Penetration Concerns

This is a discussion on Penetration Concerns within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; (I wrote part of this in the recent shotgun thread here, and it sparked a few of my own questions) I live in an apartment ...

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Thread: Penetration Concerns

  1. #1
    Member Array Zach and Holly's Avatar
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    Penetration Concerns

    (I wrote part of this in the recent shotgun thread here, and it sparked a few of my own questions)

    I live in an apartment and am paranoid about the thin walls. For home defense—I know the majority of shotgun owners use 00 buck—I have the Mossberg loaded with #12 shot to almost completely reduce the risk of wall penetration. I have the 00 buckshot as backup once I'm composed and am more aware of exacty where my shot is going in an emergency situation. I really have to be careful; I have people above me, and to the side and am a little paranoid about it. I've read about door breaching rounds and how they're practically powdered lead and double duty well for close range combat/defense without that penetration. (The idea of door breaching rounds of course being that you can blow the lock/hinges/whatever off a door and minimize penetration—same idea for home defense and the concern of thin walls). Thoughts on that?

    Now, for handguns, does anyone really know exactly what has a good chance of penetrating and what doesn't (generally)? I've read a bunch of forums, and see conflicting answers. The folks at my local gunshop say the best choice is the blue glaser safety rounds. But I've read that these easily penetrate drywall. I don't 'know what to believe now. I've also been told that hollowpoints are a good choice because they expand and have a better chance of stopping in a wall, but that can't be true for drywall?

    We'd like to have our .380's or 9mm available for the home, but just aren't sure which ammo (if any) would be adequate for our living situation.

    Any guidance greatly appreciated.
    It is utterly illogical to believe that passing laws to reduce gun violence will be successful when those who are commiting the gun violence do not obey the law.

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    Member Array micahsrad's Avatar
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    If a hollow point were 100% then it might stop in the dry wall depending on the velocity that the round travels. 9mm can go up to 1400 fps depending on the round you use. If the hollow point ends up filling up with dry wall or any other material then more then likely it will end up acting like standard ball ammunition as this will be counter-productive to expansion. Id stick with the 12 gauge loaded with bird shot and keep the pistols for outside the house. Either way you need to very careful in what you shoot at in an apartment........Micah

    If you really wanted to know what would be the best for the apartment buy some dry wall and 2x4s and with a few different types of ammunition test what will go through and what won't at different ranges.

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    If whatever you shoot the BG with doesn't stop him before he returns fire and kills you really doesn't matter at that point,I practice with my weapons and have been shooting long enough to know that i can hit my target and that is what you need to practice getting sights on target quickly and squeeze trigger.I shot a round out of a .357 magnum that penetrated 5 sheetrock walls,not panels "walls".Make the first shot count you may not get another.
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    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    Anything that is capable of achieving the penetration required to incapacitate an assailant is going to be capable of penetrating an interior wall.

    Anything that is not capable of penetrating an interior wall is not going to be able to penetrate to the vitals and incapacitate an assailant.

    Matt
    Battle Plan (n) - a list of things that aren't going to happen if you are attacked.
    Blame it on Sixto - now that is a viable plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by micahsrad View Post
    If you really wanted to know what would be the best for the apartment buy some dry wall and 2x4s and with a few different types of ammunition test what will go through and what won't at different ranges.
    It's been done:

    The Box O' Truth - Ammo Penetration testing

    Specific to shotguns:

    The Box O' Truth #3 - The Shotgun Meets the Box O' Truth - Page 1
    The Box O' Truth #14 - Rifles, Shotguns, and Walls - Page 1
    The Box O' Truth #22 - 20 Gauge Shotgun - Page 1

    Matt
    Battle Plan (n) - a list of things that aren't going to happen if you are attacked.
    Blame it on Sixto - now that is a viable plan.

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    Senior Member Array Cthulhu's Avatar
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    +1 to the Box o' Truth. Lots of neat stuff there.

    Wish I had the time and means to do that stuff myself!

    -JT

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    We worry to much about over penetration and not nearly enough about under penetration.

    Over penetration might cost you some $ in legal bills

    Under penetration could cost you your life

    Get rid of the 12 shot and go up to at least 4 shot, or #4 buck.

    Anything that you use that is capable of incapacitating a BG will go through most interior walls.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    VIP Member Array tns0038's Avatar
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    In the 90’s the Fed used Glazer Safety slugs 9mm in there MP5’s so they would not have over penetration problems. In test the bullet would fragment if it hit a commercial buildings glass wall, or dry wall. Thinking was if a hostage was accidentally shot he/she was better off being hit by fragments than a normal hollow point bullet.

    I know in the late 70’s the Sheriffs department I worked for issued #4 buck for our 12-gages, riot shotguns because it did not penetrate walls like 00 buck did. Yet at close range, it sure did tear up a BG; 100% effective

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    Member Array detroit9mm's Avatar
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    Part of the FBI Protocol testing all the ammo manufacturers use include how a bullet performs after penetrating barriers. One of the barriers they test them through is drywall. JHP's will not stop in drywall, the will blow right through if they do not hit studs. I would use a round that would not penetrate drywall for SD because it probably would not penetrate a heavy coat and sweater either.

    Rob Pincus in his video "Combat Focused Shooting" demonstrates how you can shoot through walls to hit a known assailant on the other side and does a live-fire demonstration to prove it. The best choice would probably be Glasers but I would not trust them to stop completely. The site www.BrassFetcher.com has some good ballistic testing done on popular rounds including some shot through drywall and auto glass.

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    +1 on the #4 buckshot for your 12 gauge. What everyone said about penetration is true, if the bg or bgs are wearing leather or denim jackets your birdshot will be stopped by their clothing. They will still receive blunt trauma, but they are still in the fight.

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    Member Array gg12's Avatar
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    Leather jackets are considerably easier to shoot through than drywall. Take a jacket and sweater to shoot at with you when you take your drywall for your own tests at the range.

    If wearing a sweater and a leather jacket was all the protection I needed against most bullets, I wouldn't have to carry my gun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gg12 View Post
    Leather jackets are considerably easier to shoot through than drywall. Take a jacket and sweater to shoot at with you when you take your drywall for your own tests at the range.
    I don't think you will see much difference between drywall and a leather jacket
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    The B. of T.

    MattLarson is right, The Box O' Truth is a great site. Lots to learn there.


    As for a solution to your problem, consider arrangement of furniture to provide some backstop or cover. I have a new baby and with strategic placement of some large bookcases and heavy furniture his room, and specifically his crib, has plenty of non-obvious cover from any incoming fire. Maybe you could pull off something similar.


    And FWIW, at close (read: small apartment) ranges, I would not feel bad using high brass birdshot. I have been known to use Federal Flite Control #6 shot or even some Remington Duplex 2x6 loads in my apartment days. I still have a few boxes of Federal Personal Defense #2 shot laying around somewhere.... But #12 seems a bit too small for comfort.

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    If I end up shooting to defend me and mine at home, the last thing I am going to worry about is "What If" on the neighbors.

    Get on target, hit the target. Practice, practice, practice.
    Sticks

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    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    I went to a shooting with an LEO friend once. A low-life was shot once through the heart with a 4-inch Llama Comanche loaded with Federal .357 Magnum 158 grain JSP. He was lying on his back on the kitchen floor assuming room temperature when we arrived. After exiting his back just right of center the bullet went on to strike a sheet rock wall. It broke the textured surface and the paper on the outer surface of the sheet rock, leaving a deep dent in the wall but had bounced out and was found lying on the floor beneath a cupboard. The soft nose was deformed but visually the bullet looked as if it could have been stuffed back into a charged cartridge case and fired again. Was later given the remainder of the box of Federal loads from which the Comanche was loaded. Chronographed some and they achieved something over 1300 fps, though I used a six-inch S&W Model 27 rather than a revolver with a 4-inch barrel.

    I sure would have thought that bullet would have had more starch in it after completely penetrating a person wearing a light jacket. A single example doesn't really prove anything but I'd have given such a .357 Magnum load high marks for excessive penetration.

    To tell the rest of the story though, two shots were fired and the first missed, traveling through the entrance from the kitchen into the combination living/dining room, traveled the length of this long expanse, striking the front wall of the living room above the front windows of the house and exiting the house which was frame with wood siding.

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