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I have a problem with "Shot placement is key" and "Overpenetration"

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by mljdeckard, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Senior Member

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    Of course shot placement is key. No one would say that they should get anything other than the very best hits they can in a given situation.

    HOWEVER, when it usually gets used in here, it is for a couple of reasons. Particularly in subjects like saying why less-powerful cartridges are good for self defense. I feel like some people think a tiny bullet is fine for a defensive encounter because you can hit anyone in the jugular with a .22.

    Does this somehow mean that if you use a more powerful cartridge, shot placement ISN'T key? You can be sloppy if you are using a .44.

    I also feel like a lot of people are trying to say that shot placement is the cure for for anything that can go bad in a gunfight. Hitting your neighbor through the drywall. Hitting innocent bystanders behind the bad guy who is trying to kill you.

    Exactly what is this idea of 'overpenetration'? Where do we get this idea that there is such thing as a bullet that is too powerful? I want a bullet to be likely to completely traverse a human target, under most conditions. There is just penetration, and you want all you can get, particularly with pistol bullets, which are not great tools for the job to begin with.

    In real life, in a gunfight, you can't assume that your conditions will be ideal. You can't assume that you will get a full-frontal shot center of mass. You can't assume that all of your shots will hit. Some people make it sound like Rule #4 doesn't apply as long as you are using hollow-points. Like, you can stand grandma behind a bad guy, and go ahead and shoot him, and it's ok because you are using hollow-points. Rule #4 always applies, on the range, on the street, in war. You can't assume that any shot you fire will fail to penetrate what you are shooting at and hit what is behind it. Therefore, why do you not always want the most powerful bullet that will work for your situation?

    Or should I not ponder such things while watching Hatfields and McCoys on my DVR?
     
  2. smalls

    smalls Senior Member

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    My concern with over penetration is this: bullets can travel very far. So if I happen to miss center of mass, I still want it to not go through him. Why do we need 18 inches of penetration? Even if an arm is in the way of center of mass, there's still not 18 inches to an organ.

    Shot placement is key with any caliber. Center of mass is where all the organs are. If I shoot someone in the foot, they may bleed out, but they still have a greater chance of inflicting damage to me, because my shot was not incapacitating. Now a shot through a lung, or the heart, I've got a much greater chaance of them stopping their attack.
     
  3. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Senior Member

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    If an arm is in the way, you might have plenty of leather or bone between the bullet and the vitals.

    Again, you are ASSUMING that your shot will hit. And are you not concerned with what is behind your target if you DO hit? It may or may not hit what is behind your target, no matter what bullet you are using. It's not like you can plan differently because you are using a bullet which you believe is less likely to traverse the target. You still have to plan that it WILL. This means you might as well have the best one you can get.
     
  4. smalls

    smalls Senior Member

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    Absolutely, I'm concerned with what is beyond my target. Like I said, if I miss COM, I still do not want my bullet to go through.

    Unfortunately, we can't have both, penetration to go through an arm, a leather jacket, and hit vitals, and underpenetration to make sure bullets don't hit bystanders. And misses, well, it really doesn't matter what bullet you use if you miss and accidentally hit grandma. We don't have bullets that know the difference between good guys and innocent bystanders.
     
  5. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Senior Member

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    This is correct. You can't have both. So, you are saying you would rather use an underperforming bullet, even through it won't eliminate any risk or change your plan in any way?
     
  6. natman

    natman Senior Member

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    There's no overpenetration, just underexpansion.
     
  7. smalls

    smalls Senior Member

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    Yes, I would rather use a bullet that underpenetrates. The way I see it, if it hits a bad guy, it's still a bullet, and it's going to do damage. Maybe not as much as possible, but it's still gonna hurt, and hopefully incapacitate/stop the attack. And hopefully, by choosing a bullet that doesn't penetrate "too much", I save grandma.

    In the event of an attack, rule 4 may go out the window. Under such stress, and fraction of a second worth of thinking/reaction time, I may not see grandma, or anything else besides the threat. Hopefully my bullet choice makes up for that.
     
  8. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Senior Member

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    Hopefully does the job? Hopefully doesn't kill grandma? These are two things for which I don't want half measures.

    Rule number four ALWAYS applies. No exceptions. If that bullet hits something you did it.
     
  9. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    No gunfight was lost by over-penetration.
     
  10. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    If I hit a guy in the elbow (I aimed COM, but he moved) with a .25, well, he might notice that. If I hit him in the elbow with a .44 Mag HP, I may remove most of the joint--I think he'll notice that.

    Also, despite tunnel vision and auditory exclusion, I think the experience of seeing a Model 29 pointed at and fired into you is different than the same experience with a Baby Browning. And yes, if the difference buys me a "psychological stop", I'll take that.
    If the bad guy is about to murder me (and then murder grandma) I'm taking the shot: she'd want me to, just as I'd want her to shoot if the situation were reversed.

    And yes, I'd hope that she's using hollow-points, not FMJ. :D Overpenetration can matter a lot.
    If by that you mean the most powerful cartridge and gun combination that I can shoot well and conceal, that's exactly what I want...although capacity comes into it somewhere. I might trade 6 shots of .44 Special for 18 of 9mm.

    And whichever I choose, there's every reason to load it with HPs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012
  11. MistWolf

    MistWolf Senior Member

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  12. Dr. Detroit

    Dr. Detroit New Member

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    I'm not so sure this is true. A drug-crazed robber entered a pizza store near my city and pointed a shotgun at the clerk, demanding cash. When the robber was momentarily distracted, the clerk drew a 9mm pistol and shot the guy several times at very close range. But it was only moments until the bad guy picked himself up off the floor and again became a threat. It took a few more rounds to stop him for good.

    The problem was that the clerk was using round-nose ammo which was sailing straight through the bad guy, leaving only a narrow wound channel. It doesn't get more "overpenetrating" than that. I think the idea is to select ammo that has the best chance of leaving/losing as much of its energy as possible inside the bad guy, while hopefully achieving sufficient penetration to reach vital organs and structures.

    G-d forbid we ever need to do it.

    Dr. Detroit
     
  13. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Senior Member

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    The eternal argument...

    Some people buy a .357, then 'load down' with .38 specials so they don't get the flash/bang of the magnum, and the bullets don't 'over-penetrate' in an HD scenario...

    As soft lead staying in the bad guy is what you want, why not simply buy a .38 S&W (not special) and have done with it, right?

    :D
     
  14. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    There's the problem right there. Nothing short of a head shot will stop a drug crazed person. SO it was a failure of shot placement, not over penetration, that caused the failure to stop.
    Expansion in a handgun round is iffy.
     
  15. jmr40

    jmr40 Senior Member

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    Perfect shot placement is nice, but rarely possible. I see lots of threads where so called experts complain about the number of shots sometimes fired, and the number that missed, by LE when a shooting happens. Bad guys don't have a bullseye drawn on their chests and they don't stand still in perfect light for you to take aim and fire. They are running, jumping, kneeling, and hiding behind barriers while you are doing the same. There will be missed shots and the many that do hit are not in vital areas simply because you have to hit the areas that are exposed. There is no such thing as having too much ammo available.

    I don't worry about overpenetration. I made the decision long ago that I will not fire on another person unless there is no doubt that that person will cause more harm than any possible harm could come from missed shots or overpeneration from my gun.
     
  16. elrowe

    elrowe Member

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    Assume every shot will either miss or pass-through the target (any target, not just the bad guy) and hit whatever's behind it.

    I want any animal, including human ones if they need it, I shoot to be bleeding through two holes so that it incapacitates as quickly as possible. The difference in permanent wound channel between FMJ and JHP pistol rounds of almost any caliber or velocity is minimal (.355" vs. .61" for 9mm Golden Sabers for example), so bleeding rate is critical unless you hit central nervous system locations.
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Senior Member

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    An awful lot of folks (and not all of them bad guys because the good can get hit too) have survived gunfights and other shooting incidents because the bullet(s) that hit them didn’t impact a vital organ or cause massive bleeding. This may be good or bad depending on which side you’re looking from.

    In any case survival (which it’s all about) depends on the ability to incapacitate or disable an opponent in the shortest possible time. Otherwise they may do the same to you.

    It is a given that big diameter bullets make bigger holes then smaller ones, and they aren’t dependent on expanding because the leave the bore expanded in the first place. For that reason my ideal pocket revolver is one the size of a J-frame Smith & Wesson with an 8-shot cylinder chambered to take 12 gage shotgun shells loaded with slugs. :what:

    Some of you may detect some flaws in my reasoning, but what the heck! :D

    So we must make some compromises between what is practical to carry vs. what ammunition can be used in them. Also maximum power may not be the best answer if the gun/ammunition combination presents a blast and recoil that insures that any quick shots made after the first one will likely be all over the map. A fast miss never wins the gold ring.

    So life comes down to a measure of compromises. For example, in my present residence if I shoot and miss a close range shot at a hostile uninvited visitor (impossible I know, but “what if…”) the bullet might likely go through a large window with single pane glass, across a two-lane street, and hit an occupied house on the other side. For this reason my .38 Special house-gun is loaded with mid-range full wadcutters, that will likely penetrate far enough into to the person mentioned above at close range and leave a very effective primary channel, but not have much horsepower left if I miss and the slug ends up across the street. From the perspective of raw “stopping power” my cartridges may be far from the best choice, but hopefully I can make up the difference with marksmanship – which is a necessary component of effective bullet placement.

    Under other circumstances and in different situation I may change to an entirely different handgun and ammunition. In a medium/large-sized revolver the .44 Special cartridge becomes very attractive. For personal protection under most conditions I see no need for Magnums other then those under the .357 size, and again I would tend to favor a .44 or .45 bore over any .357 Magnum unless maximum penetration was an important consideration.

    Others of course can make their own choices, but over the years I have carried everything from a .22 WRM to .45 and never felt under gunned. I have always depended on my ability to hit exactly what and where I intend to, rather then the specifications of what I’m using to do it.
     
  18. ball3006

    ball3006 Senior Member

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    Two holes bleed better than one. I believe any hole in a bad guy is good. Expect the bad guy to continue to fight unless you hit the head or spine. Guys just don't fall down or get blown down like in the movies. A body will continue to fight until the lights go out. If you want better bullet placement, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE......chris3
     
  19. smalls

    smalls Senior Member

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    Unfortunately, all you can do is hope, because there will always be variables you don't know. You don't know if your round will make it to organs, you don't know what kind of clothing he's wearing, that may or may not impede your shot, or how his body will angled, etc.

    You can train (and should), but you're still going to not know what YOUR fight will look like.

    Unless you know all the variables, you can't figure out the solution. In this case, the solution is the round chosen, and the type of bullet shot. That's why there is no magic bullet, because you don't know the variables.
     
  20. JERRY

    JERRY Senior Member

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    i'll get the popcorn, this is getting good.
     
  21. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    I realize this was teh lead in to a joke, but there really isn't that much difference in calibers using JHPs.
     
  22. loneviking

    loneviking Member

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    I don't worry about overpenetration as from first hand experience it seems rather rare. In thirty years of E.R. work and somewhere north of 3 dozen shootings, I don't recall ever seeing an exit wound. Can it happen? Sure, and I've seen pictures but they were all from rifle rounds. I just saw a video on the news of a cop in hilly being beaten by a drug crazed felon. The cop drew and put four rounds into the bad guy who just kept fighting. There's just too many incidents like that to argue for an under powered, under penetrating round.
     
  23. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    I'm not sure. Most of the bleeding from a chest or abdominal wound will be internal; compared to a bullet that reaches the far skin and stays there, a bullet that completely perforates your attacker buys you a little extra skin bleeding. That's not going to matter unless you need the blood trail to track him. ;)
    Expect the bad guy to continue the fight, period. Remember Yogi Berra: "It ain't over till it's over."
     
  24. smalls

    smalls Senior Member

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    Underpowered and underpenetrating are not the same thing, though.
     
  25. Fremmer

    Fremmer Senior Member

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    based on my experience with deer, 2 holes certainly are better than 1 hole. yrmv.
     

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