Is there any real evidence that one caliber is a better fight stopper than another?

This is a discussion on Is there any real evidence that one caliber is a better fight stopper than another? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A .45 bullet has an cross section area of 0.159 inch sq. A .357 bullet has a cross section area of 0.10 inch sq. http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calcul...ane/circle.php ...

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Thread: Is there any real evidence that one caliber is a better fight stopper than another?

  1. #61
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    A .45 bullet has an cross section area of 0.159 inch sq. A .357 bullet has a cross section area of 0.10 inch sq.

    http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calcul...ane/circle.php

    Since the vital object could be anywhere along the circumference, a .45 bullet should increase the odds of a nick by about 60%, assuming zero expansion. With full metal jackets and military ball ammo, and assuming equal penetration, that might account for the much better reputation of the .45 over the 9 mm/38 sp. And the old .38 specials/9mm were not +P, and wouldn't have penetrated as far anyways.

    With other types of bullets, the expansion might overcome some of that advantage. Also, I suspect it isn't quite a matter of math - it might require a fairly good hit to break an artery or the CNS. In that case, the advantage of a 45 goes down a bit, but I don't know how much.

    Once a bullet goes thru a body, I wouldn't expect the wound channel to allow an observer to know the caliber. The tissue doesn't evaporate, but fills in the channel and a .1 inch difference would probably be hard to distinguish.

    Again, the best bet for doubling your chances of hitting something vital is to shoot twice. That suggests additional capacity is a bigger factor than bigger/faster bullets, unless you move up to a rifle. A 44 Mag may have more stopping power than a 38+P, but I wouldn't count on it. And for many of us, more practice is better than 'more gun'.

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  3. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pistology View Post
    ...Handguns are capable of the hydrostatic shock effect despite your refusal to apply the definition of the term to them...The animal tests prove that incapacitation comes from hydrostatic shock. And higher energy ((mass*velocity^2)/450400) correlates to a higher stretch cavity which correlates to greater hydrostatic shock...
    The FBI disagrees. If I have to choose between Wiki and the FBI, I'll go with the latter.

    "Frequently, forensic pathologists cannot distinguish the wound track caused by a hollow point bullet (large temporary cavity) from that caused by a solid bullet (very small temporary cavity). There may be no physical difference in the wounds. If there is no fragmentation, remote damage due to temporary cavitation may be minor even with high velocity rifle projectiles.19 Even those who have espoused the significance of temporary cavity agree that it is not a factor in handgun wounds:

    "In the case of low-velocity missiles, e.g., pistol bullets, the bullet produces a direct path of destruction with very little lateral extension within the surrounding tissues. Only a small temporary cavity is produced. To cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly. The amount of kinetic energy lost in tissue by a pistol bullet is insufficient to cause remote injuries produced by a high velocity rifle bullet."20

    The reason is that most tissue in the human target is elastic in nature. Muscle, blood vessels, lung, bowels, all are capable of substantial stretching with minimal damage. Studies have shown that the outward velocity of the tissues in which the temporary cavity forms is no more than one tenth of the velocity of the projectile.21 This is well within the elasticity limits of tissue such as muscle, blood vessels, and lungs, Only inelastic tissue like liver, or the extremely fragile tissues of the brain, would show significant damage due to temporary cavitation.22

    The tissue disruption caused by a handgun bullet is limited to two mechanisms. The first, or crush mechanism is the hole the bullet makes passing through the tissue. The second, or stretch mechanism is the temporary cavity formed by the tissues being driven outward in a radial direction away from the path of the bullet. Of the two, the crush mechanism, the result of penetration and permanent cavity, is the only handgun wounding mechanism which damages tissue.23 To cause significant injuries to a structure within the body using a handgun, the bullet must penetrate the structure. Temporary cavity has no reliable wounding effect in elastic body tissues. Temporary cavitation is nothing more than a stretch of the tissues, generally no larger than 10 times the bullet diameter (in handgun calibers), and elastic tissues sustain little, if any, residual damage."

    http://www.thegunzone.com/quantico-wounding.html

    They agree that rifle rounds hitting at 2000+ fps create a temporary cavity so quickly that the tissue tears and is damaged, but say this doesn't happen at handgun speeds.

    At least one of the papers supporting hydrostatic shock is found here:

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0701/0701267.pdf

    I'll admit that based on my reading, a paper that cites Marshall & Sanow extensively seems suspect. The Strasbourg tests also seem very suspect. At least in my search, I couldn't find them published by any reputable source. Fackler makes the point "Some might argue that the "Strasbourg test" results could be from a real experiment; but one planned with incredible incompetence.5 A few things, however, do not ring true: for example, they mention great difficulty in finding enough goats for the study. Yet, strangely, each of the more than 600 goats found purportedly weighed within four pounds of 160 pounds. Anybody familiar with large animal experimentation realizes that here Marshall and Sanow apparently fell into another "too good to be true" trap." http://www.firearmstactical.com/streetstoppers.htm

    I also found this:

    " In 1991, a privately funded research group began studying the physiological effects of bullet impact on medium-sized animals. The primary objective was to isolate the physical mechanism responsible for rapid incapacitation of man-sized targets. This became known as what some consider the mythical—meaning, never happened—Strasbourg tests. Supposedly, 611 goats were terminated, generating 580 valid tests, providing average incapacitation times for the most popular defensive handgun loads at that time.
    The Strasbourg tests had two important findings. First; frangible bullets like the Glaser Safety Slug and hollowpoints that violently expand and transfer a great deal of energy very quickly produce the fastest incapacitation times. Second; when bullets impact ribs—this happens about 50 percent of the time in defensive shootings—incapacitation times are usually increased."

    http://www.shootingillustrated.com/A...ing_power.html

    If indeed the Strasbourg tests concluded that Glaser Safety Slugs are a great SD load, then I'd call their tests a load, too!

    In fact, the only place I found their results would indicate that a .380 MagSafe 60 Defender +P caused incapacitation in 7.12 sec, vs 8.28 sec for Federal 158gr JHP .357 ammo fired from a 4 inch barrel. But that would be better than the Federal 230 FMJ fired from a 5" barrel - it took 13.84 seconds! http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=62775

    Anyone claiming a .380 Magsafe slug incapacitates better than a .357 or .45 has got a hard sale with me!

  4. #63
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    A defense of the goat tests can be found here:

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0701/0701268.pdf

    Let's just say I am unimpressed by the authors discussion. YMMV.

  5. #64
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    The major issue is incapacitation time. I.e. how long, how many shots until the guy stops doing what he was doing to make you shoot him.
    I don't think its about bullet caliber at all. I think its more about mental or physical condition, the most important thing being the state of mind of whoever gets shot.

    We've all read about being being shot multiple times. Just today we read about a dude in NYC that took 21 hits and lived to tell about it. Then again, we read of others getting shot in the arm and dying from shock.


    I worked a murder case where a guy took 6 hits from a 9mm. I was one of the first there, we got the shooter, the body laying on the ground and the smoking gun(literally)which was laying a the hood of a car in with the slide locked open on an empty magazine. To make it even easier, the perp bragged about shooting the deceased. When questioned as to why he shot so many times, he stated that he thought we was missing because the bullets did not seem to have any effect what so ever. Several witnesses that were interviewed noted the same thing, they thought that the shooter was missing.
    Here is some background on the situation.

    The deceased had been beating his ex wife. Her lover walked in and saw them both going at it. He jumped in and promptly got his tail handed to him. He jumped in the truck, drove a mile to his fathers house, ran into his bedroom where he kept the HighPoint, grabbed it and went back over to his lovers house where her and her ex husband where still going at it. After repeated requests to stop beating her, the shooter shot 5 times. At some point the ex grabbed the gun, which resulted in a flash-burn and a bullet hole that went into his forearm and exited out the top of his shoulder. The next 4 shots hit center mass, one hitting the sternum and shattering it,the others hitting ribs and going through the lungs. He was a mess. The shot that ended the fight was the last shot, and it was a contact shot right at the base of the chin, which left a nice round hole there. He dropped immediately where he stayed until we got there, just a minute or so later.

    Me and another officer that is also an EMT attempted to administer first aid after the perp was cuffed and the scene was secured. The guy was a mess, you could'nt touch any part of his torso without touching oozing fluids,blood, tissue or pieces of bone. I told the EMT that it was a lost cause, but he wanted to administer CPR. After a brief discussion, we rolled him to access exit wounds and when we did it became apparent that the shot that got him in the chin exited right at the base of the skull. When we rolled him, a small part of his brain just sort of rolled out onto the grass.

    I said all of that to say this...

    After if was all done and over, the Coroner, who is a personal friend of mine read the reports and asked me a few questions. We had an interesting discussion. He mentioned that any one of the shots would have killed the man,even the shot in the arm which shredded the artery and exited out the top of his shoulder. The witness reported amazement at the fact that the fight was still very much in progress after the man took 5 hits at point blank range. Most of the witnesses estimated that it took a couple of minutes of fighting, grappling, trying to grab the gun, pushing,shoving, punching, slamming each other against the wall, until finally the shot against the chin dropped him and ended it.

    This is but one case of someone getting shot point blank multiple times and taking time to expire. I only mentioned it because I had direct experience with it. Both party's were enraged, the shooter was on meth, the ex that got killed was drunk and both of them were fighting for their lives. It is doubtful to me, that any handgun caliber, even the mighty .45 would have done much better.

    Fact of the matter is, there are to many variables in each recorded shooting event to make much use out of bullet caliber correlations. Adrenaline flow, state of mind, whether they be in a fit of rage, scared to death, so drunk they can barely move, hyped up on crack or coke so much that they feel no pain, all of these I think have more of an importance than bullet caliber actually does. The reality is that the calibers are more equal now than they ever have been due to advances in bullet technology in the last decade or two. I seriously doubt that 6 shots of 9MM is going to be easier on you that 6 shots of .45 because dead is dead and either one works quite well.
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  6. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Fact of the matter is, there are to many variables in each recorded shooting event to make much use out of bullet caliber correlations. Adrenaline flow, state of mind, whether they be in a fit of rage, scared to death, so drunk they can barely move, hyped up on crack or coke so much that they feel no pain ...
    Exactly so.

    If it were a science and if the fantasy of perfect causation could be identified, the best choice in defensive armaments would have long since been found.
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    Thanks for the authoritative post, bsms.

    Any data on why the FBI issue is .40?

    To summarize HotGuns and CCW9mm, the will to fight negates rapid incapacitation but not so much eventual incapacitation.
    Americans understood the right of self-preservation as permitting a citizen to repel force by force
    when the intervention of society... may be too late to prevent an injury.
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    The only way for rapid incapacitation is to bust the CNS.

    Shoot the head or break the spine. It wont matter what caliber it is.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  9. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsms View Post
    A .45 bullet has an cross section area of 0.159 inch sq. A .357 bullet has a cross section area of 0.10 inch sq.

    http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calcul...ane/circle.php

    Since the vital object could be anywhere along the circumference, a .45 bullet should increase the odds of a nick by about 60%, assuming zero expansion. With full metal jackets and military ball ammo, and assuming equal penetration, that might account for the much better reputation of the .45 over the 9 mm/38 sp. And the old .38 specials/9mm were not +P, and wouldn't have penetrated as far anyways.
    Actually that's not true. You're going by the area of the bullet which is indeed a 61% difference between the area of a 9mm and .45 caliber bullet. But the chances of 'nicking' something assuming the very same bullet path is only 27% - the difference in the distance from the centerline of the bullet to the edge of the bullet.

    E.g. the radius of a .45 round is 0.225"; the radius of a 9mm round (0.355") is 0.1775". The difference is only 0.0475" or 27%. So a .45 only extends from the centerline of the bullet 0.0475" more than a than a 9mm. So if they were exactly on the same centerline, an object would only have to be 0.0475" closer to the centerline for the 9mm to nick it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bsms View Post
    Again, the best bet for doubling your chances of hitting something vital is to shoot twice.
    I realize how logical that sounds but statistically I'm not so sure that's true at all. For example, if I flip a coin, what are the chances I'll get a heads? 50-50 - that's a proven fact. But the more I flip it sooner or later I'm going to get a heads. But the chance for each flip remains the same everytime 50-50.

    I think this would apply to shot placement as well, as evident from the guy that was shot 21 times without a 'vital' being hit. Certainly an extreme case, but the chance of a hit is the same with each shot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Actually that's not true. You're going by the area of the bullet which is indeed a 61% difference between the area of a 9mm and .45 caliber bullet. But the chances of 'nicking' something assuming the very same bullet path is only 27% - the difference in the distance from the centerline of the bullet to the edge of the bullet.

    E.g. the radius of a .45 round is 0.225"; the radius of a 9mm round (0.355") is 0.1775". The difference is only 0.0475" or 27%. So a .45 only extends from the centerline of the bullet 0.0475" more than a than a 9mm. So if they were exactly on the same centerline, an object would only have to be 0.0475" closer to the centerline for the 9mm to nick it.
    Thank you, i've been waiting for someone to say that.
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  11. #70
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    Let's talk about this hydrastatic shock thing a little with regard to the handgun rounds I listed in the OP.

    Whether it exists or not is not my concern. The effect, if it did exist, can contain no more energy than the bullet itself. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed so the only source of energy has to come from the bullet.

    When a person is shot, some of the kinetic energy, sometimes all of it, is transferred to the body and the body has react to the energy.

    ANY energy transferred as hydrastatic shock has to come from the bullet itself - energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can change forms, but it changing forms does not increase the energy.

    So, when a person is shot with a bullet proof vest, all the energy the bullet has is transferred to the vest and hence the person. That's the absolute most energy that can be absorbed and it is absorbed in a much shorter distance and time, which increases the impulse - ft-sec.

    When the bullet penetrates a person, the person cannot experience any more energy than the kinetic energy of the bullet. It doesn't matter if 10%, 90%, or 100% of the energy is transformed to hydrastatic shock, the energy remains constant.

    So if a vest stops a bullet and that won't knock a man down, and it won't, he won't be 'knocked' down by hydrastatic shock either. Now he may react to pain and collapse or flinch and loose his balance, but that could happen just in response to the bullet without any hydrashock present.
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  12. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    The only way for rapid incapacitation is to bust the CNS.

    Shoot the head or break the spine. It wont matter what caliber it is.
    Amen!
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  13. #72
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    Thanks for the thread. Subscribed.
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  14. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Let's talk about this hydrastatic shock thing a little with regard to the handgun rounds I listed in the OP.

    Whether it exists or not is not my concern. The effect, if it did exist, can contain no more energy than the bullet itself. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed so the only source of energy has to come from the bullet.

    When a person is shot, some of the kinetic energy, sometimes all of it, is transferred to the body and the body has react to the energy.

    ANY energy transferred as hydrastatic shock has to come from the bullet itself - energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can change forms, but it changing forms does not increase the energy.

    So, when a person is shot with a bullet proof vest, all the energy the bullet has is transferred to the vest and hence the person. That's the absolute most energy that can be absorbed and it is absorbed in a much shorter distance and time, which increases the impulse - ft-sec.

    When the bullet penetrates a person, the person cannot experience any more energy than the kinetic energy of the bullet. It doesn't matter if 10%, 90%, or 100% of the energy is transformed to hydrastatic shock, the energy remains constant.

    So if a vest stops a bullet and that won't knock a man down, and it won't, he won't be 'knocked' down by hydrastatic shock either. Now he may react to pain and collapse or flinch and loose his balance, but that could happen just in response to the bullet without any hydrashock present.
    You are correct in what you say. However, the more kinetic energy (foot pounds) a round has the larger the 'shock wave'. The larger the shock wave (hydrostatic shock) the more it will will be felt by the recipient. A .380 has about 185 foot pounds of energy where as a 357 has around 500 ft. lbs.
    A .223 has close to 1400 ft. lbs. This dissipation of this energy to nearby tissue definitely affects the recipient internally. Many think it's just the size of the hole the bullet makes upon entry and tissue directly in contact with that bullet that inflicts injury. To think this 'shock wave' is non-existent and that it has no effect is not correct.

    So, the effect of hydrostatic shock is not seeing the person fly off their feet or be propelled backward. It is an internal shock wave that is very real indeed and the more ft. lbs. of energy the bigger the effect.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Good question. To be fair, I wasn't thinking of wound-channel and bleed-out, but rather the odds of hitting something vital. Here's a pic I've posted before showing the expansion pattern of Corbon DPX in .38 spl:

    Now see, that's the kind of stuff I look at and think how could anyone look at these expanded bullets and not think the bigger ones are gonna do more damage?

    That raises the question: If a 9mm bullet expands by 27% that would make it the same size as an unexpanded .45 round. Would there be any difference between the two as far as the wound channel goes? The twist rate of handgun barrels is in a range from 1 in 10 to 1 in 14 inches. That means the bullet makes one (1) revolution (360°) in the specified length (10 to 14 inches). From this and the velocity of the bullet we can estimate it's rpm. Let's take a 1:12 twist and 1150 fps. the 1:12 is not only the middle of the range, 12" = 1 ft makes the rpm Assuming the bullet leaves the barrel with the implied twist imparted to it, we can calculate rpm:

    (1 rev/ft) X (1150 ft/sec) X (60 sec/min) = 69,000 rpm!!!!

    You'd thing those petals on those bullets spinning at 69,000 rpm would cut through flesh like a buzz saw! But apparently, it some how doesn't work that way.

    Further it is extremely difficult to explain why an expanding bullet of a smaller caliber is perceived to be more effective than an unexpanded larger caliber bullet that's the same diameter of the expanded buller.

    But regardless, it would be reasonable that the expansion of a larger caliber would be proportional the the expansion of a smaller caliber, so even with expansion, the larger wound cavity concept would still be proportional to the difference in bullet size.

    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    You can see why I like the Corbon. That ragged petal shape is going to cut things as it moves through the target. If Corbon makes a .22 round, it will be of smaller diameter than the .45. Given two shots to the exact same spot, the larger caliber will have a larger diameter when the hollowpoint opens fully. The chances of the larger round hitting something vital in the CNS and effecting a stop are potentially greater.
    But that's all assumption or unproven theory at best. We need to remember that those petals take time, distance, and energy to form. The fully expanded form may not exist until the bullet has travelled for some distance into the body and most of the spinning may have stopped by then as well.

    But whatever happens, and I don't know, but we must assume that those persons that have studied and treated bullet wounds for many, many years have the same knowledge and logic that we do, but we never hear them mention any of this. All they talk about is they can't tell from the wound what made the wound. I'm not sure that they can even tell if the wound was made from a smaller caliber bullet that expanded or a large caliber bullet that didn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    If you do math the way I do, you'll draw the conclusion that these differences are extant, but not exponential in scope. Larger is better, but we have two curves to plot and where they intersect is where penetration and damage overlap with accuracy and speed of follow-up.
    I'm an engineer, so math is very important and a necessary part of my work. But it has been demonstrated repeatedly that math cannot model the effect of bullet wounds. Remember the computer man and it's quick demise?

    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    In some range sessions I've been at, we've set up the "charging dog" target, which requires the shooter to put the entire magazine on target at about 15 feet. Maybe it's just me, but somewhere in the .38 - 9mm range I can empty the mag and keep the rounds in a fairly good pattern. With .40 and .45, I'm either slower or less accurate. So we enter a calculus where maybe you can get 2 rounds of a smaller caliber on target where you could only get a single .44 mag. I'd take double the odds of hitting something vital with two shots.
    Interesting, but it only addresses what you can do, which does not reflect caliber perfomance as far as incapacitation goes.

    Two rounds over one round does not increase your odds hitting something vital. The chances of getting the desired placement should be exactly the same for each round. The recent shooting incident where a guy was shot 21 times and nothing vital was hit indicates that. For example, if I shoot at a target with five rounds, why would I have a better chance of hitting the target with the third round than the first round or any other round for that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    ...But for CCW, there are many additional factors to weigh in and you can't dismiss them from this problem.
    Yes, I can dismiss them, I can carry a G21SF as readily, and I do sometimes, just as well as I can carry a G19. But that has nothing to do with bullet performance which is what this thread is about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig35seven View Post
    You are correct in what you say. However, the more kinetic energy (foot pounds) a round has the larger the 'shock wave'. The larger the shock wave (hydrostatic shock) the more it will will be felt by the recipient. A .380 has about 185 foot pounds of energy where as a 357 has around 500 ft. lbs.
    A .223 has close to 1400 ft. lbs. This dissipation of this energy to nearby tissue definitely affects the recipient internally. Many think it's just the size of the hole the bullet makes upon entry and tissue directly in contact with that bullet that inflicts injury. To think this 'shock wave' is non-existent and that it has no effect is not correct.

    So, the effect of hydrostatic shock is not seeing the person fly off their feet or be propelled backward. It is an internal shock wave that is very real indeed and the more ft. lbs. of energy the bigger the effect.
    Sort of. hydrastatic shock does not increase necessarily with energy. It is the velocity that causes the hydrastatic effect. And I use effect here instead of shock, because we really don't know if there's a shock effect.

    Let's be sure we're all on the same page here. Generally, hydrastatic shock is defined as the damage done by flesh accelerating rapidly away from the bullet. I think it is pretty well known that even a pistol bullet causes a hydrastatic effect, i.e. a temporary wound cavity. But the difference is that with low velocity bullets, the flesh lacks both the acceleration and the expansion necessary to cause injury to the flesh in the temporary cavity. Certainly that's a hydrastatic effect without inflicting addition damage.

    OTOH, a high velocity bullet can both accelerate the flesh away from the bullet fast enough to extend beyond the limits of elasticiity and the flesh rips or tears creating more damage. That's what's commonly referred to as hydrastatic shock.

    But even with high velocity bullets, hydrastatic shock does not cause more 'knock down', more wound trauma, yes.
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