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Bullet Basics

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by psyprofessor, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. psyprofessor

    psyprofessor New Member

    Jul 7, 2008
    I just read a thread on bullet weight and recoil... but I'm more interested on what that translates to the bad guy receiving the bullet. (I can live with the recoil.) So my questions are:

    1. In terms of bullet grains (on the same caliber, same gun)... what does that mean for the bad guy? (assuming same shot placement)

    2. Which is best for self-defense: FMJ, all lead ball, jacketed hollow point, lead hollowpoint, (and is there another type variety I did not mention that is better ?) I bought some pre-fragmented bullets but i am looking for an easy to find type of bullet (something I can find at most gun shops).
  2. Thernlund

    Thernlund Senior Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    1. All other things being equal, a heavier bullet will have more inertia and therefore have the potential to transfer more energy to the target.

    2. This is a question best not asked as it starts fights. ;) There is discussion-galore on this topic all over THR. But I suppose I'll indulge you. :)

    For the most part, a JHP will be the best bet for typical calibers. An FMJ is sometimes best for calibers, such as .380, that don't have alot of energy behind them and can't reliably expand a hollow-point.

    Pre-frag bullets are designed to minimize or eliminate the possibility of overpenetration on walls and the like. I think it's kind of a gimick and not really worth the money unless you're an Air Marshal or something.

    I regularly give this advice when speaking of SD ammo: Find the absolute cheapest JHP round that will work reliably in your gun. Simple as that. If you place the shot right, the finer details of the bullet itself become alot less important.

  3. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Active Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Los Estados Unidos
    Science does not really understand what happens when a bullet hits a target, especially when the target is a non- homogeneous mass of water based organic compounds, like a bad guy. That is why there is so much ballistic gelatin testing; there are no reliable formula that takes bullet mass, size, shape, hardness and velocity and translates it into the amount of damage done to a target.

    That being said, more velocity and more bullet mass always leads to more damage. But no one knows how much trading high mass for lower velocity improves or degrades terminal performance, and vice versa.

    Bullet size, shape, hardness and construction is a bit trucker. Large bullets (bigger calibers) make bigger holes, but have less penetration (everything else being equal.) Pointed hard bullets give more penetration then blunt nose soft bullets, but sometimes excessive penetration causes the bullet to go right through the target, leaving only a smooth hole, and not much tissue damage.

    Bottom line, from testing and experience, most people consider jacket hollow points to give the best terminal performance when fires from mid-powder handguns (.38 special, 9 & 10 mm autos, 357 magnum, 45 ACP, etc)
  4. contenderman

    contenderman New Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Northern, OH
    You neglect to mention caliber, type of pistol, etc. and these 2 examples plus other variables, need consideration when selecting ammunition.

    In the SD area one looks for the cartridge that will expend essentially all of it's energy within the body of your attacker.

    Basic physics supports the larger mass (bullet in this case) having more impact force. Especially if the velocity is the same. However, heavier bullets generally have lower velocities. Thus you examine the trade off. Does the larger, slower bullet have the greater impact.

    Large heavy bullets with greater impact will leave the door open to questions about penetration and wound channel.

    If the larger bullet exits the body it has not imparted all of its' energy, thus it may not be as effective as the lighter bullet.

    Style/type of bullet is another matter. Solids penetrate, and generally the harder the bullet material the deeper the penetration for given weights and powder loads. Hollow points are intended to expand, some to even fragment, and this is to try and eliminate over penetration (through and through) and expend all of the energy in the body.

    Every manufacturer has data on the performance of their cartridges. And the same generally applies to bullet manufacturers, except in that case the mfg. will generally specify cartridge loading data for which the specs. were obtained.

    To properly answer your question you need to research the available options relative to the application you have in mind. No one can give a plausible answer to a general question on a complex subject.

    Hope this helps you to set some reference points to follow up on.
  5. brickeyee

    brickeyee Senior Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    I would phrase it that we know what happens, but cannot predict with any accuracy exactly what will happen.

    There are simply to many variables.
  6. shadowalker

    shadowalker Active Member

    Sep 6, 2006
    You might find the FBI's Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness publication interesting, it was published a while ago but a good read.

    You can do some searches for Terminal Ballistics and turn up some additional reading.
  7. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Faster bigger bullets are better as long as all they penetrate sufficiently to reach vital organs and deposit all their energy in the person without leaving the body. Bullet design plays a role in this as well as caliber and velocity of the bullet.

    Statistics show that placement trumps all else, but the vast majority of individuals with gunshot wounds survive in this country. This may have to do with excellent emergency medical care combined with poor bullet placement.

    A bad shot with a .45 isn't as good as a good shot with a 9mm.
  8. psyprofessor

    psyprofessor New Member

    Jul 7, 2008
  9. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN Marines raising the Pisa tower.

    May 27, 2006
    I prefer the Bowling Ball Theory.

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