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Caliber, velocity, energy, relating to damage Theory

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Texasgrillchef, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. Texasgrillchef

    Texasgrillchef Member

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    As most of us know. The energy of a bullet in flight is an equation of velocity and mass.
    The more energy the bullet has, the harder it is to stop and in theory will do more damage to its intended target.

    Thus a 230 grain bullet traveling slower then a 115 grain bullet can have more energy and thus in theory create more damage.

    However, I ask, wouldn’t the cross section diameter otherwise known as caliber of the bullet also have an impact on damage on a target.

    Example being two 185 grain bullets traveling at the same speed, with one bullet being 9mm and the other being 45 caliber. Wouldn’t the 45 caliber do more damage due to its cross sectional diameter being larger? Yes the 45 caliber bullet would be shorter and the 9mm longer, but the 45 caliber should produce a larger hole? Correct? (Yes, 185 grain 9mm bullets are rare, to non-existent, but this is just an example for discussion on damage theory)

    Thus the reason we have hollow points and other various types of bullets that use expansion techniques to increase their cross sectional diameter either in flight, or upon impact with the target.

    Thus if we were to invent/discover a damage equation, it would have to include not just the bullets weight and speed, but it’s cross sectional diameter? Correct?

    Does a damage equation even exist?

    Example again which would cause more damage, (assume FMJ-RN) a 9mm bullet with energy of 300 foot/lbs or a 45 caliber bullet with 250 foot/lbs? Yes the 9mm has more energy, but it’s also a physically smaller bullet then a 45 caliber bullet. How many foot/lb difference of energy would be needed to make the smaller 9mm create more damage? (Yes, I realize the energy example may not be realistic energy amounts for said caliber but this is just an example for purposes of discussion)

    IMHO Damage to the intended target is an important consideration when choosing caliber and ammunition be it for hunting, or even self defense against animals, or humans, and the location we are wanting to use our firearm and ammunition. Ie, in many instances, we want to reduce any potential for collateral damage.

    The other question I ask to everyone, is how important is your consideration of damage to your target do you consider when choosing a caliber and ammunition for said caliber?
     
  2. rb288

    rb288 Member

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    In my 68 years above ground, here are a few of the things I have learned, or been told....
    1. Big and slow beats small and fast, most of the time.
    2. Small and fast tend to be more accurate at longer ranges, but, big and slow are as accurate at shorter ranges.
    3. For self defense and hunting, you want to be able to put your target down as quickly, and efficiently, as possible. That tends to lend itself to big and slow.

    BTW, I carry, at different times, a 9mm loaded with 147gr Gold Dots, and a 45acp loaded with 230gr Gold Dots.

    Just some thoughts from an old guy who has been around.
     
  3. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    BigSlowMomentum --> Deeper Penetration
    FastHighEnergy --> Damage along/radial to that path

    It's a Systems problem ... combining the two for the intended target.
     
  4. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    How much damage an individual projectile creates is not very important at all.

    What is critical is what is struck inside the human body --things that cannot be seen.

    Do not think in terms of shooting at zones on a stationary two-dimensional target, and do not think about shooting at water jugs.

    Those things a small, they are hidden , and they will be moving fast. Hitting them depends on penetration, on point of entry, and on angle of entry. The shooter cannot control the last of these at all.

    It becomes a matter of probability. Hitting with more shots in the same time interval increases that probability very markedly.

    That requires a higher rate of controlled fire. The effectiveness of controlled fire is reduced by higher recoil. Recoil is proportional to the momentum of the bullet and the other effluents.

    Thus, assuming adequate penetration and proper bullet performance, the faster, lighter projectile, with lower momentum, would be preferred for defending against a violent attacker who is moving fast.
     
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  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Energy has nothing to do with anything. The only 2 factors that matter are penetration, and placement. Penetration is determined by bullet construction and sectional density. The best method of predicting a bullets performance is shooting it in gel. If it gives enough penetration to reach vital organs and if it hits with enough speed to expand one is as good as another. Big and slow/ vs small and fast is irrelevant. Penetration is key. Big fat bullets don't penetrate well. All things being equal faster bullets of the same size penetrate less than the same bullet moving slower. This is where bullet construction is important. Small fast 9mm loads will give plenty of penetration if the bullet is constructed right. The better loads will penetrate over 6' and shoot all the way through most big game animals.

    Bullet diameter hasn't had anything to do with a bullets effectiveness since we stopped using round balls and black powder. Relatively speaking a 45 caliber hole, even if it expands, is still a small hole. A 35 caliber hole just isn't that much smaller.

    No. The short stubby 45 will give very poor penetration. They don't make 185 gr 9mm, bullets, but they do make 180 and 200 gr .357 bullets. They will significantly out perform even 230 gr 45. The key is heavy for caliber. It is long skinny bullets that give the best performance. In 45 caliber you need to shoot 400-500 gr bullets to get them long enough to get really good penetration. Not possible in handguns.

    With black powder velocity is pretty constant regardless of caliber. The only way to get more penetration was to go with heavier balls. With round balls the only way to go heavier was larger caliber. With conical bullets you can get heavier bullets in smaller calibers. It is the ratio of bullet weight to diameter that determines penetration. This is measured by the bullets sectional density which can be mathematically calculated. Going to larger calibers actually reduces penetration unless you go up considerably in weight and retain the same velocity. Which creates it's own set of negatives.
     
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  6. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, how hard a projectile is to stop relates more to its momentum than to its energy. It is true, however, that the theoretical limit of the damage a projectile can do is related to its energy. That said, there are a number of reasons why a projectile might, in fact, not do as much damage to a target as the theoretical limit suggests is possible.
    Not in the sense that you're talking about. And, IMO, there won't ever be one.

    I don't believe it will ever be possible to come up with an equation that allows one to plug in a handful of parameters (e.g. mass, velocity, bullet diameter, expanded diameter, etc.) that provides a single number that quantifies/predicts the real-world performance of the bullet in terms of stopping attackers in a way that allows one to compare one projectile with another with any reasonable level of accuracy.

    If you are satisfied with an equation that predicts the size, shape, and depth of holes made in a non-elastic target medium (like clay, for example) it might be possible.
     
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  7. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    Talk to a battlefield surgeon someday.
    The shock-wave destruction radially from the actual bullet path is horrific from high-velocity projectiles.
     
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  8. film495

    film495 Member

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    don't know - but, there is sectional density - relationship of caliber to grains of projectile that have some determination on its effectiveness. speed of projectile, once it is strong enough to push through a target, not sure more matters until you get up to the 2,200 feet/second range as there is where the shock wave starts to cause additional damage, that temporary cavity becomes permanent damage. Below that velocity, poking a hole straight through something is poking a hole through something, the nano seconds different in time to do so; not sure has any variation on outcome to a target.

    larger diameter holes create more damage than smaller holes. The size of the hole area grows a lot percentage wise with a larger caliber. I've never done .38 or 9mm to a .44 or .45 comparison and done the math, but the percentage of area of the circle by the sizes and percentage to one another is substantial. Larger bullets, all other things being equal, make bigger holes and cause more damage.

    your 9mm vs. 45 question is interesting, but I think you would have to intentionally hand load some really weak rounds to only get 250 foot pounds of energy from a 45 cartridge. I have a 32 ACP pistol that produces 150ish foot pounds at around 1,000 fps - and a 70ish grain projectile. I also have a 30-30 rifle that shoots a similar caliber projectile, but it is 150-170 grain bullet - going over 2,200 fps - and the result to a target is no comparison with somewhere around 2,000 foot pounds of energy.

    The .223 is a smaller caliber, but the high velocity creates a damaging hydrostatic shock. I think you can get .223 in 40 grain ammo, which is the same basic caliber for all intents and purposes as common .22 Long Rifle ammo. The .223 round will create vastly more damage to a target solely based on the significant increase in speed of the projectile.

    Pistol rounds still throw me and I have many of the questions you do just trying to grasp how it works. They aren't going to be going fast enough to create the same hydrostatic shock as a rifle round, so - all things being equal otherwise, the bigger hole is more damaging as long as it penetrates equally.

    .38 special and .357 magnum shot out of the same gun, shooting the same projectile - will just have different velocity with the .357 traveling faster and carrying more energy and it will do more damage to a target. I don't understand why, but it transfers more energy into the target and does more damage. I would think poking the same size hole through something would do the same damage, but it doesn't work out that way - as far as I hear other people report on the subject - I have not tested it myself. Maybe the exit wound is larger .. only thing I can think of that would be different.
     
  9. Texasgrillchef

    Texasgrillchef Member

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    Well I think it can be said that it requires more energy/momentum for a projectile to make and have greater penetration.

    Think of it like this. A narrow gauge train hitting your car at 60mph will do more damage then a semi truck hitting you at the same speed. Both have a cross sectional diameter about equal. The semi will do more damage then a smart car. This is all due to mass though and not the diameter of the vehicle.

    One other thing to note regarding damage, can easily be revealed by shooting watermelons as an example. Some Projectiles will just punch a hole through the watermelon others will make the watermelon explode.
    I have a 9mm that just punches a hole through the watermelon but my 45 will make the watermelon explode. The watermelon with 300 pieces obviously shows more damage than just a hole punch through it. Even when both are FMJ. My loads on the 9mm (115g) create 1000fps yet my 45 produces about 850fps (230g). If our desire is to explode the watermelon then the 45 would be the choice yet if we just want to punch a hole through it the 9 mm would be the best choice.

    Hydrostatic damage in a target is more affected by bullet design and velocity though more then bullet weight. Assuming the same depth of penetration.
     
  10. film495

    film495 Member

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    Now I understand why I see so many videos of people shooting at fruit …
     
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  11. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Ok, everyone repeat after me.....THERE ARE NO MAGIC BULLETS Say it again, louder THERE ARE NO MAGIC BULLETS! The one criteria you have to look for is penetration. With modern projectiles any caliber .38 Special or larger that can penetrate 13 inches or more of properly calibrated ballistic gelatin is suitable for self defense. When a enters the body there are two cavities created. A temporary cavity that closes up in a millisecond unless something disrupts it and a permanent cavity caused by the bullet passing through the flesh. The damage from high velocity rifle rounds is often caused by the construction of the bullet. The M193 5.56mm ball rounds wounding capacity is caused by not just the velocity,but the construction of the bullet. When it strikes, it yaws so the heavy (rear) end of the round moves towards the front. This isn't some special design factor, all spitzer type bullets do that it's simple physics. The difference is in how far they penetrate before they start to yaw, When the M193 yaws it often breaks into two pieces at the cannelure and the copper jacket breaks apart. These small fragments often perforate the tissue when it's still stretched from the temporary cavity causing a large wound with tiny fragments the surgeon must try to find and remove. Some tissue is more elastic then others and the temporary cavity may damage or destroy internal organs but it's not an effect you can count on.

    "Stopping power" (whatever that is) is dependent on shot placement and penetration. The idea is to put a hole in the blood rich internal organs so the bad guy quickly bleeds out. It doesn't really matter how you get there, a large slow bullet or a smaller, faster one, just get it into the upper thoractic region. Anything 38. Special or larger will make a big enough hole to do the job. 13 inches of penetration is necessary to get the bullet where it needs to be if you have to go through a lot of clothing or a forearm or upper arm first. What a bullet does to a watermelon or a milk jug full of water or any other medium for that matter is pretty much immaterial. Performance has to measured in properly calibrated ballistic gelatin to be relevant for choosing a round for self defense and even calibrated ballistic gelatin isn't a perfect medium as it can't replicate differences in tissue density in different people, bone, etc. But it's the best we have.
     
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  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Humans see patterns that don't exist. And they want to predict the future. Economics has for decades, if not more than a century tried to model itself as a physical science with exact predictive models, like the Newtonian laws of motion, and economist's attempts to predict the future have always failed. Which is why economics is called the dismal science. I consider it humorous to read that the inverted curve has predicted 10 out of the last seven recessions. Or was it 12?

    If you read the pre WW2 hunting book literature, the in-print crowd was trying to do the same thing with cartridges. They were taking Newtonian laws and trying to use them to predict lethality. I am old enough to remember when the Hatcher's Relative Stopping power index was God's commandment to the 1911 crowd. The Major/Minor categories were based on the Hatcher Index. Hatcher used momentum (mass time velocity) and a shape factor to create a simple mathematical model, which of course meant the biggest handgun bullet was the most lethal. This felt good, seemed right, very intuitively obvious and all. And since is was based on nothing but fool ossifying, it was all bosh! The periodical in-print crowd preferred kinetic energy because it favored velocity. Kinetic energy is mass time velocity squared. Squaring that velocity vastly increased kinetic energy, which made the slightly faster, though otherwise insignificantly different new cartridge, so much better than the old.

    At some energy level you will blow people/animals apart, but the weapons are too heavy to be personal weapons, and even then, tissue holds up better than you would think.

    How about this for stopping power:

    RNR Skipper Thomas Crisp posthumous VC, commanding Q Ship Nelson 15 August 1917

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Crisp

    During WW1, the German Uboat UC 63 attacked two British Q Ships with its 88 mm deck gun. The Uboat deck gun out ranged the British armament. At 7000 meters the seventh shot from the UC 63 deck gun cut Skipper Crisp, manning the tiller, into two. The 88 mm shell went through his left side, carried on across the deck and through the bulwark without detonating. Disemboweled, both legs roughly amputated at the things, Crisp somehow retained consciousness. ... Crisp ordered the crew to throw the confidential books overboard and throw me after them! . finally he dictated a message to be sent by pigeon, "Nelson (his ship) being attacked by submarine", "Skipper killed (Crisp!) Jim Howe Bank. Send assistance at once".. It took a couple of minutes for him to die and he was left on the deck as the ship sank.

    Now imagine that, a human hit with a 88 mm round, cut in half, and yet, still able to think and give manage his crew. It is possible he could have held a pistol in the minutes he had left before he bled to death. Simple mathematical models are inadequate to model the lethality of projectiles on flesh and blood creatures. Though lots of money has been made by authors of books with simplistic ideas about stopping power, and the optimal handgun cartridge combination.

    Blood loss is 100% fatal, and therefore I believe in the biggest through hole theory. That is, the biggest through hole will promote rapid blood loss, if the hole goes through something that really bleeds, like major arteries, major organs such as lungs, the heart, the bleed out will be even faster. This is of course ignoring the central nervous system. Turn off the central processor in the skull and all physical existence will end, but that is a small target. I have not seen any predictive models on this, and this is not something easily calculated with a slide rule or a calculator, and is not pleasing to a species that hates ambiguity. Humans want simple answers and certainty. Ambiguity does not do well in marketing or in the legal system.

    Pl0HbjY.jpg
     
  13. film495

    film495 Member

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    well, here's a video of a guy doing gel testing - and he gets regular 32 ACP Ball ammo to over penetrate. looks like he's also shooting out of a smaller pocket gun, with probably a 2.5 or 2.75 inch barrel. so, if you had say a Walther PP or PPK with a 3.8 inch barrel - that extra inch is going to add some pep to the round and it would penetrate even a little further.

    I toss a 3.8 inch 32 ACP into my glove box because it is convenient and easy. It meets the standards of penetration. However, if someone breaks into my house, I have a 4" barrel .38 Special with self defense hollow points - cause it has more nrg and is bigger and more powerful and will do more damage faster.

    If I had a .357 that would likely be more effective if I could shoot it - then again, if I have time loading some 30-30 rifle rounds would be even more effective, so - it is all relative IMHO
     
  14. Plan2Live

    Plan2Live Member

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    The most important element and the element that can't be quantified when discussing self defense "stopping power" is the mindset and mental determination of the threat. Some attackers stop and drop after suffering only minor wounds while some mortally wounded attackers continue fighting until they physically can't fight anymore. Pick a gun you are accurate with and is concealable enough that you will actually carry it. Practice often and call it good.
     
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  15. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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    In real estate, it is location, location, and did I say location?
    In shooting, it is shot placement, shot placement and did I say shot placement?
     
  16. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Just don't conflate shot placement and aiming or marksmanship. The critical locations to place shots like the brain or spinal cord cannot be seen at all. It is totally impractical to aim at them and no amount of marksmanship is going to assure hits there instead of a few millimeters to one side or another. Just getting headshots or center of mass does not assure good shot placement at all. People have fought for a long time after taking many center of mass shots and after taking hits in the face, head neck, mouth, and eyes.
     
  17. Obturation
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    Obturation Contributing Member

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    What those guys said.
    There is an equation that factors diameter, TKO (taylor knockout) derived from shooting elephants, yeah its real but not the end all by any means. A one pound needle thin bullet going 2000 fps will do far less damage than a 230 grain 45 going 750fps so diameter does matter but it isnt everything. Just my .02
     
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  18. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I'm interested in terminal ballistics for hunting besides manstopping. I understand that FBI research has concluded that remote wounding effects from high energy projectiles are typically present when velocities are at least 2200 fps (most meaningfully, above handgun range). If that's muzzle velocity or the velocity when the bullets enters the target, I forget. It has been suggested that the tissue's elasticity simply absorbs the energy by stretching without permanent damage. To me this theory really sounds like something some gel-testers thought of since bodies are just so much less homogenous that it's hard to imagine the effects they describe being consistent.

    Well, it's been suggested that those same kind of remote wounding effects, along a radial path, hydrostatic shock and so on will cause terrible meat damage. I suppose that's the whole point in the manstopping business. In hunting, however, we don't want that kind of waste. Varminting maybe. So in hunting, the rule of thumb I've come across is that something like 2800 fps is quite good indeed, but over 3000 fps creates a bloody mess of it. It's odd that the gel testers put the threshold at 2200fps, but the rifle hunters put it 800 fps higher. One place this phenomenon has been cited is with respect to very high energy medium bore cartridges like the .35 Whelen, 9.3x62, or .375 H&H. Although their energy is extremely high for game as small as deer, with a heavy bullet the velocity is quite modest and meat damage is minimized compared to much lighter cartridges that produce well over 3000 fps. I suppose bullet construction has something to do with this too, but that bit is always simplified in these rule of thumb things.

    Then there's the 5.56x45. This is a case where we have all that hydrostatic remote radial magic going on well over 3000 fps, and penetration on unarmored men is certainly sufficient. Yet the terminal effectiveness of 5.56 is regularly doubted. More people seem to be convinced that 6.5, 6.8, .308, .458 -- almost anything bigger and heavier will have a better terminal effectiveness, they say. Why? Do men's bodies need more penetration than 5.56 provides? What do the bigger, heavier bullets do then? Aren't they just slower with less remote wounding hydrostatic smack? I sincerely don't know. I've read the various theories. I really don't know what to believe. I'm inclined to believe more of everything is better, unless you're trying to save the meat.
     
  19. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Buffalo Bore Ammo owner Tim Sundles wrote an excellent article on the relevance of the TKO Model:

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=173

    From the technical article found at the above link:

    “As one example of the flawed ft-lbs formula, let’s look at one very early and popular good old standby 45-70 load compared to a modern 22-250 load.

    The early 45-70 gained much of its big game killing fame by pushing a 405gr. lead round nosed bullet @ 1,350 fps with black powder….this load generates 1,638 ft-lbs of energy……The typical 22-250 load of a 50gr. bullet moving @ 3,850 fps generates a slightly higher number of 1,645 ft-lbs, but let me ask, which load would you want to hunt grizzly with?…..or better, which load would you want to try and stop a charging grizzly with?”

    Further in the article...

    Taylor’s mathematical formula is thus. Bullet diameter X weight in grains X velocity / 7,000 (7,000 grs. in one lb.)

    (Bullet Diameter X Bullet Weight X Velocity) / 7,000

    Taylor's KO formula still does not factor the bullet shape, but assumes solid, non-expanding construction and does include the very important bullet diameter and further, it does not square the velocity but gives velocity the single value it deserves. TKO numbers only have relevance if they are being compared to other TKO numbers…..comparing TKO numbers to ft-lbs would have no meaning...


    Let’s compare the same 45-70 and 22-250 loads that we used in the above ft-lbs comparison……

    45-70 Load

    TKO-2.png

    VS

    22-250 Load

    TKO-3.png

    See what happens when you include bullet diameter and do not square velocity? The old weak black powder 45-70 load generates a rating of 5X what the 22-250 load generates, for effectiveness on big game.

    Is the TKO rating perfect for generating a number that will predict effectiveness on big game? No, absolutely not! No mathematic formula could be. However, the TKO formula will generate a number that I believe is far more meaningful on big game, than ft-lbs of energy.”

    I believe Mr. Sundles, a top tier bullet maker and very experienced big game hunter makes excellent points in the article.
     
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  20. azrn

    azrn Member

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    ok big bullet gives me a bigger bleed. that works for me.:):thumbup::D
     
  21. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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  22. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    Excellent point!

    Shot "placement" is very largely a matter of chance, and the chance of success is determined in large part by the number of rounds on target.
     
  23. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    This is absolute nonsense. There's nothing flawed about the kinetic energy formula. There are certainly a lot of people trying to make it mean something it doesn't and/or misinterpreting it to be a single-number measure of projectile performance.

    The statement is like saying Pythagorean theorem is flawed because it doesn't tell you the area of a triangle. It's not supposed to tell you that, just as kinetic energy doesn't tell you everything you need to know about projectile terminal performance.

    It does tell you SOME things about projectile terminal performance--it gives some small pieces of the overall puzzle--but most people want reality to be a lot simpler than it is and they get into trouble trying to say that those small pieces tell the whole story.
    I've always found it somewhat amusing that people will take a formula made up by a poacher to try to predict how long an elephant shot with a heavy rifle in the skull, but not in the brain, would stay knocked out and try to argue that it applies to people, not shot in the head, not shot with a heavy rifle, and when no one really cares about how long they're "knocked out".

    The bottom line is that the only reason people talk about TKO in the context of handguns is because it matches the preconceived ideas that some people have on the topic.

    Even if TKO really did what its originator claimed--and there's certainly room for debate along those lines--there's absolutely zero reason to believe that it is applicable to an entirely different class of firearms and an entirely different class of "targets" when the goal is entirely different.
     
  24. Obturation
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    Obturation Contributing Member

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    I agree, wasn't advocating for or against it . I mentioned it because it is the only formula i have seen that factors diameter.
    I personally do believe along those lines and prefer wide and heavy loads but don't expect others to believe the same.
     
  25. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Right, I was referencing comments in the article. I understand that they were not your words.
     
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