This is a discussion on Bullet vs Bone within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have been thinking quite a bit about this recently. Most of what I read in magazines/forums when it comes to the effectiveness of a ...
I have been thinking quite a bit about this recently. Most of what I read in magazines/forums when it comes to the effectiveness of a given round boils down to
1. How far a given round tends to penetrate
2. How far a given round tends to penetrate after passing through a barrier like a car door or auto glass
Kinetic energy, velocity, bullet weight and to a extent bullet diameter come into play but generally regarding penetration characteristics. That brings us to the actual shot "stopping" the attack. This is generally brought about by
1. Disrupting the CNS (fastest)
2. Taking out a major organ like the heart (possibly fast but depends location)
3. Attacker bleeds out (probably slow)
4. Pain compliance (arg arg I've been shot)
5. Scaring the attacker away (****! I'm outa here!)
Option 1, 2 and 4 may or may not depend on bullet penetration. I have seen a lot of talk about how bullet penetrates after passing through the previously mentioned auto glass or a car door or heavy clothing and even drywall or a cinder block. My question is this. Isn't a given rounds ability to penetrate bone equally as important?
Options 1 and 2 - I don't work in the medical field but it seems like most of the vital organs in our body are inside of the rib cage. While the rib cage isn't solid there is a somewhat decent chance that a front shot or a side should might strike a rib or sternum. It seems like a rounds ability to break bone and continue on it's path would be a important characteristic. I realize that the angle of a shot play's a role in whether a bullet is deflected or penetrates the bone which brings me to part of the main question. Do certain rounds have a higher chance of breaking bone then other rounds when those rounds are shot at the same angle? IE Is a 9mm ( or insert whatever caliber you like) more likely to be deflected then a .45 (insert whatever caliber you like) if fired at the same angle and it strikes the same bone?
Option 4 - Not so much pain compliance (even though I am pretty sure having a bone shattered is quite painful) but I'm more interested in debilitating mechanical effects of a shattered shoulder, femur, knee, etc. I have no scientific data to back this up but it stands to reason that a attacker with a shattered knee is going to find it quite a bit more difficult to catch me then one with a intact knee. A attacker with a shattered collar bone is going to find it more difficult to stab/wrestle with me. Not because of pain but because of the mechanics of their body not working properly. While not the most effective way to stop a attacker it does seem worth mentioning.
I guess what I am getting at is that a given rounds likely hood to penetrate bone seems to not be discussed nearly as much as a given rounds ability to penetrate auto glass or a car door. I understand that those are important factors for a LEO but as a armed civilian the likely hood that my bullet will strike bone in a defensive shooting seems more likely then a car door or windshield. Is there data floating around out there about ABC round VS bone? Is a rounds ability to penetrate bone something you even think is important? What characteristics make a round good at penetrating bone?
-It is a seriously scary thought that there are subsets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing...
With regard to projectile hits on the human body I believe that every individual bullet strike is pretty much a roll of the dice.
Chances of effecting a quick enough "threat stop" increase greatly with multiple hits on the threat even if they are all in approximately the same zone/location.
Time to regroup.
Instead of "if I gotta shoot someone", work on staying out of trouble.
I'm not a lawyer or a LEO, just a pantload with a computer.
The purpose of a bullet "breaking bone" isn't so much for getting through a rib, but more akin to breaking the human structure, without which it tends to collapse in a heap.
A bullet thru the leg muscle hurts like crazy but one can keep going. Break the femur and one stops in one's tracks long enough, at least, to figure out how to become mobile again. Solids and hard cast will penetrate bone better than most HPs. Most SD rounds try to achieve a compromise between penetration and extreme expansion.
Retired USAF E-8. Official forum curmudgeon.
Lighten up and enjoy life because:
Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
Additionally, a bullet may have to penetrate an arm, or hand bone before it even makes it to the torso.
While we're talking about bone penetration, I believe that the skull is very tough and thick in certain places, that's why we're trained to shoot for specific areas rather than the high forehead shot like in the movies.
A human being is a very tough creature. If we didn't have to worry about overpenetration, we would be talking a lot different ballistic theory.
It's a never-ending world of compromises.
Trust in God and keep your powder dry
"A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source
As it happens, last Friday I had a chance to tour an anatomy lab at a medical college.
I spent a few minutes studying the human body models showing the organs of the body in situ. I think that it's very likely that most people imagine the human body wrong. In the common consciousness, I bet you dollars to donuts that the average fellow thinks that there's the heart over here, the kidneys down there, the liver way over here, etc.
In fact, most of the major organs are all bunched up together below the neck and above the navel. All the "good stuff" is packed in there. From the navel to groin it's empty space - just intestine, mostly.
Now, given that your target will likely be on the move, charging at you, diving, running around, the odds of pulling off a precision shot (e.g., "I shall now endeavor to place a round through his kneecap") are laughably small. Rather, the conventional wisdom here is sound: Go for COM. You'll very likely hit something good - a lung, the heart, the liver - something vital. And if that bullet is bouncing and ricocheting around in there, with a JHP opening and carving wound channels, so much the better.
As a home experiment, take a regular sheet of typing paper, A4 size, and hold it over your chest, from your clavicles to navel. That's the target area. Everything you want to hit - outside of the head - is right in there. COM is a very small target, and that's why we have reports of people taking numerous hits and surviving. Rounds that don't get in that area are less likely to stop the assailant.
Personally, the way I train, whether running forward, backward or sideways, I'm point shooting at that target as best I can.
"It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."
It is easy for most medium caliber bullets to bust thru a rib, and reach the boiler room. Heavier dense bone such as the Humerous, or Femur, are another issue. They are made up of thick heavy, porus tissue that is saturated with liquid and marrow. Since they are fiberous, they have a natural tendancy to act almost like a natural kevlar, and slow down or complete screw up a good hollow point.
I have always spoken concerning variables in caliber/bullet effectiveness. This is a prime example of a variable that we cannot control. Exactly where and what that bullet encounters. Because most all bullet designs we use today are designed with a rounded profile, which has a perfect ability to detour its course if it hits the hard angles of a hard surface.
A heavy flat nose bullet has a better ability to "bite into" and bust thru this material. But , due to the size of the gun these bullets are carried in, the trade off in ability to carry and conceal, these bullets are not usually found carried by folks.
The best alternative, that eliminates some of these variables, if it is a concern, is to carry the biggest caliber you can, or if you use a revolver, carry heavy SWC type bullets. 158-180 SWC in 357mag or 38spl get my nod. Then of course , the 45acp has been doing this for years.
I've seen an animal skull that Hornady XTP in .45 went right through. Recovered round had a chunk of bone in the round hollow center and the copper jacket had peeled back into razor-sharp barbs (much like the old Black Talon). It would definitely stop something cold. If I couldn't center a chest or head shot though, a pelvic shot will most certainly ruin somebody's day. Penetration along with transfer of energy is the stopper, just be sure of your backstop in case it goes through the target...
"Bullet vs Bone" - Bone looses every time!
"It's time to nut up or shut up" - Woody Harrelson, "Tallahassee" in "Zombieland"
Very interesting post and responses. When looking for a new SD round for my P380 I came across this on the Buffalo Bore web site. This is part of the write-up for the 100 gr. +p hardcast round.
Item 27A/20 is a 100gr. HARD cast bullet with a flat nose. It is traveling over 1,150 fps out of my 3.75 inch BDA (Browning Double Action). We've used a flash suppressed powder for all three of our 380 auto loads so that you wont be blinded by your own gunfire if you have to shoot in the dark and since around 95% of all civilian shootings in America occur in low light, the chances that your own gunfire will blind you while you are trying to save your life, are good - we've eliminated this variable by using flash suppressed powder. We've also chosen a flat nosed solid bullet. The flat on the nose ensures that the bullet will cut/smash its way through flesh and bone and do much more destruction than typical round nose FMJ bullets. Round nosed bullets tend to slip and slide through matter, doing little damage as opposed to a flat nosed bullet. The flat nose not only wounds much more than a round nosed bullet, but it actually keeps the penetration straight and thus deeper. Notice the below velocities recorded from my personal 380 auto pistols. These are real world guns and thus the speeds are realistic and not exaggerated speeds produced from laboratory test barrels. What you see with Buffalo Bore Ammo, is truly what you get in the "real world", where it matters. You can expect 20+ inches of straight-line penetration in flesh and bone with this load. If you are worried about over penetration with this load, DON'T! You chose to carry a tiny under-powered 380 auto pistol and the trade-off is that you are now going to have to stay alive with that pistol and over penetration will be the least of your worries if you end up needing this gun to save yourself or your family.
1. BDA-3.75 inch barrel--- 1160 fps
2. Walther PPK-3.5 inch barrel-----1149 fps
3. Colt Mustang Pocket Lite-2.75 inch barrel---1072 fps
4. Keltec---1061 fps
I realize this is the manufacturer boosting their own load, but BB has obviously considered some of the elements in your post. FWIW
Terminal Ballistics as Viewed in a MorgueI have to add this caveat. This guys post has been the subject of much debate and some have questioned his credibility. That said it is pretty much consistent of every credible studies conclusions I have ever read. Big heavy slow moving projectiles are more apt to break bone than small fast moving projectiles. Which correlates with my own limited experience .45 broke and went through bones while 9mm and .380 were deflected by the bones. Like all caliber debates there will be those who disagree or do not believe the same as I do. I have seen men for more intelligent and knowledgeable than I who could not agree Ultimately you choice.So let me give a few thoughts here. First, as you've pretty well guessed by now, I'm a big fan of the .40 and .45 for personal defense, and for the same reasons. They're both big, slow-moving bullets. Of the two, I think big is more important. As I've said before, I want something that will plow through bone and keep going, not skip off of it. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a .380 or 9mm strike bone on a well-placed shot and skip off in a non-vital direction, leaving the BG free to return fire. With the .40 and .45, this seldom happens. Bone is in the body for basically two reasons--to give support as with the legs and spinal column and to protect major organs, such as the ribs protecting the heart or the skull protecting the brain. Skip a bullet off a support bone, such as the leg, and the BG will keep shooting. Break it, like you generally do with a .40 or .45, and the BG is going to hit the pavement and your chances of survival increase dramatically. It's the same with a shot to the chest. Skip a 9mm off the sternum (breastbone) and the fight continues; plow through the sternum with a .45 and, trust me, the fight is over. I'm just convinced that all things being equal, bigger is better when it comes to bullet size.
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I realize most people are talking autos & JHPs, although some of the replies specifically point out the characteristics of lead bullets when impacting bone. Since my personal interest tends towards heavy lead bullets (read: .38 caliber, 200g), I'll offer this source for your further study: Thompson-LaGarde It's the old Thompson-LaGarde test from over a century ago. Although many take issue with it in numerous respects, you will find that they paid plenty of attention to how both bullet & bone responded upon impact. Although the autos in this test were using FMJ, it offers some information on the role of bullet shape and hardness in determining likely effects upon bone.
The T-L test results also provide a lot of information on lead bullet vs. bone collisions, and they established to their full satisfaction that LRN tended to deflect or drill a hole, whereas flat-points tended to smash & crush their way through bone. Soft lead, in their experience, magnified this effect noticeably.
Anecdotal evidence from a number of the old-school shootists such as Ken Waters, Chic Gaylord (OK, mostly a holster maker), Elmer Keith (I think), Gen. Julian Hatcher, and Col. Charles Askins, indicates a certain amount of respect for 200g loads in .38 caliber, with several specifically asserting that these loads had devastating impact upon bone. Best I can tell, the blunter the bullet profile, the more pronounced this effect.