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A first hand account. Single 9mm fmj fatality

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by swmed, Jun 1, 2010.

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  1. swmed

    swmed Member

    Jun 1, 2010
    Hello forum. I've always come to THR for the considerable knowledge forum member have on various topics.

    Keep up the good posts guys.


    I'm in training as an ER Technician & have recently seen an unfortunate but interesting case.

    A gun shot victim was brought into the ER with a single gun shot wound to the upper chest.

    Specifically through the sternum. (wound almost exactly between the pectoral muscles)

    The victim also had an exit wound almost straight out the the back. It looked as if the bullet changed direction after impact then going slightly upward & exiting. Basically straight through.

    I've always been interested in reading about ballistics. And to read it & then see it. Is very different. And this fit the definition of a "one shot stop".

    The bullet was a 9mm fmj. The victim was by all means in prime health. And roughly (being vague) 180lbs.

    The report we have puts the shooter out to 10 or 15 feet away that the shot was fired at the victim.

    Accounts point to an almost immediate drop after impact.

    This sounds like a street brawl, bar fight that got out of hand. And the victim was in the middle of it etc.

    At first I was thankful it wasn't a jhp. But that quickly changed.

    Having two wounds to get at, while performing chest compressions. Just didn't work. The amound of fluid loss was so immediate, that even before arrival at the ER the EMTs (whom both have seen gsw before) called the chances of survival slim.

    We live in a smaller community & lack a few things larger citys have.

    It was shocking after reading the endless debating on 9mm vs "whatever caliber" to see a real world result on a round that most have discounted as being ineffective of one shot stops etc.

    I have no idea if the bullet after leaving the body had allot of energy left & went much further or dropped after exit.

    But maybe its something our Police are looking into for evidence.

    With the accounts I have read about our troops shooting enemys 5 or more times with 9mm fmj's. I now wonder about accounts where 9mm fmj worked well. Or any fmj against soft targets for that matter.

    This info was posted as an observation. I hope it can help in whatever way something like this can. If not to just talk & learn from it.
  2. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Nov 11, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Good post, but there's a couple of important things to note here. One is that, by your description of the wound, it sounds very likely that the round hit the spinal column, which would, of course, result in the immediate drop. Even without a direct hit that severs it, the immediate nerve shock to that area would generally result in the subject going down immediately.

    Second to note is that, while a straight-through FMJ shot through an upper torso area may result in a non-survivable wound, it is generally not going to stop the person instantly. A bullet that goes clean through without expanding does not transfer all of its energy to the target. In layman's terms, it means it does not do all the damage it could possibly do whlie going through. In this case, it was a lucky or exceedingly well-aimed shot that just happened to disrupt his nervous system in just such a way to bring him down instantly. This whole incident is a prime example of why shot placement is more important than the caliber or type of ammo you use.
  3. btg3

    btg3 Member

    Oct 30, 2007
    Thanks for sharing an objective, detailed, factual incident. Even so, it is a single data point with so many factors that it would be erroneous to conclude this is "representative and repeatable with confidence".
  4. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Northern Indiana
    Back many years ago, I knew a guy that did a suicide attempt. Put a .410 shotgun to his chest and pulled the trigger. Survived, though pretty mutilated.

    The 9mm vs. .45 debates are for internet idiots that play too many video games and live in a fantasy world.

    I had a friend that worked in the ER at Gary Methodist Hosptial. Had a guy stagger in that had been hit with a 9mm seven times. He was out in a couple of days.

    Never say always, never say never.
  5. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Arlington, Republic of Texas
    You're lying. Everyone knows 9mm is one of the worst self defense rounds ever made. You need at least 5 9mm rounds center mass to have the same effect as 1 .45 round whizzing by.

    In all seriousness though, this really drives home that the caliber war crap is pointless. A bullet no matter how small to the right place will drop a grown man in his tracts. And a bullet no matter how bug to the wrong place can let him keep fighting for who knows how long. Practice to hit what you're aiming at.
  6. Nushif

    Nushif Member

    Mar 21, 2010
    Corvallis, OR
    Nay! If I hit someone with FANGFACE!(tm) .45 ACP they're dead instantaneously. Even if I hit 'em in the toe.
  7. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Mar 26, 2004
    AL, NC

    As near as I can tell, it pretty much boils down to two things where GSWs are concerned- placement, and penetration. There are a whole lot of variables in the way individual humans react to being shot, or shot at, but as far as physiological and not psychological effects are concerned, placement and penetration are the determining factors as to outcome.


  8. CCWB

    CCWB Member

    May 22, 2009
    Make fun of me if you choose, but I've never had a hollow point pass through an object, so I'm thinking it must have been a target round. Also, I thought it was illegal to carry a target round in a weapon for self defense. At any rate it did boiled down to a piss poor or very well placed shot. And it blows that this person seems like a wrong place wrong time accident.

    thanks for the real life account
  9. pockets

    pockets Member

    Apr 27, 2010
    in my own little world
    Where would that be illegal?
  10. Dave P

    Dave P Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Florida
    "At any rate it did boiled down to a piss poor or very well placed shot"

    Center of mass is not good enough for you???
  11. shockwave

    shockwave Member

    Jan 8, 2010
    The OP did not say that this was representative or repeatable.

    There is no argument regarding the effectiveness of a 9mm round. It's on a par with .38 spl and usually a bit more powerful. This report is a reminder that shot placement is critical.

    Never heard that before.
  12. CCWB

    CCWB Member

    May 22, 2009
    the op said the victim was in the middle of it, so I originally thought they were in the wrong place and it was a freak accident type of shot. Center mass is what I shoot for so it would have to be the area of choice. As far as legality, why would you risk your life with a target round over a hollow point? I'd rather know my round is dumping 100% or close to it in my intended target. Without knowing for sure what was used, my HP rounds have never passed through. I'll check various laws to better educate myself though.
  13. hammerklavier

    hammerklavier Member

    Sep 13, 2009
    North Carolina
    Energy smynergy, if the shooter wasn't knocked to the ground by the recoil then the person shot will not be knocked to the ground by the bullet. Bullets kill primarily by blood loss, secondly by destroying important organs.
  14. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

    May 25, 2003
    Northern Idaho
    From what I have learned, all hollowpoint bulets will reliably expand at 1400 feet per second. Many handgun calibers are not capable of producing those velocities. That's why we see such unpredictable performance in calibers smaller than the service cartridges (9mm, .357, .40, .45). I agree that shot placement is more important than caliber.
  15. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

    Aug 11, 2005
    Elbert County, CO
    Welcome aboard, swmed.

    Thanks for sharing your account of the incident.

    However, single incidents like this one must be chalked up as anecdotal. Statistically, 80% of handgun wounds are survived. detailed information about bullet type and shot placement for that figure simply isn't available, and we can probably assume that most of the shots are not as well placed as the one you witnessd. But still, many people have survived COM hits with 9mm and other common handgun rounds.

    I wouldn't want to be shot with a 9mm FMJ, for sure, no matter where it hits. But I am also not going to switch my carry load to FMJ and fire only once at an assailant because of isolated incidents in which it worked.
  16. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Any caliber can kill a man if he's hit in the right spot.

    Back in the 1970s in my home town there was a man who was an enforcer for the local Hells Angels named Armand Bletcher. He was about 6'6" or so and weighed around 400 pounds. He was also a body builder and was hugely muscled.

    One night he called a guy and promised to come over and "mess him up." Guy was waiting with a S&W Model 39 and put one FMJ round in Bletcher's chest as the big man advanced on him. Bletcher dropped like a stone, dead before he hit the floor. Slug punched the heart and while there is often a few moments before the effect hits with heart shots, in this case the reaction was immediate.

    Two lessons. Any caliber, even the ones some "experts" dismiss can be effective. Two, don't bring muscles, or karate, or a knife to a gunfight.
  17. WhippingBoy

    WhippingBoy Member

    Apr 22, 2009
    Fort Collins, CO
    swmed, you say it went in the front and out the back. Do you have any info on what it hit on the way through? You say 'lots of fluids', does that mean a major artery, or the heart, or something else? Ayoob, if you've ever read his accounts, generally qualifies SD shootings with this information to better explain the results of shootings. It certainly helps explain why a shooting did, or didn't, end effectively.
  18. sniper5

    sniper5 Member

    Jan 16, 2007
    Make fun of me if you choose, but I've never had a hollow point pass through an object,

    Won't make fun, but I have. Several times. One that comes to mind was National Shooting Club incident. Perp was struck twice with .45 Hydrashocks. One in the arm, one in the torso just to the right of the sternum. 1/2" hole in, 1/2" hole out through the back. Both bullets were recovered later by crime scene technicians, neither expanded.

    There is no magic concerning bullets, it's all about physics.

    The last time I saw a hollow point round expand and penetrate completely through the body was 2 days ago. Can't talk about it (look up HIPPA) because it involves patient confidentiality.
  19. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Based on the description of the wound path through the body, the bullet most likely damaged or disrupted the spinal cord and produced instant flaccid paralyis, which caused him to collapse.
  20. Full Metal Jacket

    Full Metal Jacket member

    Dec 11, 2009
    hiding in your bushes

  21. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    all over Virginia
    Anybody shot between the shirt pockets is usually going to die. If a major blood vessel is severed, they die real fast.

    If the bulet hits the spine, or passes very near, they also "drop like a rock."
  22. Zane

    Zane Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    The chance of survival is essentially zero. CPR is going to do nothing for the person. The only way they could survive is an immediate thoracotomy with rapid repair/control of the injury and likely a crap load of transfused blood. If the guy loses vitals during transport, you can do CPR. If the guy loses vitals while you are watching/extricating then just grab an go.

    Make sure you don't say things like "entry" and "exit" in your report.
  23. rocky branch

    rocky branch Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    Any hunter or combat vet, or medical guys can tell you, death is fickle.

    I have seen guys shot to pieces with open skulls who survived.
    Others with imperceptable wounds who were dead when they hit the ground.

    Certain projectiles are more predictable than others, in the end, results are incidental.
  24. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

    Sep 21, 2007
    Californicated Colorado
    I can't possibly believe that there is a majority opinion believing this. Even those who believe the round to be less effective than another, would still acknowledge that a round through the heart, and especially if it then hit the spine, would bring about a "stop".
  25. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer member

    Apr 10, 2010
    Kodiak, AK
    I don't think most people grasp basic anatomy. In fact, these type of threads are pretty good evidence of that.

    If you get a frontal shot into the lower 2/3rds of the sternum, the guy is going down pretty quick and it doesn't matter if you're using HP's or FMJ's or 9mm or .454. The heart is directly beneath the lower sternum (no, it's not on the left side), just an inch or so below the surface. Above the heart is the Aorta and Vena Cava, the two largest blood vessels in the body. You rupture any of those and blood pressure begins to drop immediately.
    The bigger the rupture, the faster the incapacitation. So yes, marginally, the bigger the bullet the better, but the difference between a 9mm and .45 is only 1/10th of an inch. HP's make bigger holes than FMJ's, so your choice of bullet style makes far more difference than your choice of caliber.

    Any hunter can tell you about the deer he shot with a .308 that ran 100 yards before dropping, with its lungs and heart made into soup. The damage from a handgun is far less than that, so you can't count on even a perfect handgun shot stopping an assailant from shooting back. In physiological terms, unless you get a CNS hit, it's blood loss (lack of oxygen to the cells) that incapacitates. So, even a perfect heart shot might leave the person active for as long as a person can hold their breath.
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