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22lr enough to go through human bone/skull?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by bdjansen, Jul 24, 2007.

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  1. bdjansen

    bdjansen Member

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    The reason I am asking such a morbid question is I seem to find people who think that it will and many that think it wont. Frankly, I think it would yet have no desire to test that theory myself. :) But there are enough people who say things like “I knew a guy who was shot in the face with x number of 22s and the doctor pulled them out of his sinuses.” And those people have made me have doubts.

    So what is the scientific way to look at this? Does anybody know the density/strength of human bone vs. the amount of force/velocity of a 22lr? Something like that? I’m no scientist but I’m sure that some of you guys are a lot closer to one then me.

    Please no stories of who your mailman knew and what he survived from. Without pictures it didn't happen right? :) Just science please.

    No, this is not an “is a 22 good for self defense?” thread. I’m just curious.
     
  2. CNate

    CNate Member

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    Think about it this way..even if it doesn't inflict a fatal wound, if you shoot someone in the face with a 22, it's not going to feel good.
     
  3. yongxingfreesty

    yongxingfreesty Member

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    ^^ exactly what he said. wouldn't want to get shot with a .177 pellet.

    shot in the forehead, i dont think it would penetrate all the way coming from a pistol. if shot at an angle, it might even bounce off. HAHAH
     
  4. crazed_ss

    crazed_ss Member

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    Probably depends on the distance and the angle that the round strikes at.. Saw this on the news the other day.
    http://www.10news.com/news/13732215/detail.html

    At 11:33 p.m. Saturday, a Hispanic male fired a .22-caliber rifle at a group of people partying at a house at 2761 Treat St., hitting one person in the back of the head.

    The 18-year-old victim was taken to a local hospital and is expected to survive
     
  5. bdjansen

    bdjansen Member

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    Well, of course it would hurt. But that's not what I'm asking.

    yongxingfreesty seems to think that a 22 from a pistol would not penetrate the forehead. Any data to back this up?
     
  6. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    You should have your doubts. .22 lr is a tiny low power projectile, especially when fired from a pistol.

    As noted, you need to know the velocity at impact and the angle of impact on the skull. Velocity will be tied directly to muzzle velocity and distance from the target. You also need to know what bone(s) are being struck, if it is an area covered with hair, and the health and bone density of the person being struck. A child, old person, or person with osteoporosis will have weaker bones. A person with various forms of anemia-related conditions can have substantially thickened cranial bones on the top of the head.

    Once you know all these things, then you might begin to be able to predict whether or not it will penetrate. Unfortunately, you won't know all these things before a shooting and so prediction is more difficult.
     
  7. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    Yep. It's quite effective. The Israeli Massad used to issue their agents Beretta .22s as their primary carry weapon. It was also the caliber used by the Massad when they took out some of the terrorist responsible for the 1972 Olympic murders.

    As an aside, in the video Deadly Effects: Wound Ballistics, they discuss a BG that was hit 49 times with assorted LEO 9mm rounds and continued to function until taken out by a shotgun slug. Placement is alot. They also show some dead guys with single .22LR wounds.
     
  8. Geno
    • Contributing Member

    Geno Member

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    There is a video that has the information. I posted the info about a year back. Search under my name and look for such words as video, etc. The author sought out medical doctors, etc. These were autopsies, police videos, photos. It is NOT for the weak. Here they are:

    1) Deadly Weapons: Firearms and Firepower, ANITE Productions.

    2) Deadly Effects: Wound Ballistics, ANITE Productions.
     
  9. bdjansen

    bdjansen Member

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    I did some googling while I was typing up my last post. I found some interesting studies on the "Deep Blue at the University of Michigan" site.

    The study was done on femur bones (the strongest bones in the human body) with steel balls of .25 an inch diameter.

    I was amazed. The bone was shattered and "completely separated the distal end from the shaft" at only 51.1 ft-lbs! The photograph makes me queezy just looking at it.

    It also took less then 10 ft-lbs to put neat little round holes all the way through the bone. Anything less had a chance of getting stuck in the bone. But 10 ft-lbs is nothing.

    The density of the bone had almost no effect either. They tested osteoporotic bones as well as normal ones.

    This proves that a 22lr from any barrel has more then enough strength to pass through a femur and would not have any trouble passing through the weaker skull.

    It seems that many people in this forum highly underestimate the power of their firearms.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?
     
  10. Shear_stress

    Shear_stress Member

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    Not so. The geometry of the skull is much different from the femur, and has features that can help distort or deflect bullets. In addition, the skull contains a large wad of grey goo that is highly energy absorbing. Don't also forget the fact that the tissue (skin, fat, and muscle) surrounding the skull can play a role in energy absorbtion.

    Will a .22LR go through a skull? Yes. No. Maybe.
     
  11. jdm1986

    jdm1986 Member

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    I have read of several suicides being carried out with a .22lr pistol/revolver. I don't know if these were "gun people" or not; most likey not; because I doubt someone knowledgeable in firearms of different calibers would choose something like .22lr., that is if they REALLY wanted to die. (however it might be that's all they have, or are trying to make less of a mess, I suppose)

    The barrel sitting on the temple of the head would most likely kill someone, I would assume.

    I guess you asked for science, which I can't provide. However, there are numerous recorded suicides with .22lr (and I'm sure many more attempted suicides with the round).
     
  12. joab

    joab Member

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    I don't know what the density difference between raccoon skulls and human skulls is, but I can tell you that a .22 fired from a 6" Ruger MkI at a distance of about 6" will not penetrate a coon's skull when shot at the flat spot above and between the eyes at a downward angle

    After the animal was shot I did a quick amateur postmortem and was able to actually feel the bullet through the skin and massaged it back out through the entry hole

    The skull was cracked into four pieces that moved around and the animal was definitely dead, or he was just being very cooperative to keep from getting shot again
     
  13. Gun lover

    Gun lover Member

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    My first firearm was a Marlin Model 60 .22LR and after all the Ballistic tests I did as a teen shooting at 2x4's and old water heaters and what ever other junk I could find I would have to say yes the .22LR can definitely go through human skull at close range.My cousin had to shoot a full grown pit bull a week ago that got ran over and was mangled beyond repair with a .22LR and it put him down with the first shot.
     
  14. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Don't be mislead. Femur shafts can suffer greenstick (aka spiral) fractures quite easily with the correct force. This is due to the thick cortical bone and their tubular shape. Human skull bones are considered flat bone and do not have thick cortical bone and hence do not suffer the same greenstick or spiral fracture/shatter as you noted.
     
  15. Mike128

    Mike128 Member

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    I shot a large farm goose with a 22. I was about 20 yards away. First two shots were body shots and the thing was still alive and walking like nothing happened. This is a shot I have used to kill crows, rabbits, racoons, guines, ect. so I was puzzled. I decided to go with a head shot, which did the trick.

    So I asked myself how the heck did I miss from 20 yards? I found that the two body shots bounced off a wing bone, tore the thin covering of skin off where the bullets hit. However, the bone was not broken. No bullets or bullet holes when I cleaned it.

    On the other hand, a 22 will kill a goat and other similiar size animals when shot in the ear or near it. It's all about shot placement but you have smaller areas to place the shot with a 22 for it to do the job. After the episode with the goose I could see it easily bouncing off a human rib or skull.
     
  16. SWMAN

    SWMAN Member

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    A .22LR will penetrate a human's skull and kill.
     
  17. shooter503

    shooter503 Member

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    I've seen cows killed with a 22 pistol in the hands of an experienced operator. To my embarrasment (and grief) I've failed to kill a downed cow cleanly with several rounds of 38 special.

    When the caliber is small it is a matter of skill and quite a bit of luck. Being able to pump out several rounds of 22 quickly without recoil effects helps too.
     
  18. Tom Fury

    Tom Fury Member

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    Couldn't resist...

    "Ya don' kill a guy with a .45 'cause its' messy; and theres' dry cleaning involved; Ya shoot a guy with a .22 and it rattles around inside his skull for a while...no problem.
    Or words to that effect...Steve Martin "My Blue Heaven."
    I have no idea about the answer to your question, but thought the debate could use a little levity.
    Cheers, TF

    You're not really going down the road of trying to find the absolutely smallest round effective for SD are you?
     
  19. Chrome

    Chrome Member

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    I don't want to get into the specifics, but I know for fact that at point blank range a .22LR out of a handgun will penetrate the front of the skull, but not the back. The bullet impacted the rear of the skull but did not penetrate.

    Later,
    Chrome...
     
  20. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Depends on velocity of bullet,
    thickness of bone,
    angle of impact.

    Quality of ammo, quality of barrel, and distance affect velocity.
    Thickness of bone in one's skull varies depending on part of
    skull; individuals may have thicker or thinner skulls than average.

    .22 will more often than not penetrate the skull, traverse the brain
    and impact the opposite side of the skull. Some times but not
    often the .22 bullet will not penetrate: low velocity from weak
    ammo or poor barrel, thickness of bone, angle of impact.

    There have been rare cases where the .22 bullet has penetrated
    the skull at an angle where it would follow the curve inside the
    skull and end up where it entered.

    And there is the urban legend that the .22 will not only penetrate
    the skull but will bounce around turning the brain into mush.
     
  21. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    Given that the 22 is often the choice for government and non-government assassin, that should give you an idication. Of course the rule of thumb is 'get very close and use several shots'

    We've always used 22 to kill animals prior to butchering. I'm not convinced a human skull is any thinker than a hogs or steers. Weapon in question was a S&W k-22 with a 6 inch barrel, fired at a couple of feet. Never need more than one shot.
     
  22. mshiermd

    mshiermd Member

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    Some clarification and terminology

    Having seen first hand several thousand GSWs to bone (major inner city hospital) let me offer some insight into 22LR properties. The ability of all projectiles to penetrate bone is related to the energy that can be transmitted to the bone. This is dependent on the angle at which the missile strikes the bone. The more acute the angle, the less likely to penetrate.

    As someone has indicated the skull is a flat bone with a relatively thin cortex on either side of cancellous bone. It is like corrugated cardboard in structure. Long bones on the other hand are generally tubular in structure with a much thicker cortex (hard bone). Most of you will recognize the bone in a round steak; this is a cortical bone. Fractures can be of many types:

    1) transverse- straight across the long axis of the bone
    2) oblique- at an angle to the long axis of the bone
    3) spiral- a twisting propagation of the fracture as it progresses up or down the axis
    4) open- communicating with the outside
    5) comminuted- multiple fragments
    6) greenstick- cortex broken on one side and relatively intact on the other side

    Now to the original question. Yes indeed, the 22LR can penetrate the skull of a human. It depends on the angle at which it strikes. At 90 degrees it is more likely to penetrate. The more energy (>ft/lbs) related to a missile the more likely penetration will occur at an angle.

    The bone in the skull that is struck will have an effect. The parietal and frontal bones will have more resistance to penetration than the temporal (just above the ear) bone.

    Just in the way of a "war story", I had an individual arrive at the emergency room with a GSW to the forehead and an exit wound at the back of his head. He was conversing normally and was lucid. An xray revealed a lead track beneath the galea (the thick covering over the skull; scalp) following the contour of the skull. Not a wholely unusual event.
     
  23. bdjansen

    bdjansen Member

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    Tom Fury, this is not a thread about SD weapons. See origional post. Anything a 22 does, a larger/hotter caliber just does more. They even used a larger caliber in that study (.40 inch) with the obvious effect.

    I'm just currious that there would so many different opionions about what a 22 will do.

    The skull is not thicker then the femur. The curves are much less on the skull then on a femur. It would clearly be far easer for a 22 to pass through a skull then a femur bone. Anyway you look at it.

    Also, different people's bones are different strengths and sizes but in this study it made no difference.

    What amazed me was how little energy it required to break the bone. People who have have stories about a 22 not doing it's job on an animal should maybe be thinking about why it didn't work. There are always more factors in play in the real world then a controlled lab but the energy is not at question.

    I will try and post those pdf's to this reply.
     

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  24. Ron James

    Ron James Member

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    Have you ever seen a full grown bull put down with a single .22 in the head, I have, and on the farm we used .22 shorts because they were cheaper! I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or start a flame war but any who states that a .22 Long rifle will not penetrate a human skull needs to start back on their meds.:rolleyes:
     
  25. bdjansen

    bdjansen Member

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    Here is the other one.

    Let me know what you guys think.
     

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