Magic bullets

Magic bullets

This is a discussion on Magic bullets within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; There is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are variables between calibers, some have more energy some penetrate deeper, and some that have ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    Magic bullets

    There is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are variables between calibers, some have more energy some penetrate deeper, and some that have more energy penetrate deeper. One constant though is that if the bullet does not strike the attacker it does not matter what is used.

    There are two sides to the debate, those who believe in the scientific study and rest their laurels on theoretic performance and those who can prove what has worked historically. Is there a right answer? I think it lays somewhere in the middle. It is somewhat difficult to gather current or historical data because there is no central data base for bullet performance in live subjects and police departments do not like to open share this type of data. Because of this reports come in sporadically or not at all.

    The harsh reality is that the bullet, caliber, gun platform are really a very small part of the whole equation. If you are using poor tactics, and you cannot hit consistently under pressure then power and capacity mean nothing. If you cannot deliver a playing card sized group at 10 yards consistently with your carry gun, you need more practice.

    The scientific community only recognizes factors that can be quantified in their assessment of bullet performance. What they fail to take into account are the physiological reasons people stop when shot. Just because something cannot be predicted, does not mean you can ignore it. Any honest scientist will tell you that the best laboratory is the field that is why field trials are so important.

    Modern ammunition is all designed to perform within the same parameters. We are told that energy means nothing, only depth of penetration and permanent crush cavity because that can be quantified and repeated. What about the temporary stretch cavity? We are told that only counts with rifle velocities. What is a rifle velocity? Well, we also know that velocity required to cause a temporary cavity drops as diameter increases, so what is the velocity floor? I believe that the concept of “It only happens at rifle velocity” is a gross oversimplification. We know that magnum revolvers are considerably more effective than non magnums, the only difference is velocity. At 1300 feet per second, handgun bullets really start to do amazing things. Are we then closer to a magic bullet?

    Magnum performance is not without drawbacks. The blast and recoil intimidates many shooters. It takes a lot to truly master a hard kicking revolver, for me the upper limit is the 44 magnum. Pocket guns are not the easiest guns to shoot well for many reasons, though many carry them for the ease of carry, causing significant handicap in the name of convenience. Do you need a hi-cap auto or a magnum? No, but you had best master what you carry if you want the best chance to win a lethal encounter.

    There is a reason police departments do not issue mouse guns. I do believe that high energy rounds such as the 357 magnum, 357 Sig and the 10mm with properly constructed bullets hold the edge for self defense; however, there are relatively few shooters that are able to use them to their full potential.

    With modern bullets I feel there is very little practical difference between most loads in the 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. For self defense service calibers should be the minimum, I see no valid point for mouse gun calibers with the small 9mm’s available. While I respect what the ballisticians have accomplished, I cannot agree with their methodology and conclusions based on the fact that it is largely hypothetical. If a baseline had been established where a proven stopper was used as the baseline then I would find the data for the newer technologies and their predicted effectiveness more believable.

    It is not that I do not respect certain people; it just does not ring credible when someone speaks outside the scope of their specialty, no matter how articulate and charming they are. It is kind of like taking investment advice from a cab driver.

    The bottom line: Carry what you want, load it they way you want. You alone are responsible for your choices.


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Real world, meets PC gun owners. You know what sucks, is some will disagree with your 30 years of experience as a border patrol agent. Very well put..
    Last edited by Harryball; September 10th, 2012 at 01:04 PM.
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    Member Array Blades's Avatar
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    So where do the FBI protocols fit into everything?
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    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    There are two sides to the debate, those who believe in the scientific study and rest their laurels on theoretic performance and those who can prove what has worked historically. Is there a right answer? I think it lays somewhere in the middle. It is somewhat difficult to gather current or historical data because there is no central data base for bullet performance in live subjects and police departments do not like to open share this type of data. Because of this reports come in sporadically or not at all.
    There are also those of us who would include those aspects of value from both perspectives. Of course, there have been large steps backwards in the analysis of combat data- the M&S "study" being the worst of them, having been debunked as a 1 in 3.5 trillion exercise in data manipulation. Still, I believe that if done honestly, the analysis of combat data can lend itself to a comprehensive understanding of the field.

    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    The scientific community only recognizes factors that can be quantified in their assessment of bullet performance. What they fail to take into account are the physiological reasons people stop when shot. Just because something cannot be predicted, does not mean you can ignore it. Any honest scientist will tell you that the best laboratory is the field that is why field trials are so important.
    Actually, the scientific community recognizes fully the unquantifiable factors and effects of bullets. Many researchers using the scientific model (MacPherson, Schwartz, Fackler, DeMaio, Roberts, etc.) fully recognize the effect of intangible phenomena and have written volumes about the psychological effects that surround shootings- many noting that most folks fall down after being shot, not because they are incapacitated, but because they have seen it occur on TV (or in the movies) and have been led to believe that they must do so once they discover that they have been shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    Modern ammunition is all designed to perform within the same parameters. We are told that energy means nothing, only depth of penetration and permanent crush cavity because that can be quantified and repeated. What about the temporary stretch cavity? We are told that only counts with rifle velocities. What is a rifle velocity? Well, we also know that velocity required to cause a temporary cavity drops as diameter increases, so what is the velocity floor?
    It is, as you pointed out, dependent upon the diameter of the expanded projectile. According to MacPherson's equations, the lower velocity limit for FMJRNs from .25 to .50 caliber is somewhere between 400-600 fps- any slower than that and they don't produce cavitation in soft tissue. For expanded JHPs, the velocity can be as low as 325 (+/- 25) fps, below that speed, cavitation will not occur. Not all ammunition is designed to perform within the same parameters. Some of it is required to hold on to its jacket no matter what while consistently offering expansion to a desired degree, other ammo is designed to fragment radically leaving nothing behind but tiny pieces.

    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    I believe that the concept of “It only happens at rifle velocity” is a gross oversimplification.
    That's because it is. More important is the size of the temporary cavity. As velocity increases, so does the size of the temporary cavity. At speeds under 2000 fps, the T/C simply isn't large enough to exceed the tensile strength of most of the highly elastic organs and tissues that it'll encounter. Higher than that, and it starts to become less of a problem although what the temporary cavity hits still dictates if the size of the cavity is enough to damage it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    We know that magnum revolvers are considerably more effective than non magnums, the only difference is velocity. At 1300 feet per second, handgun bullets really start to do amazing things. Are we then closer to a magic bullet?

    Magnum performance is not without drawbacks. The blast and recoil intimidates many shooters. It takes a lot to truly master a hard kicking revolver, for me the upper limit is the 44 magnum. Pocket guns are not the easiest guns to shoot well for many reasons, though many carry them for the ease of carry, causing significant handicap in the name of convenience. Do you need a hi-cap auto or a magnum? No, but you had best master what you carry if you want the best chance to win a lethal encounter.

    There is a reason police departments do not issue mouse guns. I do believe that high energy rounds such as the 357 magnum, 357 Sig and the 10mm with properly constructed bullets hold the edge for self defense; however, there are relatively few shooters that are able to use them to their full potential.

    With modern bullets I feel there is very little practical difference between most loads in the 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP. For self defense service calibers should be the minimum, I see no valid point for mouse gun calibers with the small 9mm’s available. While I respect what the ballisticians have accomplished, I cannot agree with their methodology and conclusions based on the fact that it is largely hypothetical. If a baseline had been established where a proven stopper was used as the baseline then I would find the data for the newer technologies and their predicted effectiveness more believable.

    It is not that I do not respect certain people; it just does not ring credible when someone speaks outside the scope of their specialty, no matter how articulate and charming they are. It is kind of like taking investment advice from a cab driver.


    The bottom line: Carry what you want, load it they way you want. You alone are responsible for your choices.
    We agree for the most part, the exception being the methodology used by the ballisticians. testing in humans (in this field) would be morally and ethically objectionable- calibrated gelatin and water allows a valid (it correlates strongly against muscle tissue for the results it produces), repeatable test medium that can generate results comparable to one another regardless of caliber or design.
    My favorite "gun" book-

    QUANTITATIVE AMMUNITION SELECTION

  5. #5
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    This is all way over my head. I just shoot what I got.
    multistage, bmglock23 and baren like this.
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    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    This seems to be a very contentious subject. Big/heavy/slower vs. smaller/lighter/faster. Both sides of the issue can make credible arguments supporting their position. In the end, each and every one of us has to be confident in the loads we carry. I have my favorites. Everybody here has his/her favorites. Go with what you like, as long as your decision is based somewhat within logical parameters. PRACTICE, and carry confidently, knowing that your bullet and load choice will do its job as long as you can do yours. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the bottom line.
    gottabkiddin and sensei2 like this.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokinFool View Post
    This seems to be a very contentious subject. Both sides of the issue can make credible arguments supporting their position. In the end, each and every one of us has to be confident in the loads we carry. I have my favorites. Everybody here has his/her favorites. Go with what you like, as long as your decision is based somewhat within logical parameters. PRACTICE, and carry confidently, knowing that your bullet choice will do its job as long as you can do yours. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the bottom line.
    Same here... I just wonder what everyone did 40 years ago when the .38 Special, .357 and 9mm worked the streets. I mean, we are still taking "defense" rounds aren't we. If we're going to war, I understand the whole bigger is better thing, but Georgia looks nothing like Afghanistan or Iraq, and i havent seen anyone that looked like the taliban to me so like you I'll file this away as a good/interesting read but continue to carry my 158gr .38 Special and 9mms..
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    Agreed, but .45 is the best caliber and Gold Dot 230 grain JHP are the best rounds still, right?
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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    I like the new gps (satellite tracked) bullets, where you mark the target and then shoot the gun, and the bullet tracks to the target at those gps coordinates. Work so much better than those heat seaking bullets people buy.
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  10. #10
    Ex Member Array ScottM's Avatar
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    Some bullets are magic.

    Post something negative and people just appear out of nowhere to defend them

  11. #11
    JD
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottM View Post
    Some bullets are magic.

    Post something negative and people just appear out of nowhere to defend them



    I'll have to keep that one filed away.

  12. #12
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    I use the weapons that I have and train both physically and mentally to use them well.
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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array multistage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    This is all way over my head. I just shoot what I got.
    Makes life a bit simpler, doesn't it? My guess is that, since 99% of us have not used a handgun with X brand of ammo in a defensive situation, then 99% of us don't have a viable opinion. All we can do is repeat what we have heard or read, and hope for the best.
    sensei2 likes this.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    many mango seasons ago (1970's) the big guns were the 45 acp, 44 mag, 41 mag, 44 sp, 357 mag, and the good old 38 sp. the s&w model 19 was the duty gun,, but i carried an old 1911a1 most of the time on the job. i saw many killed with the 22lr and/or 25acp during that time. all in all it come down to just one thing,,, carry something. it does not matter the cal and/or size,,, just carry something.
    Ionracas and sensei2 like this.
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  15. #15
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Magic bullets do not exist. Just like my magic carpet ride gets me where I want to go.

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