullet into the .357 case, without adjusting the bullet to compensate for 300+ extra FPS, resulting in too violent of an expansion.

ETA: I carry 9mm and agree with the comment on standard pressure 147 grain JHP rounds. Again, see the graphic below.

oasis618
March 3, 2010, 04:04 AM
I get it all the time but it usually goes away after the 2nd or 3rd encounter.

C-grunt
March 3, 2010, 04:17 AM
Be more worried about misses. Those are far more likely to hurt someone else and hasnt done anything to help your situation.

oasis618
March 3, 2010, 04:21 AM
When I miss there usually isn't anyone else within shooting distance.

easyg
March 3, 2010, 08:51 AM
Can't decide between a +P+ 9mm or a .357 SIG.
Get the .357Sig.

Here's why:
1)
I don't know of any 9mm pistol that actually recommends a steady and frequent diet of 9mm+P+ ammo.
That ammo is hard on a 9mm pistol.
But most .357Sig pistols were designed to take the abuse of the .357Sig for the lifespan of the pistol.

2)
There's really not much difference in the price of .357Sig ammo and 9mm+P+ ammo.
Sure you could train with regular 9mm ammo (IF YOU CAN FIND SOME), but then you're not really training with what you will actually be carrying.

3)
With a .357Sig pistol, you can also get an aftermarket barrel and convert it to a .40S&W caliber pistol.
And with a few additional changes, you can convert it to a 9mm pistol as well.

But if even 9mm or 4" birdshot pellet could overpenetrate soft tissue, then should I fear it in a force situation or not? Fear is just eating at my dream of being a cop.
Do some research and you will see that it is very rare for an innocent bystander to be injured or killed by a bullet that has already passed through another human.
Most innocent bystanders are injured or killed by bullets that totally missed the intended target.

In other words....
Don't worry about over-penetration, worry about missing your target.

Good luck,
Easy

duns
March 3, 2010, 08:54 AM
Don't worry about over-penetration, worry about missing your target.

Good advice!

duns
March 3, 2010, 08:59 AM
Deleted

Kylaen
March 3, 2010, 01:51 PM
Thanks y'all. I'd try to be proficient enough when I buy a gun. I'm just a BG-fearing cripple who wants to be a cop, never shot a gun in my life. I guess I've done too much reading, no actual practice.

Ben86
March 3, 2010, 02:38 PM
Try not to get too caught up in ideology. You can worry yourself out of a lot of good choices and make illogical decisions that way.

MedWheeler
March 5, 2010, 11:13 PM
When I started out in LE, I was worried about underpenetration. Our gear back then was the S&W Model 67 .38 Special loaded with Winchester 95 grain +P STHP rounds. Too light a projectile for my comfort.
Cops frequently have "cop dreams", usually ones in which they cannot get their guns to perform in TSHTF situations, or that they are grossly outgunned or under fire. I had 'em, too, and they were always the same: I'd come across a street burglar in the act, confront him, and he'd go for a piece. He'd force me to shoot him, and he'd go down. But, he'd survive, and reach for his gun again, forcing me to shoot him again and again until mine was dry. Probably had that dream ten or fifteen times over the first few years.
A buddy of mine had a more funny image in his: he'd fire at a suspect, and the bullets would just fall from the tip of the muzzle onto the ground, and he'd swing his wrist in an effort to fling the bullets at the suspect.. :D

Ben86
March 6, 2010, 12:39 AM
he'd fire at a suspect, and the bullets would just fall from the tip of the muzzle onto the ground, and he'd swing his wrist in an effort to fling the bullets at the suspect

That would be a truly horrifying experience. :)

DWFan
March 6, 2010, 05:37 PM
I have never shot anyone.
The human body is not made up of ballistic gel and once a bullet is fired at a human body there is no way to predict trajectory after impact, if the bullet will exit or in what direction if it does. Although I have never heard of a bullet returning along its path of entry, there are numerous examples of bullets being deflected over 90 degrees by contact with bone or even objects in a person's pockets or accessories on their clothing.
There is one thing for certain. While you may be concerned with overpenetration even to the point of hesitation, your assailant is not.

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