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Which is more important in ballistics?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by IMTHDUKE, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. CraigC

    CraigC Active Member

    Neither. Both are great excuses for shooters to turn off their brains. In the real world, where lead and copper meet flesh, it's far more complicated. What matters firstly, where the bullet lands. Secondly, what does said bullet do at a given velocity? Does it expand AND penetrate sufficiently, providing ample tissue destruction? Or does it just punch a clean hole? Or does it expand too quickly, yield a nasty, shallow wound? Unfortunately, there is nothing in a ballistics table or mathematical formula that will tell you the answers to these questions. Yet shooters remain obsessed with velocity and that most useless of all numbers, kinetic energy. :rolleyes:

  2. brickeyee

    brickeyee New Member

    Only if you want to pretend that the "soft tissue" is uniform and nothing else is present.

    Like muscle vs. fluid filled organs, or even air filled organs (like lungs).
    It just does NOT work and devolves into a waste of time.

    You are free to waste as much time as you want.

    There are simply so many variables that it is not possible a priori to tell what A bullet is gong to do in A target with an arbitrary path.
  3. Skribs

    Skribs New Member

    I don't look at any of the numbers at the muzzle, I look at the numbers in the target. Bullet design will mean much more about what happens at impact than the muzzle energy. I look at test results - how far does it go, how wide does it get?
  4. 481

    481 New Member

    Despite your insistence to the contrary, there are accurate models (in Bullet Penetration by Duncan MacPherson and Quantitative Ammunition Selection by Charles Schwartz) that predict the penetration of expanding and non-expanding bullets in calibrated ordnance gelatin which is meant to simulate the terminal behavior of projectiles in soft tissue so it is not without basis that such an application of these models can be made.

    By way of example, Duncan MacPherson addresses on page 223 of Bullet Penetration, the validity of applying these models' yields to a projectile's terminal behavior in soft tissue given the problems associated with the employment actual soft tissue as a test medium-

    For this reason, both models (as proposed by Schwartz and MacPherson) relying upon calibrated ordnance gelatin testing data as they do, are suitable for the prediction of the terminal behavior of expanding and non-expanding projectiles in calibrated ordnance gelatin and soft tissue regardless of the particular isotropism of either test medium.
  5. golden

    golden New Member

    Neither are important beyond a minimal amount


    If velocity is that important, then the 5.7 m.m. round used in the FN pistols and submachinegun would be top of the hill, but no police department or federal agency I know of is issuing one.
    If energy was most important, then cops would be carrying .44 magnums or full velocity 10 m.m. pistols. Very few cops do and no agency issues them.

    Recoil mitigation and an effective bullet are much more important.
    A heavy non-expanding bullet can penetrate deeply, but may pass through a target with causing much damage. The deer may bleed out and an exit wound increases the blood loss and creates a more visible trail.
    That is fine in deer hunting, it is not a good thing in a gunfight. Deer rarely are trying to kill you,

    Velocity produces energy and energy is what tranforms a hollowpoint into an expanded hollowpoint and controls the amount of penetration, but so do other factors.

    Hign energy is often achieved by raising the velocity of a round. To do that, pressure has to increase, so noise, flash and muzzle blast may also increase.
    The noise and muzzle blast are factors that have worked against the .357 SIG round, which by all the accounts I have seen is a very effective round.

    Recoil is also a big factor and for some persons, it may be huge. Recoil controls recovery time, you can improve training and the grip material, but recoil is hard to mitigate.

    Is it more important to get a second shot fired into the target or possiblely a second target or do you need a more powerful round?

    I have decided to stick with the 9m.m. +P or +P+ in most of my defensive pistols. I think it has enough power and the recoil is controlable in mid size and larger guns. In compact and mini-pistols, I would go with standard 9m.m.

    I shot a RUGER LC9, a couple of months ago. It worked as advertized, but was so unpleasant to shoot, I decided not to buy one. I knew that I would not be able to practice with it enough to feel comfortable.

    The same thing holds true in revolvers. Many agencies preferred heavy, hollowpoint .38 Special loads to much more powerful .357 magnum ammunition for issue to their officers.

    Just my opinions.

  6. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Active Member

    Being retired I get to choose how I "waste" my time, but thank you for caring. :)

    Given your response, do you believe bullet designers use software to calculate how a bullet expands and are able to design it to perform to a designated penetration depth in soft tissue?

    While I'm not as knowledgeable in physics as you are, given your self appointed status, I believe both MacPherson and Schwartz to be more knowledgeable on this subject than you. :)
  7. mr.trooper

    mr.trooper New Member

    Neither. In a world where a .32acp FMJ can exceed 16" of penetration from a pocket pistol, and a .22LR can reach 12" of penetration from a 4" plinker, why would you be worried about velocity or energy?

    Neither of those cartridges have very much of either one (velocity or energy), but a properly placed pill from either will shut someone down in an instant. So therefore, why would you worry at all about such things when you are using something more potent?

    Any cartridge at all that can reliably reach vitals with a hollow point (9mm Mak on up) would be an acceptable choice, as handguns don't do any additional tissue 'shock' anyway - they poke holes in things and let the blood out. Unless they happen to sever an important nerve bundle in the process, they will all be poor stoppers.

    Just a quibble, but you didn't look very hard. The 5.7 pistol is currently issued to elite units by 19 foreign militaries. Here in the USA it is used by the US Secret Service as well as the Duluth GA police department and the Passaic county NJ SWAT.

    The P90 sub-machine gun is in use by 45 foreign militaries. Here in the USA it is in use by the US Secret Service, ICE, Immigration, 9 local and state agencies including the Alaska State Troopers, and 5 SWAT teams around the country. At least one local LE agency issues the P90 to patrol officers as a vehicle weapon.

    No, the pair is not as common as Glocks or the MP5, but they are out there and they do see real use. If you want to check my figures just zip over to wikipedia - the sources and citations for both of these weapons are very well developed and maintained.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
  8. golden

    golden New Member

    Wrong trooper


    Which agencies is it exactly that issues 5.7 m.m. pistols for street use? What military ISSUES ONLY THE Five-SeveN pistol WITHOUT also using the P90 submachine gun.

    A round fired by the P90 is in a completely different class. As you mentioned, departments issue 9m.m. pistols and MP5 submachine guns. If they are the same, why issue both. Obviously, a round from the P90 is going to be more accurately delivered as well firing full automatic. You cannot compare apples and oranges.

    You also mentioned a NJ SWAT team. I am talking about issue to street officers and detectives by a major department. Do you know any? I do not.
    If velocity is so important, why then are not the federal agencies, state police, county and city LEO agencies not issuing GLASER SAFETY SLUGS as standard issue. Why are they not carrying a round like the French ARCANE ammo that sent a 9m.m. bullet at over 2,000 fps.

    Velocity is not the end all, it is just one of the components.

  9. brickeyee

    brickeyee New Member

    Do you understand what 'simulate" means?

    the lazst time a block of ge;atimn (orimamce or tother0 attacked nyone i am sure you could calcluate how a ullet penetrated.

    It is a MODEL.


    There is NO model that is truly useful for determining the path, penetration, and effect of of a bullet through anything as complicated as human anatomy, let alone any other animal.

    Even is you fired the same bullet at the same point on different people, you are unlikely to end up with the same result.
  10. 481

    481 New Member

    Yep. Calibrated ordnance gelatin simulates the average density and strength of soft tissue. The result that calibrated ordnance gelatin (or a model that predicts terminal ballistic performance in calibrated ordnance gelatin) yields is a predicted average of what the bullet will do in soft tissue.

    Not sure what you are going for here.

    All models (like F=ma, mv=mv, etc.) have some degree of inherent error, but that doesn't mean that they are invalid if they aren't absolutely without error/uncertainty. The Schwartz and MacPherson bullet penetration models are relatively accurate and very useful. Just because they are not absolutely perfect does not mean that they must be discarded.

    The MacPherson bullet penetration model (n = 400+, "r" and MoE are not stated by MacPherson) and the Schwartz bullet penetration model (n = 700+, "r" = 0.94, MoE = 1 cm) accurately predict the behavior of bullets in calibrated ordnance gelatin which produces results (expansion, terminal penetration depth, etc.) that match closely those produced in human bodies.

    It is hardly a great leap to model this sort of behavior in predominantly isotropic mediums like ordnance gelatin- it is done all of the time in related fields like aero-dynamics and fluid dynamics.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
  11. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Active Member

    Properly prepared and calibrated ordnance gelatin provides an engineering evaluation tool to test JHP handgun bullet penetration and expansion performance in a realistic soft tissue simulant. In a defensive scenario, all of the VITAL tissues that we're trying to damage are ALL soft tissues. JHP bullets are designed to expand in soft tissues. A modern JHP handgun bullet recovered from a body closely resembles the same bullet that has been tested in ordnance gelatin.

    Reliable rapid incapacitation is caused only by what vital structure(s) a JHP handgun bullet comes into direct contact with and how much damage it produces to that structure (wound severity). TYPE of tissue and AMOUNT of damage are what's important.
  12. fastbolt

    fastbolt New Member

    There was a day, when I was a younger shooter, when I paid close attention to the listed MV & ME.

    In subsequent years I paid much less heed to such things, preferring to focus on weapon reliability with various ammunition, maintenance ... and my ability to put hits on an intended threat target in an effective & timely manner.

    Nowadays I can also look for better hollowpoint designs for use as dedicated defensive ammunition, too.

    As long as the loads keep the bullets running in the optimal velocity window for them to function as intended, regardless of barrel length (full-size, compact, subcompact, snub nose, etc) ... I'm free to focus on the weapon & shooter influences.

    I see the shooter influences (mindset, training, practice, employment of tactics, etc) as the arguably more critical influences, anyway.

    So ... ballistics? In a handgun? Sure. Suit yourself. Just don't let it distract you from the more critical considerations.
  13. fastbolt

    fastbolt New Member

  14. otasan56

    otasan56 New Member

    I rely on Muzzle energy

    to establish bullet effectiveness. My 9x19 115gr JHP gives 400 foot-pounds of energy, and this is pretty good for a 9mm. ;)
  15. brnmw

    brnmw New Member

    There is a loaded question... get ready for the slug fest! (If it has not started already that is.)
  16. 481

    481 New Member

    Well said.
  17. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Active Member

    Hitting the target is by far the most important factor.

    After that 38, 357, 44, 45, 40, 9 mm, 10 mm are all fine options.

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