Bullet Penetration


Dog Wonder
May 29, 2010, 04:14 PM
Two weeks ago I ordered Bullet Penetration by Duncan MacPherson! I have read this interesting book two times! This book stresses the importance of having penetration in the area of 13 to 16 inches! Duncan claims that when using the heaviest weight in each caliber (depending on type & brand of ammo) you should achieve this desired penetration! Duncan claims that some situations you may need more then the FBI recommended 12 inches of penetration--so if you choose ammo that penetrates say 14 inches and you have to shoot through an arm to get a vital organ shot that you will at least get the minimum of 12 inches! Duncan also claims that a longer permanent wound channel creates more tissue damage!

Do any shooters have any comments on this information by Duncan MacPherson?
I'm starting to wonder if I'm taking his book too seriously --any thoughts on this information?

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Shadow 7D
May 29, 2010, 05:47 PM
It's called
Full Metal Jacket
All the PENETRATION and more you could ever need

Now, might I suggest you learn about the SEARCH Function (third from the right, top green bar) as this is a well beat subject,
a much more pertinent and also well beaten

What type of ammo do you carry
Might I suggest one that works reliably, see there is your great answer.

May 29, 2010, 06:04 PM
I've gravitated towards more penetration over the years.

A couple of things have helped me along that path.

1. Lightweight, high speed bullets have seemed to fall out of favor over the years. The 90 grain 9 MM (remember "energy dump") of the the 1980's have fallen out of favor and the 124 grain (or heavier) bullets are now the preferred round.

2. I've also looked at hunting ammunition where bullet effectiveness has been studied formally and informally much longer and in greater detail than in personal defense. When hunters are hunting anything that can hurt them, nobody is using fast expanding rounds, such as hollow points or "ballistic tips". Those are reserved for things that won't hurt you. You practically can't find a hollow point in anything above .35 caliber (9 MM).

May 29, 2010, 07:11 PM
Does this mean every one should go to a 357 Sig shooting 125 Gr FMJ? http://intrencik.com/357sig.htm

May 29, 2010, 09:41 PM
I agree with JTQ, but most dangerous game is well over 200 pounds with thick bones flesh and skin then a large human.

Full Metal Jacket
May 29, 2010, 10:12 PM
i'm going to microwave a bag of popcorn, sit back, and watch this one intently :eek:

May 30, 2010, 07:29 AM
In general, the heavier JHP bullet weights penetrate more, 180 gr. 40 and 230 gr. 45.
357 Sig is mainly offered in 125 gr. so that's a simple choice.
9mm 124-127gr. is a good compromise for the caliber.

May 30, 2010, 08:17 AM
12" minimum, 15-18" preferred in properly calibrated (to FBI specs) ballistics gelatin.

May 30, 2010, 08:18 AM
It's called
Bonded Jacketed Hollow Points.
All the PENETRATION and more you could ever need....

May 30, 2010, 09:14 AM
WooHoo!!! Here we go again... This is better than season tickets to Six Flags. There will never be agreement on this one. Two camps diametrically opposed!!!

I heard a story of a local politician once. Seems two groups with opposing points of view had mistakenly got on his calendar to meet with him on the same day at the same time. After a few moments of listening - The politician told each group if they wanted him to agree with them, they would have to leave and come back one at a time.

May 30, 2010, 12:40 PM
Sectional density, weight, velocity.

Be your own judge. I, for one, am not concerned enough about penetration to pack FMJ's (unless in a small carry piece). I prefer either a .357 or .45 JHP for carry, and lately it's been almost exclusively .45.

I figure any decently large modern JHP is the best way to go (imagine that). Even if it doesn't open up, it will perform like an FMJ (which in the case of the .45acp has been proven battle worthy). I think everything in your OP is accurate, but I wouldn't think only of penetration when selecting an SD round. Expansion is important as well. There's definitely a balance of compromise one must reconcile.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I think in this day and age we are pretty well taken care of with major label JHPs. I trust in their penetration/expansion capabilities.

May 30, 2010, 01:30 PM
I have the capability of carrying 9mm reg or +p, 40 s&w, 357sig, or 45 reg or +p, all jhp. I can't decide what the heck to pack. I read somewhere that 9mm +p is equal to 357sig. Then I read that 40 s&w is the perfect cc round or is equal to 357sig. But then again 45 jhp is the greatest cc round unless you load 45 +p jhp. My head is spinning. If someone pulls on me I don't want to get shot with any of them, but I can't decide which one is the least effective for cc and in what order the rankings would fall...

harmon rabb
May 30, 2010, 01:40 PM
.357sig would be like 9mm+p+ or +p++, depending on how hot the load is. it's definitely got more muzzle energy than 9mm+p.

.40 is not equal to .357 sig -- the bullets have a greater diameter (duh), are heavier, and travel faster.

i don't know that it really matters all that much. i wouldn't feel underarmed with any round you have listed.

May 30, 2010, 01:47 PM
.357SIG does nothing that a good 9x19mm won't.
"The statement that the .357Sig, “has the ability to defeat hard targets better it can expand more with an equal bullet type.”, is not supported by either our research or that of the FBI FTU Ballistic Research Facility in Quantico, VA.

When firing through heavy clothing, automotive steel panels, automobile windshield glass, interior wall segments, exterior wall segments, and plywood, both the .357 Sig Speer 125 gr JHP Gold Dot and 9mm Speer 124 gr +P JHP Gold Dot exhibited nearly identical penetration and expansion results THROUGH ALL THE DIFFERENT BARRIERS.

Several .40 S&W and .45 ACP loads offered superior terminal performance through barriers compared to the 9mm and .357 Sig loads."

Full Metal Jacket
May 30, 2010, 02:16 PM
^^very interesting.

i wasn't aware of this. if there's no increase in performance, there's no reason to pay more for 357sig ammo, and deal with the extra noise/blast.

Full Metal Jacket
May 30, 2010, 02:17 PM
It's called
Full Metal Jacket

did someone say my name? :eek:

May 30, 2010, 02:36 PM
Dog Wonder, I would consider this a great book (I have a copy) for more than one reason. MacPherson was aided in this book by Martin Fackler, and pretty much expresses the conclusions of Fackler's group, the International Wound Ballistics Association. The IWBA is a very prestigious group, and their scientific approach is second to none.

My main reason for buying this book was the technique for predicting penetration. The math gets pretty intense, but the graphs make it easier.

May 30, 2010, 04:12 PM
If I have a humanoid life form whose heart and lungs are 18" from the surface coming at me, I'm getting out my .350 Remington Magnum bear gun. Or, I'll just run away from him.


Shadow 7D
May 30, 2010, 05:29 PM
Kodiak don't break out the bruins or someone will start a damn "what pistol should I buy to go camping in Alaska with"

I mean, I appreciate you tourism dollars, but really people, if you're using a pistol on a bear, well you missed the smart branch of the creek and lost your paddle all at the same time

Back to bullets, The question was about penetration from a pistol, and while I personally carry HP in mine.

penetration don't mean a thing if you don't hit something vital
listen we can spend the next week talking about energy dump, temporary cavities, hypersonic shockwaves and neutrino particle emission

If you don't hit something vital, it don't count, as this isn't a horseshoe forum, and hand grenades get expensive with the NFA tax stamp.

May 30, 2010, 06:14 PM
Let me wander in here to say, I know for a fact that a S&B 9x18 FMJ will take a Bad Guy out. I did it...

So will a .22 short, but just because it's been done, doesn't make it the best choice. The simple facts are that the heart, lungs, etc, are an inch or two below the surface. Any good hollowpoint will reach them and do more damage than a FMJ.

The FBI wants rounds that will go through car doors and windows. That need has ZERO implications in self defense use.

Full Metal Jacket
May 30, 2010, 06:14 PM

May 30, 2010, 10:55 PM
Dare I say that the FBI conclusions are very relevant to me. I'm of the opinion that I want a round to have more penetration than less penetration. I like having the ability, as does the FBI, to damage a target when located behind certain barriers. Hollow points are great and serve a valuable purpose. I do feel that I can get ample penetration with HPs in my 45 and 10MM handguns. I know I can get it with my 44 mag. However, I do carry FMJ rounds (not hollow points) in my Browning 380 DBA. Just my opinion.

May 30, 2010, 11:10 PM
Sectional density, weight, velocity.

To take c919's post a tad further...

We all know sectional density so I'll let that one be.

Weight...the more weight, the more momentum = more penetration

Velocity...here it starts getting complicated, faster ain't always better...and the same goes for slower. This all depends on...bullet construction (hard lead, solid copper, cup and core, bonded cup and core, frangible, etc.)

That should give em something to talk about...LOL

May 30, 2010, 11:43 PM
I thought we were talking about penetration.

Your post alludes to shot placement...

May 30, 2010, 11:51 PM
I ain't goin nowhere...done threw my 2 cents out there.

I've shot enough different things to understand penetration...I've fired a good many rounds to figure this stuff out just because ballistics interest me.

Your post is a blanket statement that is wrong on many levels...but that is off topic for this discussion.

May 31, 2010, 03:28 AM
That need has ZERO implications in self defense use.
Next time you go out, look at all the people in and around automobiles/buildings and think about what you said.

May 31, 2010, 01:13 PM

Surely you don't really think that there are no SD situations that might call for shooting through a barrier.

Let's see...

Say you are at a red light when suddenly you are approached by multiple, weapon wielding aggressors. Now do you care if your SD round has good barrier penetration capabilities?

How about if you are able to retreat after an attack only to find a door between you and a BG/BGs?

The list goes on...

May 31, 2010, 01:35 PM
i believe in shooting the living dickens out of the target till is not longer a threat.

May 31, 2010, 02:20 PM
The human body does not fair well when being struck with objects hitting it at 1,000 feet a second regardless of size or shape.

Neutrinos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino) pass through us by the trillions at many times that speed all day long with zero effect. Sewing needles would sting, but a .030" hole through and through would likely not even require medical attention, as the elasticity of tissues would barely allow it to even bleed.

Size and shape is absolutely relevant. In fact, that's the whole premise behind projectile weapons. Creating a wound (hole) with enough damage (size and shape) to incapacitate/kill the target.

Shadow 7D
June 1, 2010, 12:01 AM

I knew someone would break out those pesky Neutrinos again :(

June 1, 2010, 12:05 AM
i believe in shooting the living dickens out of the target till is not longer a threat.

I believe in that one, too! I think we see eye to eye. 8)

June 1, 2010, 03:25 PM
The good fight is the one you walk away from. It's called self-defense and it encompasses more than just carrying a gun.

When at that red light, I've got 5000 lbs and 300 hp to take out any gun wielding threat. I also have 5 gears to get the hell away and AVOID a bad situation.

Carrying in the woods does no good if your pistol is inside a backpack, regardless of size. I say shoot the grizzley as many times as possible with that 9mm, then the sheriff can stuff him when they recover your body. (At least you tried plus in this one movie this guy used his knife on a stick to instantly kill an angry bear so there's always that option.)

Let's quit slaying dragons, picking fights with large groups of heavily armed gunmen and say that on any given day any gun will do and that on all the other days it will fail. Everyone here has to decide which compromises he or she finds acceptable and which gun fights ought to be avoided.

June 1, 2010, 03:55 PM
Skylerbone. You keep that up, and we'll have to start the... "what's the minimum sized knife to attach to a stick to kill a bear" thread. Like the ubiquitous, what caliber is needed threads. ;)

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