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"The gun was designed to wound, not kill an enemy"

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by parsimonious_instead, Jun 2, 2011.

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  1. parsimonious_instead

    parsimonious_instead Member

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    I was just reading a comment about the basics of rifle shooting on a general interest men's site.
    One commenter spoke about a relative's experiences with a .30 carbine, which according to this person was "designed to wound, not kill an enemy, because wounded men take more resources to deal with."
    I don't think any weapon was intentionally designed to "just wound" other than "less than lethal" stuff for use against criminals and unruly mobs.
    I would guess it's unethical according to the laws of war and also rather stupid from a tactical point of view, because there would be times when you would want to kill an enemy pretty quickly - an underpowered weapon gives them a chance to continue fighting.
    I *have* heard that there were some issues related to the .30 carbine. Apparently some of the issue ammo was underloaded, which did create a lack of stopping power. The full-auto version also had muzzle climb issues ("how could I have missed? I sprayed a whole 30-round mag at those advancing Chinese"). Tales of ineffective .30 carbine might have also arisen from enemy troops wearing multiple layers of very heavy clothing.

    (I'm excluding an intentional tactic of scoring deliberate, aimed shots at non-vital areas against an enemy, as in the 'sniper' scene in Full Metal Jacket)

    Any thoughts about this "designed to wound" stuff or the general effectiveness of .30 carbine?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  2. Dreamcast270mhz

    Dreamcast270mhz Member

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    .30 carbine will pierce a 1/4 in steel plate at 100 yards. It is a long barreled pistol, not much more and out past 150 yards it has little effectiveness.
     
  3. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    "Designed to wound" is one of those persistent myths that just won't die. Somehow folks lost sight of what compromise means in cartridge and weapon development.

    The .30 Carbine was designed as a replacement or alternative to a sidearm for drivers, officers, and other troops who's primary duties were other than shooting at the enemy.

    No one has ever said that the .45ACP was designed to "wound but not kill" the enemy, but if our soldiers had been routinely shooting their 1911s at heavily clothed and concealed enemy troops between 75 and 150 yards away, there would have been "a few" reports that the weapon wasn't really accurate or powerful enough for the task. No big surprise there.

    The .30 Carbine round is in the same ball-park as a .357 Magnum, speaking in broad terms. Was the .357 Mag designed to "wound but not kill" anything?

    The whole idea that a wounded soldier takes up more enemy resources than a dead one has some flaws (not all of our enemies have had the resources ... or really interest ... in patching up wounded conscripts), and was never a deliberate part of US military doctrine.
     
  4. Unistat

    Unistat Member

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    ^ Yes.

    Unfortunately I've heard otherwise knowledgeable people who really ought to know better say this, usually about the AR-type rifles and the .556 round.

    Most often, it just reveals that the speaker has a bias against said gun/caliber.
     
  5. LibShooter

    LibShooter Member

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    The .30 Carbine, like the M-16 and the Brown Bess, was designed to poke holes in people from a distance. Because of relative limitations caused by trade-offs and extant technology some guns do it better at greater distances than others. Therefore some guns are more likely than others "to wound, not kill an enemy" but almost all military firearms were designed to kill the enemy.
     
  6. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    Probably not since 1940's Europe.

    Compared to the Garand, were there a lot of M1 & M2 carbines fielded in Korea? 1:100, 1:10,…..?
     
  7. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    Which military firearms were not?
     
  8. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Sam1911 hit the nail on the head.

    The whole "it takes more people out of the fight to care for the wounded" nonsense is just unimaginably short sighted. Realistically, wounded will only be dealt with so long as there are sufficient resources and extra men to deal with the issues. They're not dropping their guns and hauling every wounded soldier to the rear for treatment every time someone is shot.
     
  9. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I have heard the "wounded men take more resources to deal with" as an unintended consequence, not as a design intent.

    Following the history of the "light rifle" program that led to the .30 Carbine cartridge and the M1 Carbine (researcher Larry Ruth gathered a lot of gov't documents on that), the M1 Carbine was designed to give soldiers who would otherwise be armed with a pistol or unarmed, a weapon capable of engaging the enemy out to 300 yds requiring less training than a pistol and not adding more than 5 pounds to their equipment load. That was the design intent.

    Now it has been observed that a wounded soldier ties up more resoutces than a dead soldier, but that is an unintended consequence, not a design intent of the weapon. The design intent of the carbine was to be half the weight of an M1 Garand (10 lbs) or Thompson (12 lbs), but more effective than a pistol or revolver.
     
  10. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    Been awhile, but IIRC the AR5, AR7 and the MA1 (?) were designed as survival firearms.

    Yeah, kind of a stretch.
     
  11. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    Different twist on the subject, but what was the FMJ designed to do?
     
  12. LibShooter

    LibShooter Member

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    I imagine in some lab or arsenal somewhere in the last couple of hundred years somebody designed some gun for some special mission that renders some high value target unconscious so he can be brought back for some enhanced interrogation.

    Seems likely to me.
     
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Reduce fouling at higher velocities, feed reliably, and (when compared to some other designs) to stay within the bounds of the Hauge Convention guidelines. (But I haven't read any official documents that say so. Curious what they did cite as the reasons for that change, especially in handgun cartridges?)
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  14. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Throwing chunks of lead at high velocities isn't optimal for that though. Something like a taser or dart gun would be far more likely a candidate, and at that point you'd be out of the realm of "firearm".
     
  15. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    During the 1980s my father (U.s. Navy, Korean War Vet, U.D.T.) and I got into a discussion in which this topic came up. There was (according to him) some thought given to the idea of creating a light weapon that would be characterized more by an ability to "wound" rather than kill. One idea which popped up -- and was quickly discarded -- was the idea of a bullet that yawed or "key-holed." This actually can happen and it usually winds up in inaccurate, even wildly inaccurate, shot placement. However the idea was that if one deliberatly designed a bullet that keyholed from the outset, this problem could be overcome. Usually when a bullet keyholes it means something was done wrong in the manufacture, design, or assembly of the round.
    Unfortunatly it turned out impossible to overcome, keyholing bullets just won't cooperate with interesting "outside the box" thinking. They are just inaccurate because it's their nature.
    Somewhere else along this development line came the development of the 5.56 round, designed primarily to be effective -- with a high muzzle velocity compensating somewhat for the 55 grain weight of the round (½ the mass of the .30 Carbine bullet) but also be light enough so soldiers could carry more ammunition. The basic idea, not primary, but rather somewhat secondary or "behind-the-scene," was also the idea that if it wounded more often than kill that would tie up resources.
    But it is also true, IMO, that there never was any official policy that stated it was better to wound. "...(N)ot all of our enemies have had the resources ... or really interest ... in patching up wounded conscripts."~~Sam1911. True ... and I think after Korea, many in the American military were very aware of that, if the Japanese had not taught them in WW2.
     
  16. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Myth (that I used to be guilty of perpetuating)

    No firearm is "designed to wound" if they kill.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  17. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I don't care who you are. THIS is funny! :D

    Oh as to the thread subject.

    People say all kinds of silly things.
     
  18. galena

    galena Member

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    "Designed to wound........" I first head this line of thought as a kid back in the 1950s in reference to the German Luger 9mm. Keep Shootin'
     
  19. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

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    If I'm reading this correctly, I don't think this is true at all. At close ranges (~100 yards) the 5.56 is known to tumble and fragment causing more damage than just passing through. It is almost a way to get an expanding bullet without using an expanding bullet.
     
  20. rodregier

    rodregier Member

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    In a law enforcement context, the NY Stakeout Squad was reportedly very happy with .30 Carbine with hollowpoint ammunition.
     
  21. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    IIRC, early 5.56mm. did this, but I don't believe it was originally designed to do that; I think it was a happy serendipity that it turned out to behave that way.
    It has been a long time since I've read about the actual development of the M-16 and the round though, so I may be wrong.
    My main point was that the "design to wound rather than kill" idea was not a modern invention but actually did go back to some post WW2 thinking, although it was never adopted as any kind of "official policy." It was a wrong idea and I think that the more enlightened people back then knew that. Just my two cents though.
     
  22. md2lgyk

    md2lgyk Member

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    I can think of a couple of firearms not designed to kill people. Both the Navy and Coast Guard use line throwing guns. And flare guns (though I'm not sure they are actually firearms).
     
  23. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    Another perpetual gun myth that just won't die. I've heard the same thing about military shotguns. But a shotgun blast, be it slug or buck delivered at range, is devastating. A 12 ga. pumpkin ball slug hitting center mass at 500 yards is not only a helluva shot, but might not be lethal due to the loss of velocity. Bring that same shot into the range it was designed for and kiss yer keister bye bye.

    In certain situations, the 'designed to maim, not kill' argument can be used for virtually anything.
     
  24. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    ^^This


    The M1 Carbine was designed to be the original PDW.
     
  25. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    Firearms are designed to emit projectiles at high speed in a specific direction.
    That's pretty much it. Everything else depends on the intent of the shooter.
    I am tired of the "guns are designed to kill" and "this gun is designed to wound" nonsense.
     
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