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Federal Air Marshall's Ammo Debate

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by aut2no, Oct 4, 2004.

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  1. aut2no

    aut2no Member

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    Annie Jacobsen, who has been writing a series on "Terror in the Skies" after her experience on a flight this summer that had young Arabic males performing what many passengers believed to be a "probing" flight.

    In this last episode, on the 2nd page she discusses FAM ammo choice of .357 HP

    http://www.womenswallstreet.com/WWS/article_landing.aspx?titleid=76&articleid=776

    quote in part:
    <
    Are FAMS Using 'Cop-Killer Bullets?'

    News reports on the FAMS ballistics have, so far, been extremely limited. Early this summer, the FAMS had granted an exclusive interview again to TIME Magazine writer Sally B. Donnelly. In Donnelly's article, 'My Life As An Air Cop,' she states she was the first journalist ever allowed to drill alongside [FAMS] recruits. In the article, Donnelly revealed that FAMS use hollow point bullets designed to mushroom inside the human body.


    Why the FAMS wanted to release these gruesome ammunition details to the general public, I really don't know. But what I do know is that according to my anonymous sources, the facts presented by Donnelly are not entirely true. Hollow point bullets may be designed to mushroom inside the human body, but if they're the kind of hollow point bullets the FAMS uses -- SIG-357-HP's according to my sources -- then they travel about three times faster than other bullets. Couple this with the incredibly close quarters on an airplane, and you've got a problem. When fired at close range, the bullets used by the FAMS will likely travel not just through the targeted assailant, but also through up to four more bodies -- and possibly through the cabin wall of an aircraft.

    Apparently, I'm not the only person with this conflicting information. Here's how Congress posed their ballistics question to Quinn:

    Contradictory reports of the type of ammunition used by air marshals has sparked concern by travelers, pilots and others. The debate includes whether all passenger aircraft can withstand impact by the type of ammunition used by air marshals and whether the ammunition is the type that continues to travel through the human body. Please provide examples that clarify the impact assessments for each type of ammunition used including, but not limited to, the effect on an aircraft and a human body from being penetrated by the ammunition used by air marshals when fired at varying distances.

    Equally disturbing, it's been suggested by multiple sources that the FAMS use these high velocity, hollow point bullets not because they're the appropriate ammunition for the job, but because Secret Service uses these bullets and that's where Director Quinn spent 20 years of his career.>

    end qoute

    My purpose in this thread is not so much to point out journalistic misinformation, but rather clarify what we do know about this topic from the collective firearms knowledge at High Road.

    Then, I will point her in the direction of this discussion to further educate her. I think this is worth the effort since this series she has been writing has taken on a life of its own and has a huge following - a following who should have accurate info on ammo (aka 'cop killer bullets')

    My first question - I thought frangible ammo was being used. ??
     
  2. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Member

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  3. Jake

    Jake Member

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    "When fired at close range, the bullets used by the FAMS will likely travel not just through the targeted assailant, but also through up to four more bodies -- and possibly through the cabin wall of an aircraft."



    Is there any pistol round ever made that could pull off that kind of penetration even with a FMJ round let alone a HP?



    "but if they're the kind of hollow point bullets the FAMS uses -- SIG-357-HP's according to my sources -- then they travel about three times faster than other bullets."



    3 times faster than other bullets? Which bullets are those? Must be talking about paintballs or something.

    Winchester loads in JHP -

    357 SIG 125 gr. USA JHP = 1350 fps

    45 Automatic 230 gr. USA JHP = 880 fps

    357 Magnum 110 gr. USA JHP = 1295 fps

    44 Magnum 210 gr. Super-X® Silvertip® Hollow Point = 1250 fps

    9mm Luger 115 gr. USA JHP = 1225 fps


    "according to my sources "


    Sure would be interesting to find out who these sources are. Must be some 12 year old kid who spends too much time playing video games. Or someone who is really, really bad at math.



    "cop killer bullets"



    Now while I have never claimed to be a expert on bullet design I've always wondered about this term as applied to JHP ammo. It would seem to me that the design of a HP bullet, what with the flat hollow nose, would actually lessen the ability of a HP to penetrate a BP vest. Anyone with more knowledge please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this.
     
  4. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    The sky might be falling! The sky might be falling! Oh, dearie me, the sky might be falling!

    People who are completely ignorant about firearms and ammunition really shouldn't try to write about them.
     
  5. Shaughn Leayme

    Shaughn Leayme Member

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    The ability to defeat body armour is a function of speed, bullet design, angle of penetration, distance and the weave and material used in the vest.

    Now a hollow point can defeat a vest, if it exceeds the design parameters of the vest. Many hollowpoints fired from the 9mm, 357 sig, 40 S&W, 45 ACP have a rounded bullet profile, which can allow the bullet to slip between the fibres instead of being grabbed by the fiber mesh, something a bullet with a larger flatter meplat will have greater difficulty doing.

    Now if we manufacture a bullet out of a dense material (copper, brass, tungsten, hybrid alloys, spent uranium) and with a profile intended to part the fibres and launched at a high velocity then many vests would be unable to stop these types of rounds and may not even slow it down.

    I heared in regards to the FAM's that they could not find a frangible ammunition that would meet the performance requirements as laid out, in the tender process and it was eventually decided to go with a conventionally designed round.

    It has been shown that the Explosive decompression that is a feature of many Hollywood movies is a fallacy and the odds of a single or even multiple bullets striking an important part in an aircraft is slight and unless you also hit the redundant back up, then you would probably not even know it, since you are not on the flight deck with the warning light flashing at you. The plane would also be headed to the nearest airport and after being interviewed you would be placed on a different flight and away you go.
     
  6. Edmond

    Edmond Member

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    I just :rolleyes: after the read the 3 times faster than other bullets part.

    If they report facts on everything else like sports and business, they should also report facts and not some anti gun rubbish in the press. I talk to so many people that are also misinformed because of the media.

    They probably get that garbage off some movie or something like that and take it to be reality. Wasn't that "cop killer" phrase in a Lethal Weapon movie?
     
  7. aut2no

    aut2no Member

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    In a perfect world, you are right. However, in the real world people like Annie do write, are widely read and discussion forums like ours can interact with her to teach her about an unfamiliar subject.

    I'm trying this approach rather than bashing her.

    If you are criticizing her based on a few misinformed paragraphs on firearms versus the body of work on making our skies safer from terrorism, then you're missing the point of this thread,
     
  8. stv

    stv Member

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    I guess she missed that episode of Mythbusters.
     
  9. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    For starters, aren't armor piercing handgun rounds "cop killer bullets?"

    And furthermore, it appears that the writer is oblivious to the fact that if HPs are "cop killer bullets", that 99.9% of all cops carry them.

    Feh.
     
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    One of the big arguments used against armed pilots by the anti-gun gang and other supporters of terrorism was that bullets could penetrate the aircraft skin and result in "explosive decompression" or that innocent people might be killed.

    Now hear this! Explosive decompression from a single bullet or even a dozen bullets is not going to happen. No one will get sucked out through a .357 bullet hole unless he is VERY skinny.

    Plus, the ignorant need to get something clear. If terrorists take over a plane, EVERYONE ABOARD IS DEAD. Again, if terrorists take over a plane, EVERYONE ABOARD IS DEAD. And anyone killed by a bullet is lucky.

    These guys are not looking for transportation to Cuba, or trying to rack up frequent flier mileage. They are going to use the plane as a weapon to kill everyone aboard and as many people as possible on the ground. They may want to hit something like a nuclear plant and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

    If terrorists take over the plane, the only way it can be stopped from crashing into a planned target is if an Air Force fighter shoots it down. No matter what happens, EVERYONE ABOARD IS DEAD. No survivors. No last minute saves by guys dropping in from a helicopter. No super heroes grabbing the tail and pulling the plane to the ground.

    If terrorists take over that plane, EVERYONE ABOARD IS DEAD. The only way to stop terrorists is to kill them. Got it now? See why holes in the cabin don't matter? See why killing an innocent person doesn't matter?

    Jim
     
  11. aut2no

    aut2no Member

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    I just looked at the end of her article, where there is a discussion section.
    (Kudos for allowing online responses from readers)

    http://www.womenswallstreet.com/WWS/community/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=113

    Several firearms enthusiasts have jumped in on the issues of HP, frangible and myths of cockpit decompression from bullet holes.

    I doubt I could post this thread link on her discussion board w/o the appearnce of spamming, but after some more replies,I will email her this board's relatively polite and informative responses.

    For those who haven't read her entire series of online articles, IMO, the day may come she will receive a Pulitzer for her dogged pursuit of the government over the myth of airline security. (she justs needs a little ballistics training ;^) )
     
  12. Group9

    Group9 Member

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    But what I do know is that according to my anonymous sources, the facts presented by Donnelly are not entirely true. Hollow point bullets may be designed to mushroom inside the human body, but if they're the kind of hollow point bullets the FAMS uses -- SIG-357-HP's according to my sources -- then they travel about three times faster than other bullets. Couple this with the incredibly close quarters on an airplane, and you've got a problem. When fired at close range, the bullets used by the FAMS will likely travel not just through the targeted assailant, but also through up to four more bodies -- and possibly through the cabin wall of an aircraft.

    Here has always been my problem with a news article like this.

    I know the above statement is totally erroneous and completely lacking in any factual basis.

    I don't know much about the rest of the article but when what you do know is reported completely wrong and falsely, how do you know what to believe of the rest?
     
  13. Norm357

    Norm357 Member

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    That lady is an idiot.
     
  14. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    My only concern with 357Sig 125s is that IF you got a "clog failure" you might get a drill-through and endanger one other person. NOT three, but one, or a couple of real light "grazes" maybe.

    BUT with very good JHPs like Gold Dots or something, I'd call the risk pretty dang low.

    ----------------

    What would be better?

    Either run a REALLY hot frangible (44Mag maybe?) or go to a large slow big-cavity hollowpoint with low sectional density, like the various "flying ashtray" 200grain 44Spl or light-loaded 44Mag slugs. Or maybe, pending a lot of testing, the new Speer 250grain 45LC Gold Dot moving at around 825 - 850fps.

    Yes, these are revolver rounds. You can get a fatter JHP without worrying about feed issues.

    If they're going to stick with 357Sig...does Cor-Bon have a Pow'R'Ball in 357Sig yet? Those are a "clog-proof" (or damned close to it) "pre-clogged JHP".
     
  15. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    Does anyone know the velocity of a Sidewinder missile?

    The discussion about injuring people in a plane caused by handguns is asinine. If the cockpit is breeched, the only alternative to a handguy is an F-16 jamming a Sidewinder (assuming the Air Force wants the plane to descend in tact) or a Maverick (assuming the Air Force wants the plane exploded at altitude). In any case everyone on board is suddenly and permanently dead.

    I just do not understand why that little factoid is so hard for blissninnies to understand. The only alternative to a handgun is a freakin' F-16.
     
  16. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

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    Where can I get some 4,000 fps .357 Sig ammo? :)
     
  17. aut2no

    aut2no Member

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    That's actually the essence of the problem and hence this thread. If one were to read her entire series of articles since this last summer (accessible from the original post in this thread), then, like myself, might feel she went off track on this one area - where she was indeed wrong.

    What has impressed me about Annie is her bulldog tenacity in trying to get answers from the government to some very urgent questions about our airline security. What is newsworthy in her articles is not the few conclusions she has drawn, but rather the apparent stonewalling she has encountered by various entities.

    Her integrity is at stake. She has a responsibility to correct misinformation in this , albeit, tangent area in the greater dicussion of airline security.
     
  18. Andrew Rothman

    Andrew Rothman Member

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    Here's the TIME article she quotes. Not bad.

     
  19. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I don't know about the FAM's , but an NWA pilot was in the shop the other day and wanted a recommendation on which ammo to carry in the cockpit. I recommended 2 /1 Glasers over Hydra-shoks. The counter guy (I'm normally not behind the counter, the bench is my AO) recommended Gold Dots.
     
  20. 22rimfire

    22rimfire Member

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    entropy - If any FFDO is carrying ammunition other than that issued he or she is in deep doo doo should the issue be raised.

    FFDO's have strict policies about what they can do with their firearms and what can be shot through them. There is no type of frangible ammo authorized.

    Since FAMs are federal LEOs they have a very stringent firearms and ammunition policy that is very restrictive.

    Tom Quinn the FAMS director who is now the focus of Congress' Judiciary Comittee has on the record stated that "the FAMS uses a high quality hollow point ammunition".

    Cheers,

    M
     
  21. aut2no

    aut2no Member

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    I emailed her this thread. Also there were comments from informed firearms posters (including myself)in the discussion area that follows article.

    This now appears at the end of the article -
    ___________________________________________________

    <A Note to Readers from Annie Jacobsen:

    Thanks to all the readers who have written in with their expert and personal opinions on the bullet currently used by the Federal Air Marshals: SIG .357 HP.

    The range of information that has come in is fascinating and further supports Congress’ concern that the existing information out there on this bullet is contradictory and debatable.

    To read more about the theory that I had hoped to convey -- that these bullets, when fired at close range, risk causing collateral damage due to over-penetration -- please visit About.com; AllExpert.com by clicking here.

    Specification correction: according to the manufacturer, the SPEER Gold Dot .357 SIG HP Velocity is 1425 +/-50 FPS, which makes it about 1-1/2 times faster than other bullets. >
    ______________________________________________


    I am dissapointed. THAT IS NOT A CORRECTION. She doesn't "get it".
    This will now cast dispersions on the rest of her work, which I thought was great.:banghead:
     
  22. artherd

    artherd member

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  23. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

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    All of that womens articles (including the first one) are chock full of mistakes and disinformation. We just notice the firearms parts because thats what we know about. Everything she has written about this is horse-puckey.
     
  24. entropy

    entropy Member

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    The pilot was told he could use whatever ammo he wanted. I would think frangible ammo would be the best choice for inside a cabin or cockpit.:eek:
     
  25. mete

    mete Member

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    This is an excellent example of why you should not casually accept anything you see in print.I,m sure she would call herself a "professional" journalist but she's hardly that. One quick call to the NRA, an ammunition maker or other source and she would have gotten it right !! She probably got her "facts " from a computer game.
     
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