Recoil: real ammo vs blanks


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KJS
June 18, 2010, 12:55 AM
This relates to the execution that will be carried out in Utah tonight by firing squad. I have my views on it and I won't say what they may be since I'm not looking for any political debate.

I just wanted to ask a technical question on the issue of recoil, having never fired a blank myself.

Years ago I thought it was a myth that firing squads had one guy with a blank in his gun, since wouldn't everyone know if they fired a blank vs live ammo due to the amount of recoil or lack thereof?

Isn't recoil directly related to the weight of the the projectile & speed of that projectile. In the case of a blank, the bullet weight is zero as there is no bullet and there is no bullet speed to measure. Isn't it going to be obvious to the shooters if they fired a live round or if they were the guy who got the blank?

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Mal H
June 18, 2010, 01:01 AM
Yes, you will instantly know if you fired a live round vs a blank.

However, in the case of the firing squads in Utah, there are no blanks used and the squad members know that. A medical examiner's report from a previous firing squad execution said that the deceased had died from 5 shots - there were 5 members on the firing squad. (I think 5 was the number, not positive, but the ME report and the number on the squad matched.)

yeti
June 18, 2010, 01:05 AM
Yes, they would know they had the blank if they choose to know, it just gives everyone the opportunity to believe they really were not the one to fire a fatal shot. It isn't really a secret who fired the blank it just gives everyone the ability to maintain a tiny shred of doubt if they feel the need.

yeti
June 18, 2010, 01:22 AM
However, in the case of the firing squads in Utah, there are no blanks used and the squad members know that.

Just a quick Google search seems to uphold the 4 live and one blank loading of the Utah firing squad. It has been close to a lifetime since I was last in a firing squad:rolleyes:, so that is just what all the news services on Google maintain, I have no first hand, or any other hand for that matter, knowledge past that.

scythefwd
June 18, 2010, 02:05 AM
WORLD of difference. A blank, when fired out of a gun that can fire live rounds without an adapter will sound like an air leak, not a pop/crack that your normal round does. The recoil is so light that you aren't sure the round even went off, and that is with an adapter on the gun... even less with the adapter off. Unless the rifles are loaded when they are given out, the person loading the gun (aka the shooter) will know that the top round is a blank. They don't look the same.

I have fired several thousand blank rounds. I have fired several thousand live rounds out of the same weapon. I would stop shooting if I felt the recoil of a blank when I was expecting the recoil from a live round... and that is with a SAW (not a light gun shooting a very light recoiling round).

spin180
June 18, 2010, 02:48 AM
Excerpt from an article about the execution, which pertains to the subject at hand:
Just before midnight, the Winchester Model 94 30.30-caliber rifles were loaded. Four had live rounds. The fifth contained a wax bullet.

A prison official selected each rifle at random from the table and handed them to another sitting out of sight in a small room. The second official loaded the rifle but was unable to see the position it was returned to on the table.


Source: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_15279853

Zoidberg523
June 18, 2010, 04:13 AM
Kind of a stupid, drawn out procedure as far as I am concerned. With the crimes that most of the condemned committed, most people would really mind firing a live round. :barf: I know I wouldn't.

scythefwd
June 18, 2010, 04:21 AM
zoidberg523 - I suspect you would be in the minority. I would have major issues taking the life of someone who wasn't actively hurting someone. I don't mean emotionally either. Knowing I had shot a defenseless man would haunt me for life.

Snowdog
June 18, 2010, 04:30 AM
Knowing I had shot a defenseless man would haunt me for life.

I suspect the same of myself as well. I wouldn't hesitate to fire upon an aggressor that I believed posed a direct threat to my life of the lives of my family (or heck, anyone innocent around me), but I question if I would be able to participate as part of a firing squad. Unless the person did something against me that created blinding hatred towards the guy, probably not.

I suppose I'm glad that there are folks out there who can do such things or I guess such things wouldn't get done.

F-Body Demon
June 18, 2010, 06:14 AM
Oh yeah blanks are big time different from live ammo. However their is a chance that the guys on the firing squad will be so hyped up that they will not notice the recoil difference.

I mean after all they are about to shoot someone.

Kaeto
June 18, 2010, 06:49 AM
The having a blank round in one of the rifles dates back to the Civil War. The Sgt in charge of the squad would load the rifles where the troops couldn't see. Then the squad wold pick a rifle out of the pile.
In the book I read that had this in it (It was a firsthand account of what it was like to be there called Hardtack and Coffee) He told of one firing squad that was to execute a spy where the men of the squad insisted on loading themselves and afterwards there was a ball in the dead man for each member of the squad.

rmfnla
June 18, 2010, 12:21 PM
I suspect the psychological effect of potentially having a blank round is more useful before the shots are fired, not after.

Having that bit of possiblity that one might have the blank might make it easier to pull the trigger when the time comes.

ArmedBear
June 18, 2010, 12:25 PM
A medical examiner's report from a previous firing squad execution said that the deceased had died from 5 shots - there were 5 members on the firing squad.

Do they sometimes find 6 shots, with one of them from the .38 in grandma's purse?

I think it would be right sporting for the close relatives and friends of the victims to be allowed to volunteer, personally.

Hondo 60
June 18, 2010, 12:43 PM
While it might bother me a bit. I don't think I would be "haunted for life".
There's a REASON this animal is being destroyed.
I guess I look at it like, I would want to destroy any vicious animal.

By taking a life (or two or three or whatever) the criminal is no longer a person in my book.
And therefore doesn't deserve to be treated as such.

rmfnla
June 18, 2010, 12:46 PM
<>< is my favorite part of ^^^.

yeti
June 18, 2010, 12:57 PM
rmfnla, I think you're right. Since my experience with them is a bit limited(thankfully), and even in my down time I don't give them much thought, I really had not considered the much more useful purpose of introducing the steadying effect before hand than the dubious possibility of retaining doubt afterwards.

BeerSleeper
June 18, 2010, 01:09 PM
Too many people view "taking a life" as absolute. There is taking a life needfully, and taking one needlessly. They are similar in only one way, and different in all others. 25 years in the judicial system has proven it was needed to take his life, and I think it is rightfully so. If it were my job to be on that firing squad, I would lose no sleep over it.


EDIT---
I have phrased that poorly. The context in which I meant that, is that I think too many people think of a life taken criminally (a capital crime), and one taken justly (a capital punishment), and don't draw the distinction between the two. One is a horrible tragedy, the other is as close as is humanly possible to righting that wrong.

rmfnla
June 18, 2010, 01:10 PM
Yeah, I've thought about it before.

Everyone seems to know about the "one blank round" thing but non-gun people have no idea how obvious the difference is between firing a blank and a live one.

Like you, I have thankfully not had any experience in this arena.

WardenWolf
June 18, 2010, 01:35 PM
The other purpose for the blank round is plausible deniability. If the person's kin were to come after you, they wouldn't know for sure whether you had the blank or not and you could always claim such. However, in this day and age such things matter less, and they'd be more likely to just kill anyone involved in the firing squad, regardless of whether their round did damage, and the identities of the shooters is less of a public matter.

bthest86
June 18, 2010, 02:07 PM
It doesn't really matter if the shooter knows afterward if he fired a live round or blank since that's not the point of this practice.

The point is that before the execution no one in the firing squad detail knows if he has a blank or a live round so they won't be as apprehensive when taking aim and thus the condemned person dies quicker.

So the blank round thing is really a courtesy to the condemned rather than a courtesy to the firing squad members.

rmfnla
June 18, 2010, 02:39 PM
"So the blank round thing is really a courtesy to the condemned..."

That's one way to look at it.

R.W.Dale
June 18, 2010, 03:27 PM
One of our local historical figures "Hanging" judge Parker had a quote that likely sums up the executioner's stance on the matter

, `I've never hanged a man. it is the law that has done it.'
Isaac Charles Parker

1911Tuner
June 18, 2010, 04:19 PM
I suspect the psychological effect of potentially having a blank round is more useful before the shots are fired, not after.

Having that bit of possiblity that one might have the blank might make it easier to pull the trigger when the time comes.

Bingo. The purpose of the blank isn't to create the illusion in each member that his rifle fired the blank after the execution. It was to give them each a 1 in 5 chance of having the blank before they pull the trigger. After the shot, the man with the blank knows it was him.

Dnaltrop
June 18, 2010, 04:58 PM
The guns are bench rested and pre-sighted on the condemned's heart from what has been printed in the news.

there would be no recoil (or at least minimal) to feel from a locked down gun, and the sound of the shot would likely be drowned in the other ones.

The guns are also fired through a slit in the wall to defend the shooters from ricochet

ArmedBear
June 18, 2010, 05:02 PM
Can you imagine how morbid an experience it would be, if you had the job of setting up the whole thing?

Dnaltrop
June 18, 2010, 05:07 PM
on an old Wild West tech from 2004 ( i can't find any appropriate pictures after searching) there was indeed such a machine, in a small shack, with lines through each trigger.

Someone with better Google/Wiki-fu than mine post a picture if you can find it

Dnaltrop
June 18, 2010, 05:11 PM
Oh yes, A Wax round is quite capable (though less so) of inflicting lethal harm. I practice cheaply using them in my Schofield. Shotgun primer pushes it between 700-900 fps (more than enough to puncture thin wood or flesh with "luck"

http://www.gunfighter.com/waxbullets/ Love these things.

pbearperry
June 18, 2010, 05:12 PM
Any cop that doesen't know if he fired a blank or a real 30 cal.round probably missed the guy anyway.If they still use one blank,it's just a continuation of a myth.

Ben86
June 18, 2010, 05:29 PM
I have not shot blanks personally, but I have heard that they have way less recoil.

So I imagine if the people shooting the rifles are even vaguely familiar with what it is supposed to feel like, the person who got the wax bullet or whatever knows it.

I personally don't think anyone who has a problem with actually firing the live round should serve in the firing squad in the first place. Interesting choice of rifle though. A M94 .30-30? Wouldn't a .223 or pistol caliber carbine have been a more practical choice, especially considering it was done indoors. I can't imagine how loud that must have been.

If I was to be executed and could choose what gun I'd be shot with I'd probably go with a Tommy gun or a 1911. :D

FIVETWOSEVEN
June 18, 2010, 09:28 PM
first gun i fired was an M60 loaded with blanks, I was about 4-5 years old and considering that it didn't hurt or anything. I would say that recoil is extremely minimal for a toddler to shoot it comfortably.

matrem
June 18, 2010, 09:44 PM
Can you imagine how morbid an experience it would be, if you had the job of setting up the whole thing?
I'd take that over knowing either of the two people that he had "contact" with that put him in that position.

Oyeboten
June 18, 2010, 10:44 PM
At least a Firing Squad lets the condemned Man die Like a Man, and for it to be approximately instant, whatever his misdemeanors past.

This shows more self respect for the Society which decides to execute him, than, a 'lethal injection', 'gas chamber' or 'electrocution' or 'hanging' would.

The gesture is direct, forthright, effecient, and offers nothing to mystify or soften what is being done...nor to embarass or shame the person by prolongueing the rebuke in dragging things out.

My only complaint, is that they do not honor tradition in the details of allowing the condemned to yes or no wear a blindfold, and, yes or no, have a last Cigarette, according to his preference.

BeerSleeper
June 19, 2010, 07:25 AM
Well put.

NukemJim
June 19, 2010, 08:16 AM
Several accounts refer to the authorities loading one of the rifles with a "Dummy" round that has the same recoil as a normal round but would not kil a person. This is different than a "Blank" round. I do not know what it was made of.

NukemJim

scythefwd
June 19, 2010, 08:27 AM
beersleeper - the reason we see taking a life as absolute is because it is. There is no taking that back. You take a life, and there isn't any going back from that... it will always be there.

BeerSleeper
June 19, 2010, 08:54 AM
but the difference between taking one lawlessly,senselessly and needlessly (the act of a criminal), vs lawfully, justly executing a criminal (an act of justice) is night and day.

They are, in fact, opposites, and should not be thought of the same.

BeerSleeper
June 19, 2010, 08:55 AM
my original post was poorly worded.

scythefwd
June 19, 2010, 09:23 AM
beersleeper - true, taking one lawlessly and taking one in accordance with the law are different. That isn't where I draw my line. I won't take a life except for 4 reasons -
1. I am in serious danger
2. someone else is in serious danger
3. for food (talking animal here, not human)
4. to end suffering (say not medically feasible to save them.. someone cut in half for example).

That's just who I am. I understand not everyone believes this way. I also understand that soldiers who kill in defense of themselves and their friends in combat frequently have issues with it after the fact (high occurrence of PTSD) so the matter isn't as clean cut as whether the kill was justified by law or not. Having been in situations where I had to put a bead on someone in a combat zone, I know I could have... but it still wouldn't have sat well with me after the fact. It is one thing to know you can. It is one thing to justify it beforehand. It is a totally different thing to be the one behind the trigger. I never had to pull the trigger, but it bothered me that I almost did.

Kevin5098
June 19, 2010, 01:25 PM
Gilmore's brother Mikal wrote in his memoir "Shot in the Heart" that his shirt had five holes indicating "the state of Utah, apparently, had taken no chances on the morning that it put my brother to death" (p. 390).

Kwanger
June 19, 2010, 09:43 PM
scythefwd - I would say comparing combat is a bad comparison with the situation here. In conventional combat, at the end of the day, the guy on the other end is also a soldier just doing his job, and might well not be that bad a person. Which is a leading cause of why people get PTSD when they start thinking about it. I think executing a felon convicted of a heinous crime would play far less on a persons mind.

jojo200517
June 19, 2010, 10:24 PM
I'm not sure i'd want to be on a firing squad. I'd have no problem using lethal force in self defense and I support the death penalty but I don't know if I could do the firing squad thing.

Here's a novel idea, since they are already at the prison and I would say its safe to assume they are convicted murderers there already, why not let them do the execution?

LaserSpot
June 20, 2010, 01:53 AM
They don't use a blank, they use an "ineffective" round:

Five anonymous marksmen will each use matching .30-caliber rifles, standing behind a wall cut with five gunports. One of the rifles will hold an "ineffective" round, similar to a blank, which delivers the same recoil as a live round.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/06/15/utah.execution/index.html

The account of the 1996 firing squad said that they used a wax bullet load.

Gilmore's brother Mikal wrote in his memoir "Shot in the Heart" that his shirt had five holes indicating "the state of Utah, apparently, had taken no chances on the morning that it put my brother to death" (p. 390).Could a wax bullet make a hole, or would it disintegrate if pushed that fast? Could a wax bullet be pushed fast enough to simulate the full recoil of a live round?

Oyeboten
June 20, 2010, 02:06 AM
With Flash Powder or Blasting Powder, or a very fast Powder type anyway, I imagine a Wax Bullet or a Wax Bullet with a Gas Check, or a Wax Bullet with a Gas Check which is weighted right, could simulate or duplicate normal Recoil.

Travis McGee
June 20, 2010, 11:22 AM
Heck yeah, the blank shooter would know instantly.

If they really wanted to give a "conscience out" to a shooter, they could possibly tinker with one scope to make it shoot wide of the target. Then all of the recoils would be real, but one rifle would miss the condemned.

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