Overpenetration in defensive ammo?


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aroseli2
March 6, 2011, 08:43 PM
It seems like you can't read any article about selecting handgun ammunition that doesn't mention overpenitration of bullets. The logic that comes up all the time is that you don't want your bullet to go through the bad guy and hit innocents. Appears logical until you consider the fact that it is assumed that each bullet hits the bad guy before going on. Does anybody have a percentage of fired bullets in real life defensive shooting situations that actually strike the target?

Obviously an expanding bullet with adequate penetration is a better choice than hardball providing it functions well in your gun. I also understand the logic of choosing a bullet for indoor use that isn't going to penetrate three walls and kill the neighbor next door. This talk about going through the bad guy and into an innocent is starting to annoy me though.:banghead: Practice, accuracy and shot placement are even more important than ammo choice in my opinion but if innocent people are standing directly behind your target I think they are just as likely to be hit with a Glaser that went right next to your target as they are to be hit by a hardball that went through your target.

Thoughts on this?

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cheygriz
March 6, 2011, 08:52 PM
IMHO, a much more legitimate concern is the bullets fired that do not impact the desired target due to stress, lack of skill, lack of practice, hangover, or whatever else inpacts your shooting.


You are personally responsible, morally, civilly and criminally, for every single bullet that exits your muzzle!

aroseli2
March 6, 2011, 08:55 PM
That's what I'm saying. Stray bullets are much more dangerous than ones that keep going after hitting a bad guy. It seems like for every time I hear "practice" I hear 2 "these bullets are best cuz they won't go through and hurt somebody else."

General Geoff
March 6, 2011, 08:57 PM
The two are different aspects of the same equation. Ideally, you will practice to the point where you are confident of your skills to not miss your target, and at the same time, use ammunition which will not penetrate significantly past a target through which it has already gone.

cheygriz
March 6, 2011, 09:00 PM
You're right. since I don't use hardball in my defensive handguns, overpenetration isn't a concern for me.

Missing my target due to adrenaline and stress is far more of a concern.
Even after 20+ years of LE.

General Geoff
March 6, 2011, 09:06 PM
Missing my target due to adrenaline and stress is far more of a concern.
Even after 20+ years of LE.

Agreed. Many folks who have been in automobile accidents can tell you, their hands were shaking uncontrollably after the incident. Since your hands are the only thing holding a pistol on target, it's very difficult to ascertain just how well your aim will be during an adrenaline dump. This is one of the key reasons I prefer a long gun for home defense. At least that way you have one (relatively) fixed point from which to aim (your shoulder).

aroseli2
March 6, 2011, 09:06 PM
Thanks CheyGriz. That's what I'm sayin. Here's some stats I found after a quick search.

Hit Potential In Gun Fights

The police officer's potential for hitting his adversary during armed
confrontation has increased over the years and stands at slightly over 25% of
the rounds fired. An assailant's skill was 11% in 1979.

In 1990 the overall police hit potential was 19%. Where distances could be
determined, the hit percentages at distances under 15 yards were:

Less than 3 yards ..... 38%
3 yards to 7 yards .. 11.5%
7 yards to 15 yards .. 9.4%

In 1992 the overall police hit potential was 17%. Where distances could be
determined, the hit percentages at distances under 15 yards were:

Less than 3 yards ..... 28%
3 yards to 7 yards .... 11%
7 yards to 15 yards . 4.2%

Full article here:
http://www.virginiacops.org/Articles/Shooting/Combat.htm

Ken451
March 6, 2011, 09:29 PM
Here is one brief piece by Dr. Gary Roberts which includes some statistics"

Failures to stop a suspect because of under-penetration, poor bullet placement, and completely missing the target are far more significant problems than over-penetration. With shots to the center of mass, if a handgun or rifle bullet fails to have enough penetration to reach the large blood bearing vessels and organs in the torso, rapid physiological incapacitation is unlikely and an opponent may remain a lethal threat to officers and citizen bystanders. Conversely, if a bullet fired by officers completely penetrates a violent criminal and exits downrange, the bullet will certainly have had enough penetration to reach the large blood bearing vessels or organs in the torso. As a result, it is more likely to have caused sufficient hemorrhage to induce hypovolemic shock--the only reliable method of physiological incapacitation in the absence of CNS trauma.
Unfortunately, according to the available published date, the majority of shots fired in the field by U.S. LE officers miss their intended target. According to published NYPD SOP-9 data, the NYPD hit ratio by officers against perpetrators in 2000 was 12.3% of shots fired and in 2001 13.5% of shots fired. The Miami Metro-Dade County PD had hit ratios ranging between 15.4% and 30% from 1988-1994. Portland PD reported hits with 43% of shots fired at adversaries from 1984-1992, while Baltimore PD reported a 49% average hit ratio from 1989-2002.
Given that the reported averages for LE officers actually hitting the suspect ranges between 12% to 49% of shots fired, more concern should be given to the between 51-88% of shots fired by LE officers which completely MISS the intended target and immediately result in a significant threat to any person down range, rather than excessively worry about the relatively rare instance where one of the 12%-49% of shots fired actually hits the intended target and then exits the perpetrator in a fashion which still poses a hazard.
In short, the consequences of projectile under-penetration are far more likely to get officers and citizens killed than over-penetration issues.

Owen Sparks
March 6, 2011, 10:52 PM
Any bullet that has enough momentum to penitrate deep enough into a human body to reach the vitals will easily pass through two layers of dry wall used in typical interior construction. There is no such thing as a "safe" bullet.

c1ogden
March 6, 2011, 11:10 PM
I agree that missed rounds are more dangerous than shoot-throughs but they are a problem that we can do something about. When the NY city PD switched over from .38 revolvers to 9mm autos they were restricted to FMJ ammo. (Hollow points had always been strictly prohibited.) The 9mm FMJ overpenetrated much worse than the .38 solids that they have been using for the last hundred years. It took less than 2 years before they racked up more than 2 dozen shoot-throughs and finally allowed HP loads.

sailorken
March 7, 2011, 12:37 AM
I agree that worrying about shoot-throughs is insignificant compared to the danger of missed shots. In all situations, you need to be aware what else is down range before you take a shot.

Just pick whatever you think is the best defensive ammo.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 7, 2011, 11:51 AM
I've seen several references to an NYPD study suggesting that shoot-throughs occured at a high rate with 9mm FMJ; but dropped to something like 2 (IIRC) after going to 9mm JHPs. However, I've never been able to find the actual study myself, so that may just be Internet myth.

On the flipside though, let's say you could have a magic bullet that would 100% meet the FBI criteria for bare and clothed gel penetration, be 100% guaranteed not to overpenetrate if you hit. and be tremendously effective against a person; but would be stopped cold by a single sheet of 1/2" sheet rock (such a round does not exist currently by the way).

If you were defending your home, would you feel good about a fight where almost everything in your house was hard cover for the intruder; but the intruder could shoot through almost every part of your house with ease? Would that solution be more or less likely to result in the injury of an innocent third party?

Shawn Dodson
March 7, 2011, 12:14 PM
The logic that comes up all the time is that you don't want your bullet to go through the bad guy and hit innocents. Appears logical until you consider the fact that it is assumed that each bullet hits the bad guy before going on. The logic also assumes solid center mass hits to the torso.

Hits along the periphery of the torso (as well as arms and legs, which are also frequently hit) present a short through-and-through penetration path.

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